Hello, Heartpeople! Here, somewhat unusually, are a few words from Geoff “Heartman” Brink, aka the Unicyclist on The Heart and Sole Tour…
It's all about The Heartman... Geoff Brink doing what he's been doing for 43 days. He's halfway to achieving The Heart and Sole Tour's objective Pic: Hatman
“A few words about the reality of riding a very large unicycle nearly 2,000km across our beautiful country (at the age of 38, 2 months before getting married). Undeniably the most uncomfortable mode of transport ever invented.
At any given moment one (that’s me!) experiences pain of some description. At the moment my right gluteus maximus (bum) feels like it has been stung by 32 seriously angry wasps! My right calf muscle feels like it has been gnawed on by a family of hungry Bolivian beavers! My right lateral muscle feels like Chuck Norris just skopped me with one of those “around the house” numbers! And that’s just the physical side!
Emotionally I miss my fiance Kimmi so much it hurts worse than all the above combined. I miss our dogs badly too! It sounds naff but they are our children, and seeing a dog of any description on the ride reminds me of them and how I miss home!
Mentally – well it’s the toughest thing I’ve done since quitting alcohol 5 years ago! The concentration required balancing on one wheel for 5 hours a day is really intense, and I have to be constantly aware of my thoughts especially when faced with insanely steep and long hills, extreme heat and strong head winds! Spiritually I find it really important to keep an open dialogue with God, but often it is really tough to keep that connection when faced with all that I have just mentioned.
Apart from all that this Heart & Sole Tour is an absolute jol! It’s a bit like being a DJ at a party of your choice for 60 consecutive days! Fun but tough!
A quick note to all those beautiful souls who have and continue to support us on this trip. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!!! You have made this trip possible and are all as much a part of this adventure as me and my mate Howard (Fred H).
Best wishes and lots of love.
OK. Fred here. The Heartman (Geoff Brink) has told you how tough it is on The Heart & Sole Tour. And beautiful. Believe him. I’ve been behind him (as his back-up driver) every inch of the 1,100km we have covered so far. What Geoff is doing is beyond words. I could write a book about our experiences. And I will. But not now.
Here’s the really fun bit. Some clever friends (Fred Roed and Mike Perk) of the highly respected World Wide Creative website design group wanted to help us reach Cape Town and achieve our objective of raising awareness of the evil of landmines that continue to maim and kill innocent people long after wars have ended.
So they came up with this cracking idea… they have organised an online raffle in which you can buy a ticket to be in line to win one of these stunning prizes…
* Three nights at a wonderful villa in Camps Bay, Cape Town, courtesy of Cape Realty
* Two nights at the Constantia Boutique Hotel, courtesy of The Last Word
* A weekend away at Friday island Resort
* A chef for the night, courtesy of Capsicum Cooking
* Golf lessons, courtesy of Cape Town Golf Academy
* R800 voucher for an authentic Tretchikoff print, courtesy of VladimirTretchikoff.com
* R500 Spa voucher, courtesy of Health Spa Guru
* A signed Ajax Cape Town football shirt, courtesy of Ajax Cape Town
* A half-day tour around the Cape Peninsula, courtesy of Executive Touring
* A prize courtesy of Wildcard (TBC)
Nice. You each give R25 to help us finish our mad unicycle adventure and you could win – I am sure you will agree – a really, really cool prize. I like this. A competition in which there are no losers. Because even, if by some cruel twist of fate – and that is highly unlikely to happen to YOU – you don’t land up swanning around a Camps Bay villa for a couple of days, you’ll have WON the satisfaction of knowing you helped us to help people who don’t have the same number of limbs that you and I have. Phenomenalness, isn’t it? Yes, it is.
Eurekaness!!! After staggering through an internet desert for days on end, I have a semblance of connection! It’s trickling in at the speed of a unicyclist rather than, say, the infamous Winston the Pigeon but I’m not grumbling.
OK. So I have a backlog of about 1,000 pictures and dozens of weird and wondrous anecdotes on The Heart & Sole Tour… but I’ll do my best to get our loyal “Heartpeople” up to speed with our slow but sure progress. First, a picture. Look. It may be nothing more than what we old newspaper hacks term a “boring handshake pic” but, for The Heartman and I, it captures the spirit in which South Africans have received our crazy unicycle ride…
Where's a doctor when you need one? On the road between Matatiele and Mount Fletcher is the answer! This wonderful man, one Doctor Joe Thusi, stopped his car when he saw us taking a quick rest stop, crossed the road and gave us R900 cash to help with our fuel, food and airtime costs! Just like that!
This was beautifulness on an out-of-this-world scale! Heartie and I were simply blown away by Dr Thusi’s generosity and it took us a while to get going again. South Africans of every ethnic background are known for their generosity of spirit and nowhere more so than out in the sticks, where life generally is very challenging to say the least. Out of the basic dynamics of what is deemed newsworthiness, we often get a distorted view of what is happening in our beautiful country. What is generally happening in South Africa, my fellow countrymen, is a whole lot of good stuff. And, after more than two weeks on the road, straining our guts out on behalf of landmine victims, the Heartman and I are well placed to tell you that!
Right. Quick update on our mind-bogglingly beautiful road trip before I take you into a series of pictures taken over the past few internet-free days. We’ve made it to a point 12 kilometres beyond Mount Fletcher towards Maclear. The landscape is mutating into the drier, rockier and more stark terrain typical of the Cape. We have left behind the lush, green rolling topography of KwaZulu-Natal. But still the mountain passes come. The heat has been unbelievable. And we have been pushed to our limits. In fact, old Heartie and I “hit the wall” yesterday. Exhaustedness. The Heartman’s knees, heavily strapped to his physiotherapist’s requirements each day, were giving him pain. Even more exacting has been the emotional and psychological impact of getting a grip on the enormity of what we are doing. It has hit home. We have returned to the rehabilitative sanctuary that is the Matatiele home of Dr Rob and Maggie Mears.
“Doc Mears” and wife Maggie have been fantastic to us and we are resting today, restoring mind, body and soul in order to continue our quest for Cape Town. Enough said. Allow me to guide you through a pictorial tour of our recent Heart & Sole history…
This truckload of young initiates passed us somewhere between Matatiele and Mount Fletcher. It is a Sotho custom that boys, once 16 years of age, are smeared head to toe in red clay and circumcised in a ritual that takes place up in the mountains
We found this dapper young fellow adopting a distinctly Chaplinesque pose beside the road. A definite shoo-in for the Matatiele Fashionista of the Year title?
Introducing you to the sweetness of Mieke Chapman, beautiful but feisty young daughter of Keith and Mandy Chapman, who looked after Heartie and I so well in Kokstad. We overnighted with their neighbours, Vaughan "Neighbour" Raw and his wife Meryl and were spoiled rotten by both families. Thanks guys!
Time for a gentle change of scenery. And it doesn't get any more pastoral than this, does it?
Look. I can't remember where I took this pic. I just know it depicts The Heartman at his classic best!
Aah, yes. We've been stopped by the cops (traffic police) just once. And they rushed over to wish us a safe journey! They were also totally chuffed to receive a couple of ice-cold cooldrinks from our cooler box on a stinker of a day!
OK. I’m pushing my luck with this intermittent internet connection. I could be cut off at any moment. It’s a rollercoaster ride, I tell you! Let’s see if I may regale you with any further snaps…
Oh, yes. The mother of all storms hit us as were preparing to roll out of Mt Fletcher. Torrential rain. And hail too. Let’s see if I can find the pic I tried to take of that little baby…
Some locals are totally unfazed by a storm. Not surprising. It happens every afternoon in summer in this neck of the woods!
But all of the locals are united in their bemusement towards a man riding a bicycle which has lost a wheel! These Sotho ladies are wearing their traditional Sotho blankets. The temperature can drop 15 degrees in an instant!
Yes. I’ve made a meal of this post because I cannot be sure when I’ll be able to get online again. So it seems appropriate to close with a shot of me old Heartie riding off into the sunset…
And a pretty glorious one at that, eh? All pix: Hatman
Yowzerness! This post has been a rare old rollercoaster ride! Pretty much like our 1,700km Heart & Sole unicycle tour from Durban to Cape Town. Hang on! Stop the presses! News just in is that good friends Shane and Netty (she who made the origami cranes to be sold in aid of the Heart & Sole Tour) have driven out from Durban to surprise us. And they most certainly have!
Awesomeness overload! The plan is to camp in their tent on the side of the road near to where we stopped yesterday. I hope they brought a braai (barbecue) and some top-notch steaks! Not to mention beer! Then Heartie and I will set off again in search of Maclear (the next stop on our magical mystery tour to Cape Town) and a man they call Mr Mountain… I will explain all the next time I find the most elusive of holy grails – an internet connection! Toodlepip!
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!
“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…
I recently reported on this blog that, among the many wonderful people and companies which have stepped forward to support our Heart & Sole unicycle tour, an angel by the name of Annette Oberholster had offered to singlehandedly make 1,000 origami cranes for us to sell for fuel and food money.
“Netty”, as she is known to those lucky enough to be friends of hers, is waiting in a desert in Qatar for her man to finish a contract with a petrochemicals company and is currently blistering her fingers while folding as many of her “paper birdies” as possible for us to sell for a R10 donation at the Dilana/Toni Rowland gig at VMacs in Pinetown on Saturday evening, December 19.
This is pure beautifulness on Netty’s part. And I would now like to present to you a depiction of what her origami cranes look like…
Cranes over Africa... these origami birds will help The Heart & Sole Tour to raise awareness of the totally unnecessary scourge of landmines
I’m loving that. What about you? How are you feeling about Netty’s gesture? Does it move you? Does it make you feel warm and fuzzy down there, in the pit of your tummy? Does it encourage you to want to smile at strangers, both handsome and ugly, svelte and fat? Does it compel you to hum nice ditties while you do the ironing or while hovering over the cheese section at Woolies? That’s fine. I understand. Because it does me. Actually, it does me head in. That somebody could produce an act of such phenomenalness.
But, you see, Netty has witnessed first-hand the destruction caused by landmines. She has seen the killing fields of Vietnam. The lands littered with UXO (Unexploded Ordnance). And it makes her feel bad. Because she is disgusted by the fact that, decades after the warmongers went home to find something else to do, their detritus continues to kill.
Fact: Every 19 minutes, somewhere on our planet, somebody (usually a woman or child) has their life blighted by a landmine. The Sole of Africa, for whom The Heart & Sole Tour is raising awareness, is working to weed out the killer ordnance and giving assistance to victims by way of counselling and provision of prosthetic limbs.
This is why Geoff “Heartman” Brink is to ride 1,700km from Durban to Cape Town on one wheel. And this is why Netty is helping us. You can help us too. firstname.lastname@example.org. We have yet to find a comfortable motorhome to use as a back-up vehicle. Please help us to help those who suffer unnecessarily. And we’ll help you.
I know that The Heartman, our intrepid Durban to Cape Town unicyclist, is a strong oke. I know that he is mega-determined to do the Heart & Sole Tour. I know that he will. I know that, if he could, he would leave tomorrow.
I also know that he is hard in training. That he has a huge heart. And I know, without a shadow of doubt, that is completely off his rocker.
But what I didn’t know is that he so damn good at marketing!
The Heart & Sole is accumulating a nice collection of sponsors for the big roadtrip by unicycle. We hope to leave Durban sometime late in November. We will set the departure date when we are ready to announce The Heart & Sole’s complete list of sponsors and when the two specialist touring unicycles have arrived in Umdloti.
So we’re not ready to reveal the names of our sponsors quite yet. But I must make an exception in the case of Glaceau Vitmainwater, which will be providing us with many cases of their delicious, nourishing and rehydrating drink for the 1,700km ride.
Why? Because they gave us so much of fun this week. The Heartman (Geoff Brink) was about to unicycle down the hill for his daily surf – that’s how he rolls – when the Glaceau marketing bus arrived to hand over a few cases of their magic liquid for training purposes.
Their marketing team, Christine, Kelly and Ashton, suggested we put on a unicycling display right in front of the Umdloti Centre on the beachfront… and The Heartman jumped at the chance to show off his skills. What a show-off! What a schmarketer! What a nutter! What a total jol!
This is how it looked…
Marketable or what? the Heartman thirsts for the elixir which will carry him through to Cape Town...
Then he gets a little kiddo to go Glaceau while he chats up the parents...
The Heartman gets totally confuzzed by a little game sprung on him by Glaceau marketing angel Kelly...
… and then, and I suggest you take a deep breath and sit down somewhere safely for this one, wait for this….
Old Heartie throws us a trick on top of a mate's Landie!
Yowzerness! Cheap schmarketing stunt or what? Actually, no. This is just how he is. Umstoppable. Let’s just hope he’s unstoppable on his AmaOneTyre all the way to Kaapschstad! And I, as his publicity guru (I just point him towards a moment of madness, he does the rest) and back-up man (er, that’s driving the back-up vehicle while blogging, photographing, tweeting, facebooking, e-mailing, phoning ahead, changing the tunes, picking him up and sticking Mickey Mouse plasters on his cuts and scratches), firmly believe that if anybody on this planet can cover the 1,700km on one wheel, it’s my top mate Geoff “Heartman” Brink!
South African rock musician Toni Rowland has pledged her support for Geoff “Heartman” Brink’s trans-South Africa unicycle odyssey, which has previously been documented here and here.
Toni Rowland: totally behind Heartman's mad unicycle marathon
Our Geoff is hard in training to undertake the approximately 1,400 kilometre stretch on one wheel later this year and was understandably “totally stoked” to hear of Toni’s support for his ride. Heartman is unicycling from Durban to Cape Town to raise awareness of The Sole of Africa, the Mineseeker Foundation’s anti-landmine campaign. He is also hoping, through a competition to be announced soon, to raise sufficient funds to enable him to afford a “pretty awesome wedding” for the woman he so desperately wants to marry.
Toni, who recently released Unfolding, a new album which is receiving huge acclaim in the USA and Britain, is thrilled to be involved with the Heart & Sole Tour. She told fredhatman.co.za: “The Heart and Sole tour is just amazing. Geoff riding a unicycle across South Africa in a way reflects the whole plight of the people that are affected by landmines. A solitary figure on a single wheel is kind of what people who have lost a limb are left with.”
Toni is an active ambassador for the Sole of Africa campaign and has travelled to Mozambique with the Mineseeker Foundation to see for herself the effects of landmines on women and children.
This experience inspired Toni to write a song for the Sole of Africa campaign entitled “Put Your Foot Down”, which she wrote in Spain while recording Unfolding with former Uriah Heep rock superstar Ken Hensley. The royalties from the sales of this song are being donated to the Mineseeker Foundation. You can find out more about Toni at her MySpace profile or on her personal website.
Meanwhile, the Heartman has been drawing bemused glances – and even the odd cheer – while wobbling down the Umdloti beachfront during his daily practice sessions. He has upgraded from a 24″ wheel to a 36″ and, weighing in at a portly106kg, presents a rather formidable sight to locals not accustomed to seeing anything more exotic than a horse and cart offloading barrels of beer outside the Bush Tavern.
A formidable (and hilarious) sight he may be but Heartman didn’t exactly impress a Doberman Pinscher which ran across our heroic unicyclist the other day. My red hat is extravagantly doffed to local Umdlotian Marc Desvaux de Marigny (gollyness, I’d kill for a name like that) who captured this beautiful moment…
Fido adds a bitemark to the litany of bruises and cuts adorning Heartman's legs. Nice.
All part of the training schedule. Heartman needs those legs to be impenetrable before meeting up with those killer bulls which roam the roads around Mthata. Not to mention the huge risk of being gored by a fusillade of stilettos when he is mobbed by the adoring supermodels who will be waiting to receive him outside Camps Bay’s excruciatingly trendy Caprice restaurant when the Heart & Sole Tour team finally pulls into Cape Town. As Heartman’s back-up vehicle driver and general watch-his-back man, I’ll have a right job keeping the gals at bay. Hmmm.