There are a few people in life that go beyond being exceptional, breaking the boundaries of what we think is humanly possible and defying personal limits, living each day to the full… One of these extraordinary people is a well-known author, motivational speaker, adventurer, business man, passionate conservationist and a proud ambassador for Children in the Wilderness… Peter van Kets is also a well-known face on the Nedbank Tour de Tuli having taken part in the Tour for three years as a rider and as the official MC. Peter is coming back to ride the Tour this year and while he will be taking a break from being MC, he has an extra special reason to look forward to riding the 2017 Tour…
Peter reveals just how rewarding it is to take part in this unique mountain bike event.
How did you get involved in the ride?
My connection to the Tour first began after a leadership talk and conference for Wilderness Safaris that was held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. I was presenting at the conference and because of this became very interested in Children in the Wilderness (CITW), an NGO supported by Wilderness Safaris. CITW comprises an amazing group of people who work for an amazing cause. I later became an ambassador for CITW and was invited to take part as a rider and MC.
Peter – a proud ambassador for Children in the Wilderness
Out of all the Tours you have taken part in, is there any one that has been most memorable?
To answer this question is very difficult… I have only taken part in three – the first one was spectacular as this was my first time in the Tuli area. It was remarkable to see how the event is organised and the skill required from the organisers to put an event of this magnitude together, it is phenomenal.
I will never forget riding on day one and seeing all the thorns that got stuck in my tyres and wondering if my bike would make it through the day. It was a thrilling experience. I also clearly remember our 2016 ride where we saw an incredible amount of game and a lot of elephants – that was very special. I think it’s very tricky to say which one is the best – they are all spectacular.
Best part about being MC?
The best part about being an MC on Tour is that you get to meet so many people as a result of being so visible to everyone! Many people introduce themselves and you’ll meet many people. The best part I would say is getting to meet people who you probably would never have met or interacted with – you now have the opportunity to meet and mingle with people from all walks of life.
What do you enjoy most about the ride?
So many things… interacting with your team, meeting new people and simply being out in the wilderness in such beautiful areas and at spectacular camps. The organisers really do find the most wonderful areas in the bush to set up camp. The single track is another great love of mine and there is an incredible amount of single track in this big game area… I mean where else in the world do you get something like that?
What advice would you give a first time entrant?
The best advice is to make sure you train hard. You need to be able to sit comfortably in your saddle for a good six hours. The second thing is put double slime in your tyres. Make sure that you are not cycling with tubes! I know it’s not allowed but people still forget to adhere to this very important rule. Most importantly, take your time during the days and have a look around. Keep your head up and be careful.
Don’t take it too seriously.
Best local spot to train?
I am from East London and for me the best areas to ride are in the Baviaanskloof in South Africa – that’s where I do quite a bit of my training. At home there are a number of spots just around the corner from our home. I enjoy training at Sunrise on Sea – there are lots of 20 km and 30 km single track routes available to us.
Most rewarding part of the Tour?
Personally the most rewarding part is raising funds for CITW and having special interaction with the beneficiaries at the schools that CITW benefit in the community areas where we ride. The commitment of the people at CITW and the teachers at these schools is phenomenal.
What do you enjoy most about mountain biking?
For me mountain biking is all about being able to get out into wilderness areas and those beautiful single tracks on the mountains, experiencing some of the most beautiful parts of southern Africa…
Favourite spots on the Tour? Things to look out for along the way?
My favourite place on the Tour is the Amphitheatre Bush Camp – the views over the river and over the valley are very beautiful and it has an incredible atmosphere.
There are a great number of things to look for along the way – keep an eye out for fossils, incredible rock formations and wildlife. There are so many things happening in this environment that are often missed when we don’t look at our surroundings. Last year photographer Jacques Marias was taking photographs of our group when a spotted hyaena ran behind me. It’s sightings like this that can often be missed when we forget to observe the magic around us.
What’s on the cards for you personally this year?
We have a very exiting expedition planned but we are waiting to hear more about the final plans before we make any announcements. More to be revealed soon…
What are you most excited about for the 2017 ride?
This is the first year that I am officially a Cycle Leader and obviously the most exciting thing for me is that I am going to be riding with my wife Kim… I am so super, super excited about that!