What started as a chat around a braai 9 months ago is finally a reality as Travis Johnston gets on his bicycle to attempt the first ever non-assisted Tour de France, not just for the Guinness World Records but to unite the global cycling community and fans of cycling to raise awareness and much needed funds to support the incredible charity that is Qhubeka and in doing so Change Lives through Bicycles.
Travis will ride every day and every kilometer of the 2021 Tour de France virtually from his #PainCave starting on 26 June and ending on 18 July on Zwift as he takes on this exciting #RideforQhubeka” athlete project.
With the COVID pandemic taking over the world and causing so much disruption in our lives and our communities, Travis felt the need to make a positive change in the lives of people going forward by being able to help children, health workers and communities and to be able to assist from an education and health point of view is something that he is really passionate about and ultimately became the driving force behind him wanting to do this.
Having followed Qhubeka for a number of years and loving what they’re all about was reason enough for Travis to approach them as his charity of choice, “I love the core purpose of Qhubeka in supporting the kids out there. Education is such a massive need in our country and for our children, I really felt that there was a good energy between myself as an athlete, my love for the bicycle and Qhubeka and the life changing work that they do. I really love the link and synergies between myself and their purpose.”
“The ultimate focus is to raise as much funds and awareness as possible for Qhubeka and help support the process to distribute the bikes which get the children to school and health workers to work, on time and energized for a day of learning and seeing patients. If we can achieve that then I know that everything will be worth it and we have succeeded with our #RideforQhubeka athlete project.” Travis concluded.
Not only will Travis be creating awareness and help raise funds for Qhubeka, who are one of five nominated charities of this year’s Tour de France, but at the same time he will be looking to set up a brand new Guinness World Records attempt. In doing so there are very strict processes and protocol that need to be followed in the verification process to qualify this Guinness World Records attempt.
Travis said, “Yes, it’s an extremely demanding process. Just for the event we will have two cameras, on time-lapse, on me continuously the whole time while I’m riding, this could be anything from 1 hour to 9 hours a day. I’ll have to have two witnesses on hand throughout the day as well as have many photos taken during the course of the daily rides of me on the bike to systematically authenticate what we doing. I will also be uploading Garmin, Strava and Zwiftpower data files in order to prove the numbers behind the scenes and the distance that I’m doing each day. So it’s quite a challenging process and there is quite a lot to get done each day.”
Having raced for 10 years as a professional tri-athlete on the ITU and Ironman circuits, Travis is very much aware of what lies ahead over the next 23 days and has been putting in the hard yards, especially over the last 2 weeks to simulate the attempt. “In general I’m always fairly fit. Over the last two weeks week I have put in 8 or 9 days of 4 hours riding a day, just to get the body used to it and the last week before the race I have taken off completely just to rest and put on a little bit of weight before taking on this #RideforQhubeka journey.”
A lot of mental preparation has also been needed as Travis explains, “You think about it a lot, and this last week I have spent a lot of time processing it and getting into the right mindset for each day. It’s going to be extremely demanding both mentally and physically. It’s going to be quite a painful process, physically and just making sure I’m in the right mental space each day and taking one day at a time and having a good routine is important. There has been a lot of mental preparation in the background and I suppose that is the kind of stuff that no one really sees, but I have been thinking about it in depth and been preparing myself accordingly.”
The challenge does not stop with the ride itself, as over the next 23 days Travis will need to stay healthy and recovery properly each day to make all of this a true success, “We are currently in the third wave of COVID here in South Africa, so being able to stay safe and not get sick is a really important part in this, otherwise everything will just fall flat. I also have to think of the nutrition aspect and making sure my body can survive for the next 23 days.”
To help Travis stay motivated and to support him, Zwift has made it possible for fellow Zwifters to join him on Zwift on his daily rides from the 26th June to the 18th July 2021. To join Travis on his #RideforQhubeka every day, fellow Zwifters can follow him on his Travis Johnston (@rideforqhubeka) profile on the Zwift Companion App and his name will pop up on their Zwift homepage when they log in every day, by just clicking on his name they can then join the ride. All ride routes, times and details will be posted on the @rideforqhubeka Instagram page and can be found on the #RideforQhubeka project page below.
Travis has some great support around him over the next three weeks, “There is a big crew behind me, other than the support of family and friends. I’ve got Max and Bronwen Cluer, who have been instrumental in helping me put this all together, from the logistics and operations and Guinness World Records side of things they have been truly phenomenal. Qhubeka have been amazing and are extremely appreciative of what we are trying to do and are fully in support of it. The witnesses and support on the day will be my dad and wife Stacey, who will be present daily as witnesses and just trying to make sure that I’m fueled up. We have a full time medic who will also act as a witness for us and make sure I’m in one piece at the end of each day and incase anything happens to me. I’ll also have support from my community at the Mavericks Academy that will come through to show some support, so I’m really looking forward to that. I know that I will also feel the energy and good vibes and support from the cycling, sporting and corporate community at large and this will keep me motivated for sure. I want it to be fun and inclusive and make it everybody’s #RideforQhubeka, the hope is that people and corporates will challenge each other to pledge and donate towards this project and in doing so change the lives of so many.”
To contribute and donate towards Travis’ #RideforQhubeka efforts, you can support him by making donations at www.givengain.com/e/ride-for-qhubeka/ and follow every moment on the project Instagram page @rideforqhubeka where you can also message him and send him words of support and encouragement.
#BicyclesChangeLives / #RideforQhubeka
For more info on Qhubeka go to: www.qhubeka.org