Faces on Tour | Janet Wilkinson
(Mamma Janet)

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Janet is our head Tea Station manager and a favourite among cyclists who look forward to enjoying the many delights that await them in the early morning… 

Janet is also the South African Coordinator for Children in the Wilderness.

Nickname: The Children in the Wilderness youngsters call me “Mamma Janet” (with localised pronunciation it sounds like “Genet”) and that name seems to have found its way onto the Tour.

Role on Tour: Tea Stop

How many tours have you worked on? This year will be my seventh Tour

Best part about manning the tea stop? Getting out of the camp early (away from the snorers) into the bush to watch the sunrise.

What does an average day’s work include? We are one of the first teams out of the camp, leaving under the cover of darkness, finding the tea stop location in the dark, then working out where east is as we don’t want the tea stop delights baking in the sun. Then with the help of the Land Rover guys, middle sweep and medical team, we set up the stop and wait for the cyclists to arrive. There are manic moments during tea when four or five teams will arrive at once and any support staff around jump in to assist. Once all the cyclists have passed through tea, we take a moment to sit back and reflect on things we need to improve for the next day. After we have cleaned and packed up our station, we walk around the area, double and triple check for any little bits of litter that might have been overlooked (leaving no sign of us having been there) and head to the next camp to restock, repack and get ready for the next early morning departure.

Most memorable moment? Most memorable moment – there are so many on each Tour! Why do the Wood brothers come to mind….? Matthew Wood was struggling to peel a hardboiled egg – he gave up and put the whole unpeeled egg in his mouth along with some Aromat flavouring and attempted to finish eating the egg. This is the only time I have seen him quiet!

Favourite stop or Camp – and why? It has to be a favourite tea stop as sometimes we get into camp at sunset and are gone before sunrise. I love any of the tea stops around a mashatu tree! They are majestic and could tell so many stories. I always think of the leopards who would have spent time in those trees and secretly hope to arrive at a tree and find a leopard lounging there…

Coolest wildlife sighting? One that stands out – a Mashatu Game Reserve tea stop under one of the giant mashatu trees; we were diligently setting up our station (including setting out naartjies – tangerines) when I heard one of the Land Rover guys, who was parked on a koppie, radioing us to warn of an elephant approaching through the bushes. We could not see it and moved closer to the vehicle until he strolled past us unperturbed – moments of magic like this are unforgettable.

Naartjies have not been on the tea stop again!

Best thing about the Tour? Seeing old friends and making new ones – the Nedbank Tour de Tuli support teams are the most amazing bunch of people who simply get on and do whatever is needed (in their own roles and assisting others) without complaint. The camaraderie and friendships are genuine.

What sort of treats can the cyclists look forward to on their ride? The usual amazing fruit cake, shortbread, biltong and… that’s a surprise!

What is the most challenging part of the tea stop? Getting cyclists not to lean their bikes against the support vehicles!

Most popular snack with the riders? It’s a toss-up between coffee and condensed milk, or Salticrax sandwiches with biltong and cheese wedges, or the fruitcake, or the shortbread, or…. everything


Any advice for our riders?
 Don’t forget to stop and “smell the roses”, except in this case it’s often elephant dung…
What are you looking forward to most in 2017?
Everyone’s delight when they reach the tea stop!

Your motto/favourite quote? The journey is the destination.

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