Looking back, we can all agree that 2020 was not the year we envisioned.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought economic uncertainty and social identity disturbance. It also triggered a decline in mental well-being.
What’s more, being confined indoors for an extended period of time left some of us grappling with a lockdown loaf around the waistline.
Diet pills and fads are a dime a dozen and some may effectuate a slight degree of instant relief.
However, long-term results require a sustainable and enjoyable lifestyle change. Becoming more physically active and letting go of unhealthy habits is a good start.
With South Africa being an outdoor Utopia, adopting an active lifestyle is a walk in the park – literally. But if you fancy something more exciting, mountain biking might be your best bet.
Whether you take a hike or choose a bike, the key is to find something you like.
Rediscovering youthful energy
It has been five years since 28-year-old Derrick Kasongo fell head over heels in love with mountain biking. Besides training and racing, Derrick lives for biking tours with friends.
“Cycling makes me feel like a kid again. Every time I get on my bike, I am filled with a feeling of unbridled freedom.”
“Through mountain biking, I have made many friends and became part of a tremendously supportive community of cyclists.”
Derrick takes great pleasure in training. He owes his chiselled physique to early mornings in the gym. He then amps it up by spending hours in the saddle.
He noticed a marked change in his health and appearance when he added cycling to his repertoire.
Derrick says riding his bicycle has improved his cardiovascular fitness and lean body mass. He also feels stronger and more supple in the gym.
Cycling along braes make happy days
That said, Derrick also stresses the social, emotional and mental health benefits of exploring scenic landscapes.
The nature of mountain biking lends itself to group participation. It is based on networking and building friendships.
This is highly beneficial as an individual’s identity is based on group membership. Groups give people a sense of belonging and affiliation. This makes for greater mental stability.
Cruise through tall timbers in Knysna, wind your way along wilderness paths in the Tokai plantation or traverse technical trails through the Drakensberg.
Whichever you choose, freedom and happiness are guaranteed. You even get picturesque waterfalls, rock pools, and mountain streams as bonus.
Complete the experience with a roomy tent under a starry sky, snug duvet, and a cosy pillow. With you being serenaded by night jars, life’s tension becomes a distant memory.
Your guide to biking and camping in comfort
A successful biking trip with friends can be as luxurious or as basic as you choose. The key is carefully packing not just camping gear, but also a cycling kit.
The last thing you want to do is to come with complete camping gear while forgetting your padded cycling shorts at home.
Because the best mountain biking trails are located in isolated areas, the group needs to be self-sufficient.
Make sure nothing gets left behind by bringing a dedicated cycling box along with your camping gear.
14 essential items to keep in your cycling box
- Two cycling outfits
- Cycling shoes (cleats), helmet, gloves,
- Cycling glasses
- Rain jacket
- Water bottles and camelback
- Sports drinks and snacks for nutrition
- Puncture kit
- Chain lube and chain link
- Pump, three CO2 bombs and a CO2 bomb adaptor
- First aid kit
- Identification card in case of emergency
- Portable source of power to keep your cellphone charged.
21st Century camping
Going back to basics does not mean giving up modern comforts. It’s important to make sure your camping gear has all the essentials you will need. However, adding a few items that remind you of home does not hurt.
The greatest comforts after a thrilling day in the saddle are a hot shower and an ice-cold beverage.
In addition, the convenience of a portable pressure washer to blast the mud off your bike without getting yourself dirty is non-negotiable.
12 Items You Simply Can’t Leave off your Camping Gear list
In addition to the said items of comfort, we also recommend adding the following to your camping gear.
- Water container for staying hydrated
- Two towels per person
- Portable washing line
- Camping chairs and foldable table
- Gazebo for additional shade and rain shelter
- A Cadac gas bottle and kettle
- Braai utensils, wood and/or charcoal
- Basic kitchenware
- Dishwashing liquid, skottel, sponge and drying cloths
- Dustpan and brush
- Refuse bags
- Mosquito and bug repellent
Most importantly, be sure to pack a sense of humour for those big hills when fatigue sets in. Remember why you are riding a bicycle -because it’s fun!