David Kleynhans, a waiter from Cape Town, cycled a total 3 303km from his home town to Pretoria and back this month in a bid to raise funds for the elderly.
Kleynhans, 46, has been riding on and off for the past 14 years to raise money for various old-age homes as part of a volunteer initiative.
He started his most recent journey on November 11 and it was not just the distance that was challenging. It was also a race to make it to Gauteng in time for the 947 Cycle Challenge on November 18.
He then had to get back to the Western Cape in time for the Double Century in Swellendam on November 24.
The two events were also linked to the two old-age homes he aimed to raise funds for, AA Tomlinson in Swellendam and Park Care in Johannesburg.
After breaking his leg last year, Kleynhans decided to “get back into cycling and become involved” after being persuaded to do so by his colleagues.
“About three months ago everything was put in place. I only had about four training sessions on the bike in the months leading up to this,” Kleynhans told In the Bunch today.
“I had this vision, got another bicycle and put everything together.”
The lengthy trek was a gruelling experience, Kleynhans recalled, as he needed to cover about 250km each day.
Riding up towards Pretoria, he said the maximum temperature each day averaged 38 to 40°C.
“It was difficult to have many pit stops to refuel under the circumstances. My idea of stopping for 30 minutes was a little bit out of the window.
“I eventually started to ride in the evenings or late at night to try to get back on schedule, while feeling [more] comfortable doing the mileage on the bike.”
He managed to make it to Johannesburg in time for the 947, which he completed twice, totalling 190km. He said he was placed in a charity group, enabling him to do the double-lapper.
“I tried to find my rhythm in the race but I was obviously not fully recovered because I had so many days of riding behind me.
“But I managed a time of about three hours and nine minutes for my first lap and four hours and 23 minutes for my second,” he said, adding that fortunately he had no “major issues” with his bike.
His return journey, though, did not all go according to plan. “I was faced with heavy rain and harsh thunder and lightning on the Monday after the 947.
“I passed through Parys in the Free State before encountering bad rain and hail on the Tuesday just outside Verkeerdevlei, also in the Free State.
“By that stage my leg, from my injury last year, started to give me a lot of trouble, especially considering my body temperature was too cold and I couldn’t keep myself warm.
“My leg started to swell and the pain was agonising. I tried to persevere, but in Colesberg I contemplated catching a lift to recapture my journey.”
His choice was either to carry on and be forced to forfeit the Double Century due to the injury or get a lift so his injury had time to recover.
“I decided to get a lift for roughly 600km from Colesberg to Touws River. That assisted in giving my leg time to recover as well as putting me back on schedule.”
Kleynhans arrived in Swellendam on the Friday night before the Double Century and opted to compete in the team time-trial event, completing the course in almost seven hours.
For the last part of his journey, Kleynhans travelled from Swellendam to Ashton the next day, before returning to Cape Town on the Monday.
The initiative required donors to purchase raffle tickets to raise money for the old age homes. He said “money has trickled in” for the cause, but admitted he had hoped more would be raised.
“I’ve raised about R4 800, but I was hoping to push it a bit higher, especially considering that in previous events I have raised over R5 000 with each project.
“My deadline is Monday December 3 for the completion of the raffle, so I’m hoping something will still come through over the weekend.”