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‘Follow that’ challenge to biking princes
Bruised and bashed he might be after battling with the fierce South African terrain aboard an off-road motorcycle, but Les Hobson would have turned around and done it again straight away if he had the chance.
Les has just returned from a 1,200-kilometre slog from Port Elizabeth to Durban with his friend, John Pullan, and raised more than £7,000 for Manorlands Hospice in Oxenhope near Keighley.
This week, Princes William and Harry have taken on the same challenge, but on the reverse route.
“If they’re not used to riding off-road bikes, they will find it very hard,” said Les, who runs Les Hobson Gas Engineers at Cross Hills.
The 55-year-old has been biking for 38 years and lives in Farnhill.
He said: “There are two different routes, one for experienced riders, like me and my mate, and a less challenging one.
“There was one section which included an almost vertical route, which I’d say was the toughest two days off road I’ve ever done.”
Enduro Africa invites people to raise a minimum of £5,000 for a number of African challenges.
Keen to get involved and also support a local charity, he paid the £5,000 from his own pocket and, with Mr Pullan, from Oxenhope, went on to raise the extra cash for Manorlands.
He joined 105 other bikers, who were split into four teams depending on their expertise, for the eight-day ride spending nights either under canvas or in small hotels.
“It was a wonderful experience – physically and mentally challenging. I’ve some cuts and bruises – I fell off once going round a left hand corner and hit the peg on the ground,” he said.
“But there were loads of other injuries; one guy broke an ankle, one broke his wrist. Two men had to be evacuated suffering heat exhaustion and dehydration.
“There were only two women and one collided with a cow and suffered spinal injuries and was air-lifted out.
“This was not a jaunt but a true challenge spending eight to 12 hours a day on the bike in tremendous heat and over very difficult terrain. We crossed 32 stretches of water, went through deep forest and across sand at the coast. I volunteered to go back again straight away as a back-up rider, but there was no place. In hind-sight it was a good job I didn’t; it would probably have been too much.”
But Les definitely has the adventure bug now and is considering taking part in another of the challenges organised by the charity company – this time to India.