So, it’s the end of my journey. Almost 5 months, 8000km, 9 countries. What an experience. I am so lucky to have come so far, seen all I have, and to be able to return home unscathed and safe, back to a job, and having lost nothing and gained so much. There are no regrets. Instead, I feel a sense of release and relief, like something has been fixed, something was made better while on this trip.
There are a few days in my life that are very special. The cliché ones, like our wedding day, and the days that each of my children were born. My last day of school and the day I completed my 2 years national service. Right up there, with all those special days is the day that I arrived in Cape Town from this journey.
It had been a hard day, I was already cycling by 5:30 AM. I had to cover 130km and I knew from weather reports that famous South Easter wind was going to be blowing at gale force in my direction. By mid afternoon I was getting really tired and I was cycling head first directly into the wind. At maximum effort I was moving at about 7km/h on level ground. That’s a brisk walking speed. There was still about 25km to go and while my spirit was willing, the body was failing. My energy was being depleted and every meter of distance took enormous effort. The traffic situation made it even worse.
My good friend Manny decided to surprise me and took a ride up the N7 national route and met me on the road about 20km from Cape Town. It was absolutely awesome to see a friend at that stage of the ride, and we crossed paths not far from services with a Wimpy fast food restaurant. After a brief chat and reunion on the roadside we agreed to meet at the Wimpy on the other side if the hill. By the time I arrived at the Wimpy, Manny had briefed everyone within a reachable radius of my arrival and I was welcomed with loud applause and whistling and hand clapping from all the petrol attendants and others in the general area. I felt rather embarrassed at all the cheering, but it energised me in a way that crowds do with these things. Manny then treated me to a fantastic lunch! You cannot beat that in any way – that memory will stay with me forever.
After lunch it was back on the road to do the final 20km or so. It was hard work, starting with a long incline into the headwind that was blowing as strong as ever. Traffic was heavy and there was roadwork in progress. It took me ages to cover the next few kilometres and I was beginning to wonder if I was going to make my destination before dark. Manny stuck with me during all that time and would move ahead and lag behind as the road conditions permitted. After some time the road works cleared up and Manny rode in the emergency lane with his hazard lights blinking. I told him to carry on without me and we’d catch up in the next few days, but he insisted on guiding me past a dangerous hijack point. It didn’t take long to team up and I was soon riding in the slipstream of his car. Without his lead I was riding at walking speed. With his lead we were moving at up to 25km/h. We covered those last 20km in about an hour, but what would have taken me another 3 hours without his help.
We parted at the Bosmansdam offramp and those final few kilometres to Century City was easy and away from the wind.
The final kilometre
It was an amazing end to the journey when I arrived to the welcome of my sister and her family. I had made it.
Making it happen
Two years ago I had an idea. It took a huge amount of effort and risk and sacrifice to make the idea a feasible reality. Then, it took further effort and risk and sacrifice to start and to complete the journey. There were 10,000 points along the way, from concept to completion, where I could have changed my mind or thrown in the towel so to say – but I persevered and completed what I had set out to do. The plans changed along the way, and the trip was shortened, but in no way do I feel like the value of the experience has been reduced.
I am forever grateful to all those that have helped and participated in one way or the other. Without your help, this trip could not have happened. The list of credits below is not complete and is arranged in alphabetical order – it’s a brief list. Some of you might not even realise how much you have helped. Thank you my friends.
Finally. My biggest achievement is that I managed to quit smoking and this was just a celebration of that achievement. I have now been smoke free for almost 6 years. Please let me know if I can help you (anyone) change your life. I’d be happy to help where I can.
A journey begins with one step. Make yours today.