Only now am I able to deliver the Last Post on The Heart and Sole Tour saga.
And it is delivered in pretty much the same key as Peter Sellers used to such diabolical effect in the opening scenes of The Party.
I hope that you, dear Hatpeople, will find this as funny. But I doubt it.
Because it’s not. It has taken me damn nigh a week to even begin to drain the porridge from my stultified brain and start to order some thought process about the rather epic two-month unicycle ride from Durban to Cape Town, which ended in dramatic fashion at The V&A Waterfront last Friday.
In the case of our phenomenally gutsy unicyclist, Geoff Brink, it was utter physical exhaustion which enveloped him once the adrenaline began to ebb from his body at the end of his record 2,000km one-wheeled feat. But it was the mental pressure required of us to focus on finishing our cavalier mission, amid some distracting sideshows, which led to us spectacularly falling out at the finish line.
Kim, Geoff's fiancee, joins the Heart and Sole Tour at Peregrine's Farm Stall near Grabouw on the penultimate day of the crazy ride
And only now can this story be told.
Please know that we were always mindful of the fact that the Heart and Sole Tour was about raising awareness of the awful devastation that landmines continue to wreak on the lives of innocent civilians around the world. And, of course, it should always have been about that alone. But Geoff Brink and I are only human. And very fallible humans at that. So it was that, early in the tour, when pressure was brought to bear on us from back home, that the ugly spectre of the male ego leapt to the fore. The jostling for position in the Heart & Sole roadside pod of the alpha male instinct began to permeate the high-spirited vibe of our beautiful roadtrip.
Don’t get me wrong. There were bucketfuls of banter, a chuckling stream of laughs and a camaraderie that one comes to expect of two friends combining to achieve something both mad and magnificent. In fact, many of you might question whether the flipside of our tour should be told at all. The Heart & Sole Tour undoubtedly achieved its objective and what purpose is there in hanging out the stinky unwashed laundry for all to sniff at? What goes on tour stays on tour and all that crap.
Geoff "Heartman" Brink negotiates the downhill treachery of Sir Lowry's Pass. A moment of respectfulness, please!
I’ll answer that. I have mulled over this for nearly a week. I am fascinated by the human condition. That is why I chose journalism as a career. I am equally captivated by the human spirit. And this piece of introspection – should that be “retrospection”? – is about wanting to understand how Geoff and I managed to complete our trip despite our differences as much as because of the unity we displayed when it really mattered.
I have talked with people about this since I emerged blinking into the bright Cape Town sunlight from the highly buffered bubble that was our “hard shoulder crawl” across our great country. Some have drawn comparisons with “The Long Way Down”, Ewan McGregor’s and Charlie Boorman’s motorcycle jaunt from Britain through Europe and down to the foot of Africa.
I must confess that I have yet to watch the whole movie. Geoff and I began to watch it as an entertaining aside to our minimal preparation for the Heart and Sole Tour but, dismayed by the showiness, grandstanding and, quite frankly, over-indulgence displayed over what amounted to a pretty easy ride, fell asleep.
I don’t see the similarities. Yes, Geoff’s fiancee, Kim Millar joined us towards the end of our ride, a development that, for me, was both unexpected and temporarily gripped me with trepidation… but, such was my determined hyperfocus on getting our unicyclist safely to the Mother City that her presence in the back-up truck proved to matter not a jot. And I know that Geoff was greatly motivated by his sweetheart to bravely finish what he had started.
Mmmm. "Cape Town, 40km"? Take that!
What caused our “Skirmish at The Clock Tower” was the result of two very tired minds and one exhausted body melting down after 58 days of intense concentration and unbelievable strain. So what happened, you may ask? OK. Fair question. But I’m not saying. I have too much respect for what Geoff achieved and, yes, for what we as a team did for people who deserve a better life than to tarnish in detail the magnificent outcome of the Heart and Sole Tour.
Never mind the bollards which prohibited myself and the back-up truck from following our unicyclist – and our final-day amaonetya.co.za escort of unicyclists Alan van Heerden and Johnny Cronje down to the Clock Tower. After watching Geoff’s back for 58 days and nigh on 2,000km, a row of concrete bollards stopped me from seeing the boys home. Emotions spilled over. There were harsh words. It was unsavoury. It was, after what we had been through, almost inevitable. It happened. It is over. It’s gone. Gone, gone, gone. No regrets. We move on. We have learned lessons.
Johnny (left) and Alan (right) of amaonetya.co.za and OddWheel Unicycles escort Geoff into Cape Town and safely down to the V & A Waterfront. Awesomeness, guys!
Before we set out on December 28, 2009 on a mission which many called impossible, both Geoff and I knew that there would be challenges for which we could not prepare, that lessons would be taught that might make better people of us. And so it proved. And I am massively thankful for this gift. I remain privileged to have had the experience of supporting Geoff Brink on his incredible journey.
Crikey, what a ripper, Nige! You are a total mensch.
All pix (apart from this one): Hatman
* I will be working with Kai von Pannier of The Sole of Africa to draw up a full list of individuals, companies and establishments which should be acknowledged for the part they played in helping The Heart and Sole Tour to achieve its objective.
In the meantime, I would like to thank these people for the enormous help – and inspiration – they gave Geoff and I: John Fogarty, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Kim Millar, Olivia “OJ” Symcox, Rox-ann Govender, Kai and Cindy von Pannier, Mike Kendrick, Toni Rowland, Dilana, Sir Richard Branson, John L. Evans, Alan van Heerden, Johnny Cronje, Sharon Heger Basel, Steve Connor, Jimmy Reynolds, Andre Cronje, Rob Gower, Rich and Sarah McLennan, Neil and Hayley Millar, Kathy Reay, Dennis Theron, Pierre and Elise Brink, Jonny and Jane Roberts, Keith Chapman, Vaughan Raw, Warren Bartram, Donatella Pontesilli, Doc and Maggie Mears, Mama Cordelia, Martin Schroder, Toni Brodelle, Emily Shayler, Paul Chew, Janet Marshall, Marc Forrest, Mike Adams, Mandy Morgan, Fred and Yolandi Roed, Mike Perk, Clayton and Paula Whitaker, Father Matthias, Mama Zondeka, Nic Nel, Marcelle Delew-Kappen, Andreas Kappen, Brett Horner, Julie Davies, Seth Rotherham, Mike Kuttner, Jacqui Daniels, Riaan Manser, Bob Skinstad, Claire Alexander, Dave Duarte, Chris Rawlinson, Mike Saxby, Ken Taytasac, Penny Sandham, Carol-Anne Stephenson, Craig Bettridge, Vicky Nardell, Annette Oberholster, Helen Walne, Brandon McGugan, Martina Gilli, Michelle Solomon, Krista (New York), Neal Collins, Chris Whitfield, Lesley Byram, Marilyn Bernard, Wendy Landau, Dhashen Moodley. If anybody feels left out, it’s because you will be thanked in the full list to appear on both The Sole Of Africa website and this blog.
* One last thing. Both Geoff and I exhausted our savings on The Heart & Sole Tour. He’s a freelance photographer and a very good one at that. We both need to find paid work, he to finance his forthcoming wedding, I to pay the rent for a ramshackle dwelling down near the river. Should you have some paid work to slide our way, that would be completely cool. Ta!
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.
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!