We met via email some years ago when he first affirmed his 3 Poles (www.3poles.co.za) dream; to trek unsupported to the North Pole, South Pole and the summit of Mt Everest. He moves to Dubai for work two years ago, enters the Pole-2-Pole expedition (the organisation cancelled the event scheduled for late 2006), returns to Cape Town, initiates a "Make Table Mountain Safe" campaign, runs Two Oceans Half hauling a yellow shack on wheels in support of Habitat for Humanity, spends months training and man-hauling his yellow tyre "Tony" around da mountain and then decides to cycle from Cape Town to Pretoria to promote non-motorised transportion and bicycle touring in South Africa. I'm a fan.
As I type, Ray is on the road from Vanderbijl to Joburg on Day 40 of this "The Life Cycle" project (www.thelifecycle.co.za). He left Cape Town on Friday, 4 May with his yellow mountain bike and trailer, headed for the town of Wellington - his first stop on Route 62. Towards the end of his first week Ray had to ride through the "Big Cold and Rain of 2007". I was actually in Cape Town over this weekend of the 11-12 of May and was gobsmacked by the volume of water descending from the skies over the Western Cape. And that's to say nothing of the cold... and snow.
Ray's route took him along the coast and through to P.E. before heading inland and upwards towards Bloemfontein; and from Bloem to Joburg and Pretoria. I read Ray's daily dispatches in batches every few days and catch him on Skype at night occasionally. What an incredible journey!
By the time he reaches Pretoria tomorrow, Ray will have spent 41-days on the road, with few rest days to break the daily riding. He has been on his ownsome-lonesome, sleeping in guest houses, on the roadside, in gardens, ultra city grass patches, a road construction site office enclosure and in homes, welcomed by friendly strangers.
There's also the food thing; loads and loads of food is needed to keep Ray fueled and despite supplements, protein shakes, oats, a daily loaf of bread, bars of chocolate, salami, chicken, fruit, veg and a host of other edibles, his 6-foot-plus frame has lost kilograms.
I am certainly not brave enough to just take off on my bike riding around the country... alone... it also isn't something I've actually thought about doing. South Africans travel abroad to bike around Spain or southern France but little do we consider our own backyard.
We are certainly in agreement that we live in a beautiful country; mountains, valleys, the plateau, the Karoo, forested and tropical coastal regions - our ecological options are diverse. We - outdoor, active, adventurers - just don't utilise our resources as much as we could. I know that I don't.
Ray's objectives have been to promote non-motorised transport (in partnership with the Bicycling Empowerment Network - www.benbikes.org.za) and local bicycle touring. As for the latter, Ray has opened my eyes to the possibilities of planning a loosely structured cycling (or running?) holiday.
Ray, well done. This journey is an inspirational achievement to be proud of in terms of your promotional and personal objectives.Note: Ray will be talking about this trip at CapeStorm in Bryanston (Carvenience Centre) on Tuesday, 19 June at 18h30 for 19h00.
"From figuring out what to pack to how to transport it all, route selectionto the all-important diet, crocodile cage diving to surfing with theself-inflating mattress, I'll be sharing my experiences with you... and showing you how to undertake a non-motorised trip across our beautiful country [and of course how not to!]."