Like David said: “Not only is it a journey across the country, but a journey into the soul”
When I was compiling content for the website, I came across these words by David. I knew exactly what they meant but had no idea what my journey would be, I don't think any one of us did.
FYI, David Waddilove is the founder of the Freedom Challenge Trail. If you think our journey is mad, it's not! David ran it from Cape Town to Durban as training for the Comrades which happened a day or two later. WTF!
For the few out there who joined our journey recently, you may not know that I, Donna was one of the riders who was to embark on this journey across our beautiful land, regardless of the obstacles that may be presented. Yes, those obstacles came, and they were big, then they got massive. I pushed them aside and persevered, the only way I know how. What obstacles, you ask? Firstly, I am not as experienced a unicyclist as Johnny and Alan. As far as woman riders in South Africa go, I'm good, as far as woman riders across the world go… I'm not so good. I was going to be the first female unicyclist to ride the Freedom Challenge. Hahaha… not this year… you're not ready and there are more important things that need attending to. Besides having the biggest sign possible presented to me, I persevered. What was the sign? Well, 6 weeks before the tour started and 1 week after we received our geared hubs, I dislocated my right elbow, you know, the everything arm. Now any sensible person would know that it's time to admit defeat. Oh no, not stubborn me (a trait I can attribute receiving from my father). I did everything possible to ensure my involvement in the tour as a RIDER. Joined the gym and rode on strange static two wheeled instruments that are supposed to mimic a bicycle. Did hikes with a heavy backpack. Bought a elbow brace to prevent hyperextension. I created my dream world. Johnny and Alan were gracious enough to respect that. They dropped the hints but I still ignored it. Nothing was going to stop me but the trail.
I rode half of day one, did the whole of day 3 with a bit of strain, didn't want to give up. Then came the following day. I was too tired but I got up, stubbed my foot the night before so it was ah-nah. I struggled so much on that day. Early that morning we tried to call Kirby but no signal, we had to persevere, there was a lot of walking. Johnny even rode ahead to get to Kirby quicker so she could collect me. He got horribly lost and by chance and the grace of all things good we found each other before dark. We all continued the walk to Ntsikeni. That was the day the trail defeated me.
Now what? To the van you go Donna, ok. I enjoyed the van, we navigated through rain, mud, treacherous roads and had sleep overs with the Purple PeopleWagon. It was fun! Then I started getting bored and my mind went to the dark side. I got grumpier by the day and projected my mood, it was tense and I created it. Then Neil had his accident, tragedy had hit the Cronje family. Johnny fluctuated as his fathers condition fluctuated, but he stayed because Neil insisted. As tough as it was for Johnny he respected his father's wishes and pedaled on, today is Christmas, in a CAVE! Neil I think, is at home wearing a red sock and a Basutho blanket.
This brings me to the next part of my story. Fathers, the ones that have been their since the start. I am the only team member from a divorced family and therefore my father is both of my parents. 1 Year ago my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 colo-rectal cancer. He has passed his first sell by date. And is now on his second, he is virtually bed ridden. In one year I have seen my father's body deteriorate and because all his efforts haven't shown results, his spirit has died. It's not easy seeing your father perish and being unable to take the suffering away. It's been hard to deal with. Without flinching I left the tour to spend the festive period with my father and my family who are nursing him at this time. Leaving my beloved boyfriend, incredible housemate and new found friend to fend for themselves. It's brought about reflection and placed priceless value on what I/ we are experiencing. Being with my father was important, it has made him lighter in spirit and he feels loved, we all want to be loved! Love is easy to give.
The journey has been tough for all of us. Today is Christmas, I am in Joburg and the rest of the team are, I hope, safely at Studis Damse Drif getting ready for the day ahead. My efforts to find out if they have arrived safely have failed, not a single contact number is being answered. There was no reception all day yesterday, nothing on twitter and no responses to text messages. Tonight they sleep in a cave, what a wonderful thought. But regardless the last 3 days have been hard, I'm not sure if it's harder than the usual day on the tour, but remember it is day 29 of the tour. Alan was flat the day before yesterday, he even slept through dinner which is unlike Alan, he can eat you under the table. The Baviaans turned men into boys and Kirby had to change a tire on the Purple PeopleWagon. To top it all off, there was a problem with accommodation 3 nights ago and they only got to rest their weary heads at 12 in the evening. Yes, LIFE is happening!
Yesterday, we received an e-mail from a gentleman named Marnitz, who along with La-Hoff School in Klerksdorp have collected about 200 pairs of shoes. You need to understand that this was unexpected, people are helping us achieve our goal of giving 2000 pairs of shoes to children of South Africa. I've been struggling to come up with a solution to find the money do this. We've all put in our personal savings into the project, taken a loan and are far away from giving those 2000 pairs of shoes. Then this e-mail arrived filled with generosity and the combined efforts of a community, one of the many pockets in SA. How could we refuse that, these shoes have been collected with integrity and love. There was a spark and I released that we don't need money to do this, WE NEED SHOES, everyone has a pair of fairly good shoes that they don't wear anymore, well not everyone, that's why we're doing this and that's how we do it. Financially, it's been tough of late, recession is something that still lingers. The goal of the tour is to buy 2000 pairs of school shoes through the Bobs for Good Foundation for children. Things don't always happen the way we plan, situations change and we need to adjust.
It's time to open all those wonderful gifts that someone purposely gave you. Enjoy this time with your family and friends, I can't express the value of it.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas filled with light.
I wish the Boswell, Cronje, Kruger and Read families an exceptionally Happy Christmas. Your children are incredible and you should be proud of them and their efforts. The Kisogloo's will be having a rather large loud Greek Christmas and ripping Nik (my father) off about his current hairstyle.
To Alan, Johnny and Kirby, I love you guys and well done, your over the half way mark. You're nearly HOME! I look forward to rejoining the tour on the 28th and seeing the Christmas photos you guys produce.
Thank you for coming back to check up on the Team and taking the time to follow our progress… and reading about what Christmas meant to me this year.
Perhaps there will be reception during the course of the day so that we can speak to Alan, Johnny and Kirby.
… So they had a really short ride today and got in at mid day. Freshened up and hopped in the Purple PeopleWagon to get some reception and a christmas lunch in Willowmore. Kirby managed to send some photo's to include in this post. Enjoy!
BTW, it appears as if Kirby is mastering the art of unicycling, go Miss Kirby!
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