Tuesday 21st August 2018

Awesome Start

Published: Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Leisure Bay to Mbotyi – Tuesday October 18th

You know it’s going to be a tough gig when the organisers tell you that we will start every day at 7am and there’s no messing about because we’d all like to be finished before 10pm.

The first day kicked off early at Port Edward and quickly developed into a crash course in extreme motorcycling for the motocross novices (like me) amongst the group.

What a day though! The Wild Coast is one of the best off-road riding environments on earth with its trails, river crossings and steep hills and we hit the road hard with some challenging terrain right from day one.

Ian, our green (intermediate) team leader, explained that we would be taking the bikes “where even the goats are scared to go” and he wasn’t joking. Conrad, our ‘Sweeper’, is also the medic and his job was to travel behind us to make sure nobody gets lost or seriously injured.

River crossings, steep ascents, plunging descents, jungle trails, precipitous gorges and long bumpy cart tracks were all tackled with enthusiasm and innocent glee.

The area is known as the Transkei and the inhabitants are tribal, including the Pondo, Bomvana, Pondomeise, Thembu and Xhosa, all sharing a common language – Isixhosa – the ‘clicking’ one.

First impressions are that the whole area is positively medieval. Goats, sheep, pigs, ducks, chickens and cows wander freely and each mud hut has its own allotment growing all kinds of organic vegetables.

The first thing I had to quickly learn was how to ride single-handedly to free up my left hand so that I could wave back to all the wonderful, friendly smiley people who lined our route.

Despite their incredibly tough life and the obvious signs of poverty, I felt quite strongly that these people had such a relaxed, welcoming demeanour that I couldn’t imagine anyone not immediately warming to them.

What a relief to get to the end of our first proper excursion into the Transkei and check in to the Mbotyi River Lodge. Firstly, I’d survived the ride without any mishaps and, secondly, I’d seen, smelt, touched and experienced so many new and exciting things that my mind was buzzing with it all.

‘Euphoria’ wouldn’t be too strong a word to describe my state that evening. What an awesome start!

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