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Enduro Africa 2009 Diary

My Personal Enduro Africa 2009 Diaries, Nick Stubbs - Departure Date October 16th

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Enduro Africa 2009 Diary Featured

Enduro Africa 2009 Diary - September 8th 2009

Well, it is just over 5 weeks until departure from Heathrow so I thought I would start the diary now. It was right down to the wire but I collected the last bit of sponsorship required (£5000) with just a few days to go before the deadline...so many thanks to all that have sponsored me!

That doesn't mean I don’t want more. You can still sponsor me and the money will go directly to charity. Go here for details! (Now ended).

Enduro Africa 2009 Diary

The first thing I did when I signed up for Enduro Africa 2009 in November 2008 was to start to get fit.

I had been putting on weight for a few years and was struggling with simple things like walking down the stairs without my legs and ankles hurting.

If I was going to do this properly, I needed to get fit. So, I read an amazing book (bought it over a year ago without reading it).

I put it into practice after Christmas and shed over 3 stone of body fat in 4 months and felt brilliant!

I had my first set of jabs (inoculations) today including Tetanus, Diphtheria, Hep A, Hep B, Cholera and Typhoid…better safe than sorry. Apparently we are not in a Malaria hot spot so that is not necessary although I will be pasting the mozzie spray on like butter for the duration!

Enduro Africa 2009 Diary

I am still panicking about what to take and what to leave. Do I take my bestest camera and how do I protect it? Apparently we have many rivers to cross (cue song) and fall into so I have bought a large waterproof rucksack. One that also acts as a buoyancy aid. Only problem is, when it is loaded with camera and water (1.5 litres) it feels a little heavy.

I have also bought a separate 3 litre Camelbak rucksack as I have been told that drinking water is essential to have with you at all times. I am going to try and conjure up some kind of rigging so that I can attach things to the bike and not me. Mental note...don't forget bungee cords!

Have been watching videos and reading diaries from previous Enduro's and am feeling a little apprehensive now:

  • Steep hills
  • Injuries
  • Sheer drops
  • Illness
  • Rocks
  • Crocs and ticks
  • Raging abdabs (Delhi belly)
  • Lions, tigers and bears oh my (well, no bears or tigers anyway)!

Pah...what the hell!

Anyway, I also have most of the items on the kit list (and some that aren’t) and have been trying it all on to get a feel for this as off road Enduro riding is totally new to me…

Enduro Africa 2009 Diary Kit Pose

Pics taken for stock photography…POSE ALERT!!!

Bet I don't look that clean when I get back!

I have decided to take the Canon EOS 5D Mark II as I simply cannot go to Africa without it. I am also looking to buy a High Definition helmet camera (VrHoldR HD) to record my tumbling’s and poor riding techniques from aboard my bonce.

Whether or not this is a good idea I will have to wait and see!

Looking forward to it and cannot stop thinking about it.

The first group leave in three weeks and will travel the opposite way from Port Elizabeth to Durban which is where we will collect their broken, well used, burned out and smashed up bikes…hrmph!

That's it for now…see you soon (whoever you are).

15th September 2009

Waterproofs arrived this morning and they are fairly heavy duty (although quite lightweight) but they don’t go over my boots...will have to tuck them in on rainy days. Now looking to order a mosquito net for sleeping in…and what about towels? Too much to think about!

Had my next lot of jabs today…Hep B and a second "Booster" shot for Hep C that I had 13 years ago. Came home and fell asleep after going out on bike. What do they put IN those jabs…feel pretty lousy although that may have something to do with the fact I am doing my accounts!

Thinking about doing a trial packing session to see if everything fits and is underweight (20kg allowance). How do I carry on my crash helmet? Does it count as hand luggage or can I take it as extra on top of my rucksack? May call SAA for advice.

17th September 2009

Well, I made a big decision today. I will not be taking my beloved Canon 5D Mark II to Africa. I have beat myself up over this and finally came to the conclusion that carrying and protecting it coupled with the fact I would always be looking for "money" shots (stock) may dampen my enjoyment of the ride. This means I have a brand new Lowerpro Dryzone Rover going spare. I may sell this or I may include it as a prize in an upcoming promotion (Edit 2018: Now sold)!

However, I still need to record this amazing event. So firstly, I started checking out bridge cameras. Small enough to carry with me, cheap enough to not be "too" bothered by damage. It needed the best image quality I could find. A camera that had all the features I need (RAW shooting, HD video, good image quality, good battery life etc). Canon...nope. Nikon...nope! After spending an entire afternoon reading reviews I finally ended up at the third generation of a camera I recommended to my cousin a while ago. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38. I have always liked Panny and this camera came out on top for:

  • Image quality
  • Price
  • HD video quality
  • check
    Features and portability

Perfect for what I need so I ordered one from Amazon.

Not only that, but I had a spot of luck with something else. I had been dying to review a new HD helmet camera to attach to my crash helmet for action shots but the company that makes them had barely any in stock. Got an email yesterday saying that they had one in and would be sending it to me this week. A super cool, easy to use, no wires camera…the VHoldR Contour HD.

Enduro Africa 2009 Diary Contour HD

I will be giving this a full review on my return with hopefully some spectacular footage!

Lastly. I got round to testing my luggage today and got everything in the suitcase (except boots, crash helmet and jacket) and came in underweight which is cool. The plan is that I wear my jacket and boots through check in whilst using the crash helmet as hand luggage (containing camera, notebook etc)…it's a plan anyway!

Oh yes…I have decided to crop my hair down to a grade one all over for the trip. The less hair I have to worry about the better…eek!

26th September 2009

Well I was out on my bike today (mountain bike) and rode past the scene of an very recent accident. A scooter was wedged under a car on a fast road near our house and a kid was being put in an ambulance. Not nice. It re-iterated what I have been thinking about my kids.

In the past I said I would never allow my kids to ride motorbikes. However, lately we have decided that it would be better to actually get them riding at an early age instead. This way they would learn to ride properly under expert tuition and also learn respect for the bike and the roads.

Anyhow, it is now 3 weeks til the off and all is well. I feel physically fit, mentally drained but ready for it. I have tested the Panny camera and think it will do the job. It needs a bit of tweaking and understanding to get the best from it but I am hopeful to get some cool imagery from the trip.

I received the Peli case for it today. Perfect fit and small enough to be strapped to the bike so now I have covered all angles. I don't need an extra rucksack on my back so I can have the 3 litre Camelbak there and the Peli case is waterproof and as hard as nails!

I got some huge inspiration yesterday from something I read on a participant’s website. This lad asked his father to do a marathon with him and they ended up doing two. Then he asked his father if he would do the Iron Man with him (The Iron-man is a triathlon - the most enduring that exists: 4km swim, 180km bicycle ride, and 42 km run). The father said yes…pretty cool and the story seems simple, until you watch the video…

6th October 2009

10 days to go and the excitement is building! Trip one are well into their ride now and we have been getting great feedback via blogs and emails…all sounds like heaps of fun! I have just received the HD helmet camera from the States and after initial testing the quality looks superb. I'm looking forward to trying out for real.

There are internet hot spots in most hotels so I will be able to update this diary as I go but will add pics and videos when I return.

Raining pretty hard this morning so I decided to test out the waterproof clothing on my mountain bike. By the time I was ready the rain had stopped and after 6 miles I was wetter inside (sweating) than out…doh!

15th October 2009 - Leave Tomorrow Morning!!!

Enduro Africa 2009 Diary Hair Cut

Well, I am now packed and ready to go and I think I am just on the luggage weight limit so all is well! All reports back from team 1 have been excellent and some are wanting to hide in our luggage and come back out with us. Good sign! I am too excited to sleep. Bad night last night. Both kids are ill with colds and Dillon has a chest infection/croup. Pumping myself full of pills all day and exercising like mad. Prevention is better than the cure in my book!

The weather forecast is pretty much rain all next week in Durban so I am hoping it clears up as we travel south towards Port Elizabeth. Hair about to come off…THAR SHE BLOWS!!!

Just been out for lovely pub lunch with the wife and kids and am now totally knackered! Going to do final check and then just leave bag as it is and hope I haven’t forgotten anything. My next post will probably be from South Africa so signing out for now and here's to a fun 14 hour journey with 100 hairy bikers!!!!

17th October 2009 - Arrival

I had my first taste of "Enduro" on the coach from Woking to Heathrow. Trying to wee in the toilet of an old coach being driven by Eddie the Eagle without his glasses and trying to stand up was a big mistake. At one point I nearly fell through the door with my Percy in my hand!

The rest of the journey was easy and uneventful if not a little tiring to say the least. Very little sleep but did meet and get to know many of my fellow travellers. Top bunch of people!

Arrived at Port Talbot to an incredible reception with dancing from the locals and drinks all round. No sooner was that over, we were told to go and get our kit on and be back down at 3pm for our first ride on the bikes. An introduction where we would be assessed for our groupings. No sleep…bikes….ewww!

However…what a BLAST!!! One hour going mental through some woods with loose dirt, steep hills and all round craziness and the bug has hit big time. I am going to enjoy this!

We now have to head off for our briefing and groupings as well as having dinner and meeting the charities. Got some footage and pics already but will have to add on my return as the internet is very slow. Hasta mañana (no drinking tonight, famous last words).

18th October 2009 - Day 1 - 220km

Oh...my...GOD! What an amazing day! Orange team is way cool, great camaraderie, all about the same level and all good fun with great team spirit! Just got in at 7.30pm. The last 42km spent riding full throttle in top gear along a dark, wet, slippery road with pot holes the size of a football every 10 feet in the pouring rain. With cows, dogs and locals in the road...and that was the EASY part of the day!!!

We all agreed over dinner that if someone had showed us a video of what we would encounter and have to ride today, we probably wouldn’t have got out of bed. As it was, we all managed it really well with no massive incidents. We went down the steepest hill called the "Hell Hole" followed by a deep river crossing followed by a steep incline the other side. The tough bit is riding fast uphill at a 45 degree angle through deep grass which houses hidden boulders about 8 inches high.

The bikes are amazing powerhouses and can take anything you can throw at them (Honda CRF 230's). A particularly tough section today was a "camber" track along a mountain/hillside. To our right was a wall of grass and to your left was a rather steep drop. To make things worse, the track we had was just a foot or 18 inches wide maximum and slippery in parts (and we weren’t going particularly slowly either)!

Accident Number 1

We were held up for about 20 minutes at one point. We could see up ahead on one corner that the sweep/medic (back marker) for the team in front had left the track and headed off down the decline. He'd found himself wedged against a tree which had stopped him falling further! We watched as he made his way slowly back along and up to the track only to set off and fall almost immediately again. Obviously exhausted and I think a broken clutch…crazy stuff but he was ok!

I must have seen over a thousand children today. At one point we stopped for about half an hour in a really rural village in middle of nowhere whilst contemplating the hell hole. We played with the kids, showed them photos of themselves which they loved and let them sit on our bikes. They had a ball.

These people have nothing but their energy and enthusiasm for their foreign visitors is incredible!

Big Day

I cannot believe what we have achieved today and how much I have pushed myself. This really is off road motorbiking at its extreme! Tomorrow we are doing a full days riding but it is a mere 47km...that says it all. It is a very technical and challenging section but apparently the scenery and views are amazing. How they can beat today I can't imagine but we hope to see a few great white sharks in the evening. Apparently two lifeguards got eaten there a few weeks ago. Mental note...no swimming tomorrow.

I am going to end this now and head to my bed as I want to feel fully charged and ready for tomorrow. My wet clothes are currently spinning around on the bedroom fan on the ceiling in the vain hope that they may be dry tomorrow!!!

I have some cool footage and will have a ton of photos to show but sadly not until we return. I will try though. Right...ear plugs and bed. My "roomie" is still in the bar so I may get rudely awakened as he stumbles into my fast spinning, soggy socks as he looks for his bed!

19th October 2009 - Day 3 - 47km

Today could not have had more extremes if it tried but before that…a quick, funny story. I shared a room with a guy from another team last night and in our room we had a ceiling fan. I decided to dry my gloves, goggles and bandages overnight by hanging them from the fan and putting it on the slow setting. During the night, it must have sped up for whatever reason as I remember hearing a thud followed by a groan as my goggles obviously flew off and hit him in his sleep. I found them by his bedside cabinet in the morning with the fan on full speed!

However, woke to amazing sunshine so I took a walk to the beach before breakfast. There, I watched a local man fishing for prawns with his dog during sunrise (I was awake at 5.30am). Scenery was breathtaking but then it started to rain again! No matter.

We had the choice of doing some ridiculous riding through pure sludge in the morning. However, I opted to do an easier route followed by some tough riding in the afternoon. Turned out to be the best judgement call of the tour so far.

The early riders on the tough route took 7 hours to ride about 12 miles on hills made of wet clay...mad. We saw them in and everybody helped them in the final stage as they crossed a deep river with one of them needing treatment for severe dehydration.

The waiting gave us time to chat with and have fun with some locals which was brilliant. However, there was one very shifty looking local hanging around the bikes who was dressed in a long overcoat and smoking cigarettes in a fashion that resembled the upper classes. He reminded me of Withnail in the film Withnail and I. Well, except for the fact that he had a 3 foot machete hidden under his coat which he showed it off proudly now and again.

After this, we headed off for some of the toughest riding of the week. I took my first "mild" tumble which was ridiculous as it was at a pathetically slow speed and I just fell sideways as the bike fell beside me!

We covered some amazing ground and some of the steepest ascents and descents that I wouldn’t even normally walk down. This was at high speed following our guide Merv who was a four times Enduro champion and aged 62!!! Rocks, boulders, logs, slime, water, dogs attacking the bikes. Everything, but it was challenging and so rewarding…nothing like it!

ADD IMAGE

The only downside is that we lost 2 of our team members today. One injured his finger quite badly to the point where I overheard the medics saying he might lose it. So they flew him back home immediately. The other guy, Richard, fell off and ripped a ligament in his knee quite badly and is out for the rest of the week. Being the top guy that he is though, he will be staying on and following our progress from the luggage truck.

Have more amazing footage and photos and the team is gelling and bonding really well. We are all the same standard with the same sense of adventure and humour. Great stuff and the nicest part of the day was at the end when we approached our accommodation. We rounded a corner to be confronted by some of the most beautiful coastline I have ever seen as the sun was starting to fade. We took time out for photos and videos and then made our way to the lodge.

Nice day tomorrow...off to the Hole in the Wall which sounds spectacular! I love this and if you are thinking of riding Enduro Africa in the future...do it but make sure you get fit first!!! Hasta manana!

20th October 2009 - Day 4 - 150 (ish) km

Excellent day today, a real mixed bag of terrain and skills required. Dave the team leader felt at various stages that we had been on the road for too long and ventured us off into the unknown on a few occasions which made a welcome change.

The most challenging and technical stage was a series of steps which were all jagged and about 12-18 inches high on a steep incline. This required a lot of balance and a lot of throttle to get to the top unscathed. Chuffed I made it up with no incident and then filmed the rest of the team as they made their way up. Top fun and reminded me of the old programme called Kick Start from the 80's!

Finished the day off with a cliff top excursion and some incredible views. Dave explained about a guy once in a different adventure that didn’t stop at the top of the cliff and went straight over. He fell about 70m and was left brain damaged...not nice.

21st October 2009 - Day 5 - 160 km - (11 hours in the saddle)

Woke up this morning and felt ok until I went to get out of bed (top bunk) and got whacked in the head by the ceiling fan. Good start to the day!!!

Another day with some of the most varied and challenging riding yet. We had rivers so deep that the water completely covered the front wheel and then took on the toughest section of a VERY steep hill. Joe managed to flip his bike and end up in the ditch on a 45 degree slope and he lost his on board camera. Amazingly, another biker came along and got stuck in the mud. As he was spinning his wheel to try and get purchase, out flew the camera from under his back wheel.

It is so hard to explain how tough Enduro Africa is without seeing it. You may appreciate it when you see the hundreds of video clips I have now taken. Even the legend that is the 62 year old Merv (a world champion Enduro crosser) had a tumble today and as the South African photographer says…"This is some really sick sh*t"!

On one hill we looked back up the slope we were heading down and were gobsmacked by just how steep it was. Think black run on a ski slope and double it, add some ruts, boulders, sheer drops, wild dogs and cows. Apparently some of these challenges were real professional grade stuff! It is hard to explain how amazing this whole trip. I am sitting here in a bar, after having a wonderful dinner, being serenaded by a local female singing group. Oh, and we spent some time watching a small family of whales in the sea today and well as watching circling Black Eagles and Kites.

Had a few big spills in the team today. Some very grazed, cut and bruised bodies from bad crashes through corners at high speed on gravel to my very own spectacular fall for which I am now paying with a slightly damaged tendon in my ankle.

I was following our team leader when he decided to make a last minute turn due to an impending ditch. I immediately hit the front brake which is not a good idea on wet grass going downhill. The bike flipped from under me in an instant sending us both down the hill. My leg was trapped under the bike and when I rolled, my leg stayed under the bike not moving and got badly twisted. As the medic said "something had to give and it ain't gonna be the bike"!

This whole experience just gets better and better and we are looking forward to helping out at a local school tomorrow during our rest day. I just hope this time off is enough for my ankle to heal so I can at least get my boot on! Right, tired….bed!

22nd October 2009 - Day 6 - Rest Day and Decorating School!

Woke up in the middle of the night and went to the toilet in sheer agony. I could hardly stand up let alone walk. When I got back to bed the pain was excruciating for about half an hour. I must admit I got a bit upset thinking I wouldn’t be able to ride the rest of the trip.

Enduro Africa 2009 Diary Painting

Once I had had breakfast and made it to the school, it was improving all the time. In the afternoon (now) it feels ok and I can just about get my boot on. The school renovation was one of the most moving things I have ever done. We were welcomed by singing children and teachers which was amazing.

They sang as we worked and prepared a huge BBQ lunch for them. We even put the film "Madagascar" on for them at the end on their new DVD player.  They loved it having never seen anything like it before. Yep, that's me in the white tee shirt, my clothes got ruined and I even had white paint all over my contact lenses!

What can I say about the kids…wow! So happy and willing to have their pictures taken. We even got them painting the school with us at one point. If you ever need to find out about yourself and find the real you...come to Africa with the Enduro Africa team. I miss my kids big time and showed the local kids a photo of them which they loved. I love you and miss you like crazy Dilly and Amber (and you of course Sonia) Xxxx.

We have a huge day tomorrow as we have to climb what they now call "hamburger hill" after the film, otherwise known as the gorge. It has been raining too which will make things worse. We are planning to send the experienced guys up first and last with the inexperienced sandwiched in between. That is so we can all help each other get to the top.

Apparently this hill is worse than the one yesterday which took its toll on us all and injured many riders. Should be fun in the wet. Ride one...I see what you meant now! Anyway, that is about it for now. I have added a few pics from the week at the end of this page and will try to add more as we go. I have over 400 video clips so far and they look great. Wish us well tomorrow!!!

23rd October 2009 - Day 7 - The Gorge

Woke up to a fantastic, sunny morning which was a huge relief as a wet gorge would not be fun. I went for a walk/jog to get my ankle moving and then saw the medics who gave me a yellow pill (anti inflammatory). This seemed to really sort my ankle out later on and a couple of the famous green pills which may help later if anything starts to hurt. No-one knows what they are but apparently they can make you a little "light-headed".

Edit 2018: I still have those pills in front of me...I daren't take them.

There were others having injections for pain and swelling as for most, nothing will stop them finishing this tour!

Had a funny feeling in my stomach...like butterflies and feeling sick combined. Not sure if it was the pill or nerves from the impending gorge. Had a short detour for a huge team photo on the top of a hill then set off.

Eventually got to the gorge and our orange team were up last. I went second and got the foot of the gorge and already saw Joe in trouble. My God…this thing looked menacing with all the team leaders dotted up the route to help people as they went.

Made it to the first section which was a bi*ch and needed a little help getting over some of the obstacles. Then I managed to power my way all the way to the top with little trouble and gave a huge cheer at the top. I received calls of "nice ride" which really made me feel great. The ride up was the most tiring thing I have done for years. I was severely out of breathe which was weird as I hadn’t felt that way all week.

Still, I beat The Gorge and the TV crew filmed me expressing that sentiment with a few expletives which means I may not make the final cut for their show! Here is part of that final TV show. Check out the Gorge at 2:55. It was mind-blowingly steep (they didn't include my sentiments…funny that)!!

The rest of the day was basic off road stuff and there was a definite sense of mellow and calmness amongst the team. Maybe it was due to the previous day off or just the fact that the gorge took all our energy. I ran out of water half way through the day and we had no lunch stop so that made things hard.

We did a detour to an amazing beach with an old shipwreck and I must say, riding fast on sand is an experience as the front wheel just glides as though it is on butter. Someone from the blue team described it as "like riding a bike with two flat tyres and the handlebars unattached from the frame".

We then had to wait for the ferry to take us over the main river into South Africa and out of the Wild Coast. As soon as we landed and drove off it was like we had immediately re-entered civilisation. Houses were affluent and the hotel we are staying in is stunning with our bedroom overlooking the raging sea. Very hot today and I may have got sun-burnt a little.

Side note: We are staying in nice hotels but are all bunking up together and Mike has ensured us that very little of the raised money was used as he managed to make some fantastic deals on our behalf.

Tomorrow is a long, road ride of about 320km and fairly simple so looking forward to an easy ride. Foot has been great so massive relief there. I think we do a mini safari on the last day so can’t wait for that. Internet access is limited so you may be reading this after the event. Hasta manana!

24th October 2009 - Day 8 - Easy Rider

Fairly straight forward day today. A huge 320km ride through massively dusty roads which was different to say the least. This part of South Africa is stunning and very affluent. Parts of the forest scenery today reminded me of Austria. Very photogenic but I had no helmet camera today.

Back to the dust roads. Imagine a very poorly maintained dust track with potholes, rocks, deep grooves and horrible cambers. Now imagine a bunch of bikes throwing up a continuous dust cloud. The only way to see if there is trouble ahead is to watch the bike in front.

If he dances around like a lunatic at any point, you know there is trouble ahead. The best way to deal with it is to power up to full throttle and hit it with everything you have. It is easier to fly over holes and rocks at high speed than to try to navigate them or deal with them in any other way.

Very sad today. We all feel like the trip is coming to an end. This is not like any trip or holiday I have ever been on as the bonding is phenomenal and the scenery staggering. Woke up this morning at silly o clock and it was boiling hot at 7am. The rest of the day got even hotter!

Big day manana. It's the final push to Port Elizabeth and I think there are a few events planned for us. Should be fun. Dying to see my beautiful family again but not looking forward to the cold British weather. Sonia...fancy living in SA? Joke...not...maybe. Cheers...the bar is open!!!!!

25th October 2009 - Day 9 - Take Me Home!

Got up this morning feeling fine…cue song! Forgot to tell you that two nights ago, one of our team decided to cut his own hair after more than a few beers. Saw him yesterday morning and he had a fringe that resembled Black Adder the First’s half-wit brother and clumps taken out of the sides. Not pretty.

So, last night, after a few more beers and rather late at night we decided to finish the job. With a grade 0 all over! We put around a couple of buckets for donations and raised a further 1200 Rand (£120 approximately). Excellent night and woke up feeling surprisingly good.

There was also the annual challenge for the mechanics and medics to ride one of our bikes into the swimming pool and see how long it would take them to get it going again. This year they smashed the record with a staggering 2 minutes and 40 seconds. A real testament to both the bikes and the back up team that have served us so well for the past week or so. Well done guys!

Rather uneventful start to the day with lots of dirt tracks and tarmac although the best event of the ENTIRE week was a few short kilometres away!!!!!

We rode into town as an entire team with team leaders, sweeps, medics, families, Mike Glover's kids on their bikes. We stopped the entire town in its tracks. We even had "blues and twos" for escort stopping all the traffic at the lights as we wove our way round the town.

I had a really poignant feeling and actually got a little emotional for a while. Enduro Africa does that to you! There were people everywhere, on the streets, hanging out of hotel windows, in cars all welcoming us back. Brilliant, but then we made our way right through the town and onto "The Sting"!!!!

This was MAD!

Mike set us all up at the start of a professional Enduro track which was a gruelling 15km long and simply said "enjoy boys", and off we went!

After just a few hundred yards it resembled Omaha beach with bikes and bodies flying all over the place as we hit soft sand, massive jumps which relentlessly went on and on, throwing you higher and higher out of your saddle as you went.

There were also sections of tough rock, steep sand dunes to get up and tree branches which hung so low there was no way to avoid them. At one point my goggles and helmet camera were knocked off and hung around my neck. I had to not only navigate the course but also try to reattach everything as I went. I think I have some cracking footage of this.

I was incredibly relieved when I made it to the end without falling, plus the fact I was one of the first back made the feeling of elation even greater including the fact that I went the wrong way at one point and ended up on the main tarmac road…durrr!!!

This was pure Enduro and so amazingly tiring I cannot explain it

My legs were burning similar to the feeling during a black ski run at the end of a long day. My forearms were pumped up like Popeye and my heart was beating like a jackhammer! After every bend I was nearly in tears praying that is was the end, but no…it kept going! When the end finally appeared it was like reaching the finish line of a marathon (even though I have never done one. I can only imagine the relief).

Wow, what an achievement and everyone was in a different world at the end of it. That was like the entire week rolled into one 15km stretch so nice one Mike and the Global team. The perfect way to finish one of the most challenging and incredibly humbling weeks of my 42 years!

Thinking of doing Enduro Africa 2010?

Enduro Africa 2009 Diary Team Orange

Pick up the phone and do it! When I read the testimonials from last year such as "life changing" and "words cannot describe this". I now know what they meant. I only hope the videos and images I have taken will give you some idea of what we have all been through!

So, that just leaves me to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported me and sponsored me for this trip of a lifetime. Having seen the money put to work, I know your money is being put to the best use possible so thanks once again!

Right, party starts in 30 minutes and then fly home tomorrow...x

Go Orange Team...Yay!!!

November 2nd 2009 - Reality Bites!

Well, I have now been back for around a week and I have only just started to feel human again. I went out on my mountain bike and did the gym thing again today. Although it was physically easy on my muscles, my lungs were straining at the seams.

Breakfast was a full English fry up every day. Lunch consisted of high energy bars, chocolate, sweets and energy drinks. Evening meals were hearty to say the least. All to keep us well fuelled but I was amazed to see that I had stayed the same weight on my return. However, my arms and legs felt quite "pumped".

I realised that I did so much in such a short space of time, it was bound to take its toll on this 42 year old body:

  • 3 hour train journey
  • 10 hour flight to Jo'berg
  • 1 hour flight to Durban
  • check
    1 hour rest on arrival
  • check
    2 hours on bike as soon as we arrived
  • check
    Up at 5-30-6am every day
  • check
    Out on bikes at 8am every day for a good 10 hour slog
  • check
    Same journey home again

For the first few days I must admit I felt like death warmed up. Flu symptoms, aches, swollen ankle and a touch of the blues but was it worth it? Hell yeah! I am even thinking about Enduro Cambodia for 2011! I am trying to get a video put together but my useless PC and Sony Vegas Pro 9 are having a bit of a falling out at the moment! (Video finally done...see top of page)

Thanks to everyone for your wonderful comments, they were great to read when we finally got online.

…and a special video for the infamous Gorge!!!

What Other People Have Said

Bon voyage. Best wishes Nick from Garrett in Ireland

Yip, best of luck Sir - by Don Ross - (Nürnberg, Germany) - Sounds like you're more than prepared and with that hair cut, well you actually look more S[of Afiken than me now!!! Good luck Nick and take it easy, Don

Freelance Photographer - by Greg Gideon - (Stockton Ca. USA) - Wow! Such a great inspiration and a great cause. Great YouTube clip. Hope your trip goes well and looking forward to your post during this Enduro. Thanks, Greg Gideon, "Headin' West Photography" www.1greggideon.zenfolio.com.

Cheryle - by Cheryle Gagnon - (Block Island, RI) - Have a fantastic journey. What a different way to travel and take some great pictures of things we don’t get to see in the States. I’ve been to Africa, and I still remember the excitement as if it were yesterday. You are smart to watch your health. What a great way to enjoy your life! Happy Travels…

Carlos Porto Photography - by Carlos Porto - (Fort Lauderdale, Fl.) - Good luck buddy I will follow in the web.

And he’s off! Thank you for sharing this with us; good luck and keep safe (so we can see all the photos!)

Rakesh - by Rakesh - (Kathmandu, Nepal) - Wow Interesting adventure. Best of Luck

Budding Photographer - by Sandy, (York, PA) - Great stuff you share with us here! Keep posting so we can follow your journey!

Janet Fabian - by Janet Fabian - (Johannesburg, Gauteng South Africa) – I am from Johannesburg and your trip sounds awesome. The weather has not been too good down at the coast with gale force winds so hopefully they will be over when you are there. The scenery is beautiful so hoping to see some cool pics. Have a good trip. Regards, Janet Fabian

Go for it Nick - by Derek Gray - (North Lincs, UK) – Hi Nick, Great blog, what a transformation from Day 1 to now, hope you have a great time, can't wait to see the video footage and photos. catch up with you back on ATP forum. Cheers...Dez

Go Nick Go! - by Ram - (Calgary, Canada) – Nick, Am so thrilled with this site which Sue passed on to me today. You look great - fit, happy and full of energy. Wept buckets over the Hoyt video tho I have seen it several times before, but not for a while - great addition. Will be so excited to read this as you go along. Every good wish for a fabulous experience.

Hello! - by Marshi Nullas - (Philippines) - Hi Nick!!!:) That was a great experience! Very interesting adventure!! So nice to hear from you that in spite of everything you are there, still energetic. Nice photo shot. Thanks for showing to us...Best luck!!

Auntie Ann - Birmingham! - Dear dear Nick, You are a lovely talented person and I wish you all the luck in the world. I know you don’t really need it. This is the opportunity of a lifetime, enjoy it. I feel a right idiot sitting in the front window watching the video clip weeping while people go by but as you say what an inspiration - keep it in mind if the going gets tough. xxx

Have A Great Trip! - by Rob Lipscombe - (Wells, Somerset) - Hi Nick, Just to wish you all the best for Enduro, I guess we all know how much hard work and effort you have put into this and what it means to you. Take Care.

First day over? - by Hi from Mum - Hi Nick. I know how much you have looked forward to this so hope all is going well and the weather has improved. I’m so proud of you - you’re quite an inspiration yourself you know ! We’re all waiting and hoping you’ll be able to post some news to us. Take care and have fun. XX

Daddy - by BOB - Hi Nick! I’m at work now and it's the only time I have to look at the internet. Well – this all looks pretty impressive – look forward to reading your comments about where you are and what you’re up to! How did I manage to sire a couple of intrepid explorers like you and Pat?! Beats me!!! Mind you - I went for a walk with spot the dog yesterday and got as far as crabble athletic ground - all on my own!!! Anyway - as I’m not supposed to use this facility at work I’d better go before someone jumps me! Brilliant to read about what you’re up to - hope it gets as good as it sounds!!! See you soon!

Have fun! - by sylvester - (lagos, nigeria) - just capture as many of the events and scenery as possible and share the photos. my first time seeing your pix. cheers. sly

John Crompton - by John Crompton - (Devon) - Good luck, as a fellow biker I fully understand your mentality!!!!!

Danny - Hey Nick, Go on boy, you can do it. Good luck. love Danny

From a very wet and windy Wells today!! - by Rob Lipscombe. (Wells, Somerset) - Hey Nick, Hope all is going well in Africa. From what Sonia has posted, sounds like you’re having a brilliant time already. Can’t wait to see some photos and footage! BTW, since the Stock Photo course, I have started to get some images accepted which is all good news! Good Luck, take care and see you soon. Rob Lipscombe.

WOW - by mum - (at home) - WOW -This just sounds SO amazing. Adrenalin must be flowing in abundance. It was great to get all your news. We knew it was going to be tough but...OH BOY. Can’t wait to see you. Take care of that ankle (and the rest of you). Next week motor bike shop eh? Lots of love from us both XX

Sean - Red Team - Ride 1 - by Sean - (England) - Hi bud, Just a quick note to wish you well, great reading your blog. I was on red team on ride 1 and boy do I wish I was back there. An awesome experience. One which will live with me without a doubt. Enjoy the rest of the trip, it just gets better. Sean

Rod - Hey fella just come across this diary of yours, you look like you are having and enjoying the trip of a lifetime, am well pleased for ya, and all in a good cause too! Be good to see you back and chat about your times there for a while (hours lol). Enjoy every minute fella and stay safe. Rod, The bike is now all sorted and ready for you to have a blast on!

Sonia - by Sonia - (Weymouth) - At last we some photo’s…absolutely fantastic!! Can’t wait to catch up on all your stories and pics and footage! make the most of your last days and soak it all up! We miss you xxx

Just Hello - by Tony Walker - (Sterling Heights, Michigan USA) – Whoa Nick ! Really enjoyed what I read and what I saw in the images. Looks like you’re really getting into it. Nothing like that going on over here. Right now it’s rainy, cold and blustery, a perfect Fall day. Best to you from the states and enjoy every minute of your excursion.

From (uncle) Rick - Hi Nick, I’m impressed and wishing I was only 40! Great stuff! Looking forward to our next chat.

Hey! - by Donna - (Oakville, Ontario) - Awesome pictures, Africa looks absolutely amazing!!!

Joe, Nick's adopted son in Orange Team - by Joe - (London) - Great site Nick, thanks for the memories!

Amazing man - by Frank - (Sandiego, CA, USA) - Simply amazing adventure

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