"Breakfast for Simba." The South African guiding us through the Pinda Game Resort at sunset is kidding. A warthog is unsuspectingly strolling towards the lazy lion dozing in the morning sun. The long maned poser does not seem to be interested in the tough meat of bike riders and prefers to ignore us.
A picture-perfect example of Africa: impalas, warthogs, buffalos and giraffes within reach. To the left and to the right bushes with long pointed thorns are almost touching our arms.
During yesterday’s special test "Elephant Turn" nobody thought of having to practice it for real. Riding over a hill we suddenly find ourselves facing a giant elephant bull and two younger ones. What next? Backing out, waiting or passing slowly? One of the Marshalls and the American Billy decide on doing the latter, which does not please the elephant at all. It starts trumpeting, puts up its ears and tries to chase away the bike riding intruders. There is only one way out: open the throttle and make it to the other side! As if that weren’t enough, the elephant bull is backed-up by at least another ten of these impressive animals. Thus the rest of the GS riders prefer to simply wait on the other side. And finally the herd retreats into the bush.
Today’s first special test is a technical one for which you need a team, two bikes, the appropriate tools and a stopwatch. The competitors have to take off the back tyre of one GS and put it onto another one. Team Germany is a bit too keen and hectic. When one of the brake pads falls down the whole procedure gets complicated and time consuming – the result is the last place. The Japanese Team was good for a huge surprise. They did it all in exactly 6.5 minutes and finished in fourth place. The South Africans performed this task quicker than anybody else (5:43 min). For the curious onlookers – a native family with many small children – this spectacle happening right in front of their hut was the event of the year.
The route goes on to Ghost Mountain. A red sand track leads through lush green territory into the mountains. The view over the valley is absolutely fantastic. We reach Pongola using wide tracks and partly travelling on tarmac. We have the exceptional permission to ride our bikes in this Game Resort, too.
The second special test is about picking up a spear and throwing it while riding. The Alpine Team hit the target most accurately.
Canoeing is the third special test and provokes the most laughter. While the clock is ticking, two teams at a time set off from a slippery landing stage, paddle around a buoy and return to the shore. The winner is Team Nordic. The Italians suffered a severe defeat but scored by making everybody laugh when they fell into the water twice: at first the canoe turned over when they tried to get in, the second time the boat capsized with the team inside only a little bit later.
1. UK – 114 points
2. ZA – 110 points
3. SK – 108 points
4. CA – 99 points
5. AT/CH – 88 points
6. ES – 85 points
7. DE – 80 points
8. USA – 78 points
9. IT – 67 points
10. JP – 45 points
View the Photo Gallery to see new photos updated daily during the event!
Text: Ramona Schwarz
Pictures: Herbert und Ramona Schwarz