The previous evening had served up much food for thought; The competitors now knew who their team mate was, for better or for worse. Then to add to the tension, the evening was unseasonably cold for camping out under the stars. Not many could boast a fitful night’s sleep.
The morning broke overcast and cool, but not at all unwelcome for desert travel. We made way to the notorious Namaqwa Eco trail that runs besides the Great Orange River, fabled for its stark mountainous beauty, remote tracks and tough sand. Though only traveling to the great Melkboom landmark, which is not far into the trail, it was enough of a day for many in their first introduction to serious desert sand riding. A number of riders took innocent tumbles whilst trying to make friends with the “sand monsters” that lurk in the deeper sand sections.
Honda Quest is designed to start easy and build up competitor’s skills and confidence to tackle the more serious sections that are to be found in the later days. To this end, we made camp early to take advantage of the natural massive stony sand plateaus that lie behind the evening’s camp for those that wanted to top up on their deep sand skill sets. It was great to see those who had been finding the going tough earlier, coming back to camp with a bit of bravado and a smile. There were some tough lessons dealt out; Jason Bryden, who ironically is a reasonably skilled rider, took a heavy fall and is being assessed at the moment.
What can’t be denied is the utter beauty of our world made all the cleaner by not being able to have any contact with the outside world. This wonderful space is utterly devoid of any connectivity and we will only be able to connect with the outside world later on Day 2.
When each contestant had first been told of their making the final 14, they’d also been given a topic on Africa to present. This evening we were enriched on the Noble ancient Himba Tribe and the Wildebeest Migration through Kenya and Tanzania.
Tomorrow though, it gets measurably harder as we take on, amongst others, the seriously tough “Hells canyon”, a punishingly deep section of sand surrounded by steep sided canyons that seems to beat the heat into anything and everyone who dares through it.
I can’t wait.