Ride of his life: My great enduro dad

Dad on a mission

One day — without much warning — my 65-year-old dad got on a bicycle and started a 3,000km journey from Cape Town to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

It’s not something you’d expect your average rugby watching, Castle drinking, boerie eating dad to do in any sort of hurry; but mine did and I’m all for the madness.

Dad started cycling six years ago — about the time I sat him down and told him he’d gotten fat and that heart attacks weren’t things that happened on TV. He picked up cycling because it’s a sport he remembered from his youth and a sport he knew would be safe for his outdated knees.

There aren’t many daughters out there who get to chat with their dads about fighting off hyenas with a ‘selfie-stick’

Soon, we were on a roll…

He rode the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge first. And he got into the great trick of riding over the finish line backwards, sitting on his handle-bars and making everyone’s day. So he rode it year-on-year till he got tired of the crowds and fat guys going up hills.

Enduro riding called.

"What's this all about?" Totally confused ostriches in Oudtshoorn
“What’s this all about?” Totally confused ostriches in Oudtshoorn

He first rode 1500km from Johannesburg to Cape Town without any backup vehicles or support. He then went off-road and did the nine-day, 900km Old Mutual joBerg2c; dad came close on stone last in this but who cares, he did it. No mean feat.

Now he’s on his next mission: Cape Town to Vic Falls to raise funds and create awareness for a little bird called the Orange-Breasted Waxbill.

One day, dad’s hoping to turn it into a ride that others can enjoy too.

After 20 years of no exercise, my dad’s now clocked up thousands and thousands of kilometres on the bike. I’m proud as punch of my ol’ man for achieving it all on his own and giving life everything he’s got.

He’s not a natural sportsman and he’s the first to admit it. He’s just an ordinary guy doing extra-ordinary things with his twilight years.

"Pampoenstalletjie" just outside Cape Town
“Pampoenstalletjie” just outside Cape Town

When I asked him why he’s doing Cape Town to Vic Falls, he said quite simply: “I have two choices; One: I sit on the couch all day and look after a small dog and a small garden. Or two: I make the most of my life while I still have my health.”

I dare not argue. There aren’t many daughters out there who get to chat with their dads about fighting off hyenas with a ‘selfie-stick’ or how to avoid being attacked by township dogs because getting rabies must really suck.

Dad’s only a few hundred kilometres in but already we’ve had photos of ostriches and squished snakes and pumpkins and other characters he’s met along the way.

Time to think: 35kgs of luggage on his BMC MTB
Time to think: 35kgs of luggage on his BMC MTB

In his words: It’s the crazy things we see when we slow our lives down a little bit.

God-speed dad. You’re awesome.

You can read more about the Rare Finch Conservation Group and the Orange-Breasted Waxbill by visiting their website.

Track my dad’s ride on Never Rest Challenge.

Or make a donation to:
The Rare Finch Conservation Group
Nedbank
Account # 1933198885
SWIFTJJ
Sandown Branch 193 305
South Africa