DECEMBER 2016 – THE EAST LONDON cycling community’s fundraising tour de force, Grandads Army, are back in the saddle to tackle another marathon trans-Karoo charity ride from East London to Stellenbosch.
The group have committed to a second Rob Burton Memorial Ride, after raising almost a quarter of a million rands last year for much-needed burns surgical equipment for paediatric patients at Frere and Cecilia Makiwane hospitals.
The phenomenal success of the first fundraising ride – tinged with the tragedy of another cycling road fatality this year, and growing concern about cyclists’ safety – have prompted the group to tackle the gruelling 1160km relay ride again, getting underway on Tuesday, 6 December.
The riders will follow the same stamina-sapping four-day route to Stellenbosch via Middelburg, Willowmore and Barrydale, but with two important distinctions. Such is the enthusiasm for the inspirational initiative that the original Grandads Army ranks have more than doubled, with 17 cyclists already scheduled to take part.
And on a much sadder note, this year’s ride will honour both Rob Burton, killed in 2013, as well as original Grandads Army member Arthur Salzwedel, who also died in a cycling accident earlier this year.
The ride is organised and coordinated by the East London-based Eyabantwana – For the Children Trust. Riders and support teams cover all their own costs, which means that all proceeds will go fully and directly to meeting pressing medical needs of paediatric surgical patients at the Frere Hospital.
With this year’s fundraising target a daunting R500 000, organisers are again appealing to all East Londoners, including local cyclists and the East London business community, to support the ride, either financially or by volunteering their time or assistance.
They have also extended grateful thanks to primary sponsor, Caltex Eastern Cape Marketer, who is again sponsoring the support teams’ fuel, to the value of R30 000, as well as R10 000 for cycling kit. Other sponsors include Coca-Cola, Caltex Fresh Stop Beacon Bay, Connock Motors and Minuteman Press.
“We have a steep fundraising hill to climb, but we are confident that East Londoners and the many people along the way who were so supportive last year will again rally behind this great cause,” says race organiser Dr Colin Lazarus, an East London Hospital Complex Paediatric Surgeon and one of the original members of the Grandads Army.
In addition to the organiser’s fundraising goals, Arthur Salzwedel’s untimely death this year – less than three months after completing the inaugural Rob Burton Memorial Ride – serve as a stark reminder of the race’s secondary mission, to raise awareness of cyclist safety.
Caltex Eastern Cape Marketer (CECM the main fuel sponsor for the event) will ensure that the cyclists are accompanied by the support vehicles all the way.
“We are committed to the wellbeing of all our communities and are therefore honored to be part of and support this event. Young children are particularly vulnerable, with death because of burn injuries claiming approximately 1,300 young lives each year.
As a major role player in the Eastern Cape fuel industry, we at Caltex Eastern Cape Marketer, take our responsibility seriously and belief that through awareness, preventative campaigns and ensuring that proper care are given to burn victims the effects of this scourge could be greatly reduced” said Clive Berlyn, CECM CEO.
CECM commended The Eyabantwana – For the Children Trust for their dedication in raising awareness and funds to make the world a safer place for children.
“We would also like to congratulate each one of the seventeen cyclists, better known as the Grandads army, for taking up the challenge. Whereas we cannot necessarily provide you (cyclists) with the best fuel to tackle the hills we can make sure that the support vehicles remain at your side – because “that’s how you get there” added Berlyn.
While the core team has been assembled, additional riders are more than welcome to take part, Colin said. Riders may be supported by partners, but single riders are also very welcome. Cyclists feeling daunted by the 1160km route may also opt not to take part in all of their team’s relay rides of the four days.
As a special tribute to Arthur Salzwedel, this year’s ride will include an Arthur Salzwedel King of the Mountain Challenge offering a trophy, designed and built by Rodney Offord and donated by Beth Burton.
- 6 December – Leave East London, cyclists to head north up N6 past Queenstown to the Sterkstroom turnoff; then Steynsburg to Middelburg;
- 7 December – South across the Karoo; Middelburg via Graaff Reinet and Aberdeen to Willowmore;
- 8 December – West via Oudtshoorn and the Huisrivier pass, through the Klein Karoo to Barrydale
- 9 December – Arrive in Stellenbosch via Montagu, Robertson, Villiersdorp and Franschhoek.
- 10 December – Rest Day
- 11 December – Take part in the 100km “Winelands Cycle Tour”
- 12 December – Return to East London
The Eyabantwana – For The Children Trust was established to support the work of the Children’s Surgical Service based at Frere and Cecilia Makiwane Hospitals, the main referral centres for children requiring complex surgery in the Eastern Cape.
More information on the work of The Eyabantwana – For the Children Trust can be found online at www.eyabantwana.co.za. Detailed information on the 2nd Rob Burton Memorial Ride, including information on the route, participating riders and fundraising milestones, will be available on various social media platforms.
: Western Cape – MyPR Maven Connection