RIDE instructor, Kev Yates, cycled 1000KM across South Africa for charity

By Krista Harris | 27 March 2023
5 Minute Read

Kev and his team cycled 1000KM across South Africa from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town and finished on day 9 by taking part in the Worlds’ biggest one day timed cycle race around Cape Town, all to raise funds for The Message Trust.

By Kev Yates

It was important to raise funds so “The Message Trust” can continue and expand, helping to reach young people in some of the most deprived areas in our country and beyond. To break the cycle of poverty, unemployment, crime and gangsterism. They immerse themselves in these areas and work with the local church, schools and prisons. Equipping, educating and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. Please check out The Message | UK Christian Charity for more info.

A 15 strong team set out to raise a whopping £250,000. 12 cyclists, 1 runner (who would run 100KM) and 2 drivers who would move our kit from point to point and keep us safe on the roads.

We had every kind of weather, sun, wind, rain, hail stones, thunder, lightning and then a bit more sun! A few bike mechanical issues along the way but nothing to stop us for too long. The hardest thing to deal with was the saddle soreness – ouch!

Before we got there, I only knew two other guys on the trip but we all quickly became good friends. When you are spending 7 hrs a day on a bike together, you soon get to know each other by sharing your life story and hearing theirs. 

South Africa is a beautiful country but not without its difficulties. The rich living across the road from the poor (literally the other side of the road). Lots of crime due to people just trying to survive. Planned daily electrical outages (load shedding) so many hours a day people are without electricity. For a country that is so rich in land and natural minerals, you have to pray that the people in power make the right decisions for the people rather than themselves.

Thankfully we didn’t see the BIG 5 whilst cycling but we did see, velvet monkeys, large spiders, snakes, baboons, elephants, hyraxes, ostriches, springboks and many birds of prey.

A lot of the cycling was done on the hard shoulder of a carriageway (N2) – not so glamourous. But when we hit the coast roads, it was truly magnificent. Sandwiched between mountains and the sea, watching the waves crash the rocks as we twisted up and down the smooth roads. It was pure WOW!

The evenings would be “wash kit” hopefully get it dry, and out for dinner to get the calories back in (South Africans are big on meat) and again, get to know each other. With this being a group of Christian guys I noticed that there was a high proportion of them who have either fostered, adopted, worked with, or who have been adopted themselves. I, being one of those, found the conversation fascinating and being able to give some insight into behavioural traits.

Mornings would be a bit like herding cats to get everyone packed and ready to head to the next destination. But we would get slicker each day and Daniel our group leader would do a great job (patience of a Saint).

So we got to Cape Town on the afternoon of day 8 and would have to battle through the city traffic on our bikes to enrol in The Big One, our lap of honour so to speak. Competing in the huge cycling event that is The Cape Town Cycling Tour (or The Argus as it’s locally known). Over 30,000 cyclists competing in the 110KM race. It was to be the best event I have ever done.

Day 9, the final day. 8am the sun was shining, we were in our holding pen, one of the last groups to set off. The twelve of us together but today was a free for all, leave it all on the road and go for it. 3 of us were the strongest cyclists in our group so we took off and worked together. Even though it was closed roads to cars, the roads were packed with cyclists of all ages and abilities. We hammered it for the first hour, nobody over took us as we sliced through the field. I think the whole of the city was out, either roadside cheering or on a bike competing. We eased off a little for the next hour, I wanted to “enjoy” the experience and take as much in as possible but still push myself. Legs felt really good considering the previous 8 days, so I really pushed up the hills and eased the downhills for the others to catch so we remained as a three.

The kilometres were ticking down fast, the roads again were stunning and I had a bit of time to take some videos on my phone whilst descending. The last couple of kilometres  was just like a pro race, crowds got even bigger, advertising boards, gantries and a fast straight to the finish line. My head said “Go Go Go” to the finish line but my heart said roll in with my two buddies…

We rolled in together, grabbed our medals and hugged it out. A very fitting end to an epic trip. The other boys pushed it too and we were soon all back together at the hotel… Dismantling our bikes and packing them away with both joy and sadness.

An incredible trip, vital funds raised and lifelong friends made. If you want donate to this cause, then you can still do so by clicking hereMany thanks for your support. Please feel free to speak to me about it all and learn more.

Kev takes RIDE on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, catch him in a class to find out more about his epic adventure.

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