My relationship with the Desert Dash began in September 2012. A friend called me, informing that a member of the 4-person team sponsored by his company had fallen ill and couldn’t participate. He asked if I could take their place.
The thoughts started racing through my head:
“What’s that, about two and a half months to get fit enough to do the team justice?”, “I mean sure, I’ve been cycling quite a bit so I have a relatively solid base, but this is the Desert Dash!”, “I don’t even have a decent bicycle, will the one I’ve got make it?”, “You’d be mad to say yes, it’s crazy!”
Of course, I said yes.
I put in the training, Cymot very kindly loaned me a beautiful bicycle, and come Dash Day I was ready. Or so I thought…
Stage 1 went well, and I arrived at the top of Kupferberg well before cut-off with the fittest member of our team, had something to eat and drink, got into more comfortable clothes, and climbed into our support vehicle to relax until my stage. One or two minor incidents meant that I spent quite a bit longer waiting at the Stage Three handover than we had planned, but my teammate arrived and off I set into the dark of the Namib Naukluft National Park. I was feeling strong and riding well, I passed many cyclists along the road, thinking that it was up to me to try to make up whatever time we’d lost, but, while still getting used to riding at night, little did I know it was soon going to get a lot darker.
Shortly after turning off from the D1982 and entering a long stretch of intermittent soft sand sections, the brand-new light that my wife had so thoughtfully bought me to support my madcap idea died!
I was all alone in the middle of nowhere and couldn’t see where I was supposed to go, but there was nothing to do but keep going. That’s when I hit the soft sand for the first of what I’m convinced was hundreds of times, and over my handlebars I went. I started getting passed by all the people I had previously left behind, and a whole lot of others too – the only benefit being that I now at least had some flashing red lights in the distance to give me an idea of what direction to take. They did nothing to help me see what was coming and each time my front wheel hit another bit of soft sand, over the handlebars I went!
In one of the Nedbank Green Champions interviews I have been lucky enough to get to record this year Genevieve Weber explained how even when you’re doing the Nedbank Desert Dash solo, it is still a team event because of the support you get from your family, friends, colleagues, etc. and, by about the twelfth time I went over my handlebars, if it were not for the fact that I was part of a team I might have quit the race right there. I did eventually make it to the end of my stage and our team made it to Swakopmund in good time.
Life ‘got in the way’ a bit after that Dash and it wasn’t until 2018 that I once again got the chance to ride. That time it was once again only the fact that I had a team I was beholden to that got me through…
Listen to the stories of other Green Champions (aka Desert Dash riders!) here >> NEDBANK GREEN CHAMPIONS SERIES PODCAST
Written by: Christine Venter