18 May, 2015

Lexi rides to Cape


Gauteng-based cyclist Alexa Terblanche (29) took up the challenge to ride the 1200 kilometre distance from Johannesburg to the Western Cape for the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation of South Africa. Here is her story.

While on our morning rides around our usual route, one of my training buddies mentioned a ride he was considering.

I strained my ears and waited with baited breath to hear what he said because I hoped he would commit to riding the Panorama Tour with me as I had begged him for months. But I was certainly not prepared for the next sentence.

“I’m riding from Johannesburg to Cape Town.”

I just looked at him like an emoticon with big eyes and a straight face while it sunk in. Needless to say I was intrigued and listened to the conversations that flew past me about the Tour, the daily distances needed and stay over points.

In December, while most rational people are on leave, I had some time to ponder. My initial thoughts were I’d never be able to do such long distances, back-to-back. I’m not fit enough, I don’t want to suffer every day and be the weak link and land up bussing cause I couldn’t keep up.

Then one day I bit the bullet, had the Tour details sent to me and before I knew it I was typing an email confirming my spot on the tour. I think I even had to take a walk after that so the blood could start flowing through my body again and my mind wasn’t going all “coo-coo” on itself as things were about to get real.

Training rides continued, I never put in too many big days and basically cruised through the months till it was two weeks till we left Johannesburg and again I began to doubt myself, my abilities, sanity and will power.

It was too late to back out so I just went with it. Before I knew it, it was the night before we left and I spent the time packing bags, unpacking bags, repacking bags and triple checking everything. And like an excited teenager before a One Direction concert … I couldn’t sleep and needed to be awake to leave at 03:00.

Three hours of sleep is not a good way to start off a Tour. I packed the car, jumped in and headed off to Angelo and Cindy’s house where we were due to depart at 05:00 and, oh did I mention, it was raining.

When it comes to rain, I don’t like to start in it but will ride through it. I was the first to arrive by at least 30 minutes (too keen). Eventually everyone arrived and after lots of introductions and the usual banter, we loaded the cars and drove onwards so we could start in clearer conditions.

All unpacked, all bikes assembled, everyone on their bike and ready to GO and we are…oh wait…first the girls needed to wee….and we were off.

Day one: Wednesday 25 February 2015

Leg: Johannesburg to Klerksdorp;
Distance: 160 kilometres;
Stay over: Protea Hotel Klerksdorp;
Summary: Clouds cleared but did the wind blow! We arrived at our hotel, unpacked, washed, showered and stretched. This would be our routine for the next several days. We had a wonderful dinner at Adega Klerksdorp, personally I wanted my own bowl of spinach. And then, all filled up, we headed to bed for an early rise and shine the next morning.

Day two: Thursday 26 February 2015

Leg: Klerksdorp to Christiana;
Distance: 220 kilometres;
Stay over: Not really sure;
Summary: Alarm goes off and I wake up wondering where I am and then jump up as I realise we need to pack the trailer and get on our bikes. Eventually we get packed and moving in the dark. The town is spooky and quiet. The wind blew in our faces for hours and in my mind this day just literally blew past me. I recall at one stop trying to hold my bike and the wind blew it parallel to the group. I almost got in the car, even Costa came to me and asked if my personality had been blown away. But I also knew if I had to call home and recap my day with “I got in the car” I would be disappointed in myself. So I sucked it up and put a smile on my face. Okay it wasn’t a natural smile, the wind just blew it back. Arrival in Christiana couldn’t come soon enough and we were greeted by Mike for massages. That was the happiest moment all day. That evening we braaied, drank wine and early to bed.

Day three: Friday 27 February 2015

Leg: Christiana to Kimberley;
Distance: Ouch!
Stay over: Road Lodge;
Summary: I woke up with an insane craving for rusks (and this is when it all started).This was a beautiful day on the bike and we saw the pink flamingos as we rode into Kimberley.

Day four: Saturday 28 February 2015

Leg: Kimberley to Britstown;
Distance: All a bit of a blur now;
Stay over: Trans-karoo Country Lodge;
Summary: Best food of the tour.

Day five: Sunday 1 March 2015

Leg: Britstown to Three sisters;
Distance: No idea, it must be on my Strava somewhere;
Stay over: Travilia;
Summary: Drank far too much wine this evening.

Day six: Monday 2 March 2015

Leg: Three Sisters to Ladysmith to Oudtshoorn;
Distance: About two boxes of rusks;
Stay over: Aloe Manor;
Summary: I was named Rusky by Len cause of my craving for rusks.

Day seven: Tuesday 3 March 2015

Leg: Oudtshoorn to Barrydale;
Distance: Not THAT many rusks;
Stay over: I think the place had rusks;
Summary: Rode through Swartburg pass and jumped off the rocks at de Rust

Day eight: Wednesday 4 March 2015

Leg: Barrydale to Hermanus;
Distance: Didn’t really care, we could see the sea;
Stay over: Baliea Lodge;
Summary: Rusky had now evolved into beskuitjie.

Day nine: Thursday 5 March 2015

Leg: Hermanus to Gordon’s Bay;
Distance: About two boxes of rusks;
Destination: Cape Town, the Icon;
Summary: We got chased by baboons bigger than me and I didn’t stand around to find out just how much bigger.

Where it all began:

Cindy’s son Matthew suffers from a muscle disease called Duchennes muscular dystrophy. Herself, Angelo and Len have participated in many Endurance Charity Tours for causes but decided to bring it closer to home this year. They want to make a difference in disabled people’s lives by creating a ride in aid of “enabling the disabled”.

People love to participate and be associated with out-of-the-ordinary ventures that at times may seem unattainable.

Duchennes muscular dystrophy is a degenerative disease that robs the young of the ability to live a normal life – they are wheelchair-bound from about age nine as they digress. Most do not live past the age of 16. Cindy and her family have lost three very special boys. Mohammed, Richard and her nephew Ryan.

This endurance Tour takes cyclists on a journey of self-discovery by stretching their limits, digging deep, and with sheer determination and self-motivation, realising that it is achievable, especially when you reflect on the core of why this journey was established.

The 2015 Team, who after arriving in Cape Town completed the 2015 Cape Town Cycle Tour, consisted of: Yolanda Rowan, Kim van Klaveren, Diana Gnudi, Len Hattingh, Costa Demetriou, Malcolm Anderson, Cindy Frantzeskos, Angelos Frantzeskos, Mike Nicolas (Driver and Massage Therapist) and I, Alexis Terblanche.