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Sun Jan 28 2018: Sandboarding, By George!

George is a fairly large city and we discovered that the accommodations there were a bit too expensive, so instead, we found a self-catered apartment about 10 kms outside of town for a better price. We're taking (yet another) rest day, so we made the decision to roof it instead of tenting.

It's a nice place, with a standard issue braai in the back yard, of course

After we check in, Neda hops on the bike and runs into town to get us some groceries for the next couple of days. As she leaves, another car pulls in and a family of four gets out. They're the only other people staying in these apartments, so I strike up a conversation with the father. He tells me they're from Cape Town. He's playing in a golf tournament in the area tomorrow and his family came along to cheer him on. Then we talk about our bikes and our trip a bit. Nice fellow.

The next day it rains cats and dogs! We stay nice and dry inside our apartment

Watching the torrential rain hammer the deck outside our window, I feel very justified in splurging for a roof over our head. Especially on our day off! I also feel bad for the golf guy as he's playing in this horrible weather!

We're preparing dinner when we hear our next-door neighbours return from the tournament. The rain comes and goes in shifts, so in-between showers, we bring our food outside so we can eat on the patio.

We watch from the balcony as the Golf Guy is starting a braai in the rain

He keeps at it, starting and tending to the fire as the rain intensifies. Over the next hour, we watch him dash in and out of the apartment, keeping the flames alive and turning over the charcoal.

All of these apartments are well-equipped with ovens, stoves, pots and pans. But this crazy South African guy is determined to braai in the pouring rain.

South Africans are religious fanatics about braai. A day without braai is like a Sunday without church.

The sun has set and it's still raining when he finally brings out the meat to start cooking...

South Africans love braai.

We're going sandboarding today!!!

We meet up with the company that's organizing our outing at a gas station outsde of Mossel Bay, only 20 minutes away from our apartment. From there, we follow their bakkie (pick-up truck) with our motorcycles to a town called Vleesbaai, another half-hour further west past Mossel Bay.

We all park at a farm just outside of town. Our sandboarding company has access to some dunes on private property, the tallest in the area! Cool!

Our sandboarding group hops in the back of the bakkie and gets driven to the dunes. Glad we are not doing this sand on our bikes!

Strong winds whip our hair around our faces and we can hear the distant sound of waves from the Indian Ocean just over the sand dunes. Our instructor, Leon, introduces himself. He competes in national sandboarding competitions, so we know we're in good hands. However, he's injured himself while sandboarding, so he can't demonstrate.

His injury? He pulled a muscle. In his butt. :)

Leon was super-friendly. When I told him my mother was born in Uitenhage, he kept calling me his South African brother. LOL!

We are given snow... er sandboards and some instructions

Leon asked us how many in the group had snowboarded before. About half of the people put up their hands.

He then told us, "Okay, well it's going to help you a little bit, but there are some very big differences between snowboarding and sandboarding!"

It looks like a snowboard, it's got bindings... how hard could it be?

We were told that our day was to be divided into three parts:

Part 1. Practice our balance on the Baby Dune
Part 2. Practice turning on the Baby Dune
Part 3. Sandboard down Dragon Dune

Baby Dune was maybe 20-25m high with a 100m run.

It's there that we found the first difference between snowboarding and sandboarding: no ski lift.

After every run, you have to clamber back up to the top with the soft sand sinking around your ankles. GAH!

Neda showing excellent form

The sand is a lot slower than the snow. Not slippery at all. Although I didn't fall, I could tell that a tumble in the sand at speed would hurt a lot more than falling in the snow.

Part 1 was easy. We were told that you want to put more weight on the back foot which is very different from snowboarding. The hill wasn't that steep and not many people ate sand, even the ones who had never snowboarded before.

Man, we'll all be sandboarding down Big-Boy Dune in no time!

With everyone getting at least one successful run down Baby Dune, we graduated to Part 2: turning.

That's when it all fell apart.

Turn dammit! TURN!

There's no edge grip on the board, so you don't turn it like you do a snowboard. You have to rudder your rear foot to try to get the thing rotating. I say try because absolutely nobody could get their boards turned down Baby Dune.

From watching the people who had snowboarded before, I could tell that we were all trying to turn in the sand like we did in the snow. The heel-toe edging habit was too hard to break.

I think we needed to put more pressure on the rear foot. We were just swishing them left and right behind us, like a windshield wiper.

Just like when we first started snowboarding, this didn't seem like something you could master in a couple of hours.

Well, everyone failed Part 2. But Leon took us up Dragon Dune anyway

Dragon Dune is 170m high, and because there was a 90-degree right turn at the bottom, he couldn't let any of us go down on sandboards, otherwise we'd crash and hurt ourselves.

After all our frustrating Part 2 experiences, nobody disagreed with him. None of us wanted to pull a bum muscle. Or worse...

Instead, we all traded our sandboards in for belly boards!

I peered over the edge of Dragon Dune. Steep, and it was a loooong way down!

WHEEEE! Oh. My. God. We picked up some good speed on this hill

I couldn't stop laughing like a maniac as the little bumps in the sand made it hard to hang on. This meant I was getting a whole mouthful of sand-wiches while speeding down, but I was having too much fun to care.

Sure enough, that right turn at the bottom came up fast, and I had to bank hard to avoid going into the brush.

*SO* glad we weren't on sandboards, with the speeds we were reaching, there'd be some serious bum-pulling!

We could go on as many runs as we wanted. The only limiting factor was your stamina because... no ski lift.

170m uphill climb in the soft sand. We trudged up that tall dune three times and that was enough for us. Pooped.

Failing Part 2: Boards would not turn for us. Part 3 was SUPER FUN though! :D

After a great day at the dunes, we took the bakkie back to the farm and said goodbye to Leon and all our sandboarding buddies.

Before we leave, Neda takes pictures of the flowers around the farm. Of course.

We head back into Mossel Bay

Where we treat ourselves to a huge seafood dinner! Knysna!

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