This is not the end; nor is it the beginning; but maybe it is the end of the beginning……
2017 edition of the tour has come and gone; but certainly with much more than a whimper. In many respects this was a watershed tour.
- It ranks up there with the very best that we have experienced so far
- It was certainly one of the smoothest with virtually no hiccoughs
- The group was amazingly cohesive and worked so well together – it was a team that wanted to be together!
- It has set the stage for the tour to grow into the future
- We had wonderful characters on the team.
In keeping with tradition we will have a look at each of the personalities on the tour and their unique contribution to its success:
The Support Crew
We would be remiss not to mention Ian Lennox Dorrington who was the designated Chief of Support who unfortunately tore his Achilles tendon 4 days before the tour and was unable to join us because of it. He was distraught. We sympathise with him. It was a tour and a group he would have loved. Get well soon Ian; 2018 is just around the corner! Only 315 days to go!
Here is a young man who has never done anything like this in his life before. A student at Pretoria University. He was going to drive the GM Jackson’s kindly loaned vehicle back to Queenstown. This was the vehicle that brought the Queenstown contingent to Jozi. With Ian’s injury he was thrust into the role of Chief of Support. He had no training other than a half day under Jen’s tutelage on the first day. He is a quiet unassuming person who has already achieved much in his life including the award of SAWIP bursary leadership visit to the US for a few months. He took on this job with authority and aplomb. He made it his own. He didn’t bump his head once on the corner of the trailer and he simply made sure that everything worked. Only Vata and I had cause for complaint when we left to our own devices for the last 30 kilometres into Zastron. Other than that he never put a foot wrong.
Her role started long before the tour began. In August 2016 to be precise because this when the planning cycle for this year’s tour began. She lived the tour EFI (to coin a phrase!) from then. She has been a tower of strength with lots of little but critical planning events and bureaucratic but necessary niceties. We owe her a lot and we were all thrilled that she also got to ride at least some of the way with us!
Morongoa came to be with her partner Katiso but she became much more than an interested spectator. She involved herself totally with the tour and all its participants. She was very busy at every stop and was the major (only) source of much enjoyed bananas. Our very own Banana Queen! By the time we had Queenstown in sight she had assured us that next year she would also be cycling!
Now Lyn became involved with this tour long ago. She has hovered at the periphery but in 2017 she became a forceful presence. She bailed us out and made a major sacrifice to do so. Instead of camping peacefully in the Golden Gate Mountain Reserve she offered to drive the GM Jacksons loan vehicle in the place of Nathi. This meant driving to Ladybrand with Vata and driving from there and immediately after the tour drive back to Jozi only to climb into her car and drive back to Port Elizabeth on Sunday. We owe her a lot. She not only drove the beautiful Trailblazer but also looked after all sorts of needs of the team including great support for Rodger in resolving our many accommodation challenges. Thank you so much Lyn!
Most have never even seen Jules, or Leviticus as some call him.. Or have even been aware of his ever-present presence. Always in the background, but there nevertheless making sure that our Blogs went up when promised, that our social networks were working and generally taking care of our public visibility. All he needs to do now is join us for a tour!
Big Mike our Medic Warren
What does one say about a man that has become so much part of the permanent team that oftentimes we take for granted all the little things he does for us way outside his actual role which is to look after our safety and deal with any medical issues emergency or not. He is a stalwart, a champion of what we are trying to achieve and a great Marketer of the bigger vision. Nothing is too small for him to take care of and it is a great comfort to know that he is always back there making sure that we are always safe. It is no accident that we put him here at the back end of the post-tour blog Support team review. This is where he is always found when we are on the road and this is where he always gives us comfort. In addition to this he is an absolutely integral part of the in-tour communications system. You are a star! Keep being so!
The Cycling Team
It is appropriate that we start with Leon. He is one of a very small group that has participated in every tour since inception. He finished his 5th full tour this year and has become an important and iconic part of the team. He is also on the organising team, so his contribution extends beyond riding and raising money. This year was not his easiest tour as he battled through the first few days not feeling 100% well. But when he hit his straps he was usually to be found in his usual position at the head of the pack! This year in addition to his usual laconic dry humour he introduced us to some surprising vocabulary especially when Annie hit the front at the top of one or two of the climbs on the tour!
As a late-comer to the tour although he has suggested many times that he would ride, Cameron rode better and better as the road to the finish shortened. But he did much more than that – he immersed himself in the ride, he made a point of finding ways to assist with all sorts of logistical and other tasks including securing all the bicycles that had to return to Jozi on the trailer for an early morning start. You need to do the full tour next year Cam!
They say that dynamite comes in small packages. Lauren epitomises this. This was her debut year. She brought with her a truly delightful personality that only ever exuded positivity and enthusiasm even on the dark days when her left knee was in agony. She stuck with the game and showed what persistence, determination and grit are all about. She also won the special cycling gear given only to those who have completed 5 tours or were the first to register to ride and have the threshold amount of R30000 in the bank. Lauren was one of two teachers on the tour and we are grateful to Queen’s Junior for lending her to us. Well done!
Hester Annie Lemmer
It is beginning to feel like the tour just won’t be the same without Annie on it. She and her family make a major sacrifice for her to join the tour. 9 days away and with small kids is a serious offering from a busy Mom and senior teacher at GHS. She is always present with her focussed determination and ready smile, and always available to assist those that are struggling. However most of the team will remember seeing her back view because when Annie decides to go there is no-one that is able to match her pedal-stroke for pedal-stroke. Annie has no peer when comes to the end of the days stretches. Someone was heard to say that Annie has no bones or ligaments if she is able to tie herself in knots like that! And no-one who has completed the tour will forget every photo-op is punctuated with the cry: “Eina!” which if you look carefully is Annie spelt backwards!
The quiet man on the tour. The Samurai warrior of the tour. Nothing seemed to get Katiso down. He was always up with the parlotone no matter what and some days it was obvious that he was in real pain. We will all remember him stretched over Big Mike’s vehicle bonnet with Mike’s big hands applying friction massage to aching muscles and tendons. The expression on his face told the story!
We will all be forever grateful that he was with us and that he brought Morongoa with him to cheer us on, ply us with bananas and tell us that she is in for 2018!
James signed on for the tour quite early on in the season. He attended our Saturday morning training rides regularly and this preparation all paid off because the preparation enabled him to finish in great shape. However he will be forever remembered for tackling the Penhoek Descent and pieces of the final ride into Queenstown in a skimpy fluorescent pink Speedo swimming costume. All for the good of the cause. His challenge to his network to sponsor him for this daredevil effort brought in good few more thousands of Rands that we would not have raised without this ingenious act. His mother was not too pleased at the thought but seemed proud of her son’s great effort at the finish. All we need now, James, is for you to bring your guitar on tour with us. Imagine: “James and his cycling Guitar!”
It is always a risk to start a tour of this length with an injury. Ntsika gave it his best shot and struggled on manfully until the pain became too severe. Lyn whipped him off to Hospital IN Aliwal North. The team made calls to friends and he was seen by a doctor who attended to him at short notice who told him in words of one syllable that he was not to ride anymore on this tour. Lungisa chirped in with additional advice: “Rest, Recuperation, Rec, and Rehab!” next year Ntsika! But it is great that you managed the last few kilometres into Queenstown and onto the Rec because that is always an amazingly special experience.
What does one say about this man?! He of the irrepressible spirit? He was unable to join us for the first few days for reasons which have yet to become totally transparent. Many were the questions fired at him for the reasons for his late arrival but no finality was ever reached on these serious charges. All went well until Zastron. The sneaky headwind that we had to contend with grew stronger and the incline steeper to the second highest point on the tour. Vata struggled but never gave up. He deserved the applause he received from his team mates when he pulled into Mountain View Chalets after a long and exhausting afternoon. Powa Pedal Pusha of note! He will be back stronger and fitter than ever.
Another late starter but a veteran of the 2014 tour Ryan joined us in Zastron after spending time with his family including his parents visiting from New Zealand. It was obvious that he had spent time on the bike because he powered his way through the next four days. He informed us at the end though that he is swopping the narrow saddle for a Speedo to swim from Robben Island to Bloubergstrand. We haven’t established whether this new venture was inspired by the sight of James flying down Penhoek. History will tell.
2 metres of powerhouse personality and strength. No-one will ever forget: “I am Available; Use me! “These 5 words sum up in so many ways the contribution of Lungisa to our efforts. He loved the thrill of the challenge and was always at the forefront of things happening. Another element of his participation was the presence of his wife Cynthia and darling daughter Onwabo (Onny to all of us). This little story would be incomplete if we didn’t add the fact that we got to know his colleague Welcome quite well from the every-stop conversations we eavesdropped on. We also know that he checked out all the roads that need reconstruction and we are hopeful that Lubocon will have delivered its best on the roads that really need them by the time we venture down that way in April 2018!
And then there is Rodger. Who is unsure of his age, not sure where is glasses are and confuses shammy cream with chain lube. But we love him for all of these and many more laughs that he gave us along the way! Perhaps one of the biggest was when he caught up to the powerful Diesel engine that purring along put his hand on Lungisa’s back and said, “ I am available! Use me!”
We could fill pages on the contribution that Rog has made to 1965Ride over the 5 years of his involvement. Suffice to say that it is way beyond just organising accommodation and cycling the full 850 kilometres 5 times. We look forward to seeing you for at least another 5 Rog!
To all our supporters, family at home, friends in faraway places, sponsors from all over the world, to our big sponsors – GM Chevrolet, Imperial GM, Jacksons GM, Barkers Insurance Brokers, Life HealthCare, Hollard Insurance; to the Traffic Authorities in Gauteng, Free State, Bethlehem, Eastern Cape and Queenstown – we say an enormous “Thank You!” None of this could have happened without your support, encouragement, sponsorship and money. You have left a legacy that will change lives! Thank you all