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15th January, 2013

Travel, we all know comes in many guises, forms and tastes, but here is something that is relatively new to me, veteran traveller that I am - sport travel. There are diffrent kinds of 'sport travel' like a skiing trip to the Alps or the Rockies (yawn, been there done that a gazillion times) or a scuba diving vacation (HUGE yawn been there etc.) and more recently a hiking adventure in Corsica - but these aren't the sport holidays I am referring to. The kind of sport travel I mean is to travel to a sport event, a competition, in which the traveller competes. Over the past year this has been perhaps my most travelled travel. I have done a cycle race in Bloemfontein, and spent two very interesting days in a town I would not have ever have considered spending time in. It was a bit of a revelation if not a tad weird. Bloem is a kind-of eclectic mix of banjo duellers and marimba thumpers... but I have written about this before and won't subject it to my clutchful of readers here, suffice it to say the sport-experience launched a series of weekend or one-nighters around the country. Travel compadre Amanda and I have dodged leopard tortoises and suffered pious bigots and bad food in Langebaan where we rode around the lapis lazuli lagoon in a stiff South Easter; almost drowned in a dam during a trathlon in Pietrmaritzberg but overnighted in a grand-old Victorian hotel in the heart of Natal's old capital. And in preparation for Die Burger (a moerese fast 100k cycle race in the Cape Winelands) we checked into a cottage amid the oaks (and okes) in South Africa's wine heartland, Stellenbosch, just a few hundred metres from the start of the race. We enjoyed not just a long lunch with copious bottles of local wine at a sidewalk restuarant but also an equally long dinner with even more food and wine at the same place (for those passing through Stellies The Apprentice restaurant is run by students from the Institute of Culinary Arts and is sublime). Not the sort of thing a sports competitor should be doing but the fare had good effect because our finishing times were of championship standards - at least compared to our previous races. The race was followed by a breakfast (no wine this time) with friends, still in bike tights but now delving in the sport of people-watching from a table on a leafy lane across from the magnificent old Dutch Reformed Church that disgorged unto the world it's flock at the end of the Sunday morning service.

Our new 'thing', thanks to our penchant for hiking in mountains, is trail running. A and I competed in our first race in Grabouw amid the pine forests, apple trees and dangerously near the acclaimed vines of Paul Cluver, which is always enough to distract us from the sporting task at hand. The great thing about trail running, like hiking, is that you get out there, where I like to be, in and among nature. It's a great excuse to leave home and despite enjoying the view at a galloping pace, somehow experiencing nature through adrenaline-tinted lenses is a novel idea. As a result my sport-travel schedule for the next few months is packed with adventures from the Tygerberg Nature Reserve to the Garden Route and beyond. Some events even include night trails and THAT is another neoteric travel experience altogether.

I reckon that if I get really good at this trail running and cycling stuff, who knows, there are competitions all over the planet and thus it becomes yet another perspective on the world.


Into the breeze at langebaan