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Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Three day intensive, ‘face in the mud/sand/river’ off-road riding course

After being offered an arm-twistingly generous discount on his three day intermediate off-road riding course, we were unable to resist the ‘rough and ready’ weekend with Rony Desodt! I left early Friday morning to join Rony and his assistant Jorg in Wellington to begin the weekend at the beautiful Bontebok Ridge nature reserve. We were joined by two brothers from Malmesbury, their big and beautiful (albeit a bit noisy ;) KTM’s in tow! Wow!!! Those things can kick up some serious dust! It seemed that the BMW’s were finally going to be part of a larger, more diverse nation of adventure motorbikes. In the last course the BMW’s far outnumbered the minority Kawasaki KTM’s. 
The KTM's...

Dad on his KLR... beautiful setting!

So there we were, representing a united nations of motorbikes… ready and willing to get stuck in the mud! Well… I was rather more cautious then the rest. I was feeling a bit nervous about the whole weekend since I had finished the last course with an unsavory tumble off a hill, which spooked me a bit. Over sensationalized-flashbacks or more likely, paranoid-predictions of my 200kg bike falling on top of me whilst I tumbled down a hill did not I think help calm my nerves. So I started the weekend off riding rather timidly. Unfortunately for me that is no way to ride these big adventure bikes off-road and will most definitely insure that you face-plant every time. Riding through sand, for example, requires a certain speed to make the front wheel lighter and as soon as you begin slowing down, the front wheel digs itself into the sand, eventually resulting in a royal face-dive. 

So, while my fearless teacher Rony, asserted that he was ‘allergic to tar’… I seemed to suffer from an opposite affliction at the beginning of the weekend… I was most definitely suffering from ‘dirt allergies.’ Especially in comparison to the gung-ho cowboys who were revealing in the adventure and danger of it all… my dad included, did an excellent job of fearlessly conquering sand-monsters, riding through rivers and over huge mountains of dirt. Sorry ladies +1 for the boys! I did however towards the end of the weekend, as Rony put it “get my mojo back!” After conquering the hill a good few times, that sent me flying last course. 
Dad conquering the massive hill... this picture doesn't do it justice!

Jorg, showing us how its done... dancing through rivers.
A side view of the monster hill... "adrenaline junkies only!"

All in all, it was a great weekend, deemed so not only because of the excellent skills so masterfully taught by Rony but also because of the wonderful company. We also got the chance to meet Rony’s wonderful family who joined us for some drinks and laughs on Saturday evening. At each day’s end we enjoyed a wonderful game drive by bike around the nature reserve which is full of beautiful game including the rare and illusive quagga, (a zebra that has forgotten his pajama bottoms!) The nights were filled with great company, Rony’s excellent cooking skills and some hilarious and hair-raising videos and stories of Rony and Jorg’s off-road adventures around Africa. One particularly amusing clip was of Jorg coming around a very sandy bend in Namibia and promptly head butting the ground… you have to see it! Hilarious! It is good to see that even the pro’s take a few nose-dives here and there attempting to tame their wild beasts! Rony and Jorg have done amazing things including driving Van Zyl’s Pass in Namibia (not a road at all!!!), a testimony to their skills! You would never imagine it would be possible to get a bike over this pass… but they have done it! I am quite happy to say that we shall not be driving over such roadless roads on our trip because firstly, I think I would never survive the encounter and I would quite like to enjoy my youthful years with all limbs intact and most importantly our lifelong biking journeys have just began and our skills are nowhere near competent enough to take on such serious terrain. A good dose of realism is necessary to acknowledge we are not yet ready to take the road ‘hardly travelled’ we shall stick for now to the one ‘less travelled,’ just to be safe!
Game drive by motorbike?
Rony showing us how its done on the final adventure challenge of the course!
Avoiding obstacles...

Dad doing a brilliant job on the obstacle course! Go dad!
The hill...

Just showing off ;)

Spitting up some nice sand ...

This is the only picture of me on the bike, the whole weekend. Stolen from Jorg's camera. Riding over obstacles... a tyre here, no problem on these bikes!

 To round up, we had an excellent time and I think everybody learnt a huge amount of new skills. It was amazing to see everybody in the beginning of the weekend starting with just weaving between cones and toward the end of the weekend they were riding through streams and up and down sandy river embankments, on the side of hills with their bodies protruding over their bikes, doing extreme emergency stops and hoping over potholes large enough to cradle a person inside! Good job Rony, you are an excellent teacher. And thanks to Jorg, who did an excellent job in assisting Rony, together you both helped me get my confidence back. These two courses have helped us immensely and Rony and Jorg have already contributed so much to the impending success of our trip, (yes it will be a success!)
Group picture at the end of the course!

Stooping to my level, hehe ;)

Nice one of Jorg aka my babysitter ;) Thanks Jorg for all the help!

Rony and his lovely wife.

 One hugely important thing I was reminded of this weekend is the power of the mind in deeming your potential success or failure in anything you choose to do. With your mind positively behind you, you can do anything but without it you are inept. This integral life lesson I believe is the foundation of the Earthchild Project’s programme. They acknowledge that the kind of development which is needed to empower and regenerate people is of a social nature as well as the often prescribed economic form. The Earthchild Project embraces a holistic approach to development. Embracing a holistic approach means acknowledging that what holds South Africans back from their human potential is not only their historical economic disadvantage but also the far deeper wounds that were inflicted upon their social character and the way that they have been taught to (de)value themselves. The Earthchild Project is focused on ensuring that each one of the children that they deal with is empowered through realising their endless human potential, in spite of their economic disadvantage.  All of their programmes aim at instilling a sense of self-awareness, self-confidence, moral fibre and respect and love for their community as well as the environment. 

Please help us in supporting the Earthchild Project’s wonderful work here in Cape Town. You can do this by forwarding this blog on to others and spreading the word. Donations can also be made directly to the Earthchild Project by following this link:

I would also highly recommend Rony Desodt’s off-road riding courses to anyone who has a love for bikes and adventure riding.  He offers a variety of different courses for all levels and needs. To find out about these as well as the riding adventures he leads into Africa and around South Africa, check out his website:

That’s all for now! Thank you for your support!
A positive affirmation for our South Africa... 

“I believe that in a country that has produced Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, Miriam Makeba and Abdulla Abraham, Desmond Tutu and Beyers Naude, Nadine Gordimer and Zakes Mda, we have a right to demand a higher order, to lead the world in a politics of hope... rather than accept the tawdry global political and economic standards, let us have the confidence to achieve the art of the impossible.”                          - Andrew Feinstein

1 comment:

  1. Good luck Brittany. I rode the route in 2009 and had a mostly great time. Some challenges strengthen you, others just irritate you. South Luangwa Park in Zambia does the former, Egypt does the latter. Ethiopia is awesome.
    From 2007 to 2009 I rode from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina.
    That was an absolutely fantastic experience.