Saturday, 25 January 2014

Once upon a time.... a complex in the forests of Johannesburg lived 2 neighbours, Lisa (aka Neighbor) and Neighbor (aka Diane, the author of this blog).

The first time I met Lisa was in November 2006 when I had just moved into the complex and had just finished my first 94.7 Cycle Challenge and Lisa had just returned from supporting the 94.7. Being a spectator looked like SUCH fun!!! The next memory I have of this neighbor was one evening when I was sitting at home watching TV and I heard what sounded like a drunken party next door. The second time this happened, I had to investigate so off I went to check it out. There I found the oddest thing: a bunch of people stitching and crocheting without any alcohol in sight!!!! Uber weird. These must be aliens....

That interaction was the start of a friendship - not only with Lisa but with her amazing bunch of friends. That evening changed the course of my Joburg adventure. Before that, I craved going back to George on holidays, after that I had people to adventure with and I created my own adventures.

The first of the big adventures was Lost City 2007. Quick rewind: when I bought my home, the lady whom I bought from told me about her "ex-daughter in law". Back to the story... For this adventure, a bunch of us were going camping in the Pilansberg and some of the group were going to race the Lost City Classic. For this adventure, Lisa organized that I would drive up with a friend of hers. Turns out this was  the "ex-daughter in law". Small world. This weekend was awesome!! We started the Bunny Club that weekend and Ilma was tasked to make Bunnies for everyone (except her husband and myself because we were hard core mountain bikers and were not going go degrade ourselves and get bunnies - although both of us cracked and eventually got Ilma to make Rebel Bunnies).

Another series of adventures that we had was that we all used to go cycling in the Cradle of Mankind. Lisa, Delene (her sister), Linda, Ilma, some others (I think) and myself used to park at Teak Place and ride our road bikes around the area and then return to Teak for pancakes. One of the first of those adventures was the day Delene nearly lost her front wheel but there were plenty of those amazing mornings and every time I drive past Teak (which is now sadly closed), I reflect on those times before I was competitive and all I wanted to do was ride my bike with my new friends.

At some stage during all of this came 2008 and I found myself reading a book called "Around Africa on my Bicycle" by Riaan Manser. This sparked my need to do something BIG and my Tour de Tuli idea was formulated. The group were so encouraging and encouraged my training and eating plans (eating chocolate all the time is considered an eating plan) and thanks to them I had people to train with. Ilma's hubby Mark was a key training partner and Lisa was a key person it was during this time that I had my first decent fall off my mtb and needed a lift to hospital.

Perhaps one of my most fondest memories was Destination X. Lisa was training for her first 94.7 and I agreed to go for a ride with her along a random route that I had in mind. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that she was fasting so I picked a fairly tough route. The ride took us from our complex, up past Clearwater Mall and up into the hills of Roodepoort. The one hill was NASTY and Lisa was not a happy camper. The fun part however was coming down Krugersdorp hill and after that it was rolling hills home. Unfortunately my little hill had broken her and Lisa bonked. I nursed her home and she never went on a Destination X ride again! She did however remind me a million times about that ride and how people should never trust me if I don't spell out the route beforehand.

Over the years I have subsequently done some cool adventures and none of them would have been possible if it hadn't been for Lisa and the amazing bunch of friends she introduced me too.

Yesterday I attended Lisa's funeral. Lisa's death was sudden and greatly emotional for all of us. It has given her friends a time to reflect on Lisa and life.

To me Lisa was not only my neighbor but a reliable friend. Lisa was always there for people and would unselfishly do stuff for others - be it take them to hospital after a fall, make them a cuppa tea when they have had a bad day or bring you crumpets when you were having a really bad week. Lisa also had a great presence about her without knowing it. She will be remembered for her orange tea which fixed all things and her saying "Just keep pedaling".

I owe Lisa a lot and I will always remember her kindness and warmth. Actually, I am struggling to get what is in my brain about how to express what kind of person she was onto this blog. Best I can describe it is this: She was Lisa Mulley. Neighbor, friend and mother to 2 cool cats. She has left a big gap in many lives and I just hope that we can all learn from her and go forth and emulate her good qualities.

To her family: I know times are tough now but it should get easier. As a friend, I am here for you and look forward to many more adventures with you all. And: I do believe I owed Lisa a cake so I expect a delivery soon.

Just keep pedaling.....


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Last of 2013's adventures

So Monday in short... Woke up, went to the main camp to sort out the account and then we aimed at going for a quick drive but we didn't get far due to rain. The rest of the day was spent packing up the house and I got a small gift for my pup - give you a hint: his favorite toy is his elephant and this gift is actually compost for my succulent garden... We went for a drizzly evening drive and were spoilt to seeing elephant and lion as a parting gift from the bush. Sadly the wild dogs and hyaena eluded is.

Now to climb onto my high horse and get grumpy about something... In my last post I mentioned about the poachers... So we got an update on what happened and it turns out that it was 2 poachers but due to the rain the trackers and dog couldn't follow the trail. Our team worked until late trying to find these thugs and were up and back at it early. Fortunately it looks like no rhino were taken out this time and from all accounts, it appears that they left the reserve - boot prints were spotted Monday morning by one of the owners on one of our boundary roads. This time we were fortunate in that these thugs were scared off so quickly. These morons clearly didn't think about their timing and were on the reserve when there was an increase of activity so their chances of being spotted was significantly greater as people went in search of the big 5 and other game.

Sadly the fight against these thugs is really difficult because of their cunning and the limited resources available to fight against them. Just think of it this way: the most effective method in fighting this onslaught is obviously by putting helicopters in the air but to run a chopper it costs around R6000 per hour. That means if you wanted to run a chopper for 8hrs a day all year you would need R17.52million per year!!! And that excludes all your staffing costs and if you were to buy your own chopper, that figure could easily be doubled for the first year. Now lets be more realistic and put our chopper up for 1 hour per day and we still have 2.2million as a minimum.

My one goal for 2014 is to help do something about this plague and if possible put a chopper in the air for at least 2hours. Small goal I know but if I can do that, that is 2 hours of no poachers. If I can do more, that's a bonus. If you would like to assist in this project, keep an eye on this blog because I will be posting more details about this personal project in the next week or so.

If by some off chance you are a poacher and are reading this: do not be fooled: the war against your terror will end for one simple reason: there are insanely passionate people out there who will stop you.

Got back home yesterday and am planning some local, bush and of course the next big adventure. 2014 is going to be a good year.