Former gymnast, trampolinist and sports acrobat Johan du Toit knows a thing or two about balancing acts.
Now a cycling devotee, he juggles a full-time job with the rigours of organising the Lost City Cycle Challenge at Sun City in his spare time.
Du Toit created the event back in 1998, with the support of Sun International, after discovering the beautiful routes available in the North-West Province.
“I started it with the idea of raising funds for Cansa; for me it’s a way of giving something back,” says the project coordinator for a manufacturer of radioactive isotopes and other materials used in the diagnostic scans for cancer.
Currently in its 14th year, the event has amassed over R3 million for the charity, with a figure of R240 000 expected this year.
As organiser, Du Toit does not take a cent from the race.
“The people who are involved don’t do it to get rich. We simply wanted to create awareness that it could affect anyone regardless of lifestyle.
“Cyclists are generally a very healthy, clean-living bunch but any one of us can be diagnosed tomorrow.”
One of the spin-offs of the event is a community health project that will see over a thousand scans and pap smears done in the Bafokeng area around Sun City.
“Last year, we had a van at the venue offering free testing and 35 people were advised to consult their doctors for further assessment. Indirectly, that’s 35 lives saved.”
Du Toit says the race also touches lives in other respects.
“The new road race route goes through several Bafokeng villages, past the Royal Bafokeng Stadium and the palace. We’ll be giving some of the local schools the chance to raise funds through marshalling.”
With the addition of a mountain bike component three years ago, the “Cycle 4 Cansa” has evolved from a classic road race into a full weekend festival of cycling.
“This year we decided to revamp the whole thing, change the routes and make it tougher and longer on both the road and mountain biking side of things,” says Du Toit.
The Powerade Lost City Cycle Classic (115km) takes place on Saturday, August 20, with The Citizen Lost City Mountain Bike Race (55km) taking to the dirt the following day. Each of these disciplines offers a more accessible short course option (65 and 25km respectively).
Du Toit says roadies can look forward to roads that are quieter, wider and ultimately safer. According to him, the king of the Bafokeng has given the race his personal seal of approval and ensured that the surfaces are in pristine condition.
On the off-road side, he says organisers have done away with the lap format and created a true mountain biker’s course with ample technical terrain and new sections of specially cut single track.
“The 300-metre Heartbreak Hill climb is going to catch them but they’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the entire Sun City.”
Another change, according to Du Toit, is that the race no longer hugs the fence of the Letsatsing Game Reserve but cuts through the heart of it. “Riders can expect to see buck, rhino and elephant.”
He emphasises that the weekend is not just about the cycling but also about the activities and family entertainment (like the 1km kiddies’ race) around it. “It’s about giving riders the most value for their entry fee.”
Participants will receive free weekend entrance to the Valley of the Waves, where a cycling expo and spinning marathon have been thrown in for good measure. “There will also be pasta evenings and special accommodation packages for riders.”
Du Toit says organisers are expecting the top professionals to turn up but that “it’s really about the guy who brings his family to Sun City for the weekend”.
Entries close on August 9 and the field is limited to 3 500 road cyclists and 1 600 mountain bikers. Visit www.cansalostcity.co.za or follow the event on Facebook.
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