As the organiser and beneficiary of the annual Nedbank Tour de Tuli, Children in the Wilderness (CITW) is marking the successful completion of its 15th mountain bike fundraising event. The 2019 edition marked the 12th consecutive year that riders have had the opportunity to experience the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area.
By way of ringing the changes, this year the traditional route was reversed so that riders spent more time in Botswana, as well as a day each in Zimbabwe and South Africa. This year’s Tour also saw a return to Ampitheatre Bush Camp in Botswana, perhaps the most emblematic of all Tour locations.
A classic Nedbank Tour de Tuli with a twist, the ultimate mountain biking event attracted a record number of international riders – a reflection of its global appeal, and of the cross-border extent of its impact.
“The 2019 edition of the Nedbank Tour de Tuli had all the hallmarks of the Tour: fun, friendship and a serious aim. It delivered awesome riding through pristine wilderness areas, and opportunities to see the positive impact of fundraising first-hand. By creating tangible links between the event and its ultimate purpose, we were able to make it more enjoyable and more relevant than ever before”, commented Tour Director, Nicola Harris.
The 2019 Tour was notable not only for its reversed route, but also for the many kilometres of flowing elephant paths and single-track riding. Elephant made their presence felt in other ways, too: on more than one occasion, riders had to make a diversion to go around herds. Indeed, perhaps more wildlife was seen than ever before, underscoring the importance of preserving the wilderness areas in which the Tour takes place.
Additional highlights were the shwe-shwe gift bags (manufactured by a local women’s cooperative and containing some useful and indulgent gifts, courtesy of the Tour’s many sponsors). The most sought-after items were undoubtedly the Tour-branded puffer jackets, which were much in evidence prior to the cool early morning starts.
As in previous years, the seamless logistics of the Tour belied the months of effort that had been put into planning and preparing for an event that spans three countries. Riders were able to enjoy hot showers at each camp, with Bean There coffee on tap and the exceptional catering and service for which the Tour is renowned. The massage services provided by EPT Recovery meant that the memories will last much longer than any muscle aches.
Volunteers greeted riders at each brunch and tea stop with customary cheerfulness, exceeded only by the joy expressed by the CITW children at Lentswe-Le-Moriti Primary School, many of whom got to enjoy their first-ever bike rides under the watchful eyes of the school’s teachers and CITW Eco-Mentors.
“Each year that I’m involved in the Tour, the energy of our volunteers impresses me all over again. In combination with the camaraderie between the riders and the generosity of our sponsors and donors, it creates a wonderfully positive atmosphere that has to be experienced to be believed. I would urge anyone who has not yet ridden the Tour to commit to crossing it off their bucket list in 2020”, added Nicola.