It is not a surprise that Gondwana Collection is on this mountain biking roller-coaster for the second time on 7 December 2018, with two social and two competitive teams entered.
The Nedbank Desert Dash began with occasional mountain bike journeys that took Aiden De Lange and a couple of his close friends along the striking landscape of the Namib Desert from Windhoek to Swakopmund. It was during these cycles that the idea of a 24 hour cycling race was born.
The first ever Desert Dash took place in 2005, with forty-four enthusiastic cyclists in various four-man teams. The teams were passionate about cycling and ready to embark on a 24 hour, 327 kilometre race! Over the years, the race has developed to include two-man teams as well as solo cyclists, who prefer to do it all by themselves.
Today, the race has grown in both popularity and length. The route has been extended to 373 kilometres and now includes six stages that leap across the velvety Namib Desert. Distinct trails have been discovered and constructed in order to make the race challenging and rewarding for thousands of cyclists from around Namibia and the world who come to compete. Routes are marked so that cyclists are clearly directed to water points and check points, although occasionally some do miss the marked routes only to later discover that they moved off-the-beaten-track.
For many cyclists, working-off a beer belly, maintaining their physical and mental health, whilst simultaneously appreciating nature and socialising with others, is exactly what they associate The Nedbank Desert Dash with. It is therefore through cycling that connections amongst people from various ethnic groups, genders and ages can be formed. It also allows for cyclists and families to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Namibia.
It should therefore come as no surprise that Gondwana has entered ‘Social’ and ‘Masters’ teams into the 2018 Nedbank Desert Dash. The two ‘Social’ teams are made up of Gondwana employees; while the two ‘Masters’ teams consist of special invited riders.
The ‘Masters’ team, a four-man team referred to as ‘Gondwana Masters’, includes Piet Swiegers (Klein-Aus Vista Lodge Owner and Gondwana’s marketing partner) one of Namibia’s top cyclists, who recently won the third and final stage of the Namaqua Quest MTB Stage Race held in the Northern Cape in 2018. He also established the annual Klein-Aus Vista Mountain Bike Challenge. Additionally, there is Rob Sim (Chartered Accountant) who has twice been a Cape Epic top 20 GC finisher, eighteen category stage wins, an overall category win and five podium finishes. Nico Pfitzenmaier (Professional Cyclist) who is one of the best technical riders in South Africa, renders MTB clinics across South Africa and imparts his cycling knowledge to those wishing to improve their MTB riding techniques. Lastly, Corrie Muller (Dentist) who is well known in South Africa in the MTB society and has also constructed a world class cross country MTB track in Stellenbosch. The two-man, ‘Gondwana Tag-Team’, consists of Christo Swartz (Chartered Accountant) who recently came first in the Sub veteran men’s category at the Rock & Rut Nedbank X-Country Cycling Series. Finally, Ingram Cuff (Finance Manager) who came first at the 2010 Namibian Cycle Classic, 2012 and 2014 Nedbank Desert Dash Two Man wins, came first at the 2016 and 2017 Omaruru Road Race as well as the Hollard MTB Marathon Series Sub veteran.
The first ‘Social’ team consists of a four-man team, ‘Gondwana Kaas & Wyn’, which comprises of Gys Joubert (Chief Executive Officer), Felix Marungu (Groundsman), Quintin Hartung (Environmental Officer) and Riaan Compaan (Damara Mopane Lodge Manager). The second ‘Social’ team is a two-man team, ‘Gondwana Bearded Dragons’, consisting of Reini Hoppe (Technical Manager) and Timo Britse (Namib Desert Lodge Maintenance Manager). So, this certainly will amount to an eventful Dash!
Gondwana Collection Namibia looks forward this Nedbank Desert Dash and hopes to welcome cyclists at the Langer Heinrich water point for a quick stop, drink and snack of course.
All the best to the participating cyclists as the Nedbank Desert Dash draws closer and closer!
Author: Nela Shikemeni