#AVonVoyage to Durban for Tsogo Sun Amashova race

A few years ago if you’d asked me to do 106 kilometres on a bicycle, I would’ve laughed in your face and thrown the duvet over my head in defiance. Things change, however, and now I do triathlons, run half marathons (still only half yes), I swim long distances, I ride both road and mountain bikes… and I do long distances at that. Is it hard? For sure. Do I love it? Couldn’t be happier. Health is wealth and I’ve been afforded so many incredible opportunities (Futurelife, Ride4Smiles, traveling to Brazil with Nike, joBerg2C and #NissanMagic) as a result of such a lifestyle change. It’s a blessing to travel, see the country (world) and keep healthy while doing it.

So at the weekend, I set myself another challenge… the Tsogo Sun Amashova Durban Classic cycle, in which I would attempt 106 kilometres, from Pietermaritzburg to Durban. Tick! It was a challenge, to say the least, but I absolutely loved it. I’ll definitely do it again and hopefully improve even more on my time, which, by the way, came as a shock. Sea level is the business! I had a great weekend with friends, but old and new and Durban is just what the soul needed. #TsogoShova 2016? It’s on!

A Von Voyage to Namibia for Ranger Odyssey 2015

On a random Tuesday evening last year, I saw an advert on TV that caught my attention. It was for a competition called Ranger Odyssey. The advert was looking for those in search of an adventure of a lifetime and for those who was bogged down by a pretty dull and boring routine. It kinda lit a fire under my ass, but as fate would have it, I missed entering because of this routin and stalling. I kicked myself when I realised I missed it, but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles really. It wasn’t meant to be… Or so I thought. Fast track to May, a new job and a new adventure ahead. Luck was on my side and it looked like I would be involved in the Ford Ranger Odyssey, but just from a different angle.

After some initial preliminary judging, I thought that was it, but then I was asked to head to the Karoo to be part of the Bootcamp experience. That I did happily, obviously. It was there that I got a crash course in 4×4’ing and I got a little taster on what the would-be contestants would be doing in Namibia. I spent four days there and helped choose what I thought was a very strong group of twenty contestants from South Africa, Angola, Mozambique, Nigeria and Ivory Coast. I really thought that was that. To my sheer delight, I was asked to attend the actual Odyssey… for eight days… What? Really? From being a hopeful contestant to actually driving the route and being part of this experience was pretty damn cool to say the least.

My long weekend in the African bush was replaced by eight days in the Namib desert; in tents, a Ford Ranger and an awesome group of people. Sounds awful right? 😉 I am often reminded how lucky I am to do what I do – and this experience was just another one of those reminders. I set off for Windhoek in the wee hours of Monday morning. A quick two hour flight and we landed in the Namibian capital. Customs officials were on as usual on ‘fine form’ making us feel uneasy and somewhat unwelcome, but whatever. We made it through. The nine of us then headed north-west to the camping spot of Purros in a very small and dinky plane. Not my favorite pastime, but the two-hour trip allowed me to catch up on some sleep, which was very necessary.

The experience itself was incredible -exactly what I imagined it would be. The scenery, the various locations we found ourselves in, the food, the content we produced, the people… This really was a career highlight. I think I’ll stop rambling now because I want you to see what I saw.

The winner of this year’s Ford Ranger Odyssey will be announced tomorrow evening. Can’t wait to see who takes top honours.

My Lagos adventure continued

Lagos; one of Africa’s busiest cities. With a population of more than 7million people, it’s a city with a lot of energy, entertainment and on a broader note, opportunity. I’m staying at a hotel called the Eko Hotel & Suites, which is the venue for the inaugural Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards taking place this Saturday. The hotel is located on Victoria Island, which is  one of the most sought-after locations in the city. There’s a huge amount of development happening around here with a massive land reclaiming project underway. The new area is called Eko Atlantic. It is being referred to as a city and it will retrieve over nine million square metres of land from the sea and will ease the current demand for property, resources and the rapid population growth in this busy city. Check out this incredible pic (and the site) to see how this land reclamation process is going.

So that’s just a little bit of what’s going on the city. I’m loving being here – traveling the globe is incredible. Meeting new people from different cultures and seeing places you never thought you would is nothing short of awesome. I had a few issues with my passport on Monday. In fact I only got word that I was flying to Nigeria at 23:40 on Monday evening (my flight was set to depart JHB at 08:30). Tight much? Alas, it worked out and while I was exhausted on Tuesday morning, my flight here was great. The cabin crew were friendly, the leg room on board was fantastic and in general I was highly impressed with Arik Air – highly recommended.

After clearing customs and all of that jazz we hit the busy streets of Lagos en route to our hotel. I’d heard many stories about how heavy the traffic was and that we would be stuck for hours on end. That wasn’t the case. I think we got lucky, but it was great to move freely in the streets. Our driver was a little scary, I won’t lie. The way he was weaving through the streets and using that hooter at quite a high speed was all kinds of hair-raising. It’s the same anywhere you go in the world, so it’s not a surprise, but it’s always quite daunting when you can see how close the car next to you is etc, haha.

Our night was super chilled, relaxing and bed summoned us pretty early. I got up at the crack of dawn to hit the gym (I’m a freak like that, but then you should know that by now). Now imagine running in a gym in Lagos, a city known for its extreme temperatures, humidity. Imagine there are no windows there, so there is no fresh air and then imagine the AC isn’t working. It’s not ideal, but at least I sweated out all the garlic I consumed the night before 😉 It wasn’t ideal but hey, one remains calm and keeps running.

Another great thing about traveling? The random conversations you have with people? I was sitting working at breakfast and a local asked if he could sit at the table. Now for us South Africans, it’s kind of strange for someone you don’t know to ask if they can sit at your breakfast table. It’s just something we don’t really do, but in retrospect I think it’s really weird that we don’t. It’s common in the US and the UK, so we should exercise this in our own country. *Noted. Anyway, my new ‘friend’ told me he was a geologist out in Lagos for some meetings. He then quizzed myself and my friend/ colleague Leanne about our country, our purpose for being in Lagos, as well as our thoughts on apartheid. The latter is quite deep for 7:30, but hey. The conversation was good, we served as great ambassadors and then we said goodbye and moved on. Oh, the beauty of traveling. Leanne and I needed to get connected to the Net and on our mobiles so we hit up a cellphone shop. What was expected to be a 1-hour max excursion turned out to be just short of two and a half hours. Organised chaos I tell you, but the assistants were patient, extremely apologetic for the delays and friendly throughout, so it made it worthwhile. Note to prospective travelers, you will need to get your new sim card rica’d by the officials here. All you need is your passport, your address in the city and you’re good to go. Pretty easy going, but there are delays-  clearly.

Today we’re in a series of script and audio/visual workshops and later we’ll hopefully sneak into the rehearsals for the big show. Tomorrow will be a busy ass day, but more on that then 🙂 So now you know where I am, what I’m up to and hopefully you’ve learned a bit about Lagos too.