How does one justify wanting to cycle 320 kilometres in one day? The challenge, the uniqueness, the camaraderie, the madness or simply the goal of helping others less blessed? It is a combination of all this and more that words will never be able to express. A huge hurdle yet well within the grasp of most active people. Let me sketch my background. I am well in my fifties, lazy and a very average athlete. I would class myself as a social rider and something of a hybrid as I enjoy both road and mountain biking. Two years ago, I decided, together with a training group known loosely as “Club Cappuccino”, to ride the 320k Charity ride. It turned out to be one of those hidden defining moments in my life and forced me to examine my physical health minutely for the 12 hours that I rode. Having had a mother afflicted with polio, I had always appreciated my mobility but would never have imagined that I could ride that distance. It was achievable, not easy, but definitely manageable. The flood of emotions that washed over me when I finished was a mixture of tears, laughter, pain, relief, pride, accomplishment, joy only matched by the memories of finishing the Comrades marathon the first time. The second year was just as good but tinged with regret that I didn’t do the full monty and was transported for about 60k by car. Does that deter me, never, this year, I’ll do the full ride. What have I achieved….. for Mike Lewis, nothing much physically but I am so aware of the need to help in some way, the aids crisis hurting our wonderful land and people. I really had thought I had done my bit for humanity when my wife and I adopted Zulu twins at birth 9 years ago. Like so much in life, I found that I was the one being blessed and loved and fulfilled by my children. I was the one enriched and probably, I was the one adopted by them. My vision was enlarged and I was the one who needed input from children. I’m finding the same principle at work in just helping our future generations. If I can further help in some tiny way, the time and pain and training sacrifice is a small price to pay to see caring individuals loving and nurturing aids and poverty stricken children. Besides, I actually enjoy riding my bicycle.
When the six of us set out to do the first ride, it was evident that not all of us were prepared for the rigours of the day. Having given it some thought and read articles by cyclists who had attempted similar rides, I prepared chicken sandwiches, nuggets and various other small meals. However one of our group (he shall remain nameless) arrived with one energy bar and truly believed this was enough to get him to Durban. Needless to say, my cooler box was visited or numerous occasions by this unnamed person during the course of the day.