Dear Hatpeople (or should it now be Heartpeople?), radio stations are issuing appeals to you to help fund our unicycle adventure from Durban to Cape Town.
Geoff “Heartman” Brink and I need further money for our “Fuel, Food, Accommodation & Airtime Fund” to enable us to achieve our objective of reaching Cape Town, a journey of six or seven weeks, and raise awareness for The Sole of Africa and its anti-landmines campaign.
Any donations will be used to aid The Heart & Sole Tour and not passed on to The Sole of Africa which is a non-profit organisation.
We would gratefully welcome any donations, no matter how small, from the public.
Please deposit these in the account of G. M. Brink, Standard Bank, Plusplan account 056 706 804, Branch code 042 626.
Geoff and I thank you in advance for your support… yes, with our hearts and souls!
Look. I’ve been a journalist long enough to know how to expertly “fudge” an issue. But if this blog is to be an accurate portrayal of the peaks and troughs, nay hills and valleys, of The Heart & Sole Tour, then no way… I’m not making a silk purse of a sow’s ear.
This day has been both beautiful and disastrous. Beautiful in that The Heartman, aided by favourable conditions, chowed up no less than 40.2km. A gentle tailwind and cool, overcast conditions propelled him, despite painful knees, from Scottburgh to Hibberdene in no little style. The hills were tough but, with his stamina and strength on the rise, old Heartie wasn’t to be beaten. In unicycling terms, the best day so far.
Then dee-rama struck on a grand scale. Or not so grand. I’m not going into detail – there’s a Heart & Sole Tour objective to be accomplished – but suffice to say that it has been forcefully driven home to me that perhaps the greatest challenge faced on a marathon adventure such as this lies in the psychological and emotional dimensions. Especially with two such strong personalities at the centre of it all.
OK. Tomorrow is another day. Now, if this infernally weak internet connection allows me, I would like to treat you to a video that has just reached us of Geoff “Heartman” Brink showing off his considerable unicycling skills and talking eloquently about what it is that drives us to overcome all adversity to complete the 1,700km – wait, 1,600km! – which lies before us.
I’ve just been brought a cold “Pussy natural energy drink” to help me recover from this day. And find enough patience with this woeful internet signal to attempt to load up the vid. I suggest you pour yourselves a stiff one while I try…
There. I think it’s on. If you do actually get to see the above video, it was filmed and edited by bright Umdloti thing Jimmy Reynolds using footage shot in Mozambique by Brenda Spaan for The Sole of Africa. The gravely disfigured face in that footage belongs to Ignacio who stepped on a landmine when he was just nine years old. But not just any landmine. This particularly cruel piece of military ordnance was designed, when detonated, to leap roughly five feet nine inches into the air and explode into people’s faces.
This is what happened to Ignacio, a beautiful and innocent boy at the time. And this is precisely the reason why we need to put personal – and ultimately petty – differences aside and finish this Heart and Sole Tour. My connection has gone again. And so have I. Good night.
Amanzimtoti to Scottburgh was tough. For Geoff “Heartman” Brink, our intrepid unicyclist, it was 34km of long hills and strong headwinds.
But our boy done well. There were regular stops and we even had the small 24-inch wheeler out for a bit. After having seen him for some weeks astride the mighty 36-incher, which lifts him to a vantage point above the roofs of the biggest cars, this made for a comical sight – like watching Dad sneak a ride on little Tyrone’s tricycle.
As always we had a blast. Bantering with garage attendants, playing football with a boy on the side of the road and old Heartie literally charmed a shirt off the staff at Steers Diner at the Ultra City near Umkomaas. And two surprise visits from old friends who dropped into offer support: Mike Perk and Olivia “OJ” Symcox.
OK. So this is how it unfolded…
The Total petrol pump guys were gobsmacked by the unicycle and one even offered to fill 'er up...
Heartman's old Cape Town work colleague Mike Perk seemed a bit shorter than usual... but, hey, travelling at 12km on the hard shoulder of a highway for hours on end can have hallucinatory side-effects!
Our boy was angling for a free burger and bottomless coffee at Steers branches all the way to Cape Town but was seen off with a kitchen staff T-shirt complete with "sizzling flame" sleeves!
Even if they were seen hotfooting it away from Ultra City, these cows are not, repeat NOT, the source of meat for Steers burgers. But they did have the effect of putting old Heartie off his stride!
And then… big surpriseness! Olivia “OJ” Symcox, a good mate, had just been heard interviewing Heartie’s bride-to-be on Lotus FM when she drew up behind us, bellowing a supportive chant at the unicyclist and flashing all manner of red lights and blaring sirens. Quite an entrance… but our OJ rolls like that!
Hello. A very understated OJ slips in quietly to whisper a few words of quiet encouragement to our brave Heartman. All pix: Hatman
OJ has given the Heart & Sole Tour some serious support over the past few weeks and we love her for this. In fact, Heartie and I have been knocked over by the interest in our unicycle adventure on behalf of landmine victims. People are good. People really do care. And we can’t thank them enough. Beautifulnesses all round us.
So after a day of being buffeted from the side by a plain nasty south-wester, The Heartman is hoping that a gentle north-easter will nudge him in the general direction of Port Shepstone tomorrow (Wednesday). We’re not sure how far we will go tomorrow but we’d love to make Sheppies by Thursday to share a New Year’s drink with some dear friends. Go, Heartie, go!
* Catch our Heartman being interviewed live on SAfm radio at 3pm on Thursday.
* We are aware that some very kind people wish to make donations towards our Heart & Sole “Fuel, Food and Airtime Fund”. I hope to put the account details on this blog tomorrow evening. We have limited dosh for this trip so every little bit helps to take us closer to Cape Town and “Mission Accomplished”. Ngiyabonga, good mense!
What a day! Excitement overload. It kicked off at Wilson’s Wharf this morning with quite a crowd very keen to send The Heartman and I off into the unknown. With friends like these…
With friends like these, I think we’re going to miss them. Right now we’re on too much of an adrenaline high to know whether we’re coming or going. But we went. We went from Durban to Amanzimtoti. And it was good. Nutty unicyclist The Heartman has been whingeing a tad about sore knees since his antics around a 10km mountainbiking trail. They held up. And he cruised. Impressiveness. We’re stoked.
So let’s run our eyes over a few images of the first day of our 1,700km one-wheeled madness to Cape Town, shall we?
Nice. The Heartman gets all the glory and is interviewed by a French television channel at Wilson's Wharf while the world's photographers encircle him (out of picture)...
Well. You know. OK. Next one…
And we're off! Should we stick on the Port Shepstone road headed for Cape Town or be diverted to the airport and a week in The Maldives?
We go to the airport, of course. For a lekker fry-up and bottomless coffee. No airline flies direct to The Maldives from Durbs!
But not before old Heartie has given a, er, crash course in unicycling to a very jovial car Park attendant at Durban airport
What's this? Living the holiday? After three hours of unicycling on the Southern Freeway, we reach Toti... and after a further two hours of unicycling aimlessly around Toti just for the hell of it, we find ourselves in first-night Nirvana!
Rotary International are generously helping us out and Chris and Jane Skinner of the Toti branch kindly offer us a bed for the night. Only it comes with a unsurpassed seaview, a right kiff swimming pool, a fish and chips supper, a couple of beers and a good few laughs before bedtime.
Here. Help yourselves to a good chortle…
The notorious Heartman Cabaret enters swimming pool right with a, er... um... what would YOU call this? All pix: Hatman
Nice. All in all a very good first day. Even if the lack of a hard shoulder on the freeway exiting Durbs and loads of traffic gave us a good few hairy moments. And the long hill after the airport approaching Amanzimtoti tested The Heartman big-time. But he styled it. Like he’s styling it with some serious snoring next door. So, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll leave you and go to get some shut-eye myself.
We want to get to Scottburgh tomorrow so we’re getting up at four to get an early start before the heat kicks in. Toodlepip!
“Geoff, I wish you the best of luck. I know how painful riding a unicycle can be! I hear you are regarded as ‘slightly mad’. Well, join the club! And ride safely.” Richard
This is the message I received in an e-mail from Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin group of companies and one of the patrons of the Mineseeker Foundation.
To say that Heart & Sole Tour unicyclist Geoff “Heartman: Brink and I are chuffed about this is an understatement on a stratospheric scale. Inspirationalness overload, dear Hatpeople!
If we weren’t hitherto inspired enough to finish this 1,700 mad adventure from Durban to Cape Town, we are now.
We leave from Wilson’s Wharf in Durban at 8.30am tomorrow. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You can follow us almost every kilometre of the way by checking our progress on this blog… and help our cause of raising awareness of the evil of landmines by sharing this with your friends.
* You may also be updated by following “fredhatman” on Twitter (simply click on that chubby blue bird perched at the top of this page) or join the Facebook group “Heart & Sole Unicycle Tour – Durban to Cape Town”. There will be regular updates posted on there each and every day of our unicycle ride, expected to last about seven weeks…
So The Heartman and I will trundle out of Durban from Wilson’s Wharf on Monday (ETD: 8.30am) headed for 1,700km of pure adventure. We are jumping up and down with anticipation. There is a humungous reservoir brimming with adrenaline that needs to be broken. As my young surfer tjommies would say, we are “amped to a scale of total radness”.
But I’ll miss the Bush Palace, our Heart & Sole Tour control tower nestling in the bush on a hill overlooking our sublime Indian Ocean in Umdloti. I’ll miss the resident population (five people, seven dogs, a troop of vervet monkeys, a few buck and gollyness only knows how many beautiful birds and snakes.
I’ll miss the irregular cabaret put on by the humpback whales and dolphins. I only wish they would give me a start time, like they do on television, so that I can have my Kodak Instamatic at the ready. The sunrises, the electrical storms, the lagoon, the Bushguy.
Me and Bushguy are making quite a nice connection. We passed on the 147 steps leading up to the Bush Palace the other day and got to talking about our bush idyll and how long it would last before the greedy property developers start munching on it to regurgitate huge profits with even more high-rise holiday apartment blocks which wealthy people occupy for a month each year.
He asked me if I had watched “What The Bleep!” and I said I had seen it a couple of years ago. “Would you like to see it again?” asked Bushguy, “I have a DVD I could lend you.” “I would,” I replied and before I had finished saying that, Bushguy had raced back to his hut in the bush, grabbed it and was thrusting it into my hands. “You can’t watch this often enough,” he said.
There you go. If you want to begin to understand what makes the enigmatique Bushguy tick, get out “What The Bleep!” and learn.
In the meantime, enjoy some images of life at The Bush Palace, an extraordinary place that I will greatly miss over the coming weeks…
This school of dolphins graced our bit of the ocean yesterday morning Pic: Hatman
This electrical storm popped by to say a loud hello yesterday evening... Pic: Hatman
Then not one rainbow but two decided to give us a bit of a show... Pic: Hatman
Then there was just time for quite a nifty sunset before the sky fell into blackness and the stars burst forth... Pic: Hatman
But that wasn’t enough. At 1am this morning, The Heartman takes a call from distant neighbour Darren Aiken that a bushpig has been spotted snouting around in his part of the bush…
... and this is what it looked like. Schweetness overload, hey? Pic: The Heartman
All in a day’s hard labour while living the holiday in the Umdloti bush. I’m sure we have your sympathy. Because we’ll need it when we leave all of this behind to unicycle all the way down to Cape Town! Kaapschstad, hier kom ons!
Five days. We have five days before The Heartman and I (and new Heart & Sole recruit and documentary film-maker Simon) roll out of Durban in the general direction of Cape Town.
Monday can’t come quickly enough. We’re done with the talking. We want to do the unicycling. And back-up driving. And blogging. And tweeting. And facebooking. And filming. And photographing. And everything else that we’ll find we will do. We just want to do.
The Heartman and I are grouchy. We’re restless. We’re expectant. And we are totally amped to do this Heart & Sole baby. It’s weird. We’re in this kind of compression chamber. A bubble. We’re irritating each other. The media have now got on to us. We’re being phoned for interviews. And we tell them more or less the same thing. The thing is we don’t know. We know that sometime in February – our choice would be Valentine’s Day – we want to roll into Cape Town.
We just don’t have a clue as to what will happen between Monday and then. No, we don’t know where we will sleep, although there will be some foam rubber in the back of the small bakkie that is to be our back-up vehicle. We have a feeling that the generosity of people we have yet to meet will mean that we will find beds, hot showers and some good food along the way. Don’t know where, don’t know when. We don’t know how often.
I expect to be seeing some of this...
We know that we are going to have a jol. Our minds are made up about that. Anyway, we are wired like that. We are both ADD. We get distracted. It will be hot. Very hot. So dams and rivers will distract us. We both love the ocean. I am writing this with the most constant sound of my life crashing in my ears… the waves. So our route will hug the coastline between Durban and Cape Town. This is why, instead of turning inland from Port Shepstone on KwaZulu-Natal’s south coast and going via Kokstad, we will head for Port St Johns and the phenomenalness of the sparsely populated Wild Coast.
It will be beautiful. We will be beautiful. It will be dangerous. We don’t know the exact nature of the risks we will have to take. We don’t know what might confront us. But we have worked through the fear. Because the only fear we can have is our fear of something we do not yet know. There is no point to it. We have both been through military training, in my case a long time ago. This will help. We are both a bit crazy. This will help even more. And we both believe, in somewhat different ways, in the higher energy source which surrounds us. This will help us the most. We will meditate. We will love. We will sing. We will argue. We will be scared. We will appreciate. We will understand. We will grow. We will change. And, flip, we will unicycle and drive and laugh and cry and live.
... and quite a bit of this...
We instinctively know that to schedule stops and goals and deadlines is to be disappointed. We will go as far as our bodies and minds and moods take us each day. And as far as the weather and the heat and the wind and the terrain allow us. If we cover 50km in a day, great. If we go 10km in a day, equally great. One kilometre is a gain. There will be rest days. There will be nightmare days. But every day will be a fun day.
We look forward to meeting the various characters that only South Africa is capable of producing, especially in the no-horse towns in the middle of nowhere. Extraordinary people. People in rural areas with very little but the shirts on their backs and the wealth of living a life extraordinarily lived. Stories. Anecdotes. We will photograph them. And we will laugh with them. And Geoff will probably try to teach them to stay on a unicycle for longer than two seconds, something I can’t do. Funninesses.
... and, yaaawwwn, a hell of a lot of this. Pix: Hatman
We want to publish a book of the experience with which we are about to be blessed. The Heartman is a freelance photographer. I am a writer. I think that it will be a wondrous story of the Great South African Experience. Lives and tales of lives less experienced. South Africans forgotten about. Real South African stories. Real people. Realities. Folklore. Myths. The truth. And of many people becoming aware of the people who cannot walk to the river to wash their clothes without fear of losing a limb. Landmines are unnecessary. A curse that is only real for the people left behind after wars with land that cannot be used to grow food. That cannot be walked upon. Because the people who planted their evil ordnance went to fight other battles and left the locals to live in terror. A terror that stops them from moving, from planting, from living. From bettering their lives.
This must be stopped. And, in order for that to happen, we won’t be stopped.
Friends are clambering over each other (well, kind of) to help us achieve our Heart & Sole dream of getting Geoff “Heartman” Brink from Durbs to Cape Town on his unicycle.
Rich McLennan, the Durban 2010 website supremo, can’t do enough to support us. He hurtles around on his mountain bike of a weekend and came up with the tasty challenge of pitting our intrepid unicyclist against the vagaries of the 10km Blue route at The Holla mountain biking trails spot near Ballito on Sunday.
The idea was to get his riding mates to sponsor The Heartman for every kilometre of the track that our man managed to cover. Coolness. And it was cool. Not only cool but rainy, windy and the track was radically wet. Stop. Wait a sec while I push my chest out to Schwarzenegger proportions. Our Heartie unicycled down steep hills on a rutted dirt track, he one-wheeled it up similar inclines. He sploshed his way through small lakes which other people like to call call puddles. He outdid himself. And he finished the course. Ten kilometres of two-wheeled recreational stuff was chewed up his AmaOneTyre. What a boykie!
Check this out…
OK. So some of the hills were seriously tough for a man on one wheel...
... but not tough enough to knock our Heartie off his AmaOneTyre for very long! Above pix: Rich McLennan
Nice work, me Heartie. Tarmac will be a right treat after that muddy little lark! So we will leave from the main car park at Wilson’s Wharf at 9am on Monday (that’s this Monday, be still my palpitative heart!) and we are expecting to be serenaded out by the thumping engines of a good few Harley Davidsons. After that, who knows? We aim to arrive in Cape Town on Valentine’s Day so that Heartman and his “Unveiled Sweetheart” can exchange vows and other romantic gestures on Camps Bay Beach before they get married in May.
Before that, more than 1,700km of unknown adrenaline-fuelled adventure and assorted wildnesses. We are so amped to go, it’s indescribable. Spiritual, babies!
And you will be able to follow the progress of our Heart & Sole Tour at least twice a day on this blog and also on Twitter and facebook, not to mention YouTube and other websites you and me haven’t yet heard about. But more about that later. One more pic, just by way of a big thank-you to our mate Rich for organising 10km of blood, sweat and and a couple of Mickey Mouse plasters for our boy at the weekend…
Bikers in arms... The Heartman and Rich McLennan look grubby but happy at the end of the 10km light training ride at The Holla. Nice one, Rich! And big thanks to Wayne of The Holla for allowing this madness to take place on his property! Pic: Hatman
You know that sometimes I like to kick off a blog post with a picture. This is one of those times. Stick around. All will become clear. Possibly.
This is Dilana. This tiny woman has a humungous presence and an even bigger voice. On Saturday night, she spoke out against landmines for the Heart & Sole Tour. We love her.
Geoff “Heartman” Brink and I are being constantly amazed by the generosity of spirit shown for our Heart and Sole unicycle tour by people we don’t even know.
We are reminded time and again that people are intrinsically good. Better than good. People are generally kind, compassionate and full of good lovingness. And when we tell them that The Heartman is about to ride a unicycle 1,700km or more to Cape Town to raise awareness of the evil of landmines, there is very little they won’t do to help the cause.
When we tell them that every 19 minutes, somewhere on our planet, somebody – and it is usually a woman or child – has their life devastated by the explosion of one of the millions of military killing devices left scattered around after wars, they are moved to feel very angry indeed. Angry that it is totally unnecessary that people continue to be maimed or killed by unexploded ordnance that is left to lie treacherously around on our earth. Earth that otherwise could be planted and harvested to feed the mostly poor nations which are especially blighted by the planting of landmines.
People like Annette Oberholster, a friend of The Heartman, who has been folding origami cranes in a desert in Qatar so that we may sell them to raise money for fuel and food for our ride which will take around six or seven weeks. OK, so the paper birdies didn’t arrive in Durban in time for us to take to the Dilana/Toni Rowland gig in Pinetown on Saturday night to exchange for 10 bucks or so with people in the audience.
We went up there anyway. To meet with Toni, the beautiful musician who is the ambassador of the Heart & Sole Tour. And to experience Dilana, who had expressed her wish to support us in any way possible. When we meet the diminutive human dynamo who is Dilana, she cannot do enough to help. During her set of heart-wrenching songs showcasing her mega-kaaaBooom voice, she gets old Heartie up on stage to intro the audience to our adventure and ask the hardcore rockers and bikers there if they would like to part with a little cash to help us out.
They did. Big-time. Beautiful hairy, leather-jacketed, multi-tattooed, Harley-riding people. Who care. Let’s have a look at what unfolded…
Dilana gives The Heartman the big intro on stage, he threw his hat into the audience... and the donations came rolling in!
R970. Nine hundred and seventy ront, people. Do you have any idea how much of total coolness that is? Couple of tanks of petrol for the old back-up truck, my babies. Thank you Dilana, Eric, Toni, Bronwyn, John, Kai and everybody else who was at VMacs in Pinetown on Saturday night. You rocked. And we rolled. And we all, like, well, y’now… yeah, rock ‘n’ rolled. For people who have had limbs blown off their bodies.
OK. I’m going to play you out with a few more pics. Because you’ll dig them. Yes. You will. You’ll see…
Bronwyn Rowland, Toni Rowland and Dilana... nice, hey?
Another kiekie of Immense Voice Woman. Just because I dig it. Do you?
This is Heartman smoking a rare cigar. Somewhere around Pinetown at 2.30am. I bought it for him before the gig for R23. Because I knew it was to be a special night. And it was. That is all. All pix: Hatman
Thank you for coming. I love you, Hatpeople. Buy a T-shirt on the way out. And please find out more about Dilana and her tour with Toni Rowland right here.
* You might have noticed that I didn’t publish an “Umdloti Interview” at the weekend. That’s right. I didn’t. And I won’t until Heartman and I get back from The Heart & Sole Tour sometime in February next year. Because it’s all about the unicycle ride now, OK? We leave in a week’s time and there’s a lot of stuff to sort out before then. Excitingness overload!
When intelligence (I think that’s the right word to use) surfaced in Durban this week that Helen Zille, Queen of the Republic of Cape Town, had ordered that Durban’s splendiferous Moses Mabhida Stadium be uprooted, placed gently on an aircraft carrier borrowed from Barack Obama and brought to Green Point to replace the supporating carbuncle her city contrived to construct, there was only one thing for it.
Run and hide. But Obed Mlaba, His Jovial And Corpulent Mayorness of Durban, decided to stand up (slowly) and be counted. So, after restricting his seven-course lunch to just five hours, he stood up (slowly), burped (lengthily) and decreed that all of Durban’s war arsenal be immediately deployed to defend our new stadium, widely considered to be a thing of radical phenomenalness and well worth protecting.
The result is this…
You can laugh all you want, Cape Town, but be warned: this tank has seen off many wannabe invaders since 1922, including a couple of rather large and badly-behaved Aussie rugby players, so don't try anything, OK?
There. I reckon that’s put HM Helen in her place, don’t you? She presided over Cape Town’s building of that “half-sucked Polo Mint” of a World Cup stadium… so she can ruddy well take her tea on her balcony and have to look at it!
* A totally rad doff of the old tin hat to my war correspondent, Jimmy Reynolds, for bravely bringing this pic back from the frontline