Wayne Reiche was in trouble. His bicycle tyre had blown for the third time – enough to make him run out of repair kits. He was in the middle of nowhere, in a foreign country: a vast stretch of road in the New Zealand wilderness. No support. Not much water. Dehydrated from the epic trek to get to that fateful spot. His options were limited.
That night he camped on the beach and the following day he hid his bike and gear in a bush and hitchhiked 70km to the nearest town – and back again.
“You take the good with the bad,” says Reiche, one of the pioneers of Cape Town’s BMX scene. “But the bad makes the good that much sweeter.”
Reiche did not mind being completely isolated for weeks on end in the valleys and mountains of New Zealand. Painfully shy at school, he had always been attracted to solitary pursuits: building BMX tracks, photography, hiking, carpentry.
Reiche’s father, a 4x4 enthusiast, instilled in him a love for nature. “The further out, the better,” says Reiche. Rwanda, gorilla tracking, the Serengeti migration. “It hasn’t always been idyllic. I’ve seen some harsh things. But it makes you realise how much we take for granted.”
From a young age, Reiche was drawn to New Zealand for its magnificent camping and hiking, but when he heard about the iconic BMX mecca that is the Gorge Road Jump Park in Queenstown, that sealed the deal. He was going.
But it was never going to be enough to simply buy a plane ticket. Reiche decided cycle to Gorge Road from Auckland – a 2000km adventure, with frequent stops to camp and hike along the way. In Auckland, he rigged a Bob-trailer with his camera, tripod, camping equipment and supplies. He roped his BMX to the trailer, and set off.
“There’s something so pure about being alone. It’s really a selfish pleasure. Time alone is so precious. It was a meditation,” says Reiche. “When you’re out there on your own, your mind is a lot more focused. You spend a lot of time thinking, examining your life, what’s really important to you. For me, that’s my family and my girlfriend, riding, and nature.
“You also realise that you don’t need much. You don’t really need the internet or television. You don’t need Facebook or popularity. There’s no-one to impress. It’s okay to be you. That simplicity feels really good.”
“When we weren’t riding, we were digging,” says Reiche. “Trails require maintenance and these guys were digging all winter. When it’s time to party, then it’s time to party but when it’s time to dig, then you offer to help.”One day, hiking up a volcano, Reiche saw a group of guys wearing BMX T-shirts. They struck up a conversation and by some remarkable coincidence it turns out that this crew were also on their way to Gorge Road.
“We’re staying with Adam,” they told Reiche. “When you get there, look us up.”
And that’s how Reiche ended up staying in a local’s garage, which had been converted into something of a BMX traveller dormitory.
Reiche’s next trip will probably be to Rwanda, where he has recently been with his father. “It’s an inspiring place. The people there have had such a harsh history, but they’ve risen above that. They have a purpose. Everybody is doing something. Everybody is farming. There is a law that says you need to clean every street; if you don’t then you get a fine.”
Reiche does want to document his next trip, but for him it is not about the commercial potential. “If I make money from travelling, then that’s great,” he says. “But I will always do it in an authentic way. I will always stay true to the original purpose.”