Epic ride: Epworth girls back after cycling 2 200 km from Cape Town

2013-04-18 00:00

WITH no special diet and just water and the occasional energy drink to sustain them, and ice packs and massages to treat muscle ache, a team of 16 cyclists from Epworth High School have completed a gruelling 2 200 km cycle from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg.

There were cheers, tears and hugs as they collapsed on their school grounds yesterday after completing the tour in just over four weeks.

A real test of endurance, the girls underwent vigorous training in preparation for the tour.

“It got really tough on the body. We all had to use ice packs at one point and gave each other massages to help with the pain,” said Hayley Martin (17) as she hugged her team-mates.

Forty-five girls tried out for the team, but a number of them dropped out during the gruelling training.

But the training was only the start.

The girls, with coach Les Willows, started their journey at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town on March 23.

Seventeen-year-old team captain Jordan Peek said each cyclist “hit the wall” at some point and wanted to give up.

“We supported each other the whole way and grew as a team and as people,” she said.

For Peek, the highlight of the trip was returning home.

“Waking up at 3 am each day and seeing the sunrise was amazing. We live in such a beautiful country and it was great getting to explore it, but coming into the school and seeing all the support from the students, teachers and our families was incredible.

“Each girl did 2 200 km, no one sat out. They were amazing. And Mr Willows’s support and the horrible singing in the mornings really motivated us,” she said.

Being away from home for so long took its toll on some team members. Vice-captain Charlotte Lovemore (17) said it was hard not seeing friends and family for a month, but the tour had brought the team closer.

“We really bonded on this trip. Many new friendships were formed and we became like a family,” she said.

Starting early each morning, the team cycled 100 km a day until the early afternoon, sleeping over at schools along their route.

They cited the climb from East London to Stutterheim as the most difficult part of the tour. The only blight of the four weeks was when one girl lost her concentration and fell off her bike along a stretch between Matatiele and Kokstad, but she was unhurt.

Willows was proud of the girls.

“It is an amazing achievement for the girls, especially since they all completed the whole tour. This is the sixth tour the school has done and only one other team was able to complete it,” he said.

The girls’ success earned them the school’s March Mr Price Sports award.

They will use the cash from the award to buy sports equipment for the Peter Pan school for the handicapped.

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