WELCOME BACK, PARAGLIDERS

As many Sedgefielders will undoubtedly have noticed over last weekend – the paragliders are once again filling our skies with colour. This after Sedgeview, the launch-site also known as ‘Cloud 9’ was reopened to the gliders and indeed the public on Saturday 10 November.

But the opening does come with certain stipulations and an overall rider that all users understand that the site is privately owned, and thus to be treated with respect, obeying all the rules and regulations that have been put in place.

The site was closed on 1 September by the owner Michael Rohwer, who at the time said that certain stipulations had not been met with regards the efficient management of the site. Since then he has sat around the table with members of the paragliding fraternity to find a way forward.

According to Jorg Bueble, a paragliding school owner who represented the flyers in the discussions, the land-owner’s chief concerns were the general management of the site, the question of liability for both paragliders and spectators, insurance, safety on the site and fire risk.

In order to shoulder much of this responsibility, the Eden Flyers’ Club has been formed to lease the land and maintain the upkeep of the site. Bueble believes that with the co-operation of the public, things should now run smoothly.

“Sometimes, if things taken for granted are taken away, they return in the light of more appreciation. To be able to enjoy access to Sedgeview without limitations in the future, there has to be a few duties and responsibilities attached to any and all visitors to the site,” he said.

The fact that Sedgeview is not a fenced or gated property does, however, make it difficult for the club to enforce the rules set by the owners 24/7, as the public has free access. This is where the paragliding club is asking for members of the public to not only abide by the site rules themselves, but also to advise others who might inadvertently be breaking them.
“It cannot be stressed enough that it is every single person’s responsibility to tap the person next to him on the shoulder, and point out if rules are being breached,” he said. “While the paragliding pilots and their visitors will make sure that the requests will be followed while paragliding activity is taking place, on a day where there is no flying, this part needs to be taken over by the non-flying public visiting the premises. In other words, a joint effort of all Sedgeview visitors.”

He went on to say that the rules are mainly common sense and would be considered common courtesy in any public place.
“There is absolutely no smoking or open fire of any kind permitted on site,” he explained. This includes any form of braais – even gas skottels, and is especially important now with the recent devastating fires in our area.

Bueble also touched on the problem of litter, saying that though there are bins provided, visitors should remember that these receptacles are not large enough to hold masses of rubbish. So should anyone visit Sedgeview for a picnic, they should rather take their refuse home with them instead of cramming it into the bins.
“And please, if you find litter on the ground, help us by picking it up,” he suggested.

Another request was that the site definitely not be used as a party venue or a place for excessive alcohol consumption.
“Simply put, please respect this site as private property and treat it this way at all times. Let’s keep this a beautiful place, a reflection of our beautiful town,” he asked. “Sedgeview is a site like no other. A privately owned property that is freely accessible. Something rarely found nowadays. Let’s meet on top, watch the paragliders take off and enjoy the view while the sun sets. We can work together to keep this a gem to visit, for us locals and our visitors.”

He said there will be a signboard erected at Sedgeview with the club’s cell number so that any problems may be reported directly to them.

You can find more info at www.sedgeview.co.za

LOCAL TEAMS IN 2018 AR WORLD CHAMPS

(Picture:- Two years ago the Sanlam Painted Wolves shocked the adventure racing world by coming 4th in the 2016 World Championships. Can they match or better that position this year?)

Two well known local adventure racing teams – Merrell Adventure Addicts and Sanlam Painted Wolf  – are ready in the starting blocks of the Adventure Racing World Championships (ARWC) on Reunion Island, and over the next week ‘dot watchers’ will be monitoring their progress online (click here for the page), no doubt with much excitement and more than a little nail-biting. The Merrell Team includes Graham Bird, Grant Ross, Tracey Campbell and Hanno Smit (who has only just finished fighting the fires that threatened his home and timber business in Elandskraal), whilst the famous Collins brothers Mark and John are running with the Painted Wolves, along with Andre Gie and Robin Owen. 

This exceptional event will welcome 65 international teams from 21 nations to a spectacular start line on the Indian Ocean Island (a French territory). Reunion has a tropical climate, dense forests and active volcanoes and teams will compete on a non-stop course between 5 and 8 days, over 450km with disciplines including trekking, MTB, kayaking, packraftng, caving and canyoning.

The very best adventure athletes in the world will be attending, including nine teams in the world top 15 ranking lead by the current title holders and world number one team, Avaya (New Zealand). The top French team are Naturex, 4th in the ARWS ranking, and other qualifiers who have won a World Series race this year are Bones (United-States), Tri Adventure Antelopes (Australia), Columbia (Spain), BlizzarTri-Adventured Movistar-Terra Aventura (Equator),

The AR World Championships is a race without comparison, an intense competition for experienced athletes and enthusiastic amateurs who are motivated to take on the challenge. Adventure races offer an immersion in nature that is unique and appeals to strong human values – versatility, autonomy, dynamism and generosity – all essential for a team to progress to the finish line together.

Patron To Start the Race in a Volcanic Crater

The start of this exceptional sporting event will be in the village of Hell-Bourg, in the Cirque de Salazie. This is one of the main volcanic craters on the island and Hell-Bourg is listed among the ‘most beautiful villages in France’ … the only one not on the mainland. It’s a spa town with lush vegetation and heritage architecture, surrounded by the steep rock walls of the crater.

The race will be started by its patron, Jackson Richardson. Born in Saint-Pierre on Reunion Island, Jackson is a former handball international who was voted the best player in the world in 2001 and was a flag carrier at the Olympic Games in Athens. He has generously decided to support and invest in the race and will be present all through the event.

You can see a video interview with him here. https://goo.gl/5UkVmE and find out more about the race at www.raidinfrance.com

 

About the Adventure Racing World Championship

The Adventure Racing World Championship (ARWC) has been held each since 2001. It gathers the best teams from the AR World Series, which unites multi-sport raids from around the world. The series currently includes; Raid Gallaecia in Spain, Expedition Africa in South Africa, Cameco Cowboy Tough in the USA, XPD Expedition in Australia, Raid in France in France (this year, ARWC organiser), Huairasinchi in Ecuador, ITERA in United-Kingdom, the Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge in Belize, Expedition Guarani in Paraguay and finally, the Nordic Islands race in Sweden. Each one of these rounds qualifies the winners to the grand final, the Adventure Racing World Championship (ARWC).

For more information on the AR World Series:

Website https://arworldseries.com/

Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/arworldseries/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/arworldseries/

Twitter https://twitter.com/ARWorldSeries

YouTube https://www.youtube.com/arworldseries

#arworldseries #arws #adventureracing #dotwatcher

Released 6 Aug 2018 by Rob Howard of Sleepmonsters, re-written from Raid in France

MUNICIPAL MANAGER SLAMS DETRACTORS

“An alleged statement on social media and/or actions of an individual cannot erode the selfless work and support of hundreds of volunteers from all sectors of society.”

Greater Knysna residents were still reeling from the 7 June 2017 fires when the next devastation swept through the region on 30 October. According to Garden Route District Municipality, Head of disaster management, Gerard Otto, this fire formed part of a fire that “is by far the country’s biggest fire in a populated area to have occurred”.  The fire burnt a width of 35kms and along 180kms.

Knysna Acting Municipal Manager, Johnny Douglas, expressed his extreme gratitude to all who raced to once again, give of themselves to assist those who suffered as a result of this inferno. “We are once again humbled by the selflessness of our residents and other stakeholders who didn’t hesitate for one moment in offering their much-needed assistance.

“Our thanks must go to so many organisations who stepped in to assist. There are far too many to name by name, but Rebuild Eden in Sedgefield, Gift of the Givers, and KAWS spring to mind. I must commend them and everyone else who has been such a tremendous help in assisting the traumatised victims, firefighting personnel, animals and, not forgetting our bees.”

The Gift of the Givers’ team taking care of threatened bees visited various sites in the Greater Knysna corridor on 30 October and relocated 27 beehives to the Gift of the Givers Bee Rehabilitation Centre in Knysna. They alone rescued around two million bees that were already under threat.

Douglas expressed his dismay at the political opportunism that has reared its ugly head during this crisis. “I am sickened by the accusations of racism by several members of the public, especially from people who do not even live within the borders of Greater Knysna and have no idea of what residents have been offering and doing to help those in need.

“An alleged statement on social media and/or actions of an individual cannot erode the selfless work and support of hundreds of volunteers from all sectors of society.

“I have only witnessed kindness and concern by all the volunteers, no matter their colour or creed, and for uninvolved people to stand on the perimeter, with their hands in their pockets doing absolutely nothing to help, but making racist allegations leaves me saddened and sick to the stomach,” said Douglas.

In closing he invites those detractors to roll up their sleeves, step up to the plate and offer help, instead of making false allegations. “I will leave you to contemplate the words of Mahatma Gandhi: ‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others’. So I challenge you to offer your assistance where most needed and experience the exhilaration of giving of yourself to help others.”

8 LIVES LOST IN FARLEIGH BLAZE

(Picture:- The storage shed of Ezigro Nursery in Karatara, just below Farleigh, succumbed to the intense flames as the blaze swept through the
rural area. Taken by Nursery Manager Don Smith.)

An official report from Garden Route District’s Joint Operations Centre has released the tragic news that eight people died in Farleigh on Monday 29 October. This as a result of the runaway blaze that swept through the rural area. Six of the deceased were children, and all eight are reported to have been from the same extended family.
The next of kin have been informed, and the victims’ names released by the South African Police Service (SAPS), who have also confirmed that a docket had been opened to investigate the matter.
Their names are Elsabe Windvogel (42), Ethan Windvogel (2), Eljade Windvogel (12), Andrea Bewee (21), Nalaya Oelf (5), Niah Oelf (3), Aliyah Oelf (13 months) and Nalani Oelf (11 months).
It is believed that the victims were all in the same house at the time of the tragedy.
Information received thus far is that the fire also destroyed 13 houses in Farleigh and Bosdorp, the Geelhoutvlei Timbers sawmill, the main water pipeline and two storage sheds in the Ezigro Forestry Nursery, and various plantations.
The blaze had been burning for some days on the inaccessible slopes of the Outeniqua Mountains above Karatara, where it had been closely monitored by SANParks and Sedgefield Fire Department, with the assistance of aerial resources. Whilst extinguishing it was not possible, fire-breaks had been cut and back-burns initiated in an effort to prevent any further spread.
By mid-afternoon on Monday, just when everyone was breathing a cautious sigh of relief that fires burning in Herold, George, seemed to at last be under control, the winds in Karatara suddenly picked up speed. Despite the combined efforts of firefighters and the SANParks crew, the flames could not be contained and evacuation was the only choice.
Dense smoke added chaos to the already difficult task, and whilst most of the residents of Karatara’s Bosdorp were moved to the Community Hall, it wasn’t possible to enforce a full evacuation of Farleigh before the flames engulfed some of the homes. This is when the tragic deaths occurred.
The fire spread into the Kraaibosch farming community, then slowed, and it was hoped that rain would end its run, but at 4 am on Tuesday morning extremely windy conditions prevailed and the blaze continued on into the daylight of Tuesday. Fortunately, this time the wind direction worked in favour of the more populated areas, and kept the fires on the northern side of the Keurhoek and Bibby’s Hoek communities near Rheenendal. Both areas were evacuated as a precautionary measure, and though residents looked uneasily at the billowing smoke on the horizon, at time of going to press it seemed that neither of the communities had suffered any damage.
Meanwhile, the challenge to assist those who have lost their homes and the evacuees, 840 according to Knysna Municipality, has been met by local volunteers with their usual determination.
It was a serious case of déjà vu in the Sedgefield Community Hall, with the Rebuild Eden team out in force to coordinate assistance and the local residents pouring in to do whatever they could to help.
The Municipality also opened the community halls in Brenton, Karatara, and Hornlee, and Totties Restaurant and Ebb n Flow Camp agreed to help with accommodating displaced people.
Knysna Executive Mayor Mark Willemse was heartbroken at the news of the Farleigh deaths.
“A mere 16 months ago, Greater Knysna was rocked by the horrific 7 June fires, and we all hoped and prayed that we would never again have to witness such devastation,” he said, “Today, we are once again forced to face more tragic deaths caused by the scourge of veld fires. My sincere condolences and sympathies go out to their relatives, colleagues and loved ones during this very tragic time.”
The EDGE Team would also like to offer our heartfelt sympathy to the Oelf, Windvogel and Bewee families. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
On behalf of the Garden Route community, we wholeheartedly salute the valiant and tireless efforts of all those working on the ‘war-front’ – be they firefighters, SANParks crew or volunteers.
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

ADVENTURE TOURISM INDABA & EXPO IN WILDERNESS

Words by Tisha Steyn

George, Garden Route – The first ever Garden Route Adventure Tourism Indaba and Expo is taking place at Wilderness Hotel and on the Map of Africa on 26 and 27 October 2018.

“The aim of the Indaba and Expo is to establish the Garden Route as the most popular adventure tourism destination in the world,” said Alewjn Dippenaar of Thousand Sensations, which is presenting the two-day event in cooperation with Interface Goji PR & Events and Duke Air.

According to Dippenaar, there are more than 100 discernable adventure activities on offer between Riversdale, Tsitsikamma, and Prince Albert. “Adventure tourism is based on activities on land and on water, in the air and with animals. Some tourists prefer activities, such as skydiving or rock climbing which provide an adrenaline rush, while others prefer to participate in less dramatic activities, such as hiking and bird watching.”

“The Garden Route offers an amazing variety of activities with loads of opportunities for both groups to experience the breathtaking natural beauty of the area.”

Indaba

Friday 26 October 09:00 – 13:00 at Wilderness Hotel

Indoors exhibition at the hotel from 14:00 – 20:00

 

Topics to be discussed at the Indaba, with the theme The Future of Adventure Tourism in the Garden Route, include closer cooperation between landowners and adventure tourism entrepreneurs; the socio-economic contribution of adventure tourism to the Garden Route; the value of modern technology and social media in adventure tourism; national and international tourism tendencies and markets; and challenges regarding safety in adventure tourism.

Interactive Outdoors Exhibition and Activities

Saturday 27 October 08-18:00: Woodifields on the Map of Africa in Wilderness

An array of adventure tourism exhibitions and activities in which the public can participate are on offer. Food and drink stalls and live music shows all day long. There are camping sites available on the Map of Africa.

Venue:  Outdoors exhibition and adventure activities at Woodifields Conservancy (entrance opposite entrance to Nelson Mandela University Saasveld campus)

Entrance Fees

Friday: Indaba at Wilderness Hotel R250 per person, includes lunch;

Indoor exhibition: Entrance free

Saturday: Outdoors exhibition and adventure activities at Woodfields:

Adults R80, children R20 (over 12), children younger than 12 enters free

 

Contact Alewijn Dippenaar at 082 457 5675   or dyndev@mweb.co.za and  Mimi Finestone at 084 583 3144 or mimi@gojipr.net for more information.

RETTO RECORDS OBLITERATED AT THE 2018 OTTER AFRICAN TRAIL RACE 


STORM’S RIVER MOUTH REST CAMP, SOUTH AFRICA — This weekend, the 10th running of the Otter African Trail Run hosted the Grand Finale of the inaugural Golden Trail Series on Saturday 20 October, which brought together the world’s top 10 men and women marathon distance trail runners to compete not only for the prestigious Otter title, but the Golden Series trophies too. With so many elite athletes taking to the course, it wasn’t a matter of if, but rather how many would run under the existing record time. It was a day of new course records, surprise withdrawals, incredible performances and all-around fantastic entertainment.

In the Men’s race, Polish runner Bartlomiej Przedwojewski took the lead from the start. The Bloukrans River crossing did little to slow him down, and by the halfway point he had gained a four-minute lead. “The whole time I was running I thought the group behind me were going to catch me. I thought they were thirty seconds from me for the whole race, so I just tried to run as fast as I could.” He maintained his lead all the way to the finish line at Storm’s River Rest Camp, obliterating the existing record by fourteen minutes and setting a new RETTO record of 3:40:48,32. “I can’t believe that I ran in the new record time, I just can’t believe it,” he said.

Behind him, the field raced for the remaining two spots on the podium. Trail running superstar, and favourite to win not only the Otter Trail but the Golden Trail Series too, Kilian Jornet, was forced to withdraw within the first 10km due to a hip injury he has been battling for several weeks, leaving the race wide open. Marc Lauenstein, the RETTO and OTTER record holder, had a rough start to the race, but after a mid-way pep talk moved up the field to finish in second place, ten minutes behind Przedwojewski. The Swiss trail runner was ecstatic to be back in South Africa and has confirmed he’d like to come back and race again. He finished in a time of 3:50:22,12. Third place went to Spain’s Oriol Cardona, who ran consistently over the 42km route. He finished in a time of 3:51:59,4.

First South African’s over the route certainly gave the crowd a show in what can be considered one of the better sprint finishes at the end of a marathon! It was Robbie Rorich who sped over the finish line split seconds ahead of Rory Scheffer to finish 8th and 9th respectively, Rorich setting fastest South African time on the RETTO route. Last year’s winner, Christiaan Greyling finished 10th.

The Women’s race was equally exciting, Italy’s Silvia Rampazzo and South Africa’s Toni McCann playing tag for the front spot during the first half. The undulating stairs got the better of Rampazzo just after halfway, giving McCann an opportunity to make a move. She held onto the lead until the 30km mark, where the UK’s Holly Page caught and passed her. Page, who went into today’s race as a tourist to, in her own words, ‘soak in the beauty of the trails,’ started conservatively but slowly worked her way up the field. “My watch seemed to have malfunctioned, so I thought I had 3km to go, but I had 10km to go, so I ran past all the water points thinking I was nearly there wondering where all the rocks were that everyone kept talking about, but they never came. I gave it my all in the last section,” said Page. Her efforts got her across the finish line first setting a new woman’s RETTO record, in a time of 4:37:48,87. “To break Robyn (Owen)’s record was a surprise. She is super strong, so the whole time I actually kept thinking she was going to come along and overtake me. She is great so to beat that record is really cool.”

Despite New Zealander Ruth Croft’s best efforts to chase Page down, she finished second just 34 seconds behind her in a time of 4:38:22,57. The real surprise of the day was McCann, who hung onto a podium position and finished third to the absolute delight of the local crowd. She crossed the finish line in tears, absolutely overwhelmed at her performance. “I never in my wildest dreams expected a result like today. My intention has always been to go out and have fun, including today. It was so surreal out there, to have come third. I was so emotional. It definitely makes me want to race Golden Series next year. If I can wrangle some funds together I definitely want to figure out how to go and race overseas next year,” she said. Meg McKenzie, who has raced the Golden Trail Series this year, finished sixth.

In addition to the honor of being crowned Otter Trail champion, at stake at the Otter was the season-long title for the Golden Trail Series. The top-10 athletes who qualified for a weeklong trip to South Africa were determined by their results in the first five races of the season, with each needing to start at least three Golden Trail Series races in order to be eligible for the final. The men’s and women’s GTS champions were determined by each athlete’s top three performances in the first five races of the series, plus his/her result at the Otter Trail.

Ruth Croft and Norway’s Stian Angermund-Vik became the first-ever season-long Golden Trail Series champions and were crowned at the final awards ceremony. For Angermund-Vik, the Series win was a bit hollow with Jornet pulling out due to injury. Still, his consistent season against such top-tier talent earned him the overall prize. “I have not raced against this much talent all season ever before where you know every race is going to be tough,“ said Angermund-Vik. “We all know Kilian is the best runner, so winning because he is hurt is not the same. But it’s fun to see different people have their day, and today it was Przedwojewski. He just smashed us and I’m really happy for him. I loved the course and the way it changes up and down. It was one big smile from the beginning to the end.”

Ruth Croft was, like Angermund-Vik, a model of consistency throughout the Golden Trail Series. She won at the Marathon du Mont Blanc and was in the hunt just about everywhere else. At the Otter Trail she had another strong finish, besting everyone but Page. To win the Golden Trail Series season-long title was, she said, an accomplishment she is quite proud of.

The Golden Trail Series featured five most iconic “short-distance” trail races on the planet— Zegama Mountain Marathon in Spain’s Basque Country, the Marathon du Mont Blanc in Chamonix, Sierre-Zinal in Switzerland, Pikes Peak in Colorado and the Ring of Steall in the Scottish Highlands. The Grand Final will be held in a different country each year.

This year’s running of the Otter African Trail surpassed all expectations. Race Director, Mark Collins, was in his element to be able to share the Tsitsikamma National Park with the international athletes and RETTO runners. “This was in every way, without even hyping the event up, a world championship event with the best runners in the world. I had a big sense that you were witnessing history and witnessing the best of the best in action. Just seeing the guys on the course was phenomenal. Nothing quite prepares you for seeing the top 10 men and women in the world coming into Bloukrans like a pack of wolves.”

“As always, an event of this nature would be impossible without the support of our incredible sponsors, some of which have been with us for the entire 10 years,” Collins went on to say. “I’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Salomon South Africa for their continuous support, as well as LiveU, and of course SANParks and the Garden Route National Park who without, this event would not exist.”

MYSTERIOUS MASS-FISH DIE OFF IN GROENVLEI

There was much concern last week when a massive amount of dead and dying fish began appearing in the shallow waters of Groenvlei (Lake Pleasant), just on the outskirts of Sedgefield. Groenvlei is a conservation-worthy lake because it represents a naturally rare ecosystem and has genetically distinct populations of two indigenous fish species (Estuarine round herring, Cape silverside) that are only found in this lake.
These indigenous fish species co-exist with several alien fish species that have established invasive populations in Groenvlei. Largemouth bass, Bluegill sunfish, Mozambique tilapia and Mosquitofish were legally stocked into Groenvlei by the old Inland fisheries section of the Cape Department of Nature Conservation many decades ago for angling purposes and to control mosquitos.
However, this unusual balance between indigenous and alien fish species was disturbed when carp were illegally stocked into Groenvlei in the 1990s. Whilst carp are a popular angling species, they are renowned worldwide for causing water quality problems through their destructive feeding habits. They have the ability to make clear water bodies such as Groenvlei more turbid with reduced aquatic plant beds, thereby changing the biodiversity and functioning of the aquatic food web.
Indications are that the growing numbers of carp may have been a participating factor in the fish die-off that occurred at Groenvlei last week. Fish started dying on Saturday 6 October in small numbers followed by a bigger fish die-off between 8 to 10 October, when substantial numbers of Largemouth bass, Bluegill sunfish and indigenous fishes died. CapeNature fish scientist Dean Impson and Dr Kevin Christison, a specialist fish disease scientist of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, visited Groenvlei to assess the extent of the fish die-off and attempt to understand why this incident is taking place.
During this visit, dead and decaying bass and bluegill were seen floating next to reed beds on the edge of Groenvlei, especially on its western shoreline. There were no newly found dead bass or bluegill, indicating that the major fish die-off had passed. Carp and tilapia seemed to be unaffected by the fish die-off. These are very hardy fishes, able to survive poor water quality conditions.
At this stage, there is not an obvious reason for the fish die-off. According to Dean Impson, fish die-offs are a worldwide phenomenon and are the result of natural and/or man-made factors. Mortality from natural causes is generally far more common and can be caused by many factors including oxygen depletion, toxic gases and substances, toxic algal blooms, turnover of the water column, sudden or excessive temperature changes, salinity changes, lightning, diseases and parasites. Bacterial kills are seldom sudden and there is usually a gradual build-up of fish losses. However, man-made factors can also cause fish die-offs, for example, the discharging of pesticides, fertilisers and other chemicals into water bodies that may act directly on the fish, or indirectly by, for example, resulting in a sudden decrease in available dissolved oxygen.
Water quality measurements by the Garden Route District Municipality and SANParks at the time of the fish die-off indicated poor water quality (e.g. low dissolved oxygen levels, 3.9 mg/L) and elevated water alkalinity (pH 9.2) in some of the shallow bays on the western shoreline. The combination of elevated pH and low dissolved oxygen is a known fish stressor. There was also a strong smell of what may have been hydrogen sulphide, a known fish toxicant, which is produced by decaying animal and plant material.
The increasing numbers of carp in Groenvlei are a major cause of concern for CapeNature. CapeNature approved an ongoing control programme of the carp using nets as well as bow-hunters operating under permit from CapeNature that will hopefully substantially reduce their numbers in the long term.
To better understand the impact of carp in the vlei, a post-doctoral study will start in 2019, under the leadership of Dr Olaf Weyl of the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity.
Members of the public are advised not to eat fish from Groenvlei, especially dead fish, until the fish die-off stops and conditions return to normal.

GO FLY A KITE

The 4th edition of the Eden Kite Festival takes place over the weekend of 20/21 October. It has expanded to a two-day event. Day 1 will take place on Saturday 20th October next to the Sasol Highway Garage on the N2. Day 2 is in Sedgefield on Sunday 21st October, at the Mosaic Village & Outdoor Market.

The addition of George to the festival was the brainchild of Donald Goldfain of the George Rotary Club, and Rotary has undertaken to organise the extra day. The event also has the full support of George Tourism.

This year sees some favourites return such as the Kite Team Challenge, an aerial battle between teams of 3 using traditional Japanese-style fighting kites. Teams are given training and tips from pro kiters and are given kites to fly. For the past 3 years it’s been the highlight of the festival, with teams of friends and from companies really getting into the heat of the battle!

Challenge your competitors or friends right now while there are still places left! At a cost of R350 per team, you will keep a learner in school for a month and have 2 hours of amazing fun. You can also switch team members between heats so get a group together of 3, 4, 5 or even 10 and get down to the festival!
Any team entering at George on 20th October gets an automatic entry to the competition at the Sedgefield part of the festival on 21st October.

There is also a competition for kites made from upcycled materials. Great prizes are in store for the best creations. They will be judged by international kite-flyers on creativity of design, workmanship, and flying ability. For materials think bin bags or shopping bags, newspapers, dowel sticks, bamboo… your imagination is the limit – but everything must be upcycled, not bought for your kite. For plans go to www.kiteplans.org.

With over 20 stalls in George and 60 in Sedge, plus jumping castles, live music, raffles, competitions and shows, there will be plenty to do and see on these family fun-filled days!

On Saturday evening, 20 October at 6:30 pm, there is “Come Fly With Me” – a performance by international virtuoso Cat Simoni. It will take place in the Octopus Garden Under the Sea at Scarab Village, N2 Sedgefield. Tickets at Sedgefield Info or at the gate. Cost R100.

The Eden Kite Festival is being sponsored by Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty of Sedgefield for the 2nd time. The organisers are very grateful for the support, which enables proceeds to go to Masithandane and not to cover the event costs of this big event.

A CAR CRUSH OF NOTE

When the de Jonge Family drove to Sedgefield from George on Sunday, there is no way they could have expected the day to go so horribly wrong. This thanks to an Australian Gum Tree and an unfortunately positioned car.
Abraham ‘Koosie’ de Jonge (36) had brought his wife and three daughters (twin girls of 11 and a 14 year old elder sister) to the well known picnic spot on The Island, (where President Steyn and Charles te Water Streets meet), so that they could spend the day together, fishing, braa-ing and generally relaxing.
As visiting motorists have been doing for years, they parked their vehicle in the shade of the tall Gum trees and wandered down to the water’s edge. All was well until they heard a strangely loud cracking noise somewhere behind them.
“I had one of those feelings that something was wrong,” Koosie told us later, “So I said to my wife ‘Let me just go and have a look,’ and I went up to check.”
He couldn’t believe what he found. Their family car, an old VW Jetta 2, was crushed almost flat into a barely recognisable metal wreck, with what looked like an entire tree lying on top of it.
It appears that one of the two huge stems growing from the base of this old Gum had been rotting inside for some time, and had chosen that afternoon to give up the ghost and topple over. Right onto their car.
Other picnickers, whose vehicles had been spared, came to his assistance in calling for the necessary help. One of Sedgefield Towing Services’ crew was nearby, as were some off duty municipal workers, and they quickly sourced a chainsaw. Once enough of the thick branches had been cut away to release the wrecked car, it was transported to the de Jonge home in George.
Koosie is exceptionally relieved that none of his family was in, or even near, the vehicle when this happened, as serious injury or even fatalities would definitely have resulted. But in this sad stroke of fate, the de Jonges have lost their only vehicle.
“We are quite stranded. When the holidays are over I will need to take the kids to school somehow, and with one of my daughters being asthmatic we live with the fear that she may have to be rushed to hospital at any time.”
Koosie hopes that as the tree was on public land, local government will have insurance to cover his loss so that he will be mobile again sooner rather than later.
When asked for comment municipal spokesperson Christopher Bezuidenhoudt said “The vehicle owner has made contact with the Municipality’s Insurance section and was advised regarding documentation that he needs to submit. As soon as the documents are received the Department will submit them to our insurers, and once the process has been completed, the owner will be advised as to the outcome of the claim.”
Meanwhile, the Parks and Recreation Department is currently in the process of appointing a service provider to remove and trim trees in the area to minimize the risk of more trees and branches falling.

The Soul of Mountain Biking – SA’s Single Speed Champs

Much to the joy of local mountain bikers, it has been announced that this year’s SA Single Speed Champs will be held just up the road at the Eden Trail Park in Barrington on Saturday 29 September, with all proceeds of the race going to our local NSRI. Known for the wild and somewhat eccentric entries this sport attracts, it is bound to be a spectacular spectator treat too! 

Story by Lance Branquinho

If you like the idea of a fancy-dress party with beers in the forest, the end of this month will see a rather unique cycling event hosted at the renowned Garden Route Trail park, in Barrington.

The happening in question is South Africa’s 2018 Single Speed Championship and it’s everything that most contemporary mountain biking is not. Single speed mountain bikers are the counterculture of off-road cycling and although their choice of riding with only one gear (which is inevitably always the incorrect one) appears to be masochistic, it is, in fact, an act of purity. If you make the decision to ride a bike with only one cog, the implication is that you’ll never be in the correct gear and that unshackles your entire riding experience from any pretense of overly serious expectations.

Don’t imagine that single speed mountain bikers lack dedication or ability. Innately skilled at the art of conserving momentum, single speed mountain bikers have no choice but to make their legs conquer any terrain without the benefit of gears. As such, single speeders are some of the fittest and most skilled riders around. On the occasions when they do enter one of South Africa’s premier multi-stage mountain bike events, their results often embarrass most of the competing field.

This September’s single speed champs is the local chapter of a worldwide movement which started in 1995 and attempts to keep alive that original sense of carefreeness so fundamental of mountain biking in its infancy. Single speed mountain bikers don’t worry much about how they finish the route, it’s the journey which counts.

At the Trail Park event there will be a winner, but the podium is very different from what you would expect. The winner is rewarded for their achievement by consensus of general recognition, but everyone else who finished gets joint second place. It’s a typical example of the egalitarianism so inherent to single speed riding.

Each year’s Single Speed championship has a dedicated theme and one is expected to dress accordingly. For the 2018 event it will be ‘every village needs an idiot’ and whereas more conventional mountain bike racers might obsess about specific lightweight components, Single Speed riders are consumed with detail about their outfits, and the more ridiculous, the better.

Organisers also make a special effort to ensure race day is as difficult as possible. Single Speed races are renowned for their preposterous race briefings, which are purposefully elaborate without imparting any information of value concerning the actual race.

When the world single speed championships happened in Winterton six years ago, the field was extensively briefed in Zulu. Finding your bike at the start can also be problematic, as there is a proud tradition of hiding all bikes whilst the race briefing is conducted. They could be locked away in a barn, for instance.

Hydration is another challenge too and instead of water points there are beer stops, which are mandatory. Where a conventional mountain bike race might have competitors rushing through water stops, single speed riders lounge around and socialise at the race’s beer stops, before swinging a leg back over their top tube again.

To uninformed observers, single speed racing might appear ridiculous, but it is a ludicrous amount of fun for people who love mountain biking a lot more than the sheer competition. If you want to meet some of the most benevolent bike geeks alive, you know where to be on the last weekend of September.

The SA 2018 Singlespeed Champs will be on Saturday 29th September and all proceeds will go to NSRI Wilderness.

We welcome all geared riders to join us for a day of fun and uncompetitive (or competitive) racing. Online entries close on Tuesday the 24th of September. There are various entry options available and all online entries include a free event shirt.
https://www.entryninja.com/events/event/27721-sassc2018
Ben Olivier ben@skoi.co.za
Phone 082 821 2741