Bush bike challenge
Bush bike challenge
BY ERNST JACOBS
Every year Kasanka National Park in northern Zambia plays host to the Kasanka Cycle Challenge, a fundraising event for the charity that supports the park and adjacent Lavushi Manda National Park. This year saw the fourth Challenge in the Park’s history.
The flat grassy plains surrounding the airstrip within the Park were transformed into a dedicated Cycle Village, with a camping area, hot showers and toilets, as well as a restaurant and bar under a large marquee.The race itself is held within theNational Park; a first for Zambia and with full consent from ZAWA.
Action started at 6.55am on 25 May, where15 eager faces lined up under the Start banner for the first race of the day, the Kasanka Kiddies’ Bush Hoppers. The start gun sounded and amidst cheering, whistling and legs pumping, mini cyclistswere off in a cloud of dust. Egg and spoon races, sack races, apple bobbing and balancing beams faced the young competitors, with nine year-old Olivia Schaefer taking the lead and completing the 3km course in 17 minutes.
For the main 22km and 45km races, the undulating, scenic route traversed hippo paths, cycle paths, jeep tracks and animal tracks, originating and ending at the New Mulembo airstrip. This year an extra single track was added for a fastflat section routed outside the park, where hard pack village cycle paths created an exhilarating ride.
The 45km Kasanka Challenge was won by Ryan Ellis who completed it in a blistering time of 1 hour 40 minutes, while Marcus Holden won gold in the 22km Kasanka Chase, careering across the finish line after just over an hour.
The Cycle Challenge is never complete without the Njinga Challenge, a race open to local cyclists from surrounding villages. Reigning champion Derek Mwape beat all opposition once again, even cyclists imported from nearby Serenje to challenge him for his crown. A generous donation of three Buffalo bikes by World Bicycle Relief was greatly appreciated by the men’s and ladies’ winners, and the third bike raffled out amongst the participants went to a cyclist with only one leg.
The Kasanka Challenge 2014 was supported by: Remote Africa Safaris, Hotel Intercontinental, Buyabamba, SunPower, CC Systems, Associated Printers, Up to Scratch, Sandy’s Creations, Umoyo, Sky Trails, Chantete Mines, Rooneys Marquee Hire, SAB Miller, Krrrishtech, Signs of the Times, Zambian Brands, Innscor, Fruit and Veg City, Majoru, Parmalat, Express Accounting, Suliman Biscuits, Jackal and Hide, Quentin Allen and World Bicycle Relief.
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