Sunday, 25 October 2009

Barry Turtle - End of riding

Finished riding @ 16:36 hours today! We are staying in a top hotel and now off for dinner. It really is relentless, we have not had a second. Even this PM after coming in by calalcade into Port Elizabeth they took us off to the sand dunes for 2 hours of hell!
Now trying to take it all in.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Barry Turtle - End of the Wild Coast

We have now come to the end of the Wild Coast and all of its technical challenges. We are staying in the best situated room I have ever had on the 3rd floor corner of the Morgan Bay Hotel.
The room is the size of my downsatirs at homeand is surrounded by rolling water and sandy beaches.
The next two days are through forests and countryside and then the game reserves covering 550k!
Barry x

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Matt Felkin(Yellow team)

Matt writes to say that he is on the Yellow team following his riding assessment (although I have a feeling Matt played down his skills to enable him to catch the scenery), the weather has now improved.
47 riders completed "The Gorge"plus some other hard sections, Matt did the coastal route with the Orange team(Rainbow day).
Injuries for this day included two blown knees, three thumbs,and Matt's wrist after he ditched his bike down a big hole! (hopefully Matt you shared these injuries with some other riders, either that or you have an extra thumb?)
Matt sent this text from the Kabin where is is very kindly having an Amstel for me(cheers buddy I am on nights!)
A second text from Matt 2 minutes after this one informs us that he did his knee and toe on a big boulder, he still finished his section though, just going through for Dinner at the Hole in the Wall.
Speak soon.

Matt Felkin update.

Sorry folks, I seem to have missed this text message from Matt.
One member was Shit faced on the plane, I'll tell you about it when I get back!
Just on our way to the hotel and its hot(1st Day) it's a 2 hour trip. Journey was good and I have got your dog picture(border collie at the airport)
It's bloody warm, only 1 member 75 riders I think on this one?
Cheers Matt

Barry Turtle (Cremone)

Check out the Maroon teams web site. by Sam Dalton, it shows where we are by GPS and has info etc. Love you
07:32 20/10/09 We are leaving Cremone this morning, yesterday did not go to plan. The guys on the hard morning route took 6 hours to do 18k! So the afternoon ride suffered and we hit the bar!
Today we ride 135k to Hole in the Wall.x

Friday, 16 October 2009

Matt Felkin (Heathrow)

Matt is at the departure lounge with Simon Garry, Perry from Canada, Knowle, Sam and another fella. The second leg have managed to get an extra 20kg for their hold luggage, if they knew that before hand it would have saved a lot of worries with the packing.
Matt has a seat in the middle of the plane but the mission to get the picture of the Border Collie cut out at Jo'Berg is still on.

Barry Turtle(Heathrow)

Thanks to all for your support and good wishes. I am now in the departure lounge at Heathrow and meeting the first few riders, feels good!

South African Firework Display

Ok so now the others are on their way and won't be reading this blog untill they return I will mention the awsome firework display at both Durban and Jo'Berg airports!
When we arrived at Durban it was heavy and overcast, by the time we were on the tarmac all hell had broken loose, the lightning was I swear as thick as tree trunks and was hitting ground all around us at an alarming rate. I thought obviously we will be delayed until the storm has abated, there is now way we can take off in this, is there?
The plane started to taxi away from the terminal as it got darker and darker, it stopped tuned and in seconds the roar of the two Rolls Royce engines drowned out the sound of the thunder, "Oh shit I don't fancy this" I thought!
We cleared the runway and for a few moments I thought, "Ah thats not so bad, expected it to be rougher than that" Then we hit the cloud and flew right into the storm!!!!
The engines whined and seemed to rev up and down as the plane was battered by the turbulance, often dropped alarmingly leaving a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, like being on a trackless roller coaster. If I thought I had done some scary stuff over the last 12 days, this put things into perspective as I seriously started thinkin about my family having to cope without me, I am not religeous but at times like this you clutch at straws!
After about 10 minutes(or was it 10 hours?) we were looking down into the clouds and seeing the full extent of the storm from above where thankfully it was a lot calmer.
In just over an hour we landed in Jo'Berg, 50 minutes later were were again at the end of the runway in a big Airbus, The storm was here too!
I though, "Ah big plane so this won't be so bad" WRONG! Same scenario, If my wife Di had been with me we would have still been in the terminal building booking a hotel for a few days, and I would not have blamed her.
Anyway we made it but that is a part of the journey I won't forget in a hurry.
Thank you all again for your support with Enduroafrica, family friends, businesses and HLLA (Ambleside Club and Cricket team) It was a wonderful experience and the two days at the schools will leave lasting memories.
I have made an offer to the guys on the second leg, if they want to send messages to friends and family, pictures etc, they can text them to me and I will put them on this blog, so the blog will live on for a while longer so watch this space.
Thank you all,
Bob and Neil

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Enduro Africa - Ride of a Lifetime

Well folks we are back and have had the experience of a lifetime, thanks to Global Enduro and Mike Glover's Red Cherry Adventures. I have to say that the team were brilliant, Big Mike Glover is a real character with a sense of "I am gonna help these kids"
It was a real heart lifting experience to visit the two schools and deliver tables, chairs, toys, posters, matresses so the small children can have a comfortable knap in the afternoon. Build a Jungle Gym, fit doors on classrooms, carpets, fit locks and concrete window sills to finish off abandoned projects.
As I think I have said before, these kids have nothing but are still happy, little boys wearing Barby T shirts, odd shoes and obvious hand me downs, however most of the kids are turned out immaculately in uniforms with crisp white shirts, even if they are bare footed.
Take a photo of them and show them on your camera to make their day, if only I had a mini printer so I could have printed them off a photo!
The last day was a hard one, descending a steep muddy gorge to a River crossing with a demonstration by Eddie, Gary and the legendary Darell Curtis who lead the Yellow team for our trip, is there nothing they can climb? Respect, and I mean big time.
Mike Glover will occasionally ride with you and you may hear the phrase "You have been Glovered" when he leads you from the planned route to try something a little more interesting!
The two Doc's Emile and Adrian were characters, you may hear about a TTFU tablet (it's invisible and delivered orally!) Plus the phrase "If you can't fix it by beating it with a hammer, then it's probably electrical" The Doc's are surgeons, Emile holds a record of treating 22 patients with stab wounds in their hearts in a space of 9 months(Capetown A&E), 19 survived. When Eddie picked up a 2" cactus thorn in his hand he was in good care, still hurt like a B'stard though!
A cracking night followed at the TO Strand Hotel, watch out for the swimming pool finale that has become a ritual.
I am sorry if I have made one or two of you apprehensive, you will utter the "F" word many times in many forms i.e."What the F" , "F in Hell", "F right off" etc, I wish I had a F ometer in my helmet to count the times I said it but I wouldn't miss a moment of it.
Mike Glover will issue a safety brief on the first night and team briefings nightly, including issuing Spirit and Dick of the day awards, listen to what he says, he knows best trust me.
Just to reiterate some helpful (I hope) hints:
  • Don't ride in someone elses dust, it tastes like Shite and you will not see that rut that will spit you off, you must plan ahead and read the roads, never travel so fast that you can't stop withing the distance you can see to be clear.
  • Expect a dog to run out and I can assure you it will, our count was 5 dogs and a tortoise.
  • Expect a cow to be round that bend, there are bloody hundreds of the things all over the shop.
  • Goats generally run away from the bike(not always as I found out) sheep are just suicidal!
  • If you are not comfortable with the pace of your team, slow down and tell the leader/sweep, there is no shame in moving down a group. If you race everywhere you will miss the scenery.
  • Don't day dream about that nice shower and a beer at the end of the day, the roads have a nasty habit of turning a corner and turing into a 1 in 20 just before another tight bend.
  • Don't be fooled by the roads, cars use them too, I saw two riders do a right hander on a hill on the wrong side of the road, a black truck just missed them!
  • Watch out for shiny clay roads.
  • 30mm handlebar risers would be good investment, Alfred with gladly fit them for you, it will make standing up on the little CRF230's a lot easier and enhance your enjoyment of these brilliant little parafin donkey's.
  • Spare goggles are a good idea.

If I can help in away way to make sure you are prepared for this fantastic ride, I will check the blog on a regular basis before you leave. It would be good also to receive some comments on here whilst you are out there.

See you at the Dirty Weekend in Wales next year.

Have a graet time, Bob&Neil

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Don't expect this to be easy and you won't be disapointed

We Woke this morning to a dull muggy day, still raining and the roads very wet. As we set off for TO strand Rathers came off on the same stretch of muddy road that felled him last night, which completely buggered his confidence. The roads are hell on earth, 2k down the road i picked up a puncture in my rear tyre. We set off and Rathers said to me "I have a really bad feeling about today" - Within 200m both he and martin the rear sweep were on their backsides in the mud. Martin injured his foot and needed a strong painkiller to be able to continue the journey. Then came a massive gorge downhill, descent and a river crossing, I never knew how much i could sweat getting a bike downhill, should be easy shouldn't it?
The rest of the ride was on wet modelling clay, team 2 - its cold and wet in the hills, bring something to stop the cold!
As i write this we are being entertained at the Strand, knackered and walking like John Wayne.
Cant wait to be back with our families now!
Team 2 - good luck and i hope this blog has helped you some, enjoy it folks - its bloody hard work but you will remember the sights, sounds and smells for as long as you live!
Love Bob and Neil xxx

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Ever tried to ride a duck on a pond of snot?

Well today was only 47km but was a very technical day. After the very heavy rain overnight and the persistant drizzle today the hard mud tracks have turned to the consistency of melted cream eggs! Those steep hill climbs were a bugger!
The day was split into two parts, this morning was supposed to be easy and the real hard bit was after lunch, a river crossing had to be done by wading through waist height water whilst carrying the bikes. However our leader Darrel ,who has no fear and rides up the impossible, advised that the whole team should not attempt the afternoon ride, there is no support possible in that region even by air, if someone blows a clutch then the bike stays there - remember 'you bend, you mend' - dont fancy forking out for a new bike!!
A few dicky tummies around today, could be down to some of the shitty water we have been riding through.
Tip of the day for team 2 - if you have any 30mm bad risers, bring them with you, it will make the little CRF a lot easier to ride standing up.
I am now relaxing in the bar with Mike Poxon and a few of the boys.
Looking forward to seeing my family again.
Rathers is also missing Majella!
Last riding day tomorrow, bet you guys coming on the second trip are getting really excited now!
TTFN Bob and Neil

Friday, 9 October 2009

Hello, Lucy again - apologies from bob but accommodation is basic this evening with no Internet access.
Today they made their way 171K to Cremorne at the Riverside Lodge. Roads were very bendy with lots of gravel and you cant afford to take your eyes off the road. A few people fell off bikes due to this. Was a very hairy ride due to the fact they were attacked by dogs, chickens, sheep, cows in the middle of the road, cars on the wrong side of the road and even kids throwing rocks at the bikes! One kid managed to hit a bike and it knocked all the kit of the front. Also there were quite a few punctures today.
Bikes!! - Don't expect road legal bikes - no indicators, mirrors, horns or brake lights! Make sure you read the small print on the bike hand over form - basically - "you bend, you mend" If you break your clutch etc you will be paying for it!
All in all a straight forward day, where they are staying tonight is very noisy being next to a river and pond, frogs whistling and other animals making all sorts of sounds.
Apologies to Mick - he was hoping to send some photos to you but hasn't been able to do so.
He hasn't seen any mosquito's yet, however he might do tonight! The River lodge hotel has limited accommodation with some people have to sleep in the conference room on mattresses.
They did a steep climb today and he said he ended up in a bush on the back wheel - which he does not recommend.
He also added that when they arrived at the lodge today it was chucking it down with rain!
He says everyone is OK and hopes that tomorrow the accommodation will be slightly better and he will have access to the Internet again to update you.
Sorry again if it is jumbled!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Update by Phone

Hello this is Lucy, Bobs daughter!
He's apolagised that he cannot update the blog himself but he has not got access to the internet right now, so has phoned me and asked me to update for him. Sorry if its abit jumbled ill try my best to get down everything he has told me!
They biked across the famous Gorge today and found it very difficult, apparently its a thousand foot drop into the gorge and then a river crossing! He said also he doesnt fancy being in the shoes of group 2 - good luck boys!
They did about 147K today which was very hard and included alot of river crossings. He even got wet hands at one point the river was that deep.
Today the team suffered from 3 punctures, a broken clutch and 3 people went over the handlebars, but were all ok. One person went into the trees and a few people were troubled by the ruts. They have also lost another team member today to four broken ribs - this was due to a non-biking incident!!!
However they did make the journey in record time, the yellow team were the fastest to ever do it. They ended up at the Hole in the Wall hotel.
Along the journey they were greeted by lots of school children waving and visited a round house and saw how the villagers lived. I think they were moved by this experience as they all donated 20 rands of their own money each to the children. They were told afterwards that this is a phenomenal amount of money to them and they would be stunned.
Tomorrow they have a late start of 9am and is a 'cruising day' apparently.
He cannot post any photos as it is simply too expensive!
Apparently Neils cumbrian foot is ok but his durban bottom(?) is sore!
Sounds like they had another good day anyway! Sorry if this is abit jumbled..ive just written the notes up i have taken from the phone call.
Bob is hoping he can get back online tomorrow and update

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Transkei High

Apologies for no blog yesterday, by the time I had eaten and asked about the internet usage it was too late, access is only between 8a and 6p, it's dial up too!
Yesterday we hit the Transkei and visietd one of the schools on the Touch Africa project, we delivered tables, chairs, toys and supplies,the children were fantastic and all imaculate considering their surroundings, it's nothing for them to walk 8k to school. We then set off for some really tough riding, and I mean tuff!
We lost a member of our team for 4 broken bones in his foot, quite a few injuries were received by the riders and we were all dead on our feet when we got to the hotel (Me and Rathers were ok)
This morning we set off for another school and got stuck in to putting up a "Jungle Gym", painting, putting doors and locks on, carpeting the floors, putting in concrete window sills, even cooked for the kids and refurbished tables.
Rathers also played his pipes for the kids which they loved, so did the mums and dads, saw some strange dancing!
Tips, take goggles with you to schools to keep dust out of eyes (when sweeping floors, sanding etc)
Watch out if you swim in the bay at Mezzappa bay, Great whites have been seen there!
Thats all for now, sorry its brief but the computer is very slow.
Bob & Neil x

Monday, 5 October 2009

Port Alfred to Morgan Bay

Here we are at Morgan Bay Hotel, the ride here was not without incident, one bike written off today after a collision with a tree on a right hand bed! Right, here is the tip of the trip. Mike the boss of Red Cherry Adventures will tell you on day 1, don't ride in some one elses dust, it tastes awful and you cant see "Jack Shit", good advice people, heed it and heed it well! I came out of a dust cloud today and I was on an island between 2 ruts that could bury a bike, if you get in one of these at speed you will be sorry!!
Ride safe, enjoy the trip and for gods sake, don't get sucked into trying to be at the front all the time, space out(Thats the copper speaking and enough for now)
Do bring waterproofs, This morning it rained constantly, we were all soaked through and it is bloody cold believe me. Then the sun came out and again the roads turned to dust, believe me, sometimes you will pray for tarmac!
Be aware that if you get wet, then dusty, it will knacker your visor/goggles. Bring spares or some T Cut or Brasso to polish the fine scratches out,
Plenty of wildlife again today, watch out for the cow type thingies, they are mad! A monkey tried to comit Harry Karry today in front of one rider too.
Still we are all here safe again, just had a beer on the balcony and watched a school of dolphins in the bay, 30 minutes before we were swimming in the same place. Tomorrow we hit the Transkai, people are still fantastic, you will love them! only 80k tomorrow but it will take us 8 hours!
Dinner calls so must go, To Majella, I am looking after Neil, To a new friend's wife Michael Poxon he is safe well and sends his love. To My family Mwhah!
More tomorrow(Oh Morgan Bay Hotel have Internet access to peeps)
Loe you all, keep the comments coming please, DI, READ THE BLOG. Matt Felkin, your bike is still in one piece mate(so Far)
Bob and Neil XXX

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Day 3, now were talking!

Well with much pomp and ceremony we set off from Port Elizabeth 30 minutes later than planned due to the local Old Bill not quite getting there act together, The first fall off of the day went to a poor chap who pushed his bike out into the road, only to fall over it.
We travelled about 10K out of town and then we went off road for a 37K technical section to sort the men from the boys, this involved many river/stream crossings , sometimes riding down stream for a way in the water, watch it team 2 its rocky!
Then we had a cheeky little decent down a steep rocky gorge, this did sort the men from the boys, bikes going off the track left right and well not quite centre, we both did it quite easlily. This done we set off for about 70K accross some very dusty tracks/roads(Most of the roads are mud) For lunch we dropped in at a game reserve where we were treated to a ride in a land Rover to see the Rhinos, Zebras, Gazelles, Springboks, Wart hogs, all sorts! Sadly we did not have time to see the lions before we dined on some of the former residents of the reserve! Nice nosh though and a lovely local pudding a bit like sticky toffee Pud.
After lunch we were awarded our team colours, and guess what, Rathers and I are in the Gold team, which is the first team to set out each day being the quickest and most technically competent, Wooooohooooooooo!
Lots of dusty roads followed, we covered nearly 300K today and we are all filthy.
We saw quite a bit of wildlife, monkeys at the side of the road, a Guinea Fowl nearly took my head off, a Hare diced with death in front of me and two wild cow type things raced us down a track!
We are now at the hotel in Port Alfred and its nearly dinner time.
Tips for team 2 (Oct 13th trip) The plugs out here are 3 round pins like our old sockets years ago, bring plenty of adapters, they don't sell em out here.
Internet access so far has not been a problem, wifi hotspots are at this hotel and the one in Port Elizabeth.
Practice slow riding and technical stuff, rough terrain!
The people out here are very friendly, everyone waves and shouts as we ride by, the scenery is stunning already and we havent reached the Transkai yet, one minute you think you are in Wales, then in rural England, then Spain!
Thanks everyone for your comments on the Blog, We are both missing our family's, Majella Niel says he loves you lots, Di, Matt, Lucy, Nikki and Eve, love you Lots.
Off towards Morgans Bay, tomorrow.
PS, Majella, Neils Cumbrian foot is improving but Charlie the bear who is caging a ride on Neils handlebars is a bit grubby!
Later Peeps,
Bob&Neil x

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Jo'Berg Airport

Well we have officially set foot on South African soil, last night went well with many new friendships already developing. The flight was on time to the minute. We talked Rathers into playing us on the the plane, I reckon we walked half a mile through the various corridors to the gate and all the way people were rushing out of shops to get a glimpse of the piper, we were photographed, video'd and pleople clapped along with us as we went by, what a fantastic way to leave the UK, in Style!
We now have a 3 hour wait at Jo'Berg for our connecting flight to Port Elizabeth, Rathers wants a glass of breakfast,(What on earth could that be?)
The weather looks just like home but its muggy, One fo Di my wife here, when we landed in Jo'Berg I looked out of the window to be greeted by a 10 foot tall cut out of a Border Collie on top of one of the airport buildings, looked just like Eve our dog.
As I type Rathers has just informed me that the his clinical condition known as Cumbrian Foot has flared up! I will explain later, no doubt we will have a Durban knee to add to that when we come home.
Off to explore the airport now, very clean and modern, and BIG!
Later folks, thanks for looking,
Bob and Neil.x

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Malc Canon and Ambleside

After a mornings fishing with my mate Bozzy who has just turned 60 and is reaping the benefits of OAP concessions on prescriptions fishing rates etc(My concession is to let him beat me every now and again) We popped in to see Malc and Ann Canon form Canon Intersports in Nuneaton/Hinckley.
Malc had agreed to sponsor us by providing us with a couple of essential bits of kit, Camel Backs(well Northface to be precise) These will be used every day whilst riding, Thanks agin Malc and good luck with the marathon later this month. Malc and Ann help children by sponsoring a child/school in I think Sierra Leone, Malc's sponsor money will go towards this, Ann also has managed to pursuade a member of staff doing a bungee jump for her(I think by dubious means?)
Hopefully see you both when we get back.
I forgot to mention that the little get together on Tuesday went very well at the Ambleside club, we packed the bar and drew the grand raffle, as a Thank you to those that again turned up to support us, Majella went out and bought some bottles of drink and some chocolates, then gave everyone a free ticket for an inpromptu raffle.
Thanks everyone, this may be the last blog entry until we get to SA, hopefully I can get to blog whilst we are out there, so watch this space!

Time to pack, and pack, and pack again!

Yesterday I plucked up courage and attacked the packing, we knew that at 20Kg for hold luggage and 8Kg for hand luggage that things were going to be to say the least a bit tight. Our boots weigh in at just under 4Kg a pair, then body armour, leg armour, riding trousers, jacket etc, etc, etc.
On the first try the big red bag was over 23Kg, at £36 a Kg for the 3Kg that was another £118, Bu@@er that for a game of soldiers! out came the excess socks and pants, t shirts, walking boots. After 4 attempts I have managed to get down to below 18Kg, going to wear flip flops to travel and swap into Off Road boots to board the plane.
Rathers had much the same problem, 23Kg without packing his boots, I think now we are both sorted and can calm down a bit to spend a relaxing evening at home before we depart for SA tomorrow morning, Yeh right!