Nedbank Tour de Tuli, Day 1 – in which Jeremy avoids being crocbait
Jeremy returned from the Tour de Tuli, with a point-and-click camera full of images and an excitement about this amazing experience that is almost impossible to put into words. However, we can do it in maps and pictures. Getting to the Tour was a race against time as the border crossing between South Africa and Botswana at Pontdrift closes at 4pm. It was recommended that participants get there at 3pm at the latest. Pontdrift is not on any main route so an early start in Johannesburg was required.
- The border crossing is another matter. The Limpopo River marks the boundary and because this crossing is not on a main road, there is no bridge. In the dry season, a 4 x 4 (or mountain bike) can zip across the dry river bed and maybe encounter a bit of mud, when the river is in flow as it was this day, only the very intrepid risk becoming croc bait. There is a rather small sign hanging off a bush that warns of potential death by massive reptile. The other way to cross is to climb into the cable car that trundles across above the river, provided you are prepared to be slightly squished by your bike and manage to get out at the other end without tripping over the pedals. The organisers thought of everything and unimog crossings were provided by volunteers from a local church group, thus saving the tour from losing any participants, before the race even started.
- Camp on night one was at the Limpopo Valley airfield, where the ranks of tents shared space with ranks of incredible aircraft of all sizes and shapes.
- Tea break under a tree. The organisation was spectacular with food stations popping up all over the place.
- Team photo at Pride Rock… (Jeremy on far left). I think this is a must do for anyone on the ride. The official tour de Tuli website describes this bit of the route as: “A new route heading south to Pride Rock over some amazing sandstone hills where elephant have carved paths through the rocks over the centuries, awaits. CAUTION please, as this new section hides a host of sneaky drop-offs and potholes – be on the lookout for these. We will climb up to an incredible view point overlooking Bread Mountain, energetic riders can brave it and go down and look at the rock art. Also stop and marvel at the Bushman Bath, it’s a great photo opportunity. Unfortunately there is some sand to challenge your riding skills and first day jitters – unfortunately there is a small price to pay for riding around in some sublime sandstone rockeries. The reward for successfully managing this section; a great Brunch awaits you.”
- Jeremy looking fresh and happy. All that cycling between vineyards and pedals4paws adventures are paying off. Notice on the map there is an elephant symbol. This symbol signifies the possibility of bumping into wildlife. And of course being the Tuli block, elephants are a distinct possibility. The official description: “With it being your first day in the saddle, fatigue may start to unsettle some who are adjusting to the local conditions. Being forever alert on this event is a fundamental must and never more so than now. The Croton Forest plays home to many species of wildlife and spooking any one of them is not at all recommended. “
- Amphitheatre Bush Camp was a welcome sight at the end of day with about 68 km behind them and many more to go.
Here are the rest of Jeremy’s photos:
Thanks to Jacques Marais for permission to use his photographs to illustrate the journey. His photos of the tour are spectacular (cable car, unimog, camp and aircraft photos above are all his) and can be viewed on the Children in the Wilderness facebook page. Visit Jacques website here.