The Breede, Berg & Between, by Bike, Boat & Boot. (and Beast)
Blind 2020 Challenge
Chris's Beastly Experience
Chris Venter, otherwise known as the Blind Scooter Guy, approached me some time back with an unusual proposition. He is well known for his incredible feats as a blind adventurer, who does some pretty crazy stuff to provide material to inspire the books he writes. And inspirational it is...to the rest of us sighted ones especially. What he does would make most fully-sighted individuals quail in their boots!
His latest adventure, earmarked for 2020, was this: The Breede, Berg & Between - by bike, boat and boot. His idea: to navigate both rivers from source to sea, and transverse the territory in between, all by natural means, either hiking, kayaking or cycling. But, he reasoned, why stop there? Up the game a little, as if this were not enough. And that's where we came in. Chris not only pushes himself to the limits physically, he also challenges himself psychologically. He has a true phobia of horses, ever since a very traumatic incident in his youth with a mad pony, and he called me to see if I could assist first with helping overcome his fear, and secondly partner with him for a section along our Overberg coastline on horseback.
I felt tremendously privileged that he would place his trust in me and one of our horses, and jumped at the idea. After some consideration, I decided what he needed was a short time on the horse that he would be completing the section on, to firstly relax mentally, and secondly familiarize himself with balancing and sitting on horseback. If you are a rider, try closing your eyes for as long as you can whilst negotiating tricky terrain. Guaranteed you will not feel comfortable, and somewhat off-balance. However, Chris came through with flying colours when we first introduced him to Troy, our big gentle chestnut Boerperd. He not only completed a trail to the beach and back but also sat bareback and went for a dip in the ocean.
After this, I felt confident that he would be fine for the next step. If still a little nervous, he had overcome an enormous fear, and put to rest the trauma of a long ago terrifying incident as a child. And so we planned and set a prospective date. But the Corona Virus had other plans - sending the entire world into shock and lockdown, and of course shelving the arrangements that Chris had made for his program. Finally, after emerging from a surreal time, Chris has pushed harder than ever to complete the stages, and we set out on a misty, drizzly morning earlier this week, much excited, for Buffeljagsbaai. The weather remained overcast and cool, but fortunately the rain stopped, and along with a favourable low tide, we had near perfect riding conditions for a long stretch in the saddle.
Chris bravely mounted up and seen off by Tamlyn his wife, Kos, our Christopher and our assistants, Chris and I set off on Kimo and Troy along the thirty-odd kilometres of beautiful coastline towards Pearly Beach. From a visibly tense Chris for the first ten minutes of riding, he quickly relaxed into the rhythm and adapted to the movement of Troy's feet over sand, gravel and grass. We had a lovely, calm trail, with our backup team supplying refreshments as needed along the way. Two areas proved a little technical where I dismounted and led Troy between closely spaced rocks on the beach, with our Christopher bringing my mare, Kimo through.
Despite the fact that Chris's legs were tired and somewhat chafed from his marathon cycle the previous day, he masterfully completed three solid hours in the saddle over 4x4 terrain with no complaint.
All in all, a very successful trip, and another chunk of Chris's route done and dusted.
Once again, Chris, you are an inspiration to us all, and huge respect for the way in which you tackle life and the obstacles that you face.
If you would like to hear Chris chat about his adventure, listen to him in his interview with Caledon FM the following afternoon...
or you can follow his story here.