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!