“Cycling is addictive. Totally addictive!” B laughed. “I love the added sense of freedom, the scents and the views. You see baboon, duiker, lots of small animals, flowers and trees. When you are up that mountain, you feel so…well, you almost feel high. It’s like a drug! And then flying down. There are no words to describe it, Gaye!” she enthused, her eyes sparkling. “Also there is, at times, a sense of danger that is quite exhilarating!”
As a child, I loved cycling. Today, because of my limited eyesight, this has been somewhat curtailed. Yes, I can still cycle but I need someone with me to shout out whenever a car is coming and from which direction. But, cycling is still a big part of my world because of my friends. My friends are cycling mad! They don’t just go for a ride around the neighbourhood, as any sane, sensible individual would do. Oh no, they take off for fifty kilometre rides up the mountains!
My best friend, B, had to go into hospital for an angiogram. It turned out that although undergoing certain stress at the time, she was totally fine. The doctor said that she had the heart of a fourteen year old. She was so bucked with this news that she promptly bought a bicycle! This fourteen year hearted woman was going to go, go, go! There were the mountains, the forest, the little, windy roads at the back of Blanco. So much space to explore. Thank the Lord, B was told of another fanatical mountain biker looking for a riding partner!
B spoke to Jan on the phone and they agreed to meet at Virgin Gym. B told her prospective partner to look out for a midget on a bicycle. B is small! Jan retorted that B must keep her eyes open for an ancient, old crone riding a beautiful, white bicycle. They recognised each other instantly!
Jan became B’s cycling partner and consequently another cyclist entered my life! The group became three when Irene joined their mountain and forest forays.
These able bodied friends of mine bring Caleb Swanepoel to mind. He is the young university student who lost his leg in a recent shark attack. He was in the next door bed to Mum in ICU. I was fortunate to get to know him and his family – wonderful people. I obviously spoke about him to B, Jan and Irene. They wanted to help with the fund raising for his prosthesis and medical expenses. B was unfortunately returning to the UK but Jan and Irene had a great idea!
In August it was the Trans Baviaans Cycle Race. It was so popular this year that it was divided into two races. One on August 14th and the next on the 21st. Jan and Irene devised a letter which was included on the event website so that all riders could see it.
It takes a nano second for an unexpected incident to alter the ordered and anticipated course of one’s life!
This life changing occurrence took place in the life of 20 year old Varsity student, Caleb Swanepoel, on the 27th June this year, whilst on a family holiday at Buffels Bay. Out in the surf with his brothers, having a great time body surfing…and then BOOM!! The nano second came and in a flash he was on the sand, minus one leg, bleeding to death and struggling to survive.
He pulled through the ordeal but the entire physical, emotional, educational and financial course of his life has irrevocably been re-programmed. We would like to make these changes less of a challenge by smoothing the financial difficulties with which he will be confronted during the course of his life.
We are two enthusiastic mountain bikers who, through a series of bizarre coincidences got to know about this young man which took him out of the statistic category in our lives. His cause resonates strongly within us.
Caleb has never asked for anything! We know that his path to rehabilitation is going to be an immense financial burden. An appropriate prosthesis with all the associated therapy costs over: one million SA rands! Yes you read correctly!! Medical Aid trauma benefits don’t get close.
On this note we appeal to you, about to embark on an endurance event of the highest order, to assist us? Please! When you cross the finish line, your challenge will have been conquered.
Help us to bring Caleb’s finish line closer!!
We are providing the official fund raiser account number for your consideration.
Kindly reference your contribution with your name or race number. Irene and I will be at registration to acknowledge this by giving you a helmet sticker indicating your participation in this cause. An advance contribution will be appreciated just so that we can include everything in your race pack. Any last minute donations will readily be accepted at registration. At the completion of the event, some lucky rider will get a prize which we are sure you’ll like!
Account name: Caleb Swanepoel Support Fund
Branch Code: 198765
Account Number: 1107515017
Many, many thanks and have a great ride…see you there!
Jan and Irene.
Last weekend at the start of the race, they were there, taking donations from the cyclists. And they will be there on the 21st once more for the start of the second race.
Christian Haettich, is a cyclist who has only one arm and one leg. Over twenty-two days last summer, he cycled across the Dolomites, the Alps and the Pyrenees to become one of only ten finishers of a gruelling three-week amateur cycling event.
This simply astounds me! He rode all that way with only one arm and one leg. Who knows, what Caleb will be able to do with his prosthesis? In the future, Caleb might ride in the Trans Baviaans race alongside those supporting him now!
All this cycling talk has got me thinking, maybe B, Jan and Irene can take it in turns escorting me around the streets of George – on a bike!
PS. Please don’t mention this to my Mum!