Having reached the halfway mark of the Tour de France virtually after Stage 10, Travis Johnston is still well on his way to setting up a brand new Guinness World Records attempt but more so creating awareness and raising funds for Qhubeka, the charity he is doing all of this for.
Having already ridden over 1805km and 54 hours on his smart trainer on Zwift, Travis has no plans of throwing in the proverbial towel yet, “Overall I’m feeling a lot more confident actually, it’s a big landmark to have reached the first rest day, so my confidence is up, and I’m feeling good. My muscles and body are feeling tired, but it’s to be expected. I was obviously a lot fresher on day one, but I’m in a really good mental space, I’m focused, even on my rest day I’m feeling sharp and motivated.”
Doing such a tough challenge, means being faced with many mental obstacles along the way and on Stage 7, which was a massive 249.5 kms in the saddle, the longest stage of this years Tour de France, Travis found that he grew past those mental fights that faced him in the beginning, “In the beginning it was just getting my mind around time and not trying to fight it. Mentally when you are looking at the time the whole way through the day, each minute, second or kilometre takes so long, so it can play quite a lot of games on you mentally. Now I think I’m past that and the mind-set of a 4 to 7 hour day rides has become the normal and I’m quite happy to take on a challenge. I feel like I’m mentally a lot stronger now after getting through those battles in the beginning.”
Travis has been well supported by friends, family and the cycling community who having been sending daily messages that have kept him motivated. A special mention has to go out to the core team behind him of Stacy his wife, Bronwen Blunden, Catri Dixon and Max Cluer who have been making it all happen behind the scenes on the project as he explained, “We are all on the same page, pushing each other and we all want it to work and to be a success for Qhubeka. Another big motivator has been my Dad coming around every day and acting as a key witness for the Guinness World Records verification process, he is one of the first ones here and always one of the last ones to leave and it’s been really great to have him around and to spend this time with him.”
As mentioned, part of the challenge is setting up a brand new Guinness World Records attempt for the “Greatest simulated distance on a static cycle in one month (30 days)”, which means that Travis has ridden a few extra kilometres every day when he can. Most of it has been partly due to extra warm-up and sometimes at the end of some stages it has been an extra push to maximise his kilometres towards the project.
“I think we are on track, it’s going really well, I’m positive. Obviously the first part of the record is doing the Tour de France virtually on Zwift so we get the 3500km, and then we will focus on those last 9 days of riding post the Tour but for us it is really about raising as much awareness as possible for the Qhubeka charity and bicycles for the kids. Having the Guinness World Records attempt gives this project extra credibility and momentum and it’s really cool to have them along with us on this journey. We are definitely on the right track and are getting in some big kilometres and hours in the saddle each day. 30 days back to back is a massive ask on a smart trainer but I’m confident that we can beat the expectation of the Guinness World Records team and set a respectable milestone for others to attempt in the future.”
Getting to the halfway point has taken its toll on Travis’ body, which is to be expected in such a gruelling attempt but he remains confident having only lost 2, 2kg over the first 9 days. He came into the challenge slightly heavier knowing what lay ahead of him. He does believe his recovery sessions have been very helpful in maintaining his body weight ahead of the next two weeks, “As soon as I get off the bike each day I have a recovery shake to help the tired muscles and the body. After that I go home, have a quick shower, just refresh and I put some compression pants on. I also have my sports masseuse, Dave Rae, who comes in each day and gives me a bit of a rub down and then after that we focus a lot on meals, proper nutrition and getting those all important calories back in to the body. Later in the day I might hop into my compression boots while watching the Tour de France.
A lot of the recovery is about the blood flow in the body, so we really try to focus on that to help aid the recovery process so we can prepare properly for the next day.”
With his first of only two “rest days” in the bag, Travis believes it is important to keep going on these days to prevent the body from becoming lazy, “For the first rest day I rode 3 hours and got in about 93km. It was quite light riding, I kept quite a nice high cadence, and for me it also keeps me mentally sharp.” Keeping the routine is key in reminding the body of the task at hand even on rest days, albeit at a lower intensity.
The main objective remains creating awareness and raising funds for the #RideforQhubeka project, and changing lives with bicycles. With so many contributing already the bar has already been raised to R150 000 to date and he hopes that much more will be raised as he enters the final two weeks of this almighty challenge, “We are gaining some momentum. There have been some incredibly generous donations and we are most grateful. We have just reached R150 000 (40 bicycles) mark with our goal set at R 1 million (260 bicycles). I think we have done really well in our close community and through those who know what Qhubeka is and what it does. We now want to be able to reach out to those people who are not aware of this incredible charity and encourage them to get involved and donate and challenge their communities and influence base to do the same. We want #RideforQhubeka to be everybody’s project.
There are a lot of people who support and love what we are doing and to be able to follow that up with a donation is really important for us to drive the project and for it to succeed. I’m confident it is going to continue to surprise us with the incredible good will that there is out there. These things always do take time and sometimes people just need to see that it’s not just talk and that we are walking the walk as well.”
Having put the word out there, there are already some big names getting involved and supporting the project with their “Qhubeka Hand Up” and donations and Travis is confident that the goal will be reached within the by the end of the project. “To be able to really change the lives of others with Bicycles is an incredible gift and to be able to be a vessel to do that through our @rideforqhubeka project is a privilege and an honor.
#BicyclesChangeLives / #RideforQhubeka