Countdown to the Desert Dash
1 August 2013
We are very grateful to Momsen Bikes and Mannie’s Bike Mecca who have graciously agreed to supply the team with brand new Momsen Al129 mountain bikes! This basic, South African-designed sturdy 29” hardtail is ideal for an ultra-distance like the Desert Dash, and the team is looking forward to receiving their bikes soon. The well-known Namibian cyclist Mannie Heymans will help the team with their training programme and will also show them the basics of bike maintenance and roadside repairs.
Various other sponsors will cover the costs of equipment, spare tubes and clothing. Look out for the team kit, which is currently being designed, and which we will unveil here.
3 August 2013
The training programme has started! Early this morning, and again in the afternoon, the team went out on the main Gobabeb-Vogelfederberg road, learning about interval training (watch this video to see them working up some speed). For now they are still using their dikwielfietse and normal clothes until the sponsored bikes and kit arrive. Says Richardt: “This interval training is too easy, I was not even tired.” Linda disagrees: “My legs are tired! I need a lot more training.”
The training programme will gradually increase in intensity, and there are plans to train on the hills in the Us pass as well – the Gobabeb roads are not hilly enough. Later on we will do some night riding as well; all things that require some getting used to.
12 August 2013
Today the team studied the Desert Dash route and tried to comprehend the distances and tactics. In a 4-man team, all members ride together for the first 35km, before handing over to the first long-stage rider. From here the team members alternate in four stages that are each about 75km long. The first long stage is relatively easy, flat with a good surface, although the afternoon westerly can cause suffering and the last 20km is very hilly. The second hand-over point at the Kuiseb bridge is approached by early evening, and the next rider will have to switch on his/her lights to pedal until about 1:30am, enduring hundreds of hills and copious dust. The third long stage, swinging past Ganab in the Namib-Naukluft Park before heading north to the Bloedkoppie area, starts and finishes in the dark, and is relatively flat, but the corrugations can kill you. The last long stage (which last year ended in Goanikontes) is the best one, flat, good surfaces and pedaling occurs in the light of day (mostly). But this rider will have no rest after this stage, having to mount up again immediately to be joined by the rest of the team for the last 45km to Swakopmund. By the time they arrive at the finish line, they will be dead tired, but proud.
The total distance in 2012 was a staggering 370km! Will they make it?
28 August 2013
The bikes have arrived! Four brand spanking new Momsen AL129 bicycles from Mannie’s Bike Mecca. Thanks Mannie, thanks Victor Momsen!
Everybody as excited as kids, immediately jumped on the bikes for a spin down the road. We worked through some basic principles of maintenance and care, but Mannie will do better training later.
29 August 2013
The whole team is eager to get going. However, multiple front and rear gears are new concepts for all, so we spent some time testing the different gear ratios and trying out different down- and uphills to get a better feel for when one should shift up or down. The key challenge: learn to look ahead and anticipate the gears before the terrain changes.
7 & 8 September 2013
This weekend we went out to start marking the routes for the upcoming GobaDash race. The 40km route especially needs a lot of work. It is based on existing cyclepaths, footpaths, goat and donkey trails and game trails. In many places these paths are not clear enough to prevent participants in the race from getting lost or taking wrong turns – we would like to make sure there are no extra tracks created in this protected area! So we have to indicate these routes using stones, markings and arrows. A lot of work! But it looks like all the team members are getting on top of the technical aspects of their bikes, managing quite steep technical descents and easily keeping up with more experienced riders. They may have a fighting chance for the race.
9 September 2013
Unanimous decision: the team will all participate in GobaDash adventure route of 40km! Good luck!
19 September 2013
Frantic preparations for the GobaDash (and Gobabeb Open Day!). Out for whole day marking routes. Arrows everywhere! Thanks to friends and colleagues who helped! Especially Coastal Cycling Club’s Klaus Frielingsdorf, Robbie Steinmetz and others.
Gobabeb Open Day. Last minute preparations for the race. The team is raring to go!
GobaDash Race. The results speak for themselves: 40 km, first rider home: Richard Swartbooi!!! Second: Samuel //Gowaseb!!! A resounding success for Team Topnaar, coming first and second! Jeffrey also finished well, but Linda unfortunately had to give up close to the finish line because of a persistent flat wheel. We have learned a valuable lesson about maintenance: before a race you have to make sure there is sealant in the wheels! Never mind, the team is extremely proud of this milestone.
28 September 2013
No let-up of pressure: Samuel and Richard cycling to Walvis Bay today, returning tomorrow. 110km each way.
1 October 2013
Bad news: Linda has to go into hospital for an operation. Wishing her good luck.
7 October 2013
Looks like Linda will have to withdraw! The team is very despondent.
14 October 2013
After an extensive search for a replacement for Linda, the team has selected Whitey Uirab of Natab 2. When not cycling, Whitey is a farmer tending his goats. The team gave him a formal test, looking at his ability to ride fast for short periods, and then took him for a long ride to see how his endurance levels are. They are happy that he will be able to fill Linda’s shoes. Whitey did agree that the added demands of racing will mean that he will have to cut back on smoking a bit. Which is good on all accounts.
1 November 2013
Good news: Tjipe Murangi of Mannie’s Bike Mecca will be at Gobabeb on the weekend of the 11th of November to train the team in the finer points of technical skills, bike maintenance and racing the feared Desert Dash!
The team trains on the roads around Gobabeb and on other roads in the vicinity. A handy loop route starting at Gobabeb’s gate is used for interval training, and hill training will be done on the Us Pass road, which is part of the Desert Dash and has many, many hills.