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Origins of the Dash

Avatar of inke inke - 09. décembre 2017 - Sport, Gondwana Collection


Riding through the desert landscape, with nothing but your bicycle and headlamp to guide you through the dry, harsh terrain. Darkness stretches its daunting fingers into every direction, making you wonder what is hiding in the shadows… Intimidating, isn’t it? The Desert Dash, while exhilarating, challenging and absolutely thrilling, is most definitely not for the feint hearted. 

How and why would someone come up with such an extreme form of mountain biking? Well, that is where Aiden De Lange comes into the picture. In the early 2000’s De Lange and a few friends would often take on the Namib Desert between Windhoek and Swakopmund. Taking a few days to ride into the desert beyond, and enjoy the natural beauty of Namibia. This was around about the time when De Lange came up with the crazy idea. Why not make the trip in 24 hours? At first, there were laughs and jokes as his riding companions did not take the suggestion seriously. And then the thoughts started running. 

Routes were developed, obscure pathways explored and by 2005 the first race took place! Departing from the Country Club at 15:00 on a Friday afternoon, forty-four riders made their way to the Kupferberg Pass to complete the 327km race within 24 hours. At first, the race was limited to four member teams. Making the ride slightly easier for the individual competitors. Over the years, the race developed further, now including two-man teams and solo riders. To Aiden, however, the most important component of the Desert Dash is the team spirit and camaraderie. That is why all riders in both solo and team entries, partake in the opening and concluding stages. This ensures that teams continuously work together, and that all members receive recognition for their successful completion of the extreme race. 

De Lange explains that the idea of the Dash is for it to be fun. A way for families to support one another and get involved in an exciting sport and the great outdoors. 

For the race organisers, the spirit of the Dash was just as important as the logistic planning and they aim to preserve the sanctity of team work and respect among all parties involved in the planning and participation of the race event. 

Besides the entry-regulations that have shifted and expanded over the years. A few other details of the race have also undergone review and development. Logistically, the race runs a lot smoother now than it did in 2005 – where there weren’t even water points. These days the water points, check points and route markers ensure that riders have the full ability to complete the race. Although, it has happened where a small group of entrants missed a marker or two and went galivanting through the wilderness. Making it home successfully and safely though, eventually.

The routes also needed to be adjusted over the course of the years. Due to the development of the Rossing Mine, the racing route was extended to maintain the riders’ safety at all times. Making it an intimidating total of 369km between start and finish. On the up side, riders have the opportunity to experience Namibian landscapes, up close and personal. After the race, stories of brown hyenas running along-side riders are shared, supported by riders from behind who thought it was only a dog that had decided to join in on the race. Or a leopard that appears in a rider’s headlight in the early hours of morning and disappears into the darkness again. Only to be spotted lounging in the tall grass along the route hours later. 

These are the kinds of experiences that have made the Dash a unique experience, that and the huge challenge it presents. Since the first forty-four riders who joined the Dash in 2005, the event now hosts over a thousand entries from all over the world. While the organisers had initially aimed the event to be an invitation to Namibian mountain bikers to enjoy the rugged landscape, they are pleased and honoured that international riders value the experience just as much. 

Various components of the Dash may have changed, and the routes may have been extended. Thankfully, cycling technology has managed to keep up with the development as well. To date, the fastest time for the solo riders, along the extended route, comes in at about fourteen and a half hours. However, the goal is to achieve a sub-twelve time. And with new technological developments, it may not be too long before we see that time achieved!

Organisers and sponsors are continuously excited to host the event. Despite the main sponsors shifting over the years, the passion that drives the Desert Dash remains a force to be reckoned with. And the 2017 Nedbank Desert Dash will be no different. Or perhaps only slightly different, as the Gondwana Collection has now joined in on the mountain biking excitement and have entered two, four-man teams in this year’s event. The company is very excited to see how their teams will fare, and even more excited to be able to be involved in such a team orientated event. The two Gondwana Collection teams are names ‘Dust Devils’ and ‘Gravel Gliders’ and include rides the likes of Piet Swiegers, Heiko Redeker, Ingram Cuff,  Christo Swarts, Martin Fryer, Jan Dams, Andrew McLean and Robert Sim. Two teams we hope will enjoy the Dash and make a good impact. 

Gondwana Collection would like to wish all participants the best of luck! And look forward to be welcomed into the Desert Dash fraternity.



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10. décembre 2017

"Due to the development of Rossing Mine the race was extended..." Rossing mine was developed 40 years ago already?

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