Volkswagen SA – Amarok:
The Amarok is an awesome 4×4 double-cab bakkie, with the patented 4Motion drive system that is equally sure-footed on smooth roads as in the wildest outback. This by kind arrangement of one of my longest serving mates Matt Gennrich at VW SA, as well as Jaco Steenekamp, who has ardently supported us from the inception of this crazy idea.
The 4 cylinder Tdi engine packs a whopping 120 kW, for those people who understand such things; for the rest of us, it’s one heck of a vehicle that will get go anywhere, in any kind of terrain, no matter how heavily it is packed. Just the kind of thing you’d want as your back-up in the kinds of places we’ll be riding.
The Liberty Foundation:
The foundation, the social responsibility arm of Liberty Life, is dedicated mainly to funding education, as well as fighting diseases that cause child mortality. It is also a supporter of Operation Smile, which is why the Foundation chose to support this ride and our fund-raising for Operation Smile.
You could say my old boss at Getaway mag, Stirling Kotze, started all this. One day he mentioned to me that he’d registered us to ride as a team in a new multi-day mountain bike race. Sounded better than flying a desk. It was to be called the Cape Epic … enough said! Now Stirling owns Cape Town’s best mountain bike shop, in Bree Street, and as soon as he heard about the Spine of the Dragon endeavour, he said he’d sponsor us with a bike and equipment. The bike is a Specialized, see below. And Stirling, you’re a mensch – viv’la revolution.
Specialized South Africa:
You can’t say which is the best roadster (Porsche, Z3, M3, AMG) so much as you can the best wine. Same with mountain bikes, but a Specialized will be on most mountain bikers’ wish lists. We wanted to try one of the new generation 29ers, and through Revolution Cycles, Specialized offered not only to give us a test Rockhopper 29er SJ HT 17.5 test bike to ride, they will also be donating a brand new Rockhopper 29er for us to auction at the end of the ride to raise money for Operation Smile. We’ve named our Hopper Dennis, after Dennis Hopper, the Easy Rider. You’ll be reading a lot more about him in our upcoming posts.
Morewood and Sram:
Morewood mountain bikes, through its marketing arm Rush Sports, will be supporting us with back-up and parts for our other bike, a Moreowood Zula (with a Morewood Shova as our back-up). We like the idea of riding a South African made bike on this, South Africa’s first and ultimate “trans continental” mountain bike route. And we think you should support them too. We’ve called our bike Patrick, as in Patrick Morewood, the man behind these unbeatable bikes, and you’ll also be reading a lot about him during the course of our ride.
Random House Struik:
South Africa’s premier publishing house has been good to me over the years, having published more than a dozen of my books (the latest being ‘Been There, Done That’ in March 2011). RHS was extremely interested in supporting the Spine of the Dragon project, offering to publish the book on the trail, but also donating generously to Operation Smile.
Whether they like it or not, we’ll be raising money for them to help with surgery of children in poor rural areas who suffer from hideous facial deformties, to the extent that they have no social lives, rarely attend school, barely live – until that day of their miracle transformations through a simple half- to one-hour surgical procedure. All it takes is R5,000 a child. We ask you, and beg if necessary, sponsor Steve and me for each kilometre we pedal (after all, we are the ones doing the really hard work here!). R2 a km – we expect to ride about 3,500 km – will change the life of one child forever.