A fresh teambuilding idea is also a bucket-list event for clients
24 May 2015 - by Dave Marsh
The newest 'in thing' for corporate entertaining or teambuilding is cycling through the Karoo.
The unspoilt Karoo with its vast open spaces has a magic that makes every participant return to the city bubbling with enthusiasm.
Best of all it is not limited to cyclists.
Travel & Meetings Buyer (TAM) assembled a team of very rusty cyclists to see if they could enjoy what was originally devised for cycling enthusiasts.
The group of eight were mainly people in their early sixties. Three had last been on their own bicycle over 45 years ago. Only one still owned a bicycle.
This meant training was more or less ruled out as the group would only get their rental bikes at the start of the trail.
What precautions could be taken were taken.Gel seats were purchased. A second back-up car was arranged and the message was clear: Failure to complete the 45 to 50 kilometres of trail on each of the four days would not be a shame. Cycle as much as you want and retire to the back-up vehicle when you have had enough.
The TAM group had heard good things about the organisers; David Southey’s Great Karoo Cycling. Southey has pioneered six routes that start from the Middleburg and Colesberg area.
Southey is a stock-broker in Johannesburg who comes from the well-known Southey Karoo farming family. He still owns his own farm near Middleburg with a guest house which is used for some of the routes. He has used his farming contacts and knowledge of the area to devise trails that are off the beaten track but where guests can be treated to something special after every day's ride. Sometimes one overnights at farms and sometimes guest houses. His team handles all the organisation.
When the TAM group started out from Colesberg on the Gariep trail, some had difficulty even cycling around a tree. By the end of the first day though, all eight had cycled at least half the way. Yes bums got very sore, but by day four everyone had gained their confidence and cycled the whole way.
The Gariep Trail is most remarkable and will quickly become a favourite. On two of the days the trail passes through isolated reserves teeming with hundreds of head of game on wide grassland plains. It is like cycling through the Serengeti . The remoteness is such that the TAM group saw no other tourists as they meandered along relatively flat trails.
At a leisurely pace of about 10 kph, the cycling is over at lunch time. That is when Great Karoo Cycles has organised local specialists from raconteurs to tour guides and farmers to show off the Karoo at its best. This might include a cheese making demonstration, river rafting or a private recital by an international concert pianist.
The conclusion of the TAM group was that while this experience is a must for the growing number of people who have taken up cycling, it was possibly even more successful for untrained rusty cyclists who had the rush of achieving something they had long ago given up on. They emerged a cohesive group justifiably proud of what the team had achieved. (Read here how one of the participants experienced it.)