Triumphant end to wild ride for ‘Health Angels’
Bikers braved the bundu in quest to help sick in Zimbabwe
By BIANCA GAPAZORID
Ten days of riding the Endow Africa took bikers through rivers, mud and almost impassible roads all over the Eastern Cape. One bike even drove through a Port Alfred hotel swimming poo1. About 150 bikers took part in the charity ride and each of the Yamaha AG200 motorcycles will now be donated to health workers in Zimbabwe, enabling them to access deep rural areas n that country.
Barry Coleman, chief executive officer of Riders for Heath, the charity handing over the bikes, said each bike donated Zimbabwe could allow a health worker reach 20,000 people. “0ne of the biggest killers in Africa s diarrhoea and because the treatment of that only requires sugar salt and water, it is not a pharmaceutical challenge. The challengc is reaching people and these bikes will help with that.” While the event was for a good cause, there was plenty of fun to be had.
On Wednesday night, Port Elizabeth medic Jaco Schultz rode one of the bikes into the swimming pool of a Port Alfred hotel. “1 had to test the bike before it went into Zimbabwe,” Schultz said. Schultz. who is used to on-road biking, did the ride alongside experienced off-road bikers with a full bag of medical supplies to weigh him down. “I was all over sometimes ‘That’s how I earned the name Tsunami Nico.”
He said there had been about 16 minor injures. including some broken bones but only three riders had not finished because of more serious injuries.
“On the first day, a guy fell and punctured a lung and on the third day one of the doctors broke a bone in his foot,” he said. Among the casualties was Simon- Smith, one of the organisers, who broke his arm. “I rode four recce trips and when it comes to the actual event, my own event, break my arm, Smith said.
The only “paying” South African, on the ride, Greg Ermes, said the ride had been not only for charity ‘but to look after the local economy here too”. Originally from Port Elizabeth he learnt about the event on television at decided to get involved. “We’re not the Hell’s Angels, hut the Health Angels.” he said.
Most of the bikers were from the United Kingdom, but there were also some Americans, an Australian and even one from Bermuda. The oldest biker there, John Green, turned 66 on the day the trip started. He said that even when he battled with river crossings people would come and help him push his bike through. Despite being a slow rider, Green arrived in Port Elizabeth first because he got lost. ‘I got hack to Port Elizabeth and had lunch and when I asked where the hikers were, they said they were coming iinto Port Elizabeth, so I rode, back and rode in with them,,” he said. The first of its kind, the trip was spearheaded by Red Cherry Adventures’ Mike Glover, who said it was a huge success.
The 2, 600km route took riders through more than 30 towns and cities including; Jeffreys Bay, Hankev, Grahamsown, Queenstown, Alice and Port Alfred. Riders raised more than £4,000 each to participate, which covered all costs, including the bikes. The riders then set off for Saint Francis Bay, where they spent two days relaxing after the arduous trip.
The Herald (Zimbabwe) December 1,2006
HEALTH ANGELS -. The Enduiro Attica bikers ended their journey at Hobic Beach.
Picture: FREDLIN ADRIAN