The moon was still high up in the murky sky when we left on the first morning. Chilly legs wound the pedals to warm up and hunched shoulders lent forward to gain that little bit of extra momentum. The guides were stone faced in their explanation of the day ahead and nothing in our minds could quite make the impending 360 kilometers of graveled, rocky terrain seem anything but challenging. But that was the point….to do the challenge…and to do it for a cause.
For those of you who have not been following the build up to this years Challenge4aCause, it is a 360 km mountain bike ride through the Damaraland Wilderness (think Namibian Desert with lots of rock) to raise awareness and money for the Save the Rhino Trust in Damaraland as well as the Good Work Foundation in South Africa.
To say that the ride was challenging is an understatement. An average of 60 kilometers a day is tough, but added to that was the ever shifting terrain of rocks, shale, gravel and fine sand as well as the blistering desert heat. If not for the astounding beauty, energy and wildlife of the Damaraland region, the ride would have been even tougher still.
The Londolozi team would love to be able to claim victory on all the days stages, owing to our dedicated training schedule which we put in for 3 months prior to the ride, however the challenge was about encouraging every member to finish each day and enjoying the magical desert scenery more than anything else.
Camping was basic, rustic and very sandy…yet at the same time absolutely perfect. The environment lent itself to our rows of khaki flavored tents, wobbly shower buckets and dinners cooked on an open fire. Not even a few horned adders could stop us from relaxing in camp at the end of every days riding.
The adventure was incredibly special both as a feeling of accomplishment and to have had the privilege of cycling through one of Namibia’s most remote regions. To pedal amongst Oryx, Springbok, Giraffe and Lion felt as surreal as the brief sighting of one of the desert adapted Black Rhinos that we were riding to conserve.
By the 7th and final day of riding we thought we were looking sharp. 360km under the belts, over 40 hours in the saddle and legs that were now carved from steel, our energetic crew rode into Doro !Nwaras Camp to complete the 2010 challenge. With the final pedal strokes our bikes were swiftly dropped in exchange for ice cold Tafel beers and congratulations. Amongst all the celebrations we once again paid tribute to the enduring work that the Save the Rhino Trust is doing in Damaraland as well as to the continued efforts of the Good Work Foundation back home.
Well done to all members who completed this years Challenge4aCause and an especially big thank you to each and every individual who contributed to the fundraising. Your generosity has made a tangible difference which is strikingly evident in visiting these remote destinations.
Keep posted for more pictures and a video of the trip which will be up on the blog shortly.
Photographed by: Brett Roux