OK. I need to be like Speedy Gonzalez, my babies. As a 15kph back-up driver on the Heart & Sole unicycle tour, my name and “speedy” don’t ever feature together – but today is the exception.
The Heartman has arisen and, despite Stanford’s considerable charms, our homesick unicyclist is champing at the bit to get to Cape Town, where he is threatening to chuck his one-wheeled steed into the harbour and fly home to Umdloti and his soon-to-be-wife and five dogs.
Yup, we are hoping to stagger up to the Clock Tower at the V&A Waterfront sometime around 2pm on Friday. Please do come down and and feel free to roll around in mirth as we do our sack-of-potatoes all fall down trick. Yes. We are knackered. Two months on the road is a very very long time. Especially when you are Geoff “Heartman” Brink and a completely uncooperative unicycle is between you and that road!
But there have been some wondrous experiences on the way. Such as hooking up with Bob Skinstad and his exceedingly winsome “Walk This Way” girls at Raka wine estate near Stanford yesterday. “Walk This Way” is a Western Cape initiative to promote Bob’s awesome Bob’s For Good Foundation and its work in providing disadvantaged children with shoes to wear to school.
As people who have zigzagged nearly 2,000km to raise awareness of landmines and the thousands of people who also have no shoes – because they have no legs – Geoff and I feel a special kinship with Bob’s excellent cause. Check it out at bobsforgood.co.za and, I exhort you, do the right thing and buy a pair of Bob’s really cool loafers, an act which will give a poor kid a pair of shoes. Easy. Good. And beautiful. Thanks.
OK. So this is what yesterday looked like…
Geoff and Bob prop up my back-up truck to stop it from falling over. They’re good like that. And Bob proved himself a natural at balancing on the unicycle…
… until he decided a bit of “go forward” was on the cards. Oopsiness! Never mind, Bob, a great many have fallen before you. Ask Old Heartie, mastering a unicycle is very much an acquired skill. Very much like enjoying a conversation with, um, Julius Malema!
Aah, that’s better. The team pic starring, from left, Geoff “Heartman” Brink, Bob Skinstad, Claire and Sarah with Shari and Sue gracing the front row. Top-notch people all. Providing shoes for the kids who have never had any.
Bob and his team need your support to put shoes on feet. I know you will help. Because our two-month unicycle rollercoaster ride has reminded us that, when it comes to stretching out a helping hand, South Africans are very quick on the draw.
It’s been beautifulness on a grand scale, Heartpeople. Thank you. There are so many of you to thank that I don’t have the space or time to do it right now. Later. We need to get on the road to Caledon. And, yes, it’s hot. And, yes, there are hills and passes. And, yes, we have just enough dosh for petrol to get us there. And, yes, we are going to conquer this super-hairy monster of a unicycle tour. Because there are thousands of people – those missing limbs – around this beautiful world whose plight is largely going unnoticed. That is all.
OK. So it turns out that Geoff “Heartman” Brink, our intrepid and totally nutty unicyclist who is fixed-wheel pedalling all the way to Cape Town, has a good dose of Afrikaner in him.
This doesn’t surprise me. Although he’s been maintaining for some time that he’s one part Scottish, one part Viking (whatever that means). I mean, the longer we are on this madness of a Heart and Sole Tour – and the longer we travel the byways and dirt roads of our wondrous South Africa – the more he acts really boor… I mean, Boer-ish. He’s gone all feral on me.
It (The Unicyclist) speaks to cows, yells at hills, neighs at horses… and, if that weren’t enough, it held a long conversation with a very amiable and supportive Afrikaans-speaking geezer what called himself Jacques the other day. While chewing biltong at the same time. All rather perplexing, if not downright alarming, for a back-up driver/blogger/kiepie who is a regte soutpiel (English-speaking South African) brought up of Anglo-Scottish stock in Pietermaritzburg, widely considered to be the Last British Outpost.
So I wasn’t completely shocked when, upon finding evidence of buck droppings the other day, Meneer Brink challenged me to a bokdrol spoeg kompetisie. A what?! Er, that translates to “buck droppings spitting competition”. Afraid so. There’s no getting away from it. And there was no chance of me getting away from it. We do challenges – and sticking a perfectly-formed and rounded piece of buck crap – which looks like an earthy Ferrero Rocher – in one’s gob and seeing how far one can propel it using one’s power of lung expulsion seems perfectly normal behaviour. Um. Well, it does when you’ve been following a very feral unicyclist around the country for a month and a half.
OK. So it was game on, old chap. And may the man who can spit a piece of buck crap the furthest win. Let us – if you can bring yourself to do it – see what that looked like…
The presentation of the deer dung to be used as ammo in the shoot-wild-animal-crap-out-of-the-mouth contest. Yum.
Up first, The Unicyclist... and his best bokdrol spoeging effort reaches a distance of 4.52 metres. Impressive!
Next up, The Back-up Driver... and, wait, his pea-shooting experience at Pelham Primary School proves to come in handy as he propels the impala poop a full 5.06 metres! Wholly crapness!
Not bad for a Engelsman who didn’t grow up on a farm eating half a cow for breakfast and not wearing shoes until he went to university, hey? And even more formidable a victory when it is considered that The Unicyclist doesn’t drink or smoke and is as fit as a butcher’s dog while the Back-up Driver does both the former to Richard Burton-like excess. And, it must be said, is about as fit as the butcher.
OK. so we’re all rather relieved that that little malarkyness is over. Well, almost over. How did this most indecorous of games come about? Well, it had got far too hot to ride a unicycle, as tends to happen every day, and we went off-road to seek some shade. We thought it rather cool to do that in a game reserve and plonked our mattresses under a tree near the reception office and promptly fell aslumber.
Only to be woken up by the “executive chef” of Kichari Game Reserve doing a Gordon Ramsay impersonation and shrieking at us to wake up and get inside the building. We were then chided for sleeping in a spot where elephants, rhino and lions are known to roam! And had pointed out to us a nearby tree that had clearly been used as a back-scratching post for a jumbo. There wasn’t much of said tree remaining. Our midday nap was rather ruined and the bokdrol spoegery ensued. Now you know.
And want to know something else? We had no sooner got back on to the road for a spot of marathon unicycling when we he heard an unmistakeable roar. The Unicyclist fell off his one-wheeled steed, I nearly ran over him, we both grabbed our cameras and ran to the side of the road. This is what we saw…
Ahem. Imagine waking up under a tree in a game reserve to find this feller peering down at you? I did. Not nice!
Right. Well, where to next? Somewhere a little more gentle, perhaps. Oh, yes. We saw a nice sunset. Again. Here you go…
Hang on. What’s that black speck just above the horizon? Let’s have a closer look…
Mmmm. I think we have ourselves a bird flying through the setting sun. Let's see if I can crop in a tad on that chap?
Yes. A bird all right. How good of it to fly into shot at just the right time. I do like it when that happens. When nature decides to co-operate with my persistent efforts to get a decent snap. Nice.
There. That wasn’t so bad after all, was it? No. You’re right. it wasn’t. So all’s well that ends well (a saying that just came to me in a flash and, yes, do feel free to use it as the mood takes you). I just can’t be sure that I’ll be getting to kiss anybody anytime soon!
Jack Russells. Amazingness. I’ve always thought them super-intelligent. The sharpest tools in the entire dogbox.
Now I must revise my assessment. They’re actually far cleverer than that. If there’s a pattern developing on this crazy unicycling adventure, other than the obvious one of The Heartman furiously pedalling his AmaOneTyre in front of the back-up vehicle I am driving at 12kph, it’s that there is a Jack Russell at every abode that we overnight at.
So they are also popular. This is in itself intriguing as the little rogues are highly-strung, humungously hyperactive, manipulative and do very convincing imitations of being highly vicious boerboels. I know. I have two. Or, rather, had two until I left on this seven-week Heart & Sole Tour. I miss them. A lot.
Anyway, The Scrapster and Doodlebug, my JRs, must have put word out on the South African Jack Russell Network that Heartie and I need help because everybody, every B&B owner and kind soul who has offered us free accommodation has a Jack Russell winking at us when we drive in.
I’ve just turned to see the what the latest member of the JR fraternity to enter my life is doing and, after growling lustily at the lightning here in Harding, it’s now lying on Heartman’s bed, staring intently at me and wagging its tail. I’d photograph it for you but I’d have to use flash and I don’t dare wake up The Exhausted Unicyclist. He’d have every right to be grumpy.
Day Seven has been the toughest day yet of this Durban to Cape Town one-wheeled odyssey. Heat and hills. Hills and heat. It was very, very tough. I feel knackered and I was only sitting in the truck, listening to top-notch tunes (see today’s playlist at end) and fretting about dodgy truck-drivers, so I feel for Heartie who was sizzling the tarmac with his dripping sweat as he toiled up steep hill after steep hill. Paddock to Harding (well, 20km out of Harding) will be remembered as a right little sod of a section of our tour.
But, yes, we had fun. First, a very grateful doff of my red hat goes to Dean, Stef and Marlon of The Gorgez View Restaurant, Bar and B&B near Paddock for magnificent hospitality extended at no cost at all. It was their contribution towards making our objective of raising awareness of the scourge of landmines that much more obtainable. Nice. Let’s have a look at them, shall we?
Manager Dean, top-notch cook Marlon and bar legend Stef (far right) did everything to ease the pain for us at The Gorgez View near Paddock, southern KwaZulu-Natal. Nice one, guys!
The Heartman was so overcome by the level of hospitality that he treated us to one of his farm animal cabaret acts…
Inspired by an appreciative audience of new friends in the background, Heartie executed a perfect "Bionic Goat" manoeuvre. Like it? Of course you do
Then our slightly eccentric unicyclist was delighted to find a wheel even bigger than the 36-inch one he usually rides and wasn't slow to hop on an ancient oxwagon decorating the verandah at The Gorgez View! Nice work!
Then it really was down (or up?) to work, inching up the steep hills drawing us into the foothills of the Drakensberg in the direction of Kokstad. Scorching heat. Hot tar. Mad dogs and Englishmen stuff.And a local guy who fancied himself as a paparazzi!
This excitable fan hopped out of his car and chased Heartie around, snapping pictures of him from every angle for a few minutes. Who knows, we might make the front page of The Harding Harbinger!
Nice. But the heat took its toll. And finding shade every half-hour or so was the order of the day…
Aaaah, finally a slightly chilled vibe envelopes The Heartman
He wasn’t the only one seeking refuge from the African midsummer sun. And this young woman found a somewhat more elegant way to acquire shade near the tiny hamlet of Izingolweni…
Cool. So is today (Monday). We’ve woken up to overcast conditions and ideal riding weather, if a tad windy. Only The Heartman is somewhat knackered after yesterday’s very exacting mountain climb. So we’ve decided to make a late start. Please join us later for an update and show old Heartie your support.
In fact, the best way anybody could support him right now would be to donate an iPod to our unicycling cavalier. I’ve been blasting tunes out of the back-up truck to help him up the hills but being plugged into his own music up front would give him the stimulus to find extra pedal power! If you have one spare, please mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can make an arrangement. Thanks!
* Day Seven Playlist: These are the tunes which gave The Heart & Sole Tour its “go forward” yesterday – Hercules and Love Affair, Joe Cocker, Jack Penate, Terry Callier, Human League, Mayer Hawthorne, Grace Jones, Tom Waits, Eli “Paperboy” Reed, Esther Philips, Steely Dan and Jill Scott (with thanks to top mate, Darren “The Tunemeister” Todd).
Here at the Bush Palace, our “Control Tower” for the Heart & Sole Tour to raise awareness of landmines, we hold a great fondness for brilliant advertising.
So when an ad campaign comes along which is both ingeniously executed and highlights the man-made and totally unnecessary scourge of despicable landmines, we are doubly chuffed.
Witness this clever little concept dreamt up by the bright young things at a New Zealand advertising agency, Publicis Mojo on behalf of an anti-landmines organisation called CALM…
OK, So you tear the tomato sauce (ketchup) sachet and "blood" spurts out of the young boy's foot. Cleverness overload!
What do you make of that? Sharpness, hey? I think that it’s good to know that some people in New Zealand are thinking about something other than rugby. And making such a powerful point about landmines. Which affect the lives of somebody somewhere on our planet every 19 minutes of the day and night.
Which is why unicyclist Geoff “Heartman” Brink and I are soon to head off on the 1,700km from Durban to Cape Town to raise further awareness of landmines. Well, Heartman will be pedalling his AmaOneWheel and I’ll be driving behind him, watching his back and blogging all about it. Right here. On this blog.
We’re doing a seriously intensive ride down the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast next week so, if you see us on the road, feel free to give us a nice, quiet and encouraging thumbs-up. Just don’t draw up alongside my unicyclist in your car and hoot… Old Heartie tends to fall off and scrape his knees when people do that! Then I’ve got to stop, get out of the truck and administer a Mickey Mouse plaster to his wounds. And stop the ooze of “ketchup”!
My dear Hatpeople, please be seated. And please be prepared to experience phenomenalness overload.
I present to you a totally mad Scotsman Danny MacAskill, who clearly got so bored with lolling around on the sofa in his Edinburgh apartment and watching re-runs of Noot Vir Noot, that he decided to pop out for a bike ride…
You might want to take a few deep breaths before reading on. I’m fine with that. Just let me know when to continue… I’m waiting patiently. That was a lot to absorb. And just as you’re winding down for the Christmas hols too.
OK. Are you ready? Good. That was footage shot over a period of a few months in and around Edinburgh by Dave Sowerby of our Danny, who is a member of the Inspired Bicycles team.
Good name. Inspired Bicycles. Could be improved, methinks, to Chuffing Unbelievable Stuff Performed On A BMX Bike team, though. How was it for you when he rode his bike along the top of the spiked railings? How did you feel? Are you over it yet? No?
That’s cool. Neither am I. I’m so not over it that I’m thinking of getting our nutty Heart & Sole Tour UNICYCLIST Geoff “Heartman” Brink to try that on one wheel. And he will. Try, that is. Well, we still need funds (and a back-up vehicle) for our Heart & Sole Tour so I scheme we’ll get old Heartie over to a place where there are some nice sharp railings and see if we can get some coins tossed into a flat cap.
I don’t know if it’s in the water but Durban – and Umdloti in particular – has sprouted some scary moustaches for Cansa’s “Mo-vember” campaign to raise awareness of those cancers that nibble lethally away at men… prostate, testicular and, yes, breast cancer can pick on men too. You didn’t know that, did you?
So a lot of guys are strolling around South Africa and sporting ‘taches which are terrifying the living daylightsness out of their womenfolk. Hang in there, ladies, you can order him to de-tache in just six days’ time. Meanwhile, an update on the “Great Umdloti vs Camps Bay Mo-off”, a friendly tussle between Heart & Sole marathon unicyclist Geoff “Heartman” Brink and Cape Town’s “sex symbol” blogger Seth Rotherham.
So without further hair-do (OK, so I’ve used that line before but I like it too much, all right?), let’s brace ourselves for the second phase pics of their top-lip turnouts… first up, Seth “I’ve gone for the Porn Star vibe” Rotherham…
Hmmm, I'm not entirely convinced many porn stars are looking over their hairy shoulders in fear at Seth's paltry turnout... but, hey, I don't want to influence the judges' decision here!
Next up, and I suggest you cover your children’s eyes for this one, our nutty Umdloti marathon unicyclist, Geoff “MuthaTrucker” Brink…
Golly gumdropsness! He does look rather terrifying, doesn't he? In a kind of "Umdloti Has A Village Idiot And I'm It" kind of way. Actually, he's quite harmless... without a razor in his mitt!
Well. I’m not sure what to say. Except perhaps Camps Bay’s sexiest blogger might have some catching up to do. Not that I’m taking sides. No. I’ll leave that to the judges. Er, that will be me. And I’ll make my decision next week. End of Movember, right?
Right. Now for a little light relief. If that wasn’t light enough for you. Last time out, my guest Mo Bro was Springbok rugby legend Bob Skinstad. The last I heard, he had taken refuge in a snug in a Dublin pub ahead of the South Africa vs Ireland match and was dyeing his moustache with Guinness. So who to feature this week?