About David Clothier

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far David Clothier has created 5 blog entries.

The Cross Cape

2017-08-07T15:32:27+00:00

When you embark on the Cross Cape cycle route, you’re opening yourself up to a multitude of invigorating and unique experiences.

The smell of fynbos, the feel of cool ocean breezes, the sights of wide open spaces, the sounds of wildlife and the tastes of local culture will move you like no other journey can.

That’s why the Cross Cape cycle route is no ordinary journey. It’s a journey through the senses.

Credits: Western Cape Government & Cape Cycle Routes

The Cross Cape 2017-08-07T15:32:27+00:00

Scouting Patagonia

2017-07-31T18:59:15+00:00

I have to pinch myself while traveling to Patagonia from Cape Town, South Africa. I am actually visiting the land I believed to only exist in fairy tales narrated by David Attenborough. Heinrich is meeting me at the Buenos Aries Airport after his three week expedition to Mt Aconcagua in the Andes Mountains. From there we start the scouting of Onbike’s 14 day Patagonia mountain bike expedition.

Arriving in San Carlos Bariloche

As the rolling slums of Buenos Aries are left behind, Heinrich and I find it hard to imagine what our adventure will bring. Our exploring began at San Carlos Bariloche. This quant town welcomed us with the most beautiful views starting the moment you arrive at the airport. Strings of specialised craft breweries, chocolate connoisseurs, friendly faces and the aromas of food line the streets. We completed our scouting of the area and finalised the route, super stoked with what Onbike’s clients will get to enjoy during their ride here.

The seven lakes road

The next couple of days took us through the breath taking seven lakes area. The overwhelming amount of natural beauty that surrounded us often left us in awe and giggling in disbelief. We were able to spot trout in the rivers from way up high on more than one occasion. Swerving condors often reminded us of the neighboring Atacama desert before we crossed over from lush green hills onto the beautiful steppe.

The land of plenty

Food glorious food. Covering this journey on bike is a great way to balance the unbelievably delicious food you get to eat. Vegetarians may want to look the other way as meat is really big in Argentina. Being avid foodies ourself, we learnt a few tricks from the masters of braai and could not resist indulging in the fine cuts of marbled Argentinean beef. When you order a side of fries, be hungry and prepared for the mountain of perfectly crispy papa fritas heading your way. The patagonia craft beer industry is an experience in itself. Most breweries have their own bars where you get to enjoy their brews, normally with some delicious food compliments. And then of course, there is the chocolate and ice cream shops that stay open well into the night!

A sanctuary in the mountain

Heinrich had just returned from a month in the Andes mountains so I did not want to insist on a hike up to Refugio Frey. Thankfully, I only needed to casually mention it conversation and we were packed and ready to go. Taking a welcome break from our scouting, we started our hike early in the morning. We had food for one night and a little tent I brought along from South-Africa. Little did we know, we were about to walk into what now remains a sanctuary in the mountain in my memories. The hike in gets the heartbeat up and is a true feast for the eyes. We saw some of the most epic rock climbing up the Cero Catedral and although we heard it can become quite crowded here, we were spoiled with a a small group visiting and a great vibe amongst everyone. We ordered our wood fired pizza from the hut which we enjoyed with a bottle of wine next to the lake that night. The weather was perfect and although the temperature dropped, the sky was clear and it felt like you could touch the shimmering cloud of stars above us.

Mapuche surprises

Whenever Heinrich and I travel, we look for the true heart and soul of an area. When we arrived in Villa Pehunia, located on the North shore of lake Alumine and at the foot of the Patagonian Andes, we asked around about where the locals go to relax. We were directed via an isolated and overgrown dirt road which eventually brings you to a tiny wood shack with a boom. A young girl accepted our money in exchange for a hand written note and our dirt road continued. Just as our scepticism started building, the road brought us to a crystal clear lake with perfect camping spots right on its shores.

This area belongs to the Mapuche who allows people who knows about it to enjoy its beauty and serenity. I have never seen a camp site like this one. Soft moss like grass polls on the shores of the lake are frequented by the most beautiful parrots and butterflies who feed and enjoy the sun that bathes through the thick canopy of trees. A couple of fisherman could be seen far away and here and there we saw people swimming in the cool lake. We dipped into the lake with an ice cold beer a few times before pitching our tent and starting our fire to cook our meal for the evening.

Adventure paradise Pucon

We concluded our scouting with three nights in Pucon. An adventure hub situated on Lake Villarrica at the foothills of Volcano Villarrica. What an amazing place. I think a part of my heart is still amid the rushing blue rivers, temperate rainforest and lakeside beaches that welcomed us. The white water rafting in this part of the world is not to be missed. We met inspirational and hardcore local rafting guides who makes navigating a kayak down a class 4 river look as easy as driving a car. We explored the area on mountain bike and savoured wood fire oven bake Chivo (lamb) at cafes we would normally not give a second look. There really is something for everyone in Pucon. From warm water healing spas, raw and vegan eateries , snowboarding, down hill mountain biking and hiking to markets, craft fairs and elegant casinos.

Our stay here was the perfect ending to an unforgettable journey. I will have to find a way to get back here… perhaps as a second for the Onbike Patagonia expedition…hint, hint.

Scouting Patagonia 2017-07-31T18:59:15+00:00

A Powerful Experience

2017-07-14T12:41:14+00:00

THIS WAS NINE SOLID DAYS OF RIDING, pushing, hiking, wading and swimming. The journey served up broken pedals, broken ribs, broken morale, slashed tyres, shredded shoes and countless bruises. For most of the route we cycled in total isolation – no buildings, cars, people or cellular signal. Just a puffin or two… The complete solitude and isolation deep in the nature park is more powerful then anyone can imagine and the only way to understand it is do the journey yourself. As the journey progressed, I took things into my life that everything around me gave. The journey was painful, which reminded me that everyone else was in pain. The journey was not complicated but it taught that even the most straightforward routes can be inconceivably hard. It was also incredibly long, but it taught patience, and how to look after yourself and your team. It was all about getting through this together, one kilometre at a time. The journey was also indescribably beautiful. It taught me to stop, say nothing and simply take it all in. It was a gift just to be there.

Yes, there were fingers and toes that were blue and numb, shoes and feet broken by sharp lava rocks, neck spasms and cramping muscles. But there were also untouched moon-like fields, crystal clear blue rivers, snow-coated volcanoes and incredible geysers pushing steam high into the sky. The ever-changing landscape and the extremes of weather was brutal – but I would not have changed a thing. We did what we set out to do, and it felt amazing to survive a trip of this calibre.

A Powerful Experience 2017-07-14T12:41:14+00:00

Saffas Conquer Iceland

2017-07-14T12:28:50+00:00

I

AM STANDING NEXT TO MY Giant Anthem Advanced X mountain bike about to embark on one of the biggest adventures of my life. My back wheel is touching the Artic ocean at almost 60 degrees North and it feels like I am about to ride into a scene from Lord of the Rings.

Next to me are eight other riders, a  group of adventure legends with experiences and accolades ranging from the Cape Epic to 7 summits and multiple Mount Everest summiteers. We share a common goal and it has brought us to this place. A place of pristine beauty, a place with raging rivers, active volcano’s, hot geysers exploding ten’s of meters into the air and steam gushing from the earth. This this the land of fire and ice. This is Iceland.

It started back in the winter of 2014, when Sean Disney and myself began researching and putting together a mountain bike expedition to traverse Iceland from the North to the South across 678km of wilderness terrain. It will form part of Onbike’s products to offer the seven giants of mountain biking. Over the course of the next year together with our Icelandic ground partner this trip started becoming a reality as we crafted a itinerary.

On 19th August 2015 it was finally time to take that once-a-year weather window when the snow have receded enough for us to be able to bike across the island’s  interior highlands. We rounded up our team in Reykjavik, assembled our bikes and went over the last minute expedition brief as we prepared for our transfer to Jökulsárgljúfur National Park, where our expedition will start the next day.

INTO THE UNKNOWN

On the morning of our first of nine riding days, I picked up a combination of excitement and nervousness amongst the guys. The uncertainty of the un-known was ever present as this route had never before been cycled in its entirety by mountain bike. There was no turning back as we packed up camp and got ourselves ready to start the trip of a lifetime.

The first 100m or so was sticky as we started in thick sand from the beach. The next 20km was plain sailing as we warmed up the legs after all the travel on the only tar road on-route soon to be followed by a turn-off and onto the rough stuff.  The rest of day one’s  5hour ride saw us bike various terrain of technical single track all alone with the Jökulsá River below until we turned away into a valley and reached camp at Elífsvötn, a mountain lake where we spent the night.

Over the coarse of the next 2 days we left all signs of civilisation behind as we rode to he highlands of Iceland across black plains of volcanic rock gaining 1500m in elevation. With the gain in altitude came a drop in temperature and increased wind speeds. The weather in Iceland can change rapidly, especially in the highlands.  Summer temperatures range between 5 – 8 degrees celsius with winter averaging – 2  to – 4 degrees celsius. Average temperatures in the highlands are normally 3 – 5 degrees colder due to the gained altitude, highland glaciers.

Our team soon settled into an pattern. Following a breakfast fit for kings we would break-up camp, pack the food water and repair supplies we needed for the day, and load everything else into our support vehicle. A modified Nissan Patrol pulling a customised trailer, it had monster off road abilities and served as a camping rig, bike shop and restaurant, transporting everything we needed between overnight stops. While is didn’t follow us all day, it was on hand to come to our rescue is case of an emergency . Our overnight accommodation was a combination camping and remote mountain huts. The expedition was lead by Runar , our local Icelandic guide guide, Sean and myself, and between us we assisted and managed various rider levels and speeds to keep the group together as we crossed the wilderness environment .

Everyone was riding cross country or marathon duel suspension mountain bikes fitted with 2.3 – 2.4mm tyres and 29-inch wheels. We had opted for maximum grip and pace in the soft stuff while maintaining the minimum rolling resistance we felt we needed considering the distance ahead.

A DAY OF EXTREMES

On day 4, shortly after entering the highlands, the quest became even more real. We kicked the day of with an early wade through a waist deep glacial river. With an evident step up in what the elements were going to bring in the days ahead, our bodies started to feel fatigued with almost 300km behind us, we faced the reality of what it’s going to take to successfully and safely finish this expedition. It was at this time that the group dynamics, as it so often does took a turn. The real experience in the Onbike expedition team started to show as the going got tougher. With deteriorating whether, windspeed of up to 60km per hour and periodic ice rain the team worked together, blocking out the discomforts, sharing snacks during our rest stops and focused on getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Three hours into what prove to be the longest day of the trip, we arrived a  vast lava field, the result of a recent crack in a volcano. We’d been warned that might encounter, but had no way of knowing the exactly where until we got to it.  The lava field meant a four hour-hour detour on a day that already held the biggest climbs and longest and coldest river crossings of our trip.

Its was during this day that we all paid our school fees, experiencing the distinct  characteristics of taking mountain bike touring to an expedition level. We cycled over terrain and surfaces which even the most experienced in the team have never even seen. From flood planes of compacted glacier silt, barren black lava field and crackling volcanic pumice rock that float past you on river streams.

We were now almost right in the geographical middle of Iceland. The bikes were giving us their best  and we were pushing every piece of equipment to the maximum. Nothing challenges a drive train, shocks or a pair of hubs like spray coating it in fine glacial silt topped with volcanic crusher dust. We were not only managing our increasing fatigue, but at this stage realised we had to nurse our steeds to take us all the way.

This day was hard, this day was painful and it pushed everyone in the team to their limits.  After nearly 13 hours in the saddle, our way was once again blocked – this  time by a raging river . Our support vehicle had to be called in to help us across, which meant a further delay while we waited for us to reach us. Riders and their bikes were taken across four at a time, and we regrouped on the opposite bank for the final two-hour push to camp.

The evening of our longest, most gruelling day had us cycling well into the night. But as so often, a day of lows ended on a high. As we cycled towards camp , after 17 hours and 109km of intense riding, a blood red moon rose and an array of blue and green Northern Lights began to dance in the night sky. Sharing this still gives me goosebumps!

AT OCEANS END

Over the next four days we were spoiled with multiple extended downhills over remote virgin single track and back-country gravel roads. And just when we thought our eyes had seen all the beauty there was to see, the mountains parted to reveal a valley of glacier rivers hugged by rolling banks of neon-green moss.

The last last day of our expedition is etched in my memory forever. After three hours in the saddle, we had a mean 5km of hike-a-bike to complete. I will never forget the moment we cleared the crest of that mountain and got our first glimpse of the Northern Atlantic – the goal and end point of our expedition. We had made it!

Our final descent took us past a massive waterfall and down to the sea. We had started with our our back wheels in the Arctic and we finished with our front wheels in the Northern Atlantic. Thrilled with our massive achievement , we cracked open a bottle of Icelandic vodka right there in the icy water and celebrated the end of what had been a truly epic journey.

Saffas Conquer Iceland 2017-07-14T12:28:50+00:00