Writing ‘hope’ across SA in bicycle tracks

2012-10-22 00:00

RIAAN Manser has cycled around the circumference of Africa, went around Madagascar on a kayak and, together with Dan Skinstad, paddled around Iceland, but he reckons his latest task — cycling 4 100 km between Cape Town and Johannesburg — is the toughest challenge he’s faced.

“It’s the most manic thing I’ve ever done,” he said during a brief stop in Durban last week. “The first two weeks were horrible because I was so hungry. I only have 2 500 calories a day, which is less than half I need … in the last three weeks I’ve lost 11 kg. But it was my choice … I felt that if I was going to be supporting a charity that helps feed people, then I needed to be hungry on this journey …”

Manser has spent the past 36 days cycling to raise awareness of and money for KFC’s corporate social responsibility programme Add Hope. And, with each kilometre he covers, he is marking out the word ‘hope’ on the South African map.

This means that to get to Durban, he travelled through Richmond, Kokstad, Ixopo and the Valley of a Thousand Hills, and the next stage of his journey will take him through Howick, into Zululand and eventually to the Northern KZN towns of Vryheid, Dundee and Newcastle.

Manser said the toughest moment in his journey came when he was nearly at the half-way point.

“I was going up a big mountain and was really grafting. I thought I was getting lazy, so I told myself to tough it out. Then I looked down and saw that one of my tyres was flat, it was down to the rim,” Manser said.

Technical problems, hunger and lethargy aside, he believes his journey is important and could help save a few lives.

During his travels, he’s visited Add Hope’s partner organisations, including SOS Children’s Villages and World Vision; met some of the children who benefit directly from the charity; and has had company from the likes of Proteas batsman, Jacques Rudolph.

He’s also carried donations from people he meets in a special box fitted to his bike.

Manser added: “I’m highlighting the issue of hunger and showing people the impact that Add Hope makes and continues to make to children’s lives.”

Looking ahead, Manser plans to head overseas to promote his series Around Iceland on Inspiration, which is currently on the Travel Channel and is busy planning another adventure for 2013. To follow him on his journey around SA, follow @kfcsa and use the #Add­Hope or check out the Facebook page.

To make a donation and for more information, visit www.addhope.co.za

• arts@witness.co.za

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