Monday, March 30, 2009

February Update ...

We now have a very short two and a half months to go before we head off on the adventure of a lifetime. The Durban 2 Dublin express (3 BMW`s and 3 adventure riders) depart from Auto Umhlanga, Durban for Dublin, Ireland. 60 Days on the road and approx. 18,500 kms to travel!

These past few months have been a blur of arranging fundraising functions and so far we have had a function at the Heritage Theatre in Hillcrest plus a motivational speaker in Bloemfontein. For this event Jaco spent every day for three weeks before the show travelling to Bloemfontein and back from his farm in Bultfontein, a distance of 170 km`s one way. He set up stands at shopping malls to promote the show and to get people to book for the event. That is what I call commitment for the trip. Upcoming events are the BMW Track Day Swartkops and the SCMSC Dirtfest at Imbabala near Weenen in KZN.
Now comes the time for visa applications, return flight bookings, arranging for the bikes to be shipped back to South Africa and so much more. The route has been plotted and is currently sitting patiently on my PC waiting for the command to send to the device then the main command on 1st May when I enter the where to function and finally press GO !!!!
Two months ago my heart stopped and for a minute I saw the whole trip flashing before my eyes and becoming a non-event.

This is the reason:
I had arranged a fun enduro at the off-road academy at Imbabala KZN. On Saturday 14th December 2008, 50 off-road riders headed off to challenge the hills and rocky river beds around Imbabala in the Weenen area - 140 kms of pure adrenalin and great fun. That evening sitting around the open fire at the Imbabala Lodge listening to all the war stories from the day`s ride I smiled to myself and once again thought what a great bunch of guys the off-road fraternity has.
The next morning on Sunday, after a hearty Imbabala breakfast we once again kitted up to head out for a shorter loop of 70kms. The first section of the ride was on the game farm before we headed out of the park and off for the hills surrounding Imbabala.
During this section of the ride we negotiated a dry riverbed of approximately 5kms. Towards the end of the riverbed section there is a small waterfall of about 1m in height. The top of the fall has a small kicker on it so the trick is to hit the lip with a bit of momentum and as you go over the edge give a bit of gas to help clear the front wheel.
I negotiated this drop-off without any mishap on my trusty BMW 450X. Some of the following riders battled a bit with the timing and there were a few spills and lots of laughs. One intrepid rider, giving a bit too much gas, overshot the landing and promptly went full steam into a nearby waterhole, completely drowning his bike.
Whilst the guys were helping this last rider, a youngster amongst the group decided that he was not up to doing the drop-off on his KTM 80cc. He approached me and asked me to take the bike over for him. Of course I agreed (big mistake!). I kicked started this midget of a bike and aimed for the drop-off. As I went over I knew I had a problem, not realizing how big a problem lay in a split second ahead yet.
As I landed my feet slipped off the small foot pegs and I landed with my full weight on my legs. The soft sand under my feet caused my left leg to lock up and with nowhere to go the force was exerted down and out. I felt this shockwave shoot up my leg and I collapsed to the ground. As I tried to stand up my leg once again gave way. I knew I had a BIG problem, and at this point I saw the Durban 2 Dublin trip saying bye-bye.
The guys then sent Rory, my ever helpful son, back to the lodge on my bike and he returned with a 4×4 Rhino to recover me.

I was taken to the lodge and then transferred to a pick-up to be taken through to Medi Clinic in Pietermaritzburg. This was now Sunday afternoon. When I arrived at the Medi Clinic, Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr Peter Thompson was called and I was summarily sent off for X-rays.
When the X-rays returned they were examined by Dr Thompson I watched his face very closely and when I saw him shake his head I feared the worst. It turned out I had a tibia plateau fracture, (for the layman this is a very bad break just below the knee). Dr Thompson booked me into hospital and made arrangements for surgery the following day. Surgery consisted of inserting a plate and seven very large looking screws into the bone to hold the whole lot in place.

The next morning when Dr Thompson made his rounds and stopped in to check on me I told him about my planned trip to Dublin scheduled for 1st May, which was four and a half months away. He was not very enthusiastic and told me this sort of injury could take three months to heal. I think he saw the determination in my eyes and gave me a bit of advice on how to look after the injury post operation, and instead of putting me in a full leg cast he put on a leg brace. This allowed me to carry on with physio and was treated by Dr Donna Dippenaar, an excellent Chiropractor in Pietermaritzburg.
Well, it is now 8 weeks since the op and I feel great! I still have a slight limp but this is improving every day. On my last visit to Dr Thompson he was amazed at my recovery. To Dr Thompson, Dr Dippenaar and all the staff at Medi Clinic I thank you and salute all of you.

On Friday the 6th February I flew down to Cape Town to visit a few of the Children`s crèches which are being managed by the Pebbles Project, and this was a very touching and rewarding visit. (Pebbles is the charity that we are raising funds for). The children at these crèches are looked after by a team of voluntary care givers and the enthusiasm and care shown by these care givers and teachers is a wonder to behold. I am convinced that we have made the correct choice in choosing Pebbles as our charity. If these children can be given a chance of receiving a decent education and one day entering the work place as well rounded and responsible adults I am sure we can look forward to a better and crime free South Africa.

On Saturday, 14th February the BMW Road Rider Academy at Swartkops arranged an open track day for us and to all the guys who took the time to get away from your partners on Valentine`s Day I thank you for your support. To your partners I also thank you for giving the guys the time to attend.
At this track day it was also the first time I got back onto a bike since the accident, and I must say after a few hesitant and slow laps around the track, I was really getting back into my stride and feeling at one with the bike again. I must also mention here a big thank you to EVS Gear for the recent sponsorship of the web knee braces that they have so kindly sent up to me. The braces really give one a sense of confidence knowing that your legs are properly protected. My only regret is I did not have a pair before my accident as I am sure they would have minimized the damage.

I am now looking forward to putting in some off-road riding and really getting back into the groove of handling the big 1200 Adventure bike that is going to be carrying me to Dublin.
In between the rider training there is still the question of a few more fund raisers to arrange as well as the never ending paper work to complete.

Sponsors and support received so far:
· Metal mule Rider Equipment,
· Pannar Seed,
· BMW Midrand,
· BMW Road Training Academy,
· Ryder Motorrad,
· BMW Auto Umhlanga,
· Gear Up,
· Alfie Cox Racing,
· Mac`s Shipping,
· Barts Computers,
· Marius Vorster, Expanda-sign,
· South Coast Motorsport Club,
· EVS Rider Gear
All the individual people that have made a donation to the trip and, of course, to Pebbles we thank you all. You know who you are.

A Bit of Background ...

Sitting under a tree in a remote area of Mozambique on one of their many expeditions together, two best friends joked about the future, where they would be 10 years from then, the exploring they would do and tours they would undertake Others had done things that were pretty impressive. Cape to Cairo? That`s famous? What could two KZN locals do that would make people sit up and take notice? What did they do best? With the ensuing light banter between the two a tiny seed was planted... Durbs! What rhymes with Durbs? Hows about Durban to Dublin!? Liking the sound of that, smiling at the thought of such a huge undertaking, they started discussing possibilities, their imaginations running amok. What would be the reason someone would do something like that?

On that day, a million miles away, never in their wildest dreams did they ever think the day would dawn when they would be at the point where their ultimate dream would be a mere few months away!

Roger Scheffer born on the 1st of February 1960 in Eshowe, has ridden motocross for a Kawasaki team on the SA circuit, served some years in the special forces and is currently owner of Mototour Africa and does off road motor bike tours all over southern Africa and Off Road Riding Training as an accredited BMW instructor.

Howard Scott born in Durban on 15 July 1960, has spent most of his years on a bike and is an engineer and photographer. Not only one of Rogers` best friends but also his sons` godfather, they have shared many an adventure together, exploring a lot of Mozambique and the southern parts of Africa together. His skills determined that he would go along as maintenance man and photographer.

Derick Oldfield a semi-retired KZN farmer, born on the 15 September 1954, in Pinetown makes up the last of the trio. With a passion for bikes Derick assists and supports Roger with his tours.

Jaco Swanepoel , A maize farmer from the Bultfontain region in the Free state makes up the fourth and final member of this adventure . Jaco with his ever present smile and characteristic laugh will no doubt help to keep all the members of the team in good spirits .

It was on one such tour that it was decided that to do the Durban to Dublin trip as a challenge alone didn`t cut the grade, and visiting a wine farm in the Western Cape gave them what they had sought for reason enough!!!

With each one of the group being family men with children of their own, the Pebbles project being run in this area was a fantastic eye opener. With the increasing crime rate, and the sexual, physical and mental abuse toward women and children in South Africa at a constant horrifying increase, it was decided the trip would be dedicated to making a difference. The owner of Clovelly Wines agreed to donate a limited specially labelled Durban to Dublin wine for a fund raising dinner provided that the Pebbles project would benefit - and the pieces started coming together. If every more fortunate person, would sponsor and educate only ONE less fortunate child, would the world not be in a better position to prevent further crime, poverty and abuse?

Millions of people world wide enjoy a glass of wine on occasion. Are all those millions of people aware of the suffering and abuse directly related to alcohol?

The Pebbles Project was established in 2004 to offer support to children with special educational needs, particularly those whose lives are affected by alcohol in some way, in the Western Cape of South Africa.
We are a registered Educational Trust - IT4088/2004, PBO (Public Benefit Organisation) 930017224, and NPO (Non Profit Organisation) - 049-950-NPO.We registered in the UK in 2008 Charity number 1123172.
The Pebbles Project believes that if a child, particularly one with special needs of any kind, is supported and given the necessary education at an early age, they are far more likely to go on to achieve more at school, and become well-adjusted, educated and achieving adults.

Pebbles works closely with several wine farm owners, who support our work and assist us with the upliftment of their farm worker communities and the education of the workers’ children. Pebbles also supports township crèches in Somerset West and Stellenbosch.

Research has confirmed that there are high numbers of children with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in the Western Cape of South Africa, as well as those with many other learning difficulties. There is also a high number of children whose lives are affected negatively by alcohol due to parental drinking, neglect, and communities where drinking is a problem. Pebbles does not diagnose children with suspected FASD, as we are not medically trained to do so, but we instead offer support for crèche staff to identify learning difficulties and how to assist the children with these.

Many children do not receive the early childhood education that will equip them for later life, and there are a high percentage of children who drop out of school before reaching matriculation.
It has to be stressed however that some of the crèches that we support simply request basic crèche teacher training, resources and guidance, and that the farm owners take their responsibility seriously for supporting their communities.
We offer training to creche workers, teachers and parents in methods of working with children, including those with special educational needs and provide the basic educational equipment and resources necessary for early childhood development. We also renovate crèche and after-school club buildings where needed.

By the end of 2008, we will have trained almost 20 creche teachers, 11 After-school club teachers and impacted on the lives of over 300 children.
The Pebbles Project raises funds through personal donations, company sponsorship, fundraising activities, Government funding and our Sponsor a Child programme. Several UK and South African companies and individuals already support us, and the number of donors is growing daily please have a look at our

The Pebbles Project team are dedicated group of young professionals from education, legal, wine industry and charity backgrounds who are passionate about offering a future for these children with special needs.With REASON ENOUGH, things started coming together fast and furiously, routes were being marked out, sponsors were coming in, a fund raising dinner was scheduled, speakers organised, Racing Champions donated autographed racing shirts to be auctioned off, BMW agreed to the unveiling of one of their latest machines at the dinner, tickets were being sold and things were beginning to happen.

On the 6th August 2008 the first important fund raiser is taking place: A Special fund raising Dinner at the Heritage, in Durban,Where patrons will be entertained by a live presentation by Alfie Cox on his adventure riding and racing career, Good food, a show, the unveiling of BMW`s latest 450 Enduro and the auctioning off of a limited labelled edition of Durban to Dublin wines, and autographed race shirts by Joel Smets (5 times world off road world champion), Christien Anders, (German and European champ) and Simmo Krissi!!! - hoping to secure huge sponsorships for both Pebbles and the trip.

The Durban to Dublin departure date is May 2009 ending June 2009 Route . South Africa , Mozambique , Malawi , Tanzania , Kenya , Ethiopia , Sudan , Egypt , Libiya , Tunisia , Morroco , Spain , Switzerland , Germany , France , England , Wales , Ireland .

The riders will be all on their own, camping en route, eating what the locals eat, there will be no support vehicle.In Germany they will be hosted by BMW Motorrad Germany where they will host a dinner function, and they will give a talk and a presentation of the trip and promote the Pebbles Project.

They then hit the road again to France, cross in the UK, ride up to Holly Head in Wales, crossing over to Dublin and end at the Pebbles UK office. The bikes will then be shipped back in containers from Rotterdam in Holland and the men fly home.