Iconic South African adventurer Sibuso Vilane has committed to riding the 250km uBhejane Xtreme MTB Challenge to contribute to the fight against rhino poaching, hoping to end his eventful 2018 on a high note.
“It has been a roller coaster year,” said the 48 year old mountaineer, who earlier in the year set out to try and summit Everest without oxygen, to add to his long list of achievements, including summiting the highest mountain on all seven continents.
“I was carrying a lung infection and got up to around 8000 metres,” said Vilane. “I have a photo of myself with the peak of Everest in the background just 400 climbing metres away when I decided to turn back.
“It is much the same with the uBhejane Xtreme MTB Challenge. When you feel the pain you use it as a great motivator,” he said.
Vilane will be setting off on his third uBhejaneX ride, with both previous experiences etched firmly in his memory.
“I arrived to do the 100km ride last year while my head was still in East African time! It was tough, but I spent some great time with Kingsley Holgate and Grant Fowlds of Project Rhino which really helped to motivate me.
“The spirit and camaraderie on the rides is amazing. I did the 250km ride the year before and that was really tough for me. But I clearly remember guys like Jeremy Thompson encouraging me and using all their experience to help me.
“Jeremy even pushed me up some of the hills. That was nice!”
Vilane spends much of his year as a motivational speaker and attracts followers wherever he goes. That is how he ended up with a group of young black mountain bikers from Bethlehem keen to take on the uBhejaneX Challenge.
“These guys are up for the challenge and are looking at doing the three day ride this year,” said Vilane.
He added that, as long as he could still do it he would commit to doing the uBhejaneX as he is a conservationist at heart, having worked as a game ranger in Swaziland.
“The poaching of rhino is something that absolutely appals me!” he said. “And it is not just the rhino but the growing trend of poaching lion and other wild animals is terrible,” he said.
Vilane encouraged others looking for a way to contribute towards the fight against rhino poaching to join him on the ride.
“It is do-able!” he stressed. “Sometimes we over-think things. Physically you think it is so far and you can’t do it. Yes it is long distance and long hours but mentally you are carried by the spirit of the group.
“Don’t think about the extreme part of the event’s name!” he said.
“I keep thinking about the Johannesburg lawyer who rode the full ride on basically no training and he did it,” her added. “That inspired me. Anyone can do it and make a difference,” he concluded.