The vision of a father's commitment to his adolescent sons; to share in, and experience extreme outdoor adventures globally. To unite in the definitive quest of attaining the ultimate goal in five separate categories. A male bonding - coming of age type ritual, where indelible memories are forever etched in minds and the quality of time spent, inestimable in the heart.
This was the dream of Mark Bristow and Kean Broom, a master at St Alban's College, Pretoria, where the Bristow boys, Grant and Craig were educated. The aim was to encourage fathers and sons to experience the unknown together, to overcome fears, to reach the highs, ride the lows and to search the depths of the soul.
Life, Lessons and Love, the common denominator and the purpose in striving for the BIG FIVE AWARD.
This award is a test of human endurance and relationship skills, to achieve 100 POINTS in 5 CATEGORIES: LAND, WATER, AIR, EXTREME and ENDURANCE. Certainly not a feat for the frail or faint hearted!
In 2003, Mark , Grant and Craig set out for their first challenge in Zimbabwe, to face the legendary African god; the great Nyami Nyami, " he who prowls the mighty Zambezi River." The task at hand, to navigate the treacherous rapids, white water rafting down one of the most dangerous stretches of water in the world, successfully nabbing their first of the BIG FIVE !
A matter of months, after their victory over Nyami Nyami, the Boys tested the fear barometer again, and bungee jumped from the 111 meter bridge at the Victoria Falls, plunging head first into the spectacular gorge below.
August of that same year, the 3 Bristows, kitted top to toe in hiking kit, summited the highest mountain in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro! Hello award number 2!!
Conquering Mt. Kenya followed in 2004. Although a lower altitude, they said it proved more challenging and more breathtaking than Kilimanjaro. Obviously, they were proving to be dab hands at this adventure curriculum!
Driven by the adrenalin rush of previous achievements and adventures, the Boys now pushed the boundaries once again, setting their eyes on Open Water and Advanced Scuba Diving certificates. More adventure, and another step closer to the BIG FIVE AWARD! Newly qualified, Mark, Grant and Craig dived the Blue Hole and the Canyon in the Red Sea, teaming up with dive master and co author of THE BIG FIVE AWARD, Kean Broom, who lead the expedition. The heat was on and the Boys were hooked, finding themselves diving in exotic locations, the likes of, Thailand, Brazil, Mauritius and Mozambique. Lucky boys indeed!
Then came 2007 and the `ALL OUT` quest... Back to Zimbabwe; travelling hundreds of kilometers into the furthermost regions of the dense African bush; destination - `Buffalo Country`. The hunt was on, as Mark closely shadowed the older of his two sons in tracking one of Africa's most feared and certainly most dangerous beasts, the Buffalo. Grant, barely 19 years old, and a novice in this arena, without a doubt, faced the most taxing and potentially life threatening challenge to date! Days of silent stalking and spine chillingly close calls, eventually paid off, when Grant placed the perfect shot; ranking him alongside THE BIG GAME HUNTERS. A sizable achievement for one not even out of his teens.
Two seasons later, Mark, accompanied his younger son Craig, once again ventured into darkest Africa seeking the mighty Buffalo Craig was then a smidgen younger than Grant was when he was inducted. It was his turn to stare down the barrel of a rifle with a wild buffalo in his sights. With the courage of a man twice his age and a steely resolve to not let the side down, he also landed his big beast! An incredible feat for two young men! Mark, being the seasoned hunter with many a buffalo under his belt, was justly proud and thrilled to share in his boys' first trophies.
The `finale' to achieving the BIG FIVE, was THE JUMP! The Bristow 3 stepped from an aircraft, flying at 13 000ft and hurtled to the earth at 200km/h! Free fall sky diving ----- another amazing, exhilarating feat achieved! There was just no stopping them now...
In the course of 2008 Mark decided to realise a long held dream; to ride motorbikes unassisted, from Cape Town, South Africa to Cairo, Egypt with his boys. This arduous journey would take approximately 48 days and it called for the camaraderie of old mates, biker dads and fellow adventurers; Les Johnson, Rob Alexander and Paul Harbidge to complete the posse and add the edge. Thus was born BOYZ ON BIKES--CAPE TO CAIRO 2009.
The choice of preferred motorcycle was the new BMW F800GS models which have never as yet been put through the Cape to Cairo “somewhere between Heaven and Hell” African paces. Because of the challenging road conditions and the expertise and knowledge from the owners of Cycle Technology (www.toursforafrica.co.za) major upgrades were highly recommended like fitting heavy duty upgraded front and rear suspensions, suited Michelin Anakee Adventure motorcycle tyres with heavy duty tubes, heavy duty under engine Africa Overland Bash Plates and Hepco & Becker crash bars, improved main head lighting and spotlights, tried and tested expedition quality aluminium Hepco & Becker Side Panniers and Top Case, heavy duty hand guards with steel inserts and upgrades to the air induction and exhaust system to accommodate running the motorcycle with half diesel, half kerosene or LRP fuel if the emergency arises.
The BOYZ ON BIKES farewell/ send off will take place in Cape Town on the 25th of May 2009, routing via Cape Agulhas, the southern most tip of Africa. Six adventuous and thrill-seeking men will set off on a safari of a life time! First port of call will be the idyllic former Portuguese colony of Mozambique on the east coast, then on to Malawi and Tanzania. At Mafia Island, off Tanzania, all 6 Boys will explore extreme diving, and catch a well deserved breather!
Respite over, well rested, rejuvenated and ready to hit the road again, the Boys`ll head off to Kenya, biking through the wet mountainous regions of Ethiopia and the hot, dusty Sudan, where they'll pause to take in the sites of ancient historical ruins, dating back to biblical times.
And who said you can`t have fun and take in a bit of culture at the same time?
After seven weeks and fifteen thousand kilometres later, the six boys will, after a stopover in bustling Cairo, arrive in the historical city of Alexandria on the warm, balmy Mediterranean coastline.
BOYZ ON BIKES; CAPE TO CAIRO
Mark, Grant, Craig, Les, Paul, Rod.
"The road is long with many a winding turn.......he aint heavy, he`s my brother......"
WATCH THIS SPACE AND FOLLOW THE BOYZ JOURNEY THROUGH AFRICA