It is with smiles from ear to ear and hearts filled to bursting that the Grootbos Foundation team welcomed back the two intrepid cyclists, Ian Privett of Globalcyclingtours.com and Mark Lawson of CycletheCape.com on Friday 16 October.

Ian Privett and Mark Lawson setting off from Grootbos in the rain and wind on Day 1.

The charismatic adventurers, who joined forces to undertake an unsupported cycle adventure, The Whole Way Round, had set off on 11 September from the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve near Gansbaai, where Ian’s younger brother Sean is the Conservation Director.

Criss-crossing the Western Cape by bicycle over 35 days to raise much-needed funds for Covid-19 Relief Programmes of the Grootbos Foundation NPO, they covered nearly 6 000 km – a distance even further than crossing the continental USA – with a total ascent equal to climbing Mount Everest seven times!

“We are deeply honoured by Ian and Mark’s vision, their passion and many hours in the saddle, in order to help rebuild the lives of the most vulnerable local communities served by the Foundation,” said Phil Murray of the Grootbos Foundation.

Ian Privett and Mark Lawson were welcomed back home at Green Futures Nursery, Grootbos on 16 October. With them are Ian’s parents and Gansbaai locals, Dave and Cynthia Privett.

The initial idea was to circumnavigate South Africa and ride ‘The Whole Way Round’. After careful consideration, a decision was made to rather follow a route within the Western Cape borders, because of the fluctuating Covid-19 infection rate at the time and the risk of provincial borders being closed again. The riders also did not want to wait as the need for Covid-19 relief was immediate.

The Whole Way Round started and finished at the Grootbos Foundation offices. Day 1 dawned rainy and windy on 11 September but Ian and Mark were fired up with their trademark indomitable optimism, both for the start of their adventure and for the goal of cycling to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives during the pandemic.

Keeping to tarred roads less travelled, they wound their way towards the Cape Peninsula before heading up the West Coast to enjoy the world famous Namaqualand bloom. They turned inland to cross the Cederberg, cycled Route 62, rode all the way to Beaufort West and then turned to begin the criss-crossing homeward route along the Garden Route.

Ian and Mark are planning to take on The (full) Whole Way Round in 2021.

Undaunted by days of fierce sun, gale-force winds, rain, a few flat tyres and mechanical issues, Ian and Mark said the South Africans they met along the way, and the breathtaking scenery in a country only just beginning to emerge from lockdown, made their experience one of the most exciting and fulfilling of their lives.

The kindness of friends and strangers along the route who offered free meals, free accommodation and encouragement, and the generous donations by those who followed their adventures made The Whole Way Round a marvellous success. To date, this initiative has raised R71 000 towards the Covid Relief Programmes of the Grootbos Foundation. Their aim before they set off was R100 000 – and anyone who would like to help them achieve this goal can still make a donation at grootbosfoundation.org/campaign/the-whole-way-round/

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