Monday 30 November 2009

Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge 2009

Hip-hip-hooray! After months of anticipation it is time for the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge - we leave in the morning.

Race start: Friday, 4 December 2009
Race finish: Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The following links will help you to follow the race online:

MTB O so much fun

The final event of this year's mountain bike orienteering was held on Saturday morning out at Protea Ridge, which is pretty much on the southern side (and a bit further along) of the ridge behind the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens. Goal-orientated mountain biking is my favourite type of biking - zooting here and there while hunting controls.

Nicholas Mulder has coordinated this series of events and while the turn-out at some was excellent (around 100 entries), attendance at others - like Saturday (38 entries) - was quite shabby. It's a pity because Saturday had perfect weather, excellent terrain with its 4x4 and quad bike trails and a just-right course. "All those who took part appear to have had very enjoyable rides with lots of positive comments coming from the finishers," says Nicholas. "Most importantly is that all 38 participants finished their respective courses and there were no disqualifications."

As per the results for the long course (there were three courses), "the race was won convincingly by Alex Pope (Witsoc) in 1h11m, who continues to improve his results consistently on the bike. Second place went to Gerard Van Weele in 1h31 and third to Glynn De Klerk (RACO) in 1h43. First lady on the course was Lisa de Speville (AR Club)."

Nic doesn't mention whether any other women rode the long course... *grin*

There will be another five-event MTB O series next year. When the dates come out, do diarise these really good navigational mountain bike riding events.

Sunday 29 November 2009

Kinetic Adventure season wraps up

The fifth and final event of the Kinetic Adventure events took place this morning at the Waterfall Estates in Kyalami. What a superb venue! Excellent mountain biking area - good mix of dirt roads, jeep track and single track.

Still clean! Team Triumph AR pre-race.
(L-R) Debbie, Lauren, Lisa

Our regular girls Team Triumph AR was together again (Lauren was at Southern Storm for the last-September event) and we had a great morning out. We also had tough competition with Susan Sloan, Vicky Wirsam and Nicky Booyens (Buff Girls) entered into the team category. We certainly knew that they would be faster than us, especially on bikes, but we hoped we'd sneak through on navigation. They flew through the course to beat us solidly and take the win at this final event of the year's series. We came after them to take second place.

Team Triump AR... one step down. Nicky, Susan and Vix on the top step.

These Kinetic Urban events are excellent fun and each has a different element. Heidi and Stephan also put a lot of effort into the event area to keep improving the setup. Music, Alistair on the mic, the McCain's hot chips van, cold water from USN and a wonderful vibe. The course was well planned (again!) with lovely elements and a good use of the area.

And... we're all AR Club members ;)

First, our thanks to Lizette from Triumph for their sponsorship of our ladies team throughout the series - and for her wishes of luck for the races. Although it would have been nice to make it five out of five, four out of five is a good ratio ;)
We've been very fortunate to receive Triumph sports bras. We were Triumph girls before the series and we remain loyal to their superb products. Girls, I can very highly recommend their new Seam-Free Crop Top (I love the hot pink colour!). It is even better than their Medium Support Crop Top, which many of us wear - and I've been wearing for years. Comfort, support and drying is much better.

Triumph girls - Debbie, Lauren & Lisa

Heidi, Stephan and your race team and sponsors - wow! The first race was good and with every event they got even better. Thank you for the effort you have put in to create a wonderful race atmosphere and your attention to detail - from the event area, to goodie bags, prize giving (with abundant lucky draw prizes!) and bringing in variation to the courses. Consider our entries for next year already in!

Sitting around at prize giving. There are always so many cool lucky draw prizes!

Carine, thank you for slotting in when Lauren was away. It was fun to race with you.

Lauren and Debbie, you girls are wonderful teammates and I look forward to racing with you both again.

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Make your own mini gaiters

While we make the best AR Gaiters - we've had lots of practice - you can give it a try to make your own pair. We make three styles - Mini, Desert and Adventure - for different purposes in a range of colours and fun prints (visit our website and Facebook page)

Today I finished making sand gaiters for Team for our race in Abu Dhabi next week. My new 'Rolls Royce' design results from the many variations that I've made over the years. They're easy to make, especially this basic 'AR Mini Gaiter' design. You can sew these gaiters by hand (or even use fabric glue?) but they are obviously longer lasting if sewn by machine.

What you need
  • 0.25 metres of 4-way stretch fabric (I use regular lycra)
  • 1.5 metres 'panty' elastic (it is about 0.8mm in width)
  • 1 metre thicker elastic approx 15mm wide and thicker and stronger than the 'panty; elastic (this goes around your ankle)
  • 25cm length of velcro (2cm width)
  • Box of pins, thread, sewing machine/needle, sharp scissors and possibly a friend with sewing skills...
Measure and draw this pattern on a piece of paper (you'll need to join two sheets together).

NOTE: This is an average pattern size. Because lycra stretches it generally works for most shoes. BUT... there are differences in fabric, even lycra (thickness and stretchiness) and this makes the biggest difference. Sometimes these things are a bit of trail and error...

  • Fold your fabric in half, with right sides facing (in lycra, the right side is a little more shiny). Make sure the fabric is flat - no bumps and kinks.
  • Place your pattern on the fabric and pin around the edges.
  • Using a sharp pair of scissors, cut out the fabric (double layer)

Start with one piece of fabric (it's like maths... what you do to the one side, you do to the other).
  • Pin a 45cm length of the thin panty elastic to the bottom of the fabric (against the wrong side). Tip: I pin one end first, then the other. Then, stretch the elastic (yes, lycra is a bit longer than the elastic) and pin in the centre. Then repeat inbetween the ends and the centre.
  • Sew the elastic to the fabric
Tip: ALWAYS pin and/or tack before you machine sew. If you have an overlocking machine, use it. If you just have a straight sewing machine, then stitch in the middle.

You can leave the bottom as it is... but I prefer to hem it.
  • Roll the stitched elastic base up, pin and straight sew. This makes a neat hem. ('Panty' elastic will now be 'hidden')

  • Repeat the same pinning and sewing process with the thicker elastic. I check the length required by measuring around my own ankle according to how tight I'd like the top of the gaiter. You do want it snug, but not cutting off your circulation. Probably about 22-26cm.


  • Fold the shape in half, right sides together. Join the sides. This is where an overlocking machine is really great. If you sew with a straight machine, or by hand, sew two rows. Remember to pin and/or tack first, before sewing.

You've essentially got your gaiter. Now to add the velcro - this fastens the gaiter to your laces.

Prepare the velcro by doing the following:

  • Cut a 9cm length of velcro - both the fluffy and hooked sides.

  • Cut another 3cm length of velcro - also both sides

  • Tack (rough stitching) the short fluffy length on top of the long hooked side - both facing up (not stuck together). Do the same to the other two pieces.

Now grab the gaiter you've made. With it turned inside out, flatten it so that the main seam lies centre. Tack the velcro (double layer part) to this bottom end; then sew by machine. I make an X pattern.


Now try them out!

  • Turn them right side out

  • Slip your foot into them (velcro towards your toes)

  • Now put your foot into your trail shoe. Tie your laces.

  • Pull the back down over the heel. It won't slip because the elastic keeps the tension. Then hook the velcro over-and-under your bottom-most lace and stick the fluffy side on to the hooked side. Et voila!

Repeat with the other piece of fabric to make the pair. You'll notice that the long parts of the velcro are opposites... so you can stick your gaiters together when not wearing them.

Happy sewing.

More festive lights

I really like festive lights. Small, twinkle fairy lights - but not necessarily on a tree. I like them hanging - in malls, offices, decorating the outside of houses in movies and twinkling behind windows. They're just... just... pretty.

Last year, I bought one of those 'icicle' strings and put it up on my lounge windows. I so liked them that I left them there all year, turning them on most nights. They're warm and friendly both inside and to passersby who see them from the street.

Today I bought a string of 'curtain' lights, which are now attached to my sliding security gate. I'm now waiting for it to get dark so that I can try the eight different settings - chasing, sequential, combination, slow fade, steady on...

My mom's friend has the most divine festive lights (LED) hanging lamp in his kitchen. The string is twisted through a round wire frame. I bought the lights to make it last year; but only got around to it over the weekend. It looks fabulous and now needs to be wired into the ceiling.

While I really like festive lights - all year round - I'm not quite into doing the whole Santa and his reindeer setup. Sure, I like to look at them in photos from the US (where they go all the way), but I'm not about to drape my home in ornaments and decorations. Perhaps these all-out festive light decorators started with only a few strands? Hahaha

While looking on the web for things to do with festive lights I found this cheeky website - Ugly Christmas Lights. These are photos taken by people of really bad, garish house/garden festive light (and ornament) get ups. Towns have competitions too! And if you're getting into this, take a look at Planet Christmas' 'showing off' page. Many of these would be at home on the Ugly Christmas Lights site.

A few years ago I was in the US just before Halloween. I loved running past the homes and checking out the pumpkins, ghosts hanging from trees, spiderwebs, gravestones and everything else holiday-themed. I could see myself getting into this type of thing if I was in the US. Scary eh?

The Digital Photography School has 20 really cool photos of festive lights - decorating people (and a dog). I think I need to get me more lights!

Thursday 19 November 2009

Fancy a runabout?

In his book, ‘50 Marathons 50 Days: The secrets to super endurance’, Dean Karnazes mentions a distance running concept he calls ‘Runabout’. It is inspired by the Australian Aboriginal practice of walkabout.

Once you’ve developed a good fitness base, Dean says, “Pick a weekend morning to set out the door with a running pack containing a credit card, a cellphone and some fluid and snacks – maybe also a map or GPS if you want to get really sophisticated. Choose a direction (say, north) and start running. Keep running until you feel like taking a break. You can jog, walk or hike – just try to stay on your feet. When you’re ready for some more running, go for it. If you see a Starbucks and feel like a latte, stop and grab one.”

He recommends making a day of it and says you shouldn’t worry about how much distance you’ve covered. Focus on staying on your feet and on moving forward one way or another whether by running or walking. Aim for six to eight hours.

Dean likes to start before sunrise and finish after sunset. He finishes by saying, “Rarely in our modern society do we spend an entire day outside, and there’s just something enchanting about watching a day go by from the exterior of a building rather than locked inside.”

I like.

'Time to think' theme crops up again

A blog was posted on Mail & Guardian's 'Thought Leader' section by Elaine Rumboll that deals with the frenetic pace of our lives and the importance of 'time to think'. I've extracted the following bits that make a lot of sense...

"According to a recent article by Linda Stone [it is actually by Carl Honore] titled, “In Praise of Slow Thinking” [In Praise of Slowness] published in the Huffington Post, “the greatest thinkers in history certainly knew the value of shifting into a lower gear. Milan Kundera talked about ‘the wisdom of slowness’. Albert Einstein spent hours just staring into space in his office at Princeton University. Charles Darwin described himself as a ‘slow thinker’

All these great minds recognised the importance of having time to think, to mull things over, to consider all options. If they didn’t, we might never have had the opportunity to enjoy the results of their world-changing work."

I also liked this paragraph...

"There is no time to plan, no time to reflect, only time to do — and this is manifesting itself in something akin to a “flight or fight” response to life’s demands. In the process we are missing so much, including the discovery of our own true potential and possibilities for innovation."
And I pulled this from Carl's article (nice one)...

"Slow does not mean doing everything at a snail's pace. It means doing things at the right speed -- fast or slow. In other words, you don't have to ditch your career, toss the iPhone and join a commune to slow down. You can be Slow anywhere. ... It's about striking a balance and using time more wisely."


Monday 16 November 2009

Seeking a life unplugged

Creative thinker Dion Chang (although he is often associated with fashion, he isn't a designer - just a trend analyst) was on the radio last week, talking about his new book '2010 Flux Trend Review'.

The one item in the radio interview that caught my attention was 'The unplugged revolution'. I recently addressed the whole adventure/expedition issue in a post and how these brave adventurers are answering a natural calling to explore and make their own tracks across the globe.

From Dion's perspective, we start our day with gadgets and clutter (alarm clock, radio, electric toothbrush, processed food, traffic, telephones, computers, printers, paper everywhere, emails...). We're always 'on' and although these tools have been created to make our lives easier, they weigh us down instead.

This topic has actually been in my mind for the better part of two weeks. We send emails getting answers with a day. In years long gone we would have written a letter, which takes time to get a response. And while speed is good for productivity, it has created a rush-rush-rush lifestyle. We probably do more in a quarter than our grandparents (or parents) did in a year. Dion quite rightly says, of the information that bombards us daily (news, emails, advertising), "the quantity of messages has long superceded the quality".

So this is where Dion's 'Unplugged Revolution' comes in - 'people going back to nature, exploring spirituality and embracing traditional practices like craft and gardening'.

I think this also explains the success of multiday sporting events (get away from it all association) and, I suspect, a greater number of explorers.

This busy pace of life also ties in with something else I've been thinking about - 'time to think'. For the past few years I've been chasing my tail, non-stop. Races, training, work, organising, admin, club, email... it just doesn't end. It was only when I left my day job in June and got a bit of free time in early October that I was able to think about some things.

Also, being in a fairly creative industry (PR, media, communications), time to think is important. When you're chasing your tail and rushing from one client to the next, you cannot possibly have time to come up with creative solutions and fun ideas - they're only half there. This is what it was like at the agency I worked for - no time to just think.

From experience, good intentions are often just that - but I am trying to make sure that I keep some open time in my life specifically for thinking (running is good thinking time too).

Philosopher, Winnie the Pooh, has this to say on the topic...

"Here is Edward Bear now coming downstairs on his head bump bump bump behind Christopher Robin. It is as far as he knows the only way of coming down though he feels there really ought to be a better way if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think about it." – A A Milne, Winnie the Pooh

Have you got time to think?

If you had time to think you could have come up with this too...
(and yes, I did sing through all the options too)

A week of walking

Ray Chaplin is now a week into his 'Walking the line' expedition, where he is walking from Cape Town to Beit Bridge following the railway line. His journey started on Sunday, 8 November 2009.

His first week has not been without its share of excitement...

Day 1 (Sun, 8 Nov): he put in a solid 46km from Cape Point into Cape Town - in the rain.

Day 2 (Mon, 9 Nov): Ray was picked up by the cops; not for doing anything wrong, but because they were concerned about his safety. Crime is rife along the N2 and he is carrying a backpack loaded with cool gear that he is testing.

Day 3 (Tues, 10 Nov): He started where his friend at picked him up - from under police protection - the previous day. He spent the day walking into a driving headwind. Ray passed through Stellenbosch and spent the night camping in the police station grounds of Pniel.

Day 4 (Wed, 11 Nov): Ray awoke after a night spent with his tent battered by strong winds and pouring rain. His mood was lifted when a stranger, who'd been following him on SportsTrack, brought him a cup of coffee on the road. After slipping on the railway tracks and injuring his knee, Ray made it through the Du Toitskloof tunnel and spent the night in the grounds of a lodge on the other side.

Day 5 (Thurs, 12 Nov): His route passed through Rawsonville, spending the night near the Brandvlei dam on the other side of a fence bearing the sign, 'Trespassers will be shot'. Fortunately his hiding place wasn't discovered...

Day 6 (Fri, 13 Nov): Ray headed to Toeka, through Worcester, stopping to make an appearance at the Cape Union Mart. He spent the night behind a garage in Toeka.

Day 7 (Sat, 14 Nov): Prior to his departure, Ray had battles with the railway people - they wanted to stop him from following the line. On this day he finally reached the section of line that was part of his original route plan. The day was not without excitement. It included encounters with children wanting money and a conversation with a child who wanted his cellphone. Ray passed through a number of train stations that are no longer used and was advised many times by DeDoorns locals about the safety hazards of the area.

Day 8 (Sun, 15 Nov): Ray's day started with a jaunt through a squatter camp near the line and passage through a tunnel used by the locals as a latrine... he also picked up a tail, which he lost after he picked up his pace. He travelled through another tunnel, making it out just before a Rovos Rail train approached, storming along the tracks. His next tunnel was 13km long - and he has two train encounters, ducking into 'cubbyholes' inside the tunnel when they passed! But nightfall Ray was ill, probably from contaminated river water. He does filter his water and add purification tablets, but it wasn't enough.

Day 9 (Monday, today): Ray is still ill and vomiting. He has decided to rest today to recover.

"I've re-filtered the water and dropped in another round of tablets... and it seems to be ok this morning. I haven't been sick, but am exceptionally weak & can't even look at food! Not a good sign when I only have 500ml wate left. I HAVE to make it to the dam about 2km ahead today to re-supply... further than that I am not concerned.

I'm in my tent at the moment and got the shivers, so gonna climb back into the sleeping bag for a while & try warm up."

What a week!

Ray is posting superb updates on his website, and also through Facebook, with photos. You can also follow him through SportsTrac. All links on his website.

Tuesday 10 November 2009

'30 Seconds' and half a lifetime

On Saturday night, after the rogaine, a bunch of us played the board game '30 Seconds'. Christo and I were the only ones in our 30's; the other five ranged between 20 and 22.

So the one guy describes an item to his friend as, "It's like the first kinds of soap on tv, the one the old folks watched". Yes, you've got it, Dallas. While I was more of a Falcon Crest girl, I certainly know the trials and tribulations of the Ewings, JR, Miss Ellie, Pam, Bobby (dead, then alive) and the rest of the family. I also still remember the old schoolyard song sang to the show's theme tune, "He's mean, he's rich, his wife is a b-ch, he drives a big limousine.... he lives in a palace on the other side of Dallas and his name is JR". Hahaha.

So then Christo gets a card and he prompts his young teammates with, "It's an old tv show with the guy who cleaned the house and his daughter and the blond lady; Tony Danza was the guy". "Who is Tony Danza?" was the reply. Anyone older than 7 in the mid-late 80's would know Who's the Boss? - classic tv programme.

We then giggled about watching programmes in simulcast (being Afrikaans, Christo watched the badly dubbed Afrikaans version; I tuned in to Radio 2000 to listen to the show's original soundtrack in English, while watching it on telly). A classic simulcast programme was Remington Steele, with a younger Pierce Brosnan.

Christo and I got chatting about all those old classic tv programmes that we grew up watching. They were mostly wholesome; people were less abusive to each other.

In the morning I woke up thinking about two of my animated favourites, which I watched in primary school - Robotech and ThunderCats (first aired in 1985). We would run around the playground being Lion-O, Cheetara and Wileykit and Wilykat - and if you flicked your hair just right in the swimming pool you could get your hair into a Thundercats' hairstyle!. Thunder-thunder-thunder-ThunderCats - Ho! I am soooo Cheetara!

I've just done a search on YouTube and, what do you know, I found the intro episode to ThunderCats and I've also discovered that a new movie was on the cards from Warner Bros, due for 2010-ish. Looks like it has been shelved.

Even more fun is this fan-made 'movie trailer' on YouTube, created by a graphic artist. It isn't a trailer from the real movie; this guy has spent a year and a half (on and off) pulling sequences from other movies to create ThunderCats characters from well-known actors. All the effects were done frame by frame in Photoshop. It is awesome! It's creator, Wormy TV (this links to his blog), has used Brad Pitt and Mel Gibson as Lion-O, Hugh Jackman as Tygra and my dream date, Vin Diesel, as Panthero. Watch this really cool Thundercats Movie trailer (fan made) - it is delightful.

Aside from all this reminiscing, my thoughts about this age thing is that we are so used to taking part in sports with people much younger (and older) than ourselves; we don't often notice the age difference. A simple game of '30 Seconds' was a light-hearted reminder. The reality is that Christo and I are 12-13 years older than our Abu Dhabi teammates. It's a good thing that questions about 80's (and early 90's) tv programmes are not adventure racing disciplines! hahahaha

Walking around South Africa

There's a guy, Kyle Meenehan, who has been walking around South Africa's perimeter since 9 May 2009. He's pulling a cart, loaded with his necessaries. Kyle blogs ( every week or two (or less), updating readers on his progress and experiences. The posts make for good reading.

A recent nasty experience isn't on his blog; South of Mocambique border, as he headed to Richards Bay, Kyle was robbed and robbers tried to scam money from his Dad saying they had kidnapped him. It all ended ok and he continues his journey.

With the exception of Mountain Club of South Africa (MCSA) support, Kyle's adventure is unsponsored. He won MCSA's SuperTramp Award, an annual cash prize awarded by the Mountain Club of South Africa to young people planning expeditions or trips of interest.

"The sponsorship has made the walk possible, covering the bulk of my food and accommodation costs and for this, I am incredibly grateful the MCSA, the committee members who determine the winner of the Supertramp Award, and the anonymous donor who funds it," Kyle says.

As he started from CT and is currently walking down the East coast, Kyle still has quite a way to go. The total distance is around 5,800km and he says that the route never strays more than 100km from the nearest coastline or border. What an amazing journey!

Thanks to Darrell for letting me know about this.

Monday 9 November 2009

Foot rogaine map and route

Below I've included our foot rogaine route. We headed West from the event centre (Lakenvlei Lodge, on the dam - double circle) and then 'across' the dam below the dam wall before angling mostly North. We moved in a clockwise direction, working our way uphill (starting from control 204, 207, 223 etc).

Where the forest terrain was good, we cut through the forest. Where it was nasty, like on the South western side, we stuck to roads.

For comparison, Christo and Nathan, the winning team, headed East first, working from 201, 205, 231, 230, 221, 220 and then they zigzagged, getting the furtherest North controls in an anti-clockwise direction. They descended on the Western side going 227, 213, 212, 211, 208, 225 etc. They did leave out 246, 244 and 248. They may have gotten 245 (I can't remember). They also left out 209 and 206, which were close to home. And, I think, those were the only ones they left out.

Rogaining fun in the rain

Ah... one of my favourite events of the year - the annual CapeStorm Rogaine. It was, as usual, a super event, even though it rained almost non-stop. This meant that the temperature was perfect for running, we didn't run out of water and it was actually great fun running in the drizzle. The pity is that less than half of the 100 teams entered showed up for the race.

I've put up a brief post on our Team blog. I'll add more here in the next day or so with a map of our route.

On adventurers and explorers; walking the line

I have given much thought to adventures and explorers the past few months; it is tied in with a project that I'm working on, but it is also a personal interest thing. I have long had a near-obssession with adventurers - of days gone by and modern; my bookcase bears witness to my fascination with polar expeditions and seafaring explorers.

Where I happily run multiday foot races or I participate in multiday adventure races, there's that built in element of safety and of the known. An expedition, on the other hand, especially a solo endeavour, is often about doing something never done before, venturing into the unknown and little explored and travelling from one place to the next under your own steam. An expedition, by its nature, should take an extended period of time - like more than a month or two.

Modern day explorers row across oceans, man-haul through polar regions, cycle around continents or go faster, higher and longer than anyone before them.

The effort, planning, thought and logistics that goes into preparing for an expeditition is a massive undertaking. Food, equipment, route, communication, sponsors... your bases have to be covered because help is not readily at hand.

At a lunch last weekend I was chatting to an older chap about adventurers and the expeditions that they undertake. He asked, "How long has this been going on and why do they do it?"

Humans have always been explorers - they have headed out since the beginning of time to discover new places and people on our planet. Blank maps were gradually coloured in as the great unknown became known. Whether seeking resources, aiming to conquer new lands or curiously wanting to know what was on the other side, people have always ventured forth, exploring their surroundings.

Now, we can colour in those blank sections for ourselves with the help of Google Earth and Big Brother satellites. In the most tame version of exploring, we travel to foreign lands as tourists, we watch Discovery and Nat Geo and we attend events that pass through out of the way places. We may load up a Landy to drive through a country, stopping at sites along the way. The more adventurous hop on motorbikes or bicycles, touring through countries, mostly keeping to inhabited regions.

The most adventurous aim for uninhabited regions on self-sufficient, human-powered expeditions. Why? Because they need to.

Exploring and adventuring is, I believe, the natural order. Sitting behind a desk, working on a computer under fluorescent lights IS NOT natural. But, it is the way of our society. And while most of the population enjoys or is tolerant of this, there are people who just cannot survive in this environment. In order to 'fit in' most of the time they have to take time out to answer the urge that makes them restless - they have to travel and explore. And to do this many of them compromise and sacrifice personal and professional elements that are traditional desirables in modern society.

I first met Ray Chaplin on email - must have been about 5 or 6 years ago. We met in person some time later when Ray moved back to SA after working for some time in Dubai. Ray has a penchant for adventure and expeditions. In 2007 he cycled solo for 41 days across South Africa from Cape Town to Pretoria. This, and other shorter trips, gave him a taste for expeditioning. He has just started (yesterday) his most challenging undertaking - a walk from Cape Town to the SA-Zimbabwe border at Beit Bridge along the railway line (for the most part). It will probably take him just under three months to complete this 2100km solo journey; and then he'll cycle back to Cape Town!

Ray's expedition is called 'Walking the line' and while this relates to the railway line, I think it is also fitting in terms of 'normal society' vs heading off on expeditions.

And why is he doing it? Because he NEEDS to and WANTS to. He's answering the call. To make this trip commercially viable Ray is doing extensive product testing - gear in the categories of packs, sleeping bags, stoves, apparel and footwear. He'll put these goods through very similar conditions over a period of roughly the same duration and distance, writing up reviews along the way. Ray is a gear guru so his reports will make for good and insightful reading.

You can follow Ray's adventure through Facebook, Twitter and by satellite tracking and postings on his website at

It is so easy to enter races and to participate in organised sporting events; it really is a completely different thing to set off on your own, even where the unknown is known. Goodness, I'm chicken riding my bike on Jo'burg's roads on my own... I have great admiration for Ray and the many other explorers who take off on these brave journeys to follow their hearts.

Take care out there friend. See you Dec/Jan.

Saturday 7 November 2009

Foot photo makes foot guru's blog

John Vonhof is THE ultrarunning and adventure racing foot care guru. He's also a friend - we met at Primal Quest in the US in 2004 and have remained in contact since. John wrote a sweet post about the photo I sent him from the TransRockies Run (Aug 09, Colorado) where I prepped my foot, with Matt's assistance, for Salomon's daily photo competition.

John has a super blog and website - the best foot care resource around -