Enduro Africa 2008 [2008/11]

I have been back from Enduro Africa 2008 for about four weeks now, so I thought it was about time I put both my “thanks” and experiences into print before I forget the former and start to embellish the latter.

The Thanks.  I can not possible list all the people and Companies that supported and sponsored my for this event, but I would very much like to thank you all for your kindness; in total Enduro Africa 2008 raised over £300,000 for the three charities concerned.   My personal total raised was £8500.

The Trip.   I will try to compact this part into something readable instead of a list of events that happened over the full 12 days.  

The event started very well at Heathrow with all 89 riders meeting and trying to book in baggage with having to pay for “excess weight” at £35 per kilo !!  The suggested airline solution appeared to be carry your boots onto the plane as hand-luggage !!   I still fail to see what difference it makes if the weight is in the hold or the cabin – the plane will still weighs the same – won’t it ??   Without further ado we were off to Durban via Johannesburg.  The change over at Johannesburg was uneventful other than it was the last time I was to see my bag containing all my personally clothing – smelly days were to follow.
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After arrival in Durban we transferred to Port Edward a few miles South of Durban where we received an amazing reception from a tribe of Zulu Warriors complete with spears and war paint – it was at this time I could have done with the choir from the South Wales Border Regiment, as I was sure that a verse or two from Men of Harlick would have sent them packing !
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That evening was full of briefings, issuing of riding colours, meeting fellow team members, ride leaders, the reps from the 3 charities and local dignitaries Also getting to see the bikes for the first time – a very impressive sight  over 100 Honda CRF230F lined up in once place.  This was for most people the first time that Prince William and Harry made a appearance, very relaxed, and obviously enjoying the evening (note: the Press were not invited)

The send off next morning was a bustling and brilliant affair, very colourful, lots of press reporters, photographers, over 100 riders with a police escort, the two Princess with their minders and friends and of course the Zulus again.  Suddenly we were off – 100 riders off on a very exciting but very exhausting “Ride for Life”.

Every ride day followed the same pattern – breakfast at 7am – ride off at 8am – various stops for extra water – stop for lunch – arrive at destination about 6pm – meal at 7pm – briefing at 8.30pm ……    In between all this was some very hard riding along a mixture of tarmac, dusty tracks with huge pot holes and ruts, extreme “off-road” paths with very steep down hills, even steeper climbs, endless river crossings and places that you wouldn’t even consider going on foot let alone on a 230cc bike.  Active Image

The bikes were brilliant and the suspension was amazing taking almost evening you could throw at it.   Most novice off-road riders, like myself, could not believe that after a very short time they were taking it all in their stride.  The more able riders were, as expected, were cracking on and setting a very quick pace on the dirt tracks between “events”. – most times too quick.

For me, the first Sunday was a brilliant day, lots of sunshine, I managed the river crossings, the swamp, a very steep and twisty track through woodland and many more events besides.  We had a great lunch at an extremely picturesque site under “Execution Rock” – so named as enemies were thrown from the top to a very certain death below.  We refuelled and off we went onto more fast dusty tracks. Then at about 2.30pm it all went wrong for me – approaching a blind crest at a bit of a lick, suddenly to discover that the track went more left than I thought – I tried to brush off some speed buy stamping down a gear or two and a bit of heavy breaking, but all to little effect – I half rounded the bend, riding into a field of rocks, I manage to get the bike almost pointing in the right direction when I saw a rock about the size of a large suitcase,  no time to do anything really and WHACK I hit it head on.  

According to the rider behind; the bike and I took off and did a full loop before crashing to the ground, flat on my back and sliding down the hill some 20 metres, with me still hanging onto the left handle bar.  I remember coming around and seeing a bright light !!   so I reached over and switched off the bike engine and headlight.   A quick wiggle of toes and fingers proved painless, as did the moving of my head – I had survived a spectacular crash, and the bike had too.  The pack on my back had been ripped off and the rocks had torn holes in the back of my trousers, and lots of skin was missing !! ouch.   After a short rest and assuring everyone that I was OK, I got back on the bike and rode the next section.  We even stopped at a fabulous bar on the coast for a beer – at this stage I was feeling a little knackered.  We rode on until we reached our destination for the night – The Hole in the Wall resort.

Later that evening I felt decidedly unwell and there were now pains in my chest and I was having problems catching my breath.  I visited the regular evening clinic, which was staffed by two South Africa doctors who were riding with us.  They guys don’t hang about – out with the big needles to take away the pain in what was a fractured rib and a dressing placed on the sore and bleeding grazes to my backside and legs.   The injected sedative worked well and I was out for the count but the next morning, I was in great difficulties, the pain in my ribs was unbearable and I was unable to breath more than a cupful of air at a time.   The long and short was that I was stuffed into the ambulance and was eventually swapped to another private ambulance for the final trip to St Dominic’s Hospital at East London.  X-Rays were taken and I was whipped off to a ward to start a 3-day stay.  It was a good job that I had remembered to put my wallet in my pocket as this was a private hospital and part of the initial examination was to include a swipe of your best Credit Card.   By the end of my stay the pain in my ribs was manageable, the chest infection was clearing up and the terrible bout of the “Trots” was over – so much so that I could almost trust a fart again.  Many thanks for the Doctor and the charming staff for their help.Active Image

The guys from Enduro Africa had arranged for driver from Honda South Africa to transport me back to join the riders, and I was back on the ride.   I located my bike and had a brief ride around to ensure that I could ride it without too much pain.   I managed to find most of the kit I left behind although some items got lost on the way – including my riding trousers and my blue riding shirt – so blue jeans and windproof top donated by Urban Glow were pressed into service – with the essential body armour and leg protectors of course.   It was good to be back even though I had missed some very exciting and testing days and the rest day where all the riders helped to decorate a local crèche and played a football match against the local side (and lost).

Now the last day was here – a long ride to Port Elizabeth and a parade type trip through the city – police cars and ambulance with sirens going and 100 knackered bikes travelling through the streets in convoy.  Very emotional and great fun.  We all arrived at the Hotel and we welcomed again by drums and dancing warriors as we parked up the bikes for the last time.    That night saw a great party at the Hotel but yours truly was totally knackered and the effects of 3 or 4 drinks and the painkillers was too much and I took myself off to bed.  The next morning we lounged around in the sun until the coaches arrived to take us to the Airport and our onward trip to Johannesburg and Home.
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 Of the 89 riders that started the ride only 3 were unable to cross the line on a bike – I felt that what ever happened, I had to ride on the last day – and was very thankful that I was able to do so – it was the icing on the cake and finished off a brilliant adventure

The lost bag was never found but those wonderful people at South Africa Airways and refunded the cost of the lost bag and contents in full…  the ribs still hurt after 5 weeks but it’s getting better – except for when I sneeze – that’s not so funny…  I am still trying to get my hospital expenses back from the Travel Insurance Company. And one day I would very much like to ride the coast road of South Africa but maybe not go off-road….

Sponsored by Andy Anderson

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