Rider to cover 1 700 km on a unicycle for landmine victims

2009-12-21 00:00

A TEN-KILOMETRE mountain bike race on a unicycle? Sounds perverse but that’s what Geoff Brink was up to yesterday at Holla Trails near Ballito. The race was all part of his warm-up for the 1 700 kilometre Heart & Sole Tour which will see him travelling on one wheel from Durban to Cape Town.

Brink (37), a freelance photographer based in Umdloti on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast, is to ride his 36-inch wheel “AmaOneTyre” along the coastal route down to Cape Town to raise awareness of the scourge of landmines and raise funds for the innocent victims of these weapons.

The Heart & Sole Tour has been organised in support of The Sole of Africa, a campaign by the UK-based Mineseeker Foundation dedicated to the removal of landmines in Africa and to support ing landmine victims. The foundation also has offices in South Africa and the United States.

“I’m always up for an adventure,” Brink told The Witness yesterday. “The idea just came to me. I had been doing a shoot in Soweto and I was driving back home and thought ‘I need an adventure’ — and the idea of a unicycle just popped into my head. Don’t ask me why, I’d never ridden one before.”

Back home, he contacted a friend, Howard Donaldson, media director for The Sole of Africa. “Howard must take the credit for suggesting I join up with The Sole of Africa. I had done some work for them in Mozambique and it’s a cause that’s close to my heart.”

So Brink got hold of a unicycle and learnt to ride it. “In theory it takes 15 hours to learn to ride proficiently but I’m a surfer and I’ve done skateboarding so I have pretty good balance … in the first half-hour I was able to do four or five metres, but it took up to two weeks to really get going.”

Brink embarks on the Heart & Sole Tour on December 28 and hopes to arrive in Cape Town on Valentine’s Day, February 14.

“I’m looking at doing 30 to 40 kilometres a day,” he says. “Wind is a big factor on a unicycle — you are riding so much higher than on a normal bicycle. If you get a good tailwind you could be looking at 40 kilometres plus.”

Rock vocalist Toni Rowland, an ambassador for The Sole of Africa along with Oscar Pistorius and Candice Hillebrand, has been appointed ambassador for The Heart and Sole Tour and her single Put Your Foot Down has been adopted as the theme song for the unicycle ride.

Brink, who has been training hard for the past three months on “AmaOneTyre”, will be accompanied by Donaldson, who will be responsible for general logistics as well as filming, photographing and blogging about the 1 700 km expedition.

• Do you want to get involved? Further information about the Heart & Sole Tour can be be found on the official tour blog at http://fredhatman.co.za/index.php?cat=603 and at The Sole of Africa’s website at http://www.thesoleofafrica.org.za.

 

 

There are over 100 million buried landmines around the world. Someone steps on a mine every 19 minutes, usually a woman or a child. Landmines kill or maim civilians every day, often long after conflicts are over. Each year these weapons claim between 15 000 and 20 000 new victims. Because resources such as arable land are within areas suspected of mine contamination and cannot be used , landmines dramatically hinder the recovery of economies wounded by a conflict. At the current rate, and assuming no extra mines are laid from now on, the UN estimates that it will take 600 years to clear the 100 million landmines in the world. — source: www.thesoleofafrica.org.za

 

The Mineseeker Foundation is a non-profit organisation allied with the British Ministry of Defence and endorsed by the United Nations. It is dedicated to the detection, identification and removal of landmines and seeks to help those people who have been affected by landmines by rehabilitating land and ensuring that affected communities have sustainable futures.

The Sole of Africa campaign aims to help communities affected by landmines and unexploded ordnance. In support of its mine detection programme, Mineseeker has drawn up an empowerment blueprint. This programme will be initiated through agricultural sustainability, and will be implemented first in Mozambique. The Sole of Africa Campaign will take the project further.

Once the mines have been identified and the removal process is under way, the land will be released for agriculture and a “foster management” team will be put in place to teach the communities to sow, grow and sell their own produce.

The founder patrons of the Mineseeker Foundation include former South African president Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel, Queen Noor, Sir Richard Branson, Lord Richard Attenborough, Brad Pitt and John Paul DeJoria. — source: www.thesoleofafrica.org.za

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