Archive for August 2010
Traversing along the Wild Coast on bicycles is a privilege. That rugged coastline is no friend to car or bakkie due to lack of roads and bridges, however tackle it via Mountain Bike and suddenly ‘its poetry in motion’. Sure you might swim the odd river crossing and ‘hike a bike’ up unrideable hills, but hey “if it was too easy, then everybody would be doing it.
I got an invite when Loyld (Popes riding partner) asked me to partner him on the Imana Wildride, filling in for my good friend, the legendary Graeme Pope-Ellis, who recently passed away in a tragic Tractor accident. Our Team was appropiately named ‘Pope’s Partners’. Pope and I had done a couple of amazing trips, with friends, on bicycles along this same magnificent piece of Coast-line. In true Dusi style we applied our same technique to sniff out sneaks enroute, ‘where pope would go this way and I would go that way’. We would meet up, compare times, and discuss which would be faster. At the race briefing, Loyld and I were honoured with being given the ‘King of the Beach’ Polka Dot jerseys to race in for Day 1.
After finishing Day 1 at Kob Inn, I got a heli flip to Mazeppa Hotel (6km back along Day 1) to join Jeannie, Sue and Wendy Pope-Ellis for afternoon tea and Dinner.
Thereafter on the low tide at 11pm, I hopped on Jeannie’s bike to cycle back to Kob Inn with headlamp and all…. felt like I was in an adventure race. My heart skipped a beat, wading across the river just before Kob Inn, when something quite firm brushed over my leg midway. Instinctively I thought – Shark, but it turned out to be a Jelly Fish.
After Day 2 at the Haven Hotel, riders got down and dirty, digging holes, mixing concrete and assembling a granite/marble bench and table top (curtesy of the Imana Wild Ride) in memory of the Pope. Pope used to frequent the Haven during December, hammering hardcore Dusi trainings sessions day in, day out. The Table is positioned in a lovely spot, great seaview, where one can sit and relax, enjoying a sundowner.
We ducked and dived amongst the top 5 positions throughout our magical 4 Days of racing. The weather was superb except for a little cold spell on Day 3, but that unpleasantness was complimented with a lekker tail wind. Popes sneaks did their magic afterall, because somehow when we banged the finisher’s Gong at Umngazi we found ourselves in a surprising 3rd position overall.
Nagle Dam Canoe Race – 4km paddle, 700m portage, 2.5km paddle, 700m portage, 3km paddle, 700m portage, 4km paddle.
Who would of thought my week could of gotten better after MTBing for 4 days along the spectacular Transkei Wild Coast. Somehow it did, when I arrived, on Sunday, down at Nagle Dam to witness my boys in action in the Nagle Dam Canoe race. The Electrical Buzz of the excitement of my ‘Change a Life’ Zulus before the start of this Canoe race, could of generated enough power to light up the entire Valley of a Thousand Hills.
When the Start Gun blasted, there was flurry of paddles, as canoes jostled to get ahead. Coming into the first portage, it was a delight to see the first 6 boats were ‘Change a life’ crews. The first “Mlungus” were local Farmers, Ant Edmonds and Gary Benn.
The second portage enters a proper Game Reserve, where athletes run upstream, parallel to the Umgeni River, now in Rhino country. Upon launching themselves on the River, there is a challenging Weir and gnarly rapid where all mayhem ensued.
I had a great vantage point to witness the breakaway two leading boats (Lucas & Skhumbuso and brothers Richard & Nhlanhla) capsizing in the later half of this rapid. After a mad scramble to climb back in their canoes, they were able to dash off without having been caught. The next few ‘Change a Life’ boats shot this obstacle like pros.
NHLANHLA SWIMMING BEHIND RICHARD & LUCAS & SKHUMBUSO SCRAMBLING ….
Coming to the finish, it was a nail biting full out sprint which Lucas & Skhumbuso won.
Sure the heavy hitters weren’t present, but incredibly the first 8 boats were all ‘Change a Life’. With the local youngsters watching in awe, what great role models these Valley Boys are for them. Showing that clean cut living is the way to go, and hard work and discipline go hand in hand with achieving results.