Saturday, February 28, 2009

A very special thanks to the Chou Family

Just a quick acknowledgment, dear readers, of a huge set of donations to my EA2009 fundraiser and ride by the Chou Family, who are the longtime, match-making friends of Elizabeth's parents and extended family for us. Thank you, thank you, Tai Yun, Gillian, Yuan-Ming, Carolyn, Sabrina, and Matthew! And thank you to Yuan-Chin, Stephanie, and Sean!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Last Year's Enduro Africa Itinerary

Here's the itinerary from last year's ride, which I didn't do but Princes William and Harry did (if that sort of thing is important to you): 
Day 1

Depart from Heathrow for Johannesburg SA.

Day 2

Arrive in Johannesburg and catch connecting flight to the coastal city of
Durban. The team will meet up with you and you will be transferred by coach to your Hotel. A few drinks around the pool during the day, in the evening we do the intro speeches, introduce you to the team and your trusty Honda CTX that will be your much loved companion for the next 8 Days.

Day 3

Depart Durban and ride into the famous '
Valley of a 1000 hills'. The route is a gentle introduction to what you will start to experience from Day 5 in the Wild Coast. That night sees the 100 plus riders settling into comfortable accommodation on the South Coast.

Day 4

Today is a cracking ride as the adventure really starts to unfold. We enter the Wild Coast and experience the mighty Mtentu River, Mkambati Gorge and finally after a long day in the saddle arrive at Port St John's nestled on the banks of the mighty Umzimvubu River. The fabulous Cremorne estates in the tropical forest region is our home for Day 4.

Day 5

The Wild Wild side awaits and the Low Road vs the High Road is your decision. Our destination is the coastal village of
Coffee Bay and the Ocean View Hotel. The days ride sees us hug the rugged coastline past the holiday villages of Mpande and Presley Bay. A day that will challenge your riding ability with rocky river crossings, muddy forest sections and the fast grass banks next to the beach... an awesome day.

Day 6

The famous section that was savoured and enjoyed by Enduro Africa 2006. The
Hole in The wall, The Haven Nature Reserve and the Mighty Bashee river are just a few of the riding delicacy's that you will enjoy en route to Kob Inn Hotel. The hotel has a pub that is nestled on the rocks with the crashing surf setting the scene.

Day 7

A well deserved rest day and the team together with the riders help us to change oils and give the hard working
CTX's a once over. The rest of the day is spent at leisure on the beach, in the bar. Its your day so enjoy.

Day 8
The mighty Gorge across the Qora river and the low road for everyone. This route takes us along the coast past the wreck of the famous
Jacaranda which is one of many vessels that has been sunk by this stretch of coastline, Waves us to 30 metres have been reported by wide eyed captains on this stretch and the scenery is amazing. A great technical days riding that will have you saying "WOW".We cross the mighty Kei river by motorised ferry and arrive at The Morgans Bay Hotel and surrounding cottages.

Day 9
A big day as we head inland and pass through the port
City of East London on our way to the Halyards Hotel situated on the banks of the Cowie River in Port Alfred. It's a 300km plus day and the comforts of the Halyards will be well received.

Day 10

Homeward bound to Port Elizabeth through the
Big 5 Reserves of Kariega. It is a wonderful day that offers an enormous variety from Sand Dunes to tar. Tonight we celebrate our achievement and party hard with a closing function of note.

Day 11

Breakfast, fond farewell and a short bus trip to Port Elizabeth Airport. Johannesburg awaits you for your connecting flight to London...

Day 12
Arrive home
Is there anyone out there who did the ride in 2008 who wishes to comment on how it was?

Monday, February 23, 2009


One of the downsides of participating in the UK-based Enduro Africa ride from the States - viz., not being able to join in on the pre-ride reindeer games like this one in Wales: 
---- Forwarded Message ----
From: Enduro Africa <>
To: Enduro Africa <>
Sent: Monday, February 23, 2009 7:01:44 AM

Hello enduros

Just a quick note to let you know that riders have been signing up in abundance for the Enduro Africa 09 Get-together on 9th/10th May in Wales. There are limited tickets left and it's on a first come first serve basis so act now if you would like to join us! For Enduro Africa 09 riders this is a particularly important event as it gives you the opportunity to meet the organisers, wider Enduro team and of course representatives from each charity.

Follow the link on the invite below for all the details and how to book your ticket.

Best wishes

Enduro Africa

Global Enduro Limited

10 Argyle Street | Bath | Somerset | BA2 4BQ | U.K.

Work:       +44 1225 33 33 00

Fax:          +44 1225 33 33 17


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

ZA ad for offroad adventures

Not to shill for the South African tourism industry but I caught a beautiful ad on the BBC this morning that featured a group of dual-sport BMW motorcycle riders touring the Little Karoo, an historic road that winds through the Western Cape Province between Klaarstroom and Montagu. The video is very polished and it captures nicely the appeal of touring that spectacular country on two wheels. 

But please note some key differences between the ride portrayed and the Enduro Africa trip I'll do later this year. The video shows 4 - 6 riders on BMW GS 1200 Adventures and GS 1200s, which are remarkable 550 lb. works of art and engineering designed to permit one to complete 400 mile days on asphalt and gravel roads in complete comfort. Oh, and they cost $20k, and that's before adding the panniers, gadgets (GPS, camera mounts), and $1.5k rider suits shown in the clip!

By contrast, the bombproof Hondas or Yamahas we'll be riding and donating for EA2009 will have engines one sixth as big, weigh in the mid-200 lbs, and are designed to forge creeks deep enough to fill the tanks with water and mud if one were oblivious enough to leave the filler caps open.

But just hearing those boxer engines turnover and seeing some of the sights in the clip get my heart racing. 

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Top 10 Fundraising Ideas

It's been a little over a week since I launched my campaign to raise funds and awareness for Enduro Africa (EA) and I've been simply bowled over by the response. 

Several friends and colleagues have contributed (thank you, dear Donor Hall of Famers) and scores of others have pledged to do so. Some have asked how to join the trip! It's just been a great opportunity to talk about HIV prevention, charities, adventures we always dreamed of taking, and making a difference in the world.

Soon, I'll post milestones for fundraising offered by EA, which I'll need to work hard to catch -- given how late I was registered and got everything started. 

In the meantime, I will need to step up my efforts to get the word out and funds raised. My leading ideas for getting the word out, most of which are low-hanging fruit, include: 

  • Distribute information to neighbors by pounding the pavement, posting to the citizens association website, etc.
  • Visit and enlist support/donations from area businesses (e.g., Bethesda Urban Partnership, chamber of commerce).
  • Interest the media.
  • Post regular blog updates on training, fundraising, and the trip itself. 
  • Spread word via e-social networking sites.
  • Ask friends/colleagues to help spread the word by linking to blog, posting the fundraising widget on sites, etc.
  • Distribute postcards everywhere we go -- restaurants, events, etc. 
  • Visit area motorcycle, biking, and adventure retailers to talk with owners, customers. 
  • Invite readers to sign up for RSS feeds for automatic updates. 
  • Give birth to octuplets.

Many of you have had experience raising funds and spreading news. What worked best for you? 

Thursday, February 12, 2009

CROI 2009

Last night, I returned from a long but fascinating trip to balmy Montreal for the 2009 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI). 

Scientific highlights for me included promising new data showing that intermittent pre-exposure prophylaxis with an AIDS drug may prevent new infections, a major advance in a topical microbicide that may be 30% efficacious in preventing HIV infection in women, and evidence that early treatment with AIDS drugs improves greatly survival. There was also great news about the promise of home-based HIV testing in rural Uganda, made possible by teams of providers visiting communities by motorbike. 

Not all of the news was encouraging, such as the large proportion of people living with undiagnosed HIV infection in the U.S., the existence of mysterious reservoirs where the virus hides from drugs, and news that 40% or more of newborns in Botswana who acquire HIV infection did so from mothers who themselves got infected during pregnancy or in the first post-partum term -- when they are most likely to breast-feed. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Montreal en hiver

I've been in Montreal since Saturday for the 2009 Conference for Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections -- one of the major biomedical HIV/AIDS conferences. So far, I've attended a number of great meetings and presentations, and I've enjoyed the few moments I had to explore Montreal between or after sessions. 

My best finds so far? Two, in fact. First, the Gallery Yves Laroche in Old Montreal, which had a stunning collection of "art de la rue" or urban street art, including collections of Ugly Toys, prints by Fairey, and books of all sorts. One of these was a great book on the works of Banksy, whose politically/socially charged stencils once covered London (see right).

And a second fav find was the Marche Jean-Talon, which I explored for a few hours with friends and where I was able to get a lot of time practicing (inflicting?) my horrendous French on true Montrealers. The fruits, cheeses, meats, and breads of all sorts were beautifully displayed and sold proudly by people committed to the slow- and local-food movement. Be sure to visit when you go. 

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Campaign kicks off

Welcome! As many of you already know, tomorrow will be the official start of my fundraising campaign for Enduro Africa 2009, a fundraiser and organized 2000-km offroad motorcycle ride in Southern Africa in October that benefits UNICEF, Sentebale, TouchAfrica, and the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.

The 8-day ride will end with the donation of funds raised and our rugged motorcycles to local agencies providing HIV prevention, education, and care to Africa's most vulnerable in remote communities.

But, to participate, I'll need your help.

Please contact me to learn how to donate. Or just use my secure, PayPal-hosted widget to make a contribution online.

And stay tuned to follow my fundraising progress, view the Donor Hall of Fame, or share words of encouragement. I'll also post video from past EA rides, a gps map from this year's route, daily updates from the trail, and assorted other things.

I'm thrilled about the trip and I look forward to sharing the experiences. Thanks in advance for your interest and support!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Slowly, slowly, catchy monkey!

At last! Looks like PayPal has finally granted approval for my request to use it for online fundraising:

Congratulations! Your organization's MySpace IMPACT / PayPal Fundraising Widget has been activated. Please make sure you post the widget to your organization's MySpace page and start collecting donations today!

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us again.


I'll do some final testing of the system -- with help from the home office -- and then plan to launch my official Enduro Africa 2009 fundraising asap.

I've been sitting on a box of 500 beeaauuttiful postcards I had made to help spread the word. Look for one soon!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Kung Hee Fat Choy!

Waiting for a verdict from PayPal about whether it will allow me to establish a business account for fundraising -- given the lower transaction costs and higher number of transactions permitted per year -- would have been considerably less pleasant had it not been for one of my favorite holidays, which occurred this week -- viz., Chinese New Year. 2009 is the obstinate, Year of the Ox.

What's so special about CNY? If you've ever sampled pineapple tarts, which are a staple of CNY celebration in Singapore and Western Malaysia, you'll know what I'm talking about. These wonderful jam-filled cookies are derived from the Peranaken or Nonya cooking traditions of Chinese immigrants to the Malaysian peninsula and are simply delightful. They make the perfect gift for family and friends, especially in this economic climate, as they are thought to symbolize wealth and prosperity due to their golden color.

Best of all, my dearest Elizabeth, whose mother hails from Sarawak and who grew up in Kuala Lumpur, made a killer batch over the weekend that competed rather successfully against my now second favorite brand of tarts brought from Singapore by her fairy godmother. To learn more about these wonderful treats, try here and here.

I'll try to eat only one per hour while I await a final decision from PayPal and clear the last hurdle to starting my EA2009 fundraising campaign -- although I think we've already polished off a pound of tarts since yesterday, setting my weight loss resolution back by at least two weeks!