One of South Africa’s top mountain bikers, Matthys Beukes, was tested physically, emotionally and mentally throughout a 1 000km challenge that literally took place in his yard.
The cause, to raise funds for people who were struggling financially during lockdown, helped him push through the barriers.
“I didn’t really want to take it on, for obvious reasons, but it felt like I didn’t have a choice.
“Doing something like this was better than doing nothing,” said the 32-year-old, who had some insight into the enormity of the challenge after completing a 24-hour ride at his house in George less than a month ago.
This most recent challenge, which started last week Tuesday, took place on a carefully designed 200m-lap around his house.
“The goal was to reach 1 000km as fast as possible – if I could even get that far.”
His strategy was to break it down into one-hour goals, with each hour consisting of four 15-minute sections.
“I would just focus on the next 15 minutes and once I got to the hour, I would take it as a small victory,” said the former National MTB Series champion.
The first three days felt like a nightmare he could not escape from, Beukes admitted.
“It was much harder than I expected. I could only ride around three hours at a time before I would get intense headaches from concentrating on the technical aspects of the course.
“My hands were swollen from all the steering and vibrations, so that also needed recovery time.”
He was also caught between a rock and a hard place in terms of refuelling: stopping interfered with his rhythm and momentum, but not doing so saw him running low on energy.
“Emotionally it sucked. Riding around your house in the cold and dark knowing everything you want is right there was also a massive constant mental obstacle.
“The only thing that kept me going was the people who supported the effort and cause. Otherwise there was no way I could have done it.
“There is one loud and clear message I got from doing this – when people stand together, nothing is impossible.”
Beukes finished at 10am on Sunday after riding for 61 hours and resting for 15. Eating, cleaning as well as bike and course maintenance accounted for the rest of the time.
He raised R130 000, but donations are still being received.