To be considered as one of the 14 Honda Quest 2018 finalist, our 30 semi-finalists had to dig deep this afternoon to show what they’re really made of. The Specialised Adventures team was ramping up the pressure which pushed the contestants to explore those spaces beyond their comfort zones both on the bikes, in small teams and in front of tough panels.

The highlight of the day was riding the big Honda Africa Twin on a very technical mountain bike track nestled in the craggy sandstones that surround Kaleo Guest farm. These skills will be needed during Honda Quest and as exhilarating as it was, the stakes were high as their performance and bike handling was being scored by the ever-present instructors.

Coupled with the rocky technical riding was deep sand challenges. Many adventure riders would normally steer clear of deep sand, especially on big dual-purpose bikes. This year’s Honda Quest will be taking the finalists into places where many kilometers of sand dunes and river beds will be the norm.

To quote Jesse Hardy #15, “It’s hard to say how one feels going through this Boot Camp. Being pulled this way and that. There’s so much of the unknown. It really plays on your mind. Mind games every minute of the day, it seems. As for the Africa Twin DCT. Well, it’s amazing! I didn’t exactly feel comfortable with not having a clutch or gear lever, but it comes quickly, and the bike is so capable. It truly is a confidence-inspiring piece of engineering. It is surprisingly nimble for its weight, easy to manage at slow speeds and makes technical riding a real breeze! I really really really like this bike!”

Every single contestant successfully completed today’s Boot Camp course. Some did tip over, while others had a more solid meeting with mother earth. Fortunately, no one broke any bones – or their bike! A good thing as doing so would warrant instant disqualification.

Tomorrow, the last day awaits.