606 kilometres, 2 days, 75 riders, ALL for 1 cause
Pedaling against poverty and empowering youth skills development
Having taken part in this worthy challenge for the past two years, one would think that I had completely lost my mind, and yes, perhaps you need to be a little crazy to take on this grueling task in such a short time span, but it was TOTALLY worth it!
My personal purpose in life is to add value to people in order to produce results - that was my original motivation for taking on this challenge in 2017. You must understand that fat rugby forwards are not meant to be on a bike for that long. So, this was already a challenge itself! Having said that, I am really chuffed with myself for completing this challenge two years in a row, and grateful to have been able to contribute in a small way, whilst fulfilling my purpose and Company Culture code.
About the Team
A group of people from all over the country congregated at Knowles Spar in Durban to take on this challenge. This team not only comprised a group of riders, but rather a group of human beings all pulling together to help change our country in the smallest way possible. The ride was tough, but that was not the mission.
At the helm of the team was Sergeant Major Kelvin du Sart, who was responsible for the riders’ safety. A big shout out to Kelvin and his team for the huge amount of hard work and planning to make this event happen. The Spar Team had food ready wherever we stopped, and were happy to serve us, keep us hydrated and well fed en route. Not forgetting the bus driver who was with us for three days, got us up to JHB and helped the non-trained cyclist along the way.
Day 1 – Wake Up at 03h30
A quick phone call and breakfast before we started our long and gruelling trip at 04h30, covering 360kms of downhill and flat terrain towards Ladysmith.
It was the hardest physical event that I have ever endured, we dealt with heat, wind, rain, hills as far as the eye could see and at a speed of 30km per hour for 360 km, not that easy for a fat forward. There were some really dark places that one would visit getting through a day like this, and if it wasn’t for teamwork and help from a really fit young cyclist (AKA Keegan Mathews) motivating John Smit and myself, we probably would not have made it.
The hospitality en route really made the trip worthwhile, and there were very few stones left unturned. Every fine detail was thought of, with Brendon and his setup team making sure that everyone had all the essential provisions from sunblock to sustenance.
At dusk the cyclists flew into Ladysmith, a real case of “put the hammer down” as we could smell the cold beer. Shattered, bruised and broken we all turned in early for a good night’s rest.
Day 2 - Wake Up at 03h30
Pretty much a copy and paste of the day before, the only difference being welcomed shorter distance of 260 kilometres covering the rolling hills of the Zulu Kingdom. Some of the most spectacular riding I am told - Honestly, I would have preferred to have been on the bus for this journey to enjoy the beautiful view of the countryside, as the view on the bike is somewhat limited when you are focussing on keeping up the pace for the journey ahead.
One thing I did learn was that getting a puncture was actually a bonus, instructing the great team of mechanics to please take their time whilst fixing my bike, allowing me to rest my aching bones while they did their thing. Sitting in the bike van, you realise the amazing work of the support staff when it came to keeping everyone safe on the road.
The KTM Team on their fancy bikes brought a constant smile to your face when you needed it most, with something funny they set up along the way to help push you along and support you on the trip. When we rode past them at Midmar Dam, they were lying on the side of the road doing backstroke, what a laugh we all had.
Finally, we embarked on the finishing straight. Wow, what a great feeling coming into Durban, being police escorted from Hillcrest and to have the road to yourself in rush hour! Then the feeling of crossing the finish line and having your loved ones meet you with everyone giving each other high fives, hugs and tears. Strangers who had just met two days ago were now friends with a shared bond, all in aid of making a difference to our people and our country.