Earlier this spring, Nick Clarke spent a few months in South Africa riding bikes, filming his Welcome to The Rise video and helping out Matt Macduff with his Loop of Doop Project. As he signed up for this trip, little did he know that he was on board for the craziest journey of his life. His adventure was so inspiring that he had to put it down in words to share it with the world. Check out the Third Part below, and in case you missed them, check out Part 1, Part 2 Part 3.
Words by Nick Clarke
Photos by Thomas Sandell, Eric Palmer, Julien Grimard
After a wild night at the after party we got a call from local surfing legend Captain Kai about doing a new zip line tour through the mountains an hour outside of town. I’ve never done a zipline before and was waiting for a place like this to do it! My thoughts were always that if I were to go on a tour, it would have to be in the mountains, high up, and fast and that’s just what the Cape Canopy Tour had to offer. I needed no excuse to go out into the mountains, and everyone seemed in on the idea so we all packed into the rental van and headed up the N2. Flying along at high speeds suspended a couple hundred feet above canyons and waterfalls below us was incredible! The epic views all around didn’t hurt either. Huge thanks to App-venture, Kai, and Cape Canopy Tours for helping create one of the highlights of this trip!
The winter was moving in and we were battling between windy days and heavy rain. A few days after the second crash, a massive low pressure storm moved in flooding the trails as well as parts of the city. On the drive to the trails, the mountain roads were lined with fallen branches and up rooted trees. We knew there would be a lot of work ahead when we arrived. It seemed that this video wasn’t going to happen. We were fighting a never ending battle, but I wasn’t going to let it beat me! This was a way to prove my self worth to the country of South Africa and gain some shovel time. It was time to earn the time I had on the jumps. The crew wasn’t ready to end the riding season just yet either! With rain forecasted in the following week, we managed to rebuild the whole line in two days and proceeded to shred! The new layer made things run much slower but we could ride which meant the video would be back on track!
Many close trains, trails braii’s, and good times were shared with the crew! Just a few days ago we thought it could have been over, and now we were well on our way to making a banger edit. With days running out we began talking about ideas to make things more interesting! Due to poor wind conditions one day, we missed a full day of shooting so we thought about a full moon night run with lights! Thanks to Gini we got the lights and we got to work! Harley was the first to do the honour’s throwing no handers in the dark, windy, and rainy night skys. It was a gnarly idea to ride in this weather, but once I knew it worked and how much fun it looked, I wanted to drop in and play around as well! Crim got his drone and Eric got set up with some flashes and the outcome blew us all away!
All that was left was the intro…What could we do to make an intro that hasn’t been done before but also captures something native to Africa? I was given the nickname Captain Pugwash by Ryan from an old pirate cartoon he grew up watching as a kid on the trip, so I wanted to do something that blended in with the pirate theme. I sourced up a local pirate ship tour in the waterfront and lined up for the boys and I to do a free tour fully dressed up for us to shoot as promotion towards the tour. The plank was to sneak on while they were settings up for a kid’s birthday party, walk the plan out at sea, and do an introduction to everyone featured in the video. Unfortunately, things fell through last second so we had to scramble to find a new intro idea in a short time period. I was still into the idea of shark diving, but never got to dive, so I called up my friend Captain Kai and made a plan with the Two Oceans Aquarium to do a dive with their ragged toothed sharks! This is something the aquarium does regularly with the public, so I felt confident about challenging a deep fear swimming with one of the oceans greatest predators.
I only had a few days left to enjoy with my new found friends in the beautiful city of Cape Town, so that night we went to the aces of spades! I was rocking chops in honour of Lemmy from Motorhead passing away, so this bar was right up my alley. After a few tequila shots with Ryan, he turns to me with a dare. “You should wear my monster green mankini in the tank.” I didn’t think anything of it and the time of what it may look like, I had my intro and it had to happen! The next morning I got the shock of a lifetime when this green skimpy swimsuit hit me in face.
The fight wasn’t over however. This trip had some bad luck behind it from the moment the Night Harvest was over so I cracked a joke saying, “knowing my luck, there’s going to be a kid’s field trip going through the aquarium while I dive in that thing”.
Sure enough, a few days later after a scuba lesson with my dive instructor Iian Robertson at a local military base I was ready for my dive. We come back to the aquarium, go over the shots with Crim and Mr.shin, and get ready. As I’m walking through the aquarium towards the dive spot, in walks a school field trip. It was too good to be true hahah!
The day before the dive I ended up taking another pretty nasty slam that re-opened the cut on my hand once again. I was a little bit worried about the fact that I would be swimming with sharks with an open wound, and that if I said anything about it that the dive may be canceled, so I jumped in before I though about it too much. I had my instructor and another diver in the tank with me in case things went south so I wasn’t as nervous about what I had just signed up for. The only communication was hand signals, once you were in the tank you better remember what you were just taught. Before the dive I was told not to make any sudden movements because it will spook the sharks and things could get complicated, so I stayed to the bottom and watched as giant sea turtles, sting rays, and other fish swam beside me, as well as the sharks. At one point the biggest of the 4 sharks was right above me, and the other diver looked at me and made an ass slap gesture. I gave thumbs up to be sure I was a good idea, and went for it. I guess I did it a bit too fast because it spooked the big guy which proceeded to swim in circles quite quickly around the tank for a couple minutes! All that was running through my head was, I’ve got an open wound and I have now pissed this thing off, what have I done. On the other side of the glass stood a group of grandmothers who came with their kids for their trip. Unfortunately, they got a little bit more then they bargained for with my naked ass in the tank. Disgruntled and upset, they were making some pretty remarks disgusted about how pale and naked I was. They paid to see sharks, not a naked young Canadian pirate giving rock and roll signs. Everyone was giving me the thumbs up sign which signals time to go up, but I mistook it for them saying good job dude and stayed under a bit longer not knowing what I have caused outside the tank. The grannies weren’t stoked but I was! I climbed out fully satisfied at what I had just done, and to top it off, was given a certificate stating my achievement diving without a cage with sharks, as well as a photo with Maryke and Iian from the aquarium. These sharks have now since been released back into the wild to do repairs on the tank.
Without the help of friends and the locals in Cape Town, this trip wouldn’t have been the same! I owe so many thanks to everyone for the opportunities, the memories, and good times that happened here. A big shout out to Eric Palmer and Thomas Sandell for all their hard work and dedication towards this project, to Johnty and the Human family for allowing me to come and ride, dig, and hangout at the jumps almost daily, to Justin Novela and the trails crew for showing me everything I needed to experience and ride, Maryke Musson, Iain Robertson and everyone at the Two Oceans Aquarium for one of the coolest experiences of my life, to Tyler Murphy from Sins of Style Tattoo Shop for a unique tattoo that tells the story of my trip, and most importantly, a very special thank you to goes out to Brenda, Ryan, and Matt Franklin at the Lavender house B&B for welcoming me into their home and giving me a safe place to rest my head, not to mention going out of their way to make sure I had the best time possible! Thanks for all the good times everyone! See you next year for even crazier adventures! Rock and Roll!
In case you missed them, make sure to check out Part 1, Part 2 Part 3.