1 000km… In His Garden! Beukes Bikes For Covid19 Aid
On 11 April, SA pro mountain biker Matthys Beukes took on a challenge that many other athletes tackled over lockdown, across the world: 24 hours around his garden. Completing a total of 260 kilometers in a total of 21 riding hours, this landed him a few interviews, major kudos and (crazily) an itch to do something bigger.
Beukes rides for the Pyga Euro Steel racing team, and his palmares include stage wins and the African at the Absa Cape Epic, overall wins at joberg2c, Berg and Bush, Wines2Whales, sani2c and national MTB titles, and he finished 2019 ranked 7th in the world in the UCI Marathon discipline. Cooped up at home in George was never going to be an all-Zwift affair.
The 32-year-old created a 400m twisty, obstacle-strewn track within his small property, which he described as “physical and technical, the going is slow”, with dogs and occasionally a small child to contend with. With the route set, all that as needed was a small recovery stint from the 24, and two weeks later, it was time to do it all again – four times. 1 000km, in his back yard.
Beukes’ ride wasn’t just for Strava kudos. not only did he add 750 kilometers, he added a cause; before embarking on a mission like this, choosing the right organisation was crucial to Beukes, to maximise the effect of the funds raised during the event. He chose the Humanitarian Empowerment Fund NPC https://hefund.org/
The HEF is a South African group of individuals who have committed themselves towards assistance in helping those who do not have the means to help themselves during the countrywide lockdown. HEF operates in Gauteng and the Western Cape. Areas include the West Rand, Rand West, Westonaria, Elsies River and Bloekombos. HEF is partnered with NIKA Capital for the raising of funds during this challenge.
When people stand together, nothing is impossible!” – Matthys Beukes
The first day provided the biggest challenges; George is well-known for cold and rainy conditions. Not the perfect way to start the challenge. As mud packed up on the Pyga during his first day of riding, he didn’t achieve his goal of averaging 17 km/h – only 14km/h was possible, thanks to sticky conditions and numerous stops to clean his drivetrain.
Beukes is well known for his positivity, willingness and going the extra mile when times get tough.
The second day off better, with the course drying up and conditions looking better. During a challenge like this, saving time means riding until 11pm and getting up at 3am to continue pushing on to make up time and distance. He set goals for this challenge, also hoping that this would encourage donations and also a social sharing as the challenge continues. Day two was also when Beukes also started facing mental challenges, mainly in remembering how many laps he had ridden. Media updates then became increasingly difficult, leaving his wife, Michele with the difficult task of balancing updates to the team and not intruding in the mental battle Matthys needed to overcome. Michele was a massive part of the attempt, ensuring her husband stayed hydrated and well-fed to avoid any medical difficulties that might occur.
Although it might have been difficult at first, breaking up a massive effort like this into nine smaller pieces is great for one’s mentality. This gave Beukes smaller distances to achieve before going for the two bigger chunks of riding. The first six were the easiest and fastest goals to accomplish. What came thereafter were the more difficult, each almost as far as the first six combined; mimicing multi-day stage races, iconic to not only the South African mountain biking calendar.
Beukes started his challenge on Tuesday, 28 of April and finished it five days later. Included in his challenges of rain and mud, he also overcame sleep deprivation and many physical challenges, including blistered hands and intense muscle pain.
“I never really wanted to sign up for this challenge but I felt like I didn’t have a choice. Every moment of the first three days felt like a nightmare that I couldn’t get out of and I was looking for excuses to quit. With every passing moment, more and more people gave their support and in turn it motivated me to keep going. After three days of struggling, I realised that I wasn’t doing this on my own and that so many people are part of the support team, working together to make this project happen.”
“Getting off the bike at 00:30 and on it, two hours later on the fifth day isn’t something I could’ve done on my own. When I saw how people climbed in backing my effort, fellow South Africans who not only believe in me, but believe in supporting one another. Something bigger stirred in my heart. This was a spiritual journey for me, and the message is that we need to stand together. It makes the impossible possible.”
To date, Matthys Beukes has raised R136 000 through his garden-destroying 1 000km ride, but there is still time to donate.