Honda Quest is not a race, it’s a competition yes, but not in the obvious sense. It’s the rare opportunity to bring the everyday man and the very best Dual Sport Adventure Motorcycle on the planet together in challenging, yet truly adventurous and inspiring places that few will ever see. The actual competition is then be a part of something that enables your partner and the other 12 contestants have this be, deeply rewarding, fun and truly life changing. That’s a bold goal and a measure of selfless competition.
Leaving the last of civilisation to strike out on this adventure, there’s something magical and transformative about setting off and leaving all the certainties and stresses of regular lives for this moment behind. Exchanging these for a helmet, some fine new friends, the promise of the unknown and newly washed, bright sun-baked desert trails. The anticipation was obvious!
It was to be a reasonably short stage of 130km, but with just enough of what’s to come to settle the nerves, find the natural rhythms of riding with partners in small groups and still be testing. So too was growing the understanding of what the bike can do and tweaking it to be just right. Because, in the next days, all will be severely put to the test. The goal for the day was a fly camping space alongside the Orange River, nestled amongst the many shaded mountains besides an ancient, old Melkboom tree.
For many, this is their first experience of extreme desert adventuring on big dual sports. The Richtersveld with its stark, sharp contrasts was at it’s very best this year. Its rugged and formidable landscape was in fine form having benefited from the recent cold fronts. The tricky sandy and sometimes silty trails were firm and not so treacherous. Today there few tumbles of no consequence to man or machine.
Some serious competitive juices came to the fore once at camp with a late afternoon bisley with catapult and short game of cricket on the river bank. Team #7’s Ruan Ueckermann found it hard hide his provincial cricketing pedigree! The Specialised crew were not immune to the games either. It may be that for many, the stiff muscles for tomorrow will have nothing to do with the days riding?
Honda Quest is certainly not just about the riding, it’s a time to be enriched. To this end, one of the exercises is to present on topics home prepared that relate in ways to the world we will be travelling through. First up, Murray Campbell, a lifelong Honda fan, spoke enthusiastically on the life and times of Soichiro Honda, the man for whom without which, we wouldn’t be doing this!
Andrew de Bruin, Murray’s partner was next with an insight into just what lay around us, his topic was The Richtersveld. This evening, we were blessed with no wind to speak of and no moon either, the perfect combination to fall asleep under a magnificent carpet of stars.
Tomorrow, the Richtersveld Eco Trail proper, the very finest off-road desert trail in Southern Africa.