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Showing posts from 2013

Halloween

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Also known as All Hallows' Eve celebrated annually on or about 31 October – 1 November. Most of what I have seen regarding this celebration has been on the television or in movies originating in Hollywood - shucks, I first spelled that wrong and had to Google it even though I have been to the place many years ago.

What I have seen is that kids normally go from house to house all dressed up in costumes trick or treating getting sweets. It looks like a huge thing states-wise, but here where I live it hasn't taken off at all. Maybe people feel safer all locked up in their houses cut off and isolated from each other. What a shame. I know they are capable of more friendly interaction in this country, but alas, it's not to be.

I have been to America and noticed how open-minded they are. My first impressions were that the people I met there were very loud, but noticed that beyond that many were very open to communicate with visitors from other countries - me! When I was in New Yor…

Our Cycling History

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On 31 st December 2009 we collected our brand new shiny mountain bikes from a dealer in Boksburg called Cajees. I had a Scott Aspect and Maggie a Schwinn Frontier. Maggie had never owned a bike before, but she managed to ride it around the block. On her following rides she often fell but always got up and tried again. For the first month her legs were always covered with blue marks.

We cycled regularly, sometimes twice a day, and I decided to keep a logbook just for the fun of it. Sean, my son-in-law, wanted us to compete in the Southern Skies 24 Hour Race. On 1 st May 2010 we arrived at Parys totally unprepared for the event. The whole setup looked very intimidating and we soon discovered that we were totally useless on the course. It had rained heavily leaving water puddles everywhere. The conditions were treacherous for us beginners and in some places we had to battle through deep mud. Needless to say we only completed a single lap and left for home early the following day.

A lot …

Race Photos

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Maggie and Janine a few metres form the finish line.

Two competitors coming up the finish line ramp.

This is night riding. Contestants coming over the steel bridge before the end.

Sean and Janine posing with the hall in the background.

Janine and Joshua, my grandson at the start of the OFM mountain bike race.

Janine, Joshua and Sean at the OFM finish line.
Thanks for looking at the blog post. The family are all involved in mountain bike races.

About The Race

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The riders in our team of 2012. Four men and three women made up our mixed team. We were just posing without our riding shorts. Each contestant gets a number after paying to participate.



The start of the Southern Skies 24 Hour Race in 2012. Here the riders have to run an collect their bikes and then exit the hall and come racing down the track on the other side of the fence (where the man with the green shirt is running on the right).



Conditions on the track early on Sunday morning.

Riders waiting in the hall for their team mate to arrive so that they can ride next.
I hope this has shed some more light on the subject of mountain bike competition riding.

The Eiffel Tower at Parys

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I have been asked to write about mountain bike riding by a reader. In one of my previous posts I mentioned the Eiffel Tower at Parys. Well, there it is! To really enjoy your cycling it is a good idea to do some training so that when you participate you will be able to at least do a few rounds. Just managing one lap won't cut it.

We trained on a daily basis for months so that we could contribute towards our team's score. Some days you really enjoy the cycling and other days you have to motivate yourself to ride. If you keep this up you eventually get fitter and can handle quite a bit of riding. Without training you won't last.

Some races, such as the Dunblane March Hare, give you a pretty medal like these for participating. The medals from the Southern Skies 24 Hour Race at Parys are not quite as nice, but are still good for your collection.

There are races all over the place every month. It's a good idea to select an event and distance that you are comfortable with.

I…

Life's Opposites

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There are opposing circumstances in life. You get poor and rich, depressed and ecstatic, naïve and clever, failure and success, fear and faith, sick and healthy, ignorance and knowledge, loneliness and friendship, death and life. What do we make of them? You can hardly go through life without being touched by these contrasting experiences.
I grew up in a poor family, yet experienced the comforting love of a wonderful mother who always saw the best in me. Her words of praise laid a valuable foundation for my life. I believe that her exceptional example has overflowed into my life.
As a result I also excelled in the classroom and on the athletics field. In the ways of the world I was naïve and wasn’t prepared for the disappointments from people bent on manipulation and self-interest. As a young boy I was sickly, being hospitalized at the age of four. The doctors eventually discovered a rare blood disorder called hereditary spherocytosis that left me weak and anaemic. My family moved fr…

Sunday Morning Mahem

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It was another lap we were engaging as Maggie and I made our way up the hill – I accompanied her for support. Having reached the top we carefully cycled down the other side as the sun tried to mop up the wet patches from the previous night’s rain.

In our team, the Spider Riders, we believed in safety and provided assistance and guidance where necessary. Teamwork and camaraderie was our motto.

Going downhill I lagged behind so that Maggie could find her own rhythm on this very technical section, encouraging her all the way. Zoom! An airborne hotshot flashed past me only touching ground here and there as he literally flew downhill. He miscalculated and, with an agonizing clunk of metal, hit Maggie’s bike from behind, both riders and bikes flew in opposite directions.

Stunned, an awkward moment of silence ensued as they tried to recover from the unexpected collision. Slowly both riders got up and looked around in disbelief, having survived the massive impact. The hotshot apologized and …

Horses In The Mist

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Having made it back to our tent it wasn’t long before I retired to my bed and sank into a deep sleep with not a worry in the world – at least I felt safe again amongst my kin. The previous time we raced at Parys we set up camp right next to the hall where the competition was being run and they had the music so loud that those needing a bit of shut-eye before their next turn on the course found it almost impossible to sleep. Realising that this would be a factor again we pitched our tents far away enough to avoid the booming sound.

Competing in a 24-hour race means that you have to endure whatever conditions prevail at the time not succumbing to any desire to quit. The sooner you can get into your groove and master your share of the cycling the better because you are part of a team that depends on you. This is also where the weaker links soon come to the forefront due to the pressure because it ain’t easy. Total commitment is paramount. Anyway, back to my next lap.

Before “the crack o…

There Be A Bad Moon Out Tonight Part 2

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What happened next? The weak headlamp mounted on my helmet would have to do as I entered the dark, wet forest as I felt lost and alone. The silence hung in the air like the whole world had stopped to watch my next move with baited breath – only being broken by the wheels beneath me crunching on the damp earth.

As I piloted my bike along the winding track through the undergrowth I was confronted by an awesome spectacle which cannot be described by mere words. Maybe the invisible beings lurking in the darkness had pity on me for I was treated to the most unusual sight I have ever seen. A night-time garden scene like the movie Avatar seemed to play itself out before my eyes. The light on my helmet burst in all directions off the wet leaves in that forest in a surreal way, glowing with fluorescent brilliance – a virtual magical spectacle. My spirit lifted immediately giving me new strength to get the hell out of there. It felt as if I had been given a head start before those imaginary cr…

Cycle and Recycle

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As we mounted our mountain bikes early this morning to set a positive tone for the day I spied a man with a makeshift trolley down one road to my right. A few seconds later I decided to make a u-turn and head in his direction. I stopped next to him and saw the worried look on his face – he probably thought I was going to complain about what he was doing. Setting his mind at rest I boldly said that I wanted to photograph him and then I asked him about his work.
Stoney is a collector of plastics and other recyclable waste materials and hails from the other side of Esselen Park near Tembisa. From this I deduced that he dwells in a squatter village next to the railway line. I enquired how much he earns for his load of plastic materials and he told me that it usually is twenty rand. Can you imagine trying to live off R 20.00 a day? That’s like $2. What a humbling experience it was talking to this man. Here is someone doing an excellent job of helping recycle the world, scraping together a…

There Be A Bad Moon Out Tonight!

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With all the excitement of yesterday we were really looking forward to another wonderful, sunny day, but it never happened because a chill came along carried by the wings of the wind turning our efforts into a struggle against the elements. We took the good with the bad and accepted the challenge. After all that's what cycling is all about.

We've experienced a lot worse during our 24 hour race in Parys where I endured a power failure on the LED headlight I had borrowed from Sean, my son-in-law whilst riding in a thick forest of trees in the pitch dark with the pale moon hidden behind clouds of rain - sounds scary, hey? I could just about visualize the gremlins ready to pounce on this lonesome rider and almost saw their beady little eyes sizing me up from those dark corners. That was after I made my way past the gloomy graveyard where the lights played tricks with my mind and I almost landed in an open tomb. Most of the time you ride alone in the wet, dark night all shivering …

Spring Ride

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I reset my saddle, rinsed off my bike, pumped the rear tyre a bit harder and away we went on a glorious Spring afternoon into a feast of scents from the neighbourhood gardens, smiling all the way. We enjoyed a leisurely ride winding under arching trees on our familiar course - not too far for a first ride, but enough to get some freshness into our our long dormant limbs.

A majestic sunset greeted us as we returned in the fading light, the tiny LED's alerting oncoming traffic of our presence. Four courteous drivers slowed down to make way for us. As we parked our bikes in the shed we determined to repeat this enjoyable process early tomorrow morning again, so we added some extra LED's to Maggie's bike.

Everyone has their passion. Some lift weights to mould their bodies into glorious sculptures while others dance over swords for enjoyment - the list goes on. We cycle to de-stress and unwind with the added benefit of healthier bodies that won't end up developing into cou…

A Quilt to sleep under

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This is Maggie's quilt. A while ago she made one for a friend and chose a pattern for a future project. Last year we received some material off-cuts from someone and she had the bright idea to start with her project. Just looking at all those pieces of material made me wonder what she was going to do with them.

It took her 4 months of hard work and lots of creativity to come up with the end product. Maggie stuck to her guns and never gave up. Hundreds of blocks were laboriously sized and cut, then pieced together, resulting in this beautiful design. She was even told that it wasn't a quilt and that she was just creating patchwork. Who cares. It looks fabulous and is cosey and warm to sleep under during the cold winter nights. One friend even asked her to make one when she saw the photo.

The great benefit of having this quilt on our bed is that it isn't heavy like a lot of our other bedding. Awesome work Maggie.

Just Another Day

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As the sun kisses the distant rooftops we set out on our bicycles to experience the freedom and release from the day's stress that comes from cycling. At the first corner of the field two tiny chihuahuas attack me and I just pick up speed and they worry me no more.

When I told Maggie (my wife) that I was going to ride to get some fresh air she switched her computer off and started getting her riding gear on - she needs no invitation. At the next corner we entered the shade and felt the temperature drop considerably - Maggie calls it the cold road. Next followed the slight downhill and we accelerated a bit.

Another corner and we enter the sunny patch again as we pass Java jealously viewing us from our yard. Ahead we have those pesky little chihuahuas again. This time the skinny little fellow has a go at my ankles and I kick at it but she is too careful not to get too close. In the end I just decide to pump harder on the pedals and that gets me away from the little pest.

At the nex…

Cherry Picker Specialist

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The first time I came across the term cherry picker I pictured workers in a field picking cherries with the sun high in a blue sky, similar to what I have seen in the movies. Somehow I had it wrong because a cherry picker is a magnificent piece of technology that people use to access objects high above the ground, sometimes in maintenance and sometimes in construction - not just limited to those.

The picture on the left gives you an idea of just how high these cherry pickers can lift working crew above the ground - it makes me dizzy just thinking of being in that cage at the top. Well, that's how some people make a living being hoisted high up in the air to reach the structures they are building, cleaning or fixing.

There are many types of cherry picker machines, some of which are trailer mounted and driven by diesel motors or electric or even both. To get a better idea of some of the most popular machines you can go to http://www.saplatforms.co.za to have a look. The company tha…

Switchgear Refurbishing

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On 25 February I wrote an article about ageing switchgear - that they can be quite a headache. Three options were offered in fixing the problem, nm. replace the unit, refurbish it or do a retrofit.

Well, whichever option works out the best, there is just one other thing to consider and that is who you are going to contact for the best service. Someone with the right experience and know-how.

There is a rock-solid company that has been doing refurbishing and retrofitting to switchgear for years and they have a good reputation. To find out more about that company you just have to navigate to http://www.herlec.co.za.

Neighbourhood & Business Security by Formal Security

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Formal Security Services is situated on the East Rand where they deliver passionate security services to their community and beyond. To find out more about what Formal Security Services have to offer you can follow the link to http://www.formalsecurity.co.za and see what they have to offer.

Their website was created by Ashworth Web.

How Safe is your Pool?

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A swimming pool is a wonderful place to enjoy with friends and family. Many South African homes have a pool. The question is, is your pool safe? Does it have a net or protective covering?

S A Pool Nets and Covers are just the people to contact to get a quotation for that pool net or pool cover. They are very competitive with their prices and ensure that the net is fitted properly to ensure the safety of your guests and dogs.

S A Pool Nets and Covers also support the Rhino Fund - something very needed these days. If you would like to see some of their work you can follow the link http://www.sapoolnetsandcovers.co.za.

Budget Speech

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Today is an important day for us in South Africa because our Minister of Finance is going to read his budget speech. I expect him to follow the usual path that he has been travelling for the last couple of years. No big surprises and no big innovations and really no great news.

If we are not too critical we will realise that life is like that anyway - it costs. We all love getting something for nothing, but life really isn't like that at all. The vegetables in my garden didn't just appear from nowhere just because I desired them. No, it took hard work to get them there and now all I need to do is to water them and add a little earthworm tea now and then.

So then if we approach life expecting to pay the price to get what we want instead of wanting it for nothing, then we will appreciate what we get. On the other hand we need good, responsible leadership to look after this magnificent country called South Africa. We want to be proud of living here again.

Smile - Because You Can

Is your switchgear getting old?

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Ageing switchgear can cause quite a headache. You can do one of three things when you experience problems. You can decide to replace the unit or you can refurbish it. Lastly you can go for the retrofit option. But, before you rush that decision you should stop to think the process through.

Modern switchgear has evolved to a point where it is safer to operate than the old switchgear. The modern trend towards safety and user liability makes this an important criteria. Networks are becoming more and more automated. This may require technology far beyond the capability of the old switchgear. Availability of skilled personnel may become a problem and prices might be exorbitant. Parts have a limited production life as technology improvements cause them to be superseded. Lack of spares normally result in malfunctions or equipment being beyond repair.
Once you have considered these factors you are faced with three options: Replacement, Refurbishment or Retrofit. These three options are cover…