Two labour lawyers who were “looking for a challenge” will be attempting to complete the Trans Baviaans mountain bike race against all odds later this month after being “misinformed” about the distance of this gruelling event.

And, to throw the proverbial spanner in the works, they will be using the event to raise awareness and financial aid for the two-year-old Kelly Routledge, who was born with Van der Knaap’s Syndrome (a type of leukodystrophy or, in layman’s terms, cysts on the brain) that is affecting her normal development.

It all started in April when Port Elizabeth colleagues Johann van der Walt (29) and Dave Pattle (34) stopped for a quick bite to eat on the way to an out-of-town client. “One could say our lunchtime banter spiralled out of control,” jokes Johann.

“We agreed that we needed to get out of our comfort zones and Dave mentioned that he had heard about this race. So, of course, we decided there and then that we wanted to do it.”

Johann’s father-in-law cycles occasionally so they immediately phoned him to hear whether he knew about the race and its distance. He said he thought it was about 120 kilometres.

“We were stunned at the length,” recalls Johann. “We were both too hard-headed to back down and the decision was made.”

However, a much bigger shock was still in store for them. “It was only when we started reading up on it that we found out the distance was actually 230 kilometres with a cut-off time of 24 hours,” says Johann.

He says the website promotes the ride between Willowmore and Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape as the longest single-day mountain bike race in the world, which was a problem, as they only had three-and-a-half months to prepare before D-Day on August 15.

“Neither of us was going to be the first to admit that we had probably bitten off more than we could chew, so here we are.”

After trying out a “supermarket special” in the Longmore Forest outside PE in early May, Dave realised that his equipment would not cut it. “I thought I had broken both my wrists on that ride.”

Fortunately a friend, who had ridden the Cape Epic, came to his rescue and lent him his bicycle.

Johann, who describes his original mountain bike as “one notch up” from Dave’s supermarket special, quickly realised that he too needed an upgrade.

“I was referred to the Augustyn brothers (John-Lee is a professional with Team Barloworld and Wesley is one of the top downhillers in the country) and they were extremely helpful.

“Wesley spoke to Probike (agents for several well-known bicycle brands) and they gave me an upmarket Raleigh. John-Lee also came on board and is advising us on the technical aspects of an endurance event of this nature, especially nutrition before and during the race.”

Due to their schedules, they are unable to train on weekdays and therefore their riding is mostly limited to weekends. “We try to gym during the week and ride on Saturdays and Sundays,” says Johann.

According to him, their longest ride was a mere 100 kilometres at the beginning of July. “We will attempt one of between 120 and 160 closer to the time.”

In the meantime, their race took on a further dimension when Dave came up with the idea of supporting Kelly.

“Her dad is a family friend, so I knew about her condition and the exorbitant, ongoing medical expenses,” says Dave. “Kelly’s personal health battles really puts our ride into perspective.”

Nathan Carr, who is co-ordinating the fundraising initiative, says that although the family belongs to a medical aid, their personal contribution after the latest surgery – a cochlear implant – will amount to R115 000.

He urged the public to visit for more information or to make a financial contribution. Donations of more than R100 are tax-deductible and a certificate is issued to this effect.

Issued by:

Full Stop Communications

Coetzee Gouws
041 368 4992
082 575 7991

On behalf of:

Cycling for Kelly