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Monday
Sep262016

Epilepsy & Inspiration 

A week ago, I gave a presentation on my expeditions at Epilepsy South Africa's Annual General Meeting. The title sounds a bit bland but, those who attended were some of the bravest and most impressive individuals I've met. I've had Epilepsy for a long time now, yet I'm in a very fortunate position. Even though I've had a few episodes in the past couple of years, my medication is keeping everything under control, plus I have the most supportive people around me.

Epilepsy affects more than 500,000 South African and even with great organisations like Epilepsy S.A there is still a huge stigma towards it. Many people never tell their friends or family because they feel like they'll be judged or rejected.
The presentations and discussions became emotional, yet they grounded and left me inspired. A talented up-and-coming BMX rider, Justin Dekker, who has had epilepsy since he was a baby, spoke about how much he's managed to have achieved. He's transformed his self-image as being a  "sufferer" to racing the world's best regardless of the many people who have discouraged him from what he loves most. Another woman who has just recently been diagnosed built up the courage to come for help. She was in her late 40s and had recently been diagnosed, which frightened her tremendously, however, what was amazing was her will to find people to talk to- other individuals with epilepsy whom she could relate to and assist her in being proactive and in acceptance with it.
The people who run the provincial branches, find funding or go into communities to bring awareness to the condition. These kind committed folk are the ones who make sure that a scared child who is suffering from epilepsy is comforted and their teachers and family are made aware that there is nothing "wrong" with their student, son, or daughter.
Being diagnosed with epilepsy was tough and scary but, it would have been far worse if I didn't have the support of my family and Epilepsy SA to help me through it all. I sat and listened to beautiful stories that left a lump in my throat. It's so important to see ordinary looking people who are actually accomplishing great feats every single day.
I'm so proud to be an ambassador of Epilepsy SA because it has given me the opportunity to meet such wonderful and strong people as well as allowing me to share my experiences in the mountains that could possibly inspire others who may have felt disempowered to step up and climb their mountain.      

Go to Epilepsy SA Website for more information

 

Sunday
Jul242016

Its Chilly In The Kape!

I managed to escape the books this weekend to get chilly toes with my best mate, Henko! Thanks to Osprey, Hi-tec and Capestorm

Sunday
Jun192016

The Final Push 

 

I saw a family of meerkat today with 3 little ones! My heart sank... 20 km to go. I'm happy to leave the saddle for a while, relax and I can't wait to see Marine later. This has been one rad way to experience this beloved country of mine! #kape2kalahari #ecotravel

Friday
Jun172016

When the adventure became real 

I wake up, pack camp, munch on dry granola and wash it down with a brutal coffee that makes my eyelids vibrate. Red is packed and we're off. This rhythm is comforting especially on days where the climbing is strenuous and where I'll sleep that night is unknown. That's what I love about heading off on journeys where the my plan is opaque and the end goal is audacious.

My head was swamped in exams on the lead up to Kape 2 Kalahari. I was confident in my overall fitness after coming out of the climbing season yet, other than the 15 minutes of cycling to varsity, that was my training.

On day two as I crawled up the broken Cederberg tracks to Wupatal my arse throbbed and my back ached. I was alone, feeling insecure on this wobbly 2 wheeler than I'd got on my 16th birthday. I cycled and pushed Red from the early hours until the last beams of light faded in a pink/orange glow as I left the mountains.

I woke the next morning in a ditch under menacing ecacia next to a farm road. The rains were unleashed and I got ready to go. I packed up camp more efficiently and even though I was sore and my knees felt stiff, I was starting to find my groove. Drenched, muddy and fed up, I hit the Doring River. I checked my damp map that was beginning to split at it's creases. The "main road" that I needed to take indicated that my route lay on the other side of the river. On paper it looked effortless, in reality I had a mass of water where the depth was unknown and a barge made of blue drums lay tied up on a small beach. It would have been a unfortunate to get swept away here or lose Red but I took off my shoes and we headed in. The water kept getting deeper and as we hit the half way point Red's panniers were half submerged and I was up to my hips. We crossed and as my toes quivered in the rain and cold I took a selfie with Red to celebrate the unfolding adventure.

After endless farm gates and muddy tracks I was glad to get onto the R355 where the ride was kinder on my buttocks. After Calvinia where the landscape became flattened and burnt by frost, things became a lot harder and it was long before I missed the steep passes of the mountains. I had a fierce head wind and huge trucks roared past, the force sometimes almost sucking me into the traffic. I found underpasses to sleep under and even though I saw many more people than in the mountains, I felt lonely. The hundreds of kilometers were eaten up and the routine I'd gotten into saw the hours start to gallop by.

My third spoke blew 30km out of Kenhart. I took a rest day in this dusty Northern Cape "dorp" to ice my painful quads and lighten the load for Red in order to make the 120km journey to Upington were a pro could fix my companion.

The rains had fallen the night before and after donating a large portion of my belongings to the guest house I'd stayed, we set off hoping that Red's wheel wouldn't given in before Upington. We didn't stop other than for a quick pic at the Orange. If I had that amount of focus on my last Argus Cycle Tour I'm sure I would have broken some kind of record!

Red and I made it to the frontier town of the Kalahari and he's currently in surgery. The funny thing is, 5 days ago Upington was so far and absurd in my mind but we managed and now I'm too psyched and ready for the final push.

K

Wednesday
Jun152016

3 spokes down- hopefully I can make it to Upington 

Yesterday, Red lost his 3rd spoke. The back wheel is miss aligned and I've got 120km until Upington where a pro can sort it out for me. I think the Cederberg must've been a bit too much for this tough little guy. Anyway, I've got no real idea what I'm doing in this pick but I've been trying to move all the my gear to the front. I'm thankful to have Duct tape and cable ties in my life.