Tour de Tuli 2016 Day 1 : Mashatu Trailing

If you want real wilderness riding, it’s never going to get any wilder than the dry-as-dust savanna stretching across the Botswana plains just beyond the Pontdrift border post.

Scrubby plains – dotted with umbrella thorn and leadwood trees – flatline forever past amber rock outcrops, with hundreds of kilometres of elephant single-track and game trails spiderwebbing in every direction.

#Day1 of the Nedbank Sport #TourDeTuli kicked off just before dawn, and the first elephants were spotted just as the plains lit up from the rising sun. At the Tea Stop, Trent saddled up and I got a few shots of him as he cycled past an incoming herd, and then we hit the trails.

Ellie trails are fantastic to ride: their huge feet compacts the desert terrain into groomed and trippy tracks, and even the sandstone areas they cross are worn down into smooth lines. So we hakked it through to lunch, dipping through a dozen sandy washes.

These are great for thrills and spills, especially later on in the day when shoulders and forearms start feeling the pressure. Lunch went down like a home-sick mole before the final hour into ‘home’ for the next two nights at Amphitheatre Bush Camp, probably one of my favourite spots in the whole of the Tuli Block.

This is the domain of Colin Andrew Wylie, and he always has a cold beer or six waiting in the media tent, and this time was no different. The final sandstone super-tube into camp adds just enough of an edge to the day’s riding, so you sure as dammit deserve those beers when you arrive in a loud of desert dust.

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