South Africa opens its arms to the heat and dust of Enduro Africa, the rally that promises to thrill and thrash its participants in equal measure. And this year, Princes William and Harry came along for the ride
All told, it was a vintage year for the African rally. A massively revised off-road route heading southwards from Durban to Port Elizabeth down the eastern cape of South Africa, hugely technical and challenging riding, £300,000 raised for the supported charities in back-to-back rides, 160 fresh customers raring to go and all topped off with the Royal seal of approval in the shape of William and Harry, who turned up with four of their best chums and promptly rode the wheels of their Honda CRFs.
There was a scattering of broken bones amongst the various teams but nothing too serious, the most common complaint being a deeply contagious bout of the shits that blasted through the entire event and left everyone knackered at the end of the day. Proper character-building stuff, then.
For those not familiar with the Enduro concept, it’s very simple: raise £5,000 and have a cracking bike adventure holiday. A third of your money goes to charity - in the case of Africa it’s Sentebale, Unicef and the Nelson Mandela Children’s fund - so while you’re tearing through the countryside of your choice, others are benefiting from your hard fundraising work. South Africa is a tough, passionate country where no quarter is given and the ride reflects this.
There were days when you didn’t want to ride another mile, when every bone ached and hands were taped-up to keep the blisters at bay. With over 70 river crossings riding boots were always wet and the unseasonally cold wind meant riders didn’t get a chance to warm up. But the camaraderie and team spirit in the 2008 event was unparalleled, and the South African team leaders and fellow riders kept each other going when individuals would have long since given up.
The riding was properly, impassably tough at times and yet people who’d never ridden off-road before managed to get through. The expected paparazzi circus due to follow William and Harry never materialised, and the amount of care and attention to detail in the route shone through. From the choice of beachside hotels along the way to the excellent medical teams who supplied much-needed first aid to the riders as they fell off/succumbed to viruses, the Enduro model of pushing people to their limits whilst having a large safety net to catch them when they fell was in full effect.
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