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Riding for water and wildlife - Pumping Legs for Water 2015

Riding for water and wildlife - Pumping Legs for Water 2015

The winning team - the Warthogs
The winning team - the Warthogs
Pumping Legs for Water

 

BY : COLIN SMITH

https://www.facebook.com/PLFWZ
https://www.facebook.com/groups/153398851416956/

The eighth annual Pumping Legs for Water ride attracted 108 bikers, including entries from England, Germany, Botswana, South Africa and Zambia, with the majority from Zimbabwe. The two day mountain biking event took place in Hwange National Park in July.

The event is a ride and not a race, but cyclists are seeded according to their ability and in families or groups who wish to cycle together. This year five groups were identified, each escorted by a lead vehicle with an armed National Parks Scout and a sweeper vehicle following.

After a hearty breakfast the slowest seeded group took off for the first day’s destination, Ngweshla campsite 58km later, followed by the next groups at 20 minute intervals. The road to Ngweshla has gained some notoriety for the sand on the first half and the corrugations on the second. This year we were in luck with the sand but the corrugations were the worst in the eight years I have taken part.

The half way point of Day 1 was the Kennedy picnic site and there we had one of the best- stocked water points in any local event, including fruit juice, fresh fruit, two types of cheese, fresh milk and chocolate milk.

From Kennedy the riders can see firsthand where the funds they have raised are being used. Hwange National Park has no permanent water sources so the game in the dry season relies on pumped water until the rains return; all the money raised by the cyclists is channelled into game water supplies.

After a tough four or five hours, it was time to relax at Ngweshla with a boerewors roll and drink, followed by transport back to Main Camp. Friday night we had two guest speakers on the lion and cheetah populations in the National Park and Zimbabwe.

On Saturday the route was slightly longer - 60 km - to Guvalala platform and return, with many potholes to avoid. With some teams making good time, they decided to detour via Nymandhlovu platform, only to experience the real sand of Hwange.

The finish back at Main Camp was capped by all the cyclists receiving this years participants medal. Saturday night was the prize giving, the main prize going to the person who raised the most sponsorship, and the winner raised $2,200. After our first five years it was decided to start an award for cyclists who have done this event five times, and entitles entrants to select a race number that will be theirs until it is given up.

A draw took place using riders’ numbers and every participant walked away with a prize, thanks to the fantastic donations from sponsors. This was followed by a braai and much ‘carbo-loading’. On Sunday, to end the weekend, there was a breakfast ride to Safari Lodge 12km away and a kiddies ride to the airfield.