Imana Wild Ride No.22 ‘Re-start’

The last official Imana Wild Ride was the twentieth and took place back in 2019. The World has changed since then… But not so much on the wild coast. Amidst the craziness of our everyday lives, what a treat to be able to escape the rat race and enjoy a few days of pristine beauty, comradery, physical exertion, good food and a soul nourishing experience. Welcome to the twenty-second Imana Wild Ride !

But what happened to the 21st Imana Wild Ride I hear you say ? It did happen – over three years and seven tours in which over one hundred and eighty participants left their tyre treads on the beaches, soon to be washed away. In a visceral need to escape reality and get a dose of real therapy on the wild coast, we managed to pull off a ‘race fall-out’ tour at the end of October 2020 with thirty takers. Skies were grey and laden with rain clouds and the last day was wet, with the group arriving at Umngazi muddy and bedraggled and yet still smiling, spirits renewed after four days of cycling the coastline. Twenty-twenty one saw five tour groups savouring the delights of the wild coast. Two of these trips were again fall-out from the event being cancelled, just two weeks before it was scheduled to happen. Covid had once again spiked and it was a bitter pill for the organisers to have to pull the plug so close to the event. However, the Imana Wild Ride ‘gees’ lives strong in our souls and for many of us, the year is not complete without our annual trip riding our bicycles between the Great Kei River and the Umngazi River.

The most recent tour, which took place at the beginning of June, saw of group of ‘Dutchies’ join us, led by none other than ‘Captain Sneak’ – Craig Woods. This group, all the way from Nederland, were originally booked for May 2020 and four postponed dates later, finally made it as a dedicated trip, just to ride the wild coast. In and out the country in nine days ! They are an adventurous bunch who have travelled the world and they were blown away by their experience on the eastern shores of South Africa. Swollen rivers following heavy rains resulted in some big swims, they had an exceptionally big swell causing the low tide to be as big as a high tide and they ended up pushing most of the beaches on day three. They had bike issues a plenty but managed to make-a-plan and ride on. All eleven arrived at Umngazi having had the adventure of a lifetime and their gratitude was shown in the very generous donation they made to the Wild Ride Education Company (WREC), once they had returned to their homeland.

The Imana Wild Ride is not a race. Well, for most of the field. This fact is supported by the second event ‘Ride the Wave’ gaining more popularity in recent years as participants favour the idea of a non-timed event. Saying that, everyone is still racing – because when the tide turns, you don’t want to be caught high and dry and pushing in the soft sand. So don’t dawdle too much ! Of course, there will be a few ‘racing snakes’ on a mission to clock the fastest times each day. The favourites include the young farmers – Damon Stamp and Andrew Houston, who are hungry for a win. Maybe not as much as die-hard Craig Woods and his partner Oli Munnik from Cape Town, who have been hunting the honours for years ! Eight time defending champ, Warren Price will be on the start line – this time with his eldest son, Seth. Warren has an unbroken record of victories since 2012 and Seth is already showing he has the genes, so the Prices will surely be keeping the pressure on the front of the race. However, with the introduction of a ‘scaling’ result calculation, a few veterans may find themselves in the running for honours. Graham Monteith and Erni Welch are well-seasoned wild coast riders with plenty of pedigree and could well upset the youngsters.

For a small field of less than two hundred participants, some for the first time and many who are back for the annual dose of ‘soul food’ – consider yourselves amongst the privileged few to be able to enjoy riding your bicycle on this coastline. We have waited a long three years to bring you the 22nd Imana Wild Ride and it’s going to be a celebration of life, of health, of good times and appreciation for all that we have. Whatever the weather and whatever the challenges, it will no doubt be an enriching experience. Embrace it.