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Dr.Botha's Extreme Cycling Challenge II

In the News

Date: August 12, 98

Extreme Challenge II, THEY MADE IT!!!!

by Sharon Reichert
Mile Zero News Reporter

You've just cycled across the biggest country in the world, how do you feel? In just 28 days, Grimshaw's own Dr. Andries Botha and Zaan Claassens cycled more than 7,000 km from the west to the east coast of Canada, averaging 250 km a day and reaching speeds as high as 70 km/hour. The trip officially finished at 4 p.m. local time on Monday, August 10 in St. John's Newfoundland with the two riders dipping their bikes into the Atlantic Ocean.

This trip has been a dream of Botha's for sometime and now that it's over, his first reaction was actually one of sadness. "It's been very tough the last 2 days. Once you get on the island you know you're going to make it. There's satisfaction to finish but not a euphoria like people think, a feeling of sadness. A bit of a let down in a way," Botha said, just hours after finishing the challenge and dipping his bike into the Atlantic Ocean at St. John's, Newfoundland. Botha had put a lot of pressure on himself to finish the course, he was very concerned about letting everyone down, about not being able to finish due to injury. He expects it will take a day or two before it really sinks in, the accomplishment of crossing Canada by bike in just 28 days.

On the other hand, Claassens was very excited about finishing. She only began training with Botha in April and it wasn't until a month before the trip that she decided to go along and take the Extreme Challenge with Botha. "I've done it, I'm ecstatic! I'm very excited," she said. "There were very many absolutely beautiful moments (but the best was) 100 km before St. John's when I realized we were going to make it."

Claassens said it was very tough to be away from her family for so long and she will be returning home this week. Botha will drive the motor home back, taking the time to see Canada in another way and have a bit of a holiday. Neither Botha nor Claassens had been to Canada's east coast before and they were very impressed with the beauty of the scenery and the support they felt from people all along the way.

"It's an experience out of a storybook," Botha said. One of the purposes of the trip was to raise awareness of the problems of alcohol and drug abuse. While Botha and Claassens cycled, their support workers, Neil Hoffmeyer and John Isinger, talked with residents of the towns they passed through, handing out pamphlets and information on the subject.

"It makes you feel good that you're doing something," Botha said. "If I can change one person's life it was worth it." Botha promised that his work on alcohol and drug abuse doesn't stop with the end of his bike trip, he will continue to work to encourage people to change their lifestyle, helping to set up a fitness facility in Peace River and continuing to support the facility in Grimshaw. There were times along the way when the riders wanted to quit and they had to turn to Isinger for support. He was their chief cook and bottle washer, he washed their clothes, he put them to bed, fixed their bikes and did just about anything else they needed for 28 days. For most of the time he was assisted by Hoffmeyer, who had to return to South Africa last week. Isinger was the 'glue that held Botha and Claassens together when they were ready to quit.

"There were days when they were talking of shutting down," he said, adding that it was his job to fix them up, lift their spirits and get them back on the bikes. Botha said that the worst moment for him was the second day when they were at Kamloops. He was really feeling the pressure, his knee was bothering him and he was lacking confidence. But they kept plodding along and eventually the knee started to feel better and now here they are at the finish line!

Isinger said that he, too was happy to have the race finished but sad at the same time. "It was a good trip. Today was a bit exciting to see the trip end," he said. With 150 km to go on Monday, Botha and Claassens faced strong head winds for the last leg of the trip. They had expected to finish much earlier in the day but the winds made them feel they were almost pedalling backwards. Finally they came round a turn and began cycling with the winds, so they crossed the finish line at about 4 p.m. (Newfoundland is 3 1/2 hours ahead of our local time.) They even had a police escort for the last 30 km and plenty of people on hand to take photos and congratulate them on their achievement.

For the first night, they planned to treat themselves to dinner out. Then Botha said they planned to go golfing, kayaking, enjoy the area bit before beginning the trip home.

Watch for Claassens and Isinger to be back in Grimshaw later this week. Botha will be returning home around August 25.

Date: July 15, 98

Extreme Challenge II, HE's Off!!!!

Turn to the pages of the MZN each and every week as Dr. Andries Botha of Grimshaw attempts to cycle across Canada (6,957 km route) which is hoped to take place over 24 days and conclude at St. John's, Newfoundland.

On the move
Extreme Challenge II final preparations began with Dr. Botha and his crew departing Grimshaw on July 9th.

Prior to departing for Edmonton, where they will pick up a friend of Dr. Botha's who arrives in Canada from South Africa, the good doctor was honored with not one, but two sendoffs on July 8th. At 5 p.m. the Grimshaw Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Grimshaw sent Dr. Botha off in fine style, with a reception at the Mile "O" Monument. Over 50 people took in the event.

It was during the reception, the Town of Grimshaw donated $400.00 to Extreme Challenge II plus an additional $100.00 to maintain the "web site". The Mile Zero News organized a promotion involving 20 businesses in the community. A portion of the proceeds from the promotion, $400.00, was presented to Botha. (See inside for details).

Later that evening, the Peace Country Sports Club in Peace River, hosted a 7:30 reception. Approximately 25 people took in that event. Monies raised from the trip will go toward the Sports Club.

Official Launch...
Watch for Botha's official start to Extreme Challenge II on July 14th (yesterday). As the week progresses, you'll find Botha travelling through a number of municipalities including: Lac Le Jeune, Kamloops, Monte Creek, Salmon Arm, Sicamous, Three Valley Gap, Revelstoke, Golden, Lake Louise (Alberta portion begins) and Banff. He is expected to be in Alberta on Day 3 of Extreme Challenge II.

The Cause...
Don't forget why the trip is taking place...Dr. Botha is hoping to raise awareness of alcohol and drug abuse as well as promoting a healthy lifestyle

Weekly updates....
Dr. Botha's crew will be sending in regular reports as we follow the progress of this Grimshaw cyclist. Watch for more in the MZN or at his web-site http:/members.tripod.com/~drbotha/

On a final note...
Last year, during Extreme Challenge, Dr. Botha donated funds from the event to the establishment of a Fitness Centre in the community.

Kim Harris, Recreation Coordinator for the Town of Grimshaw, is presently finding a suitable low cost facility to host the fitness center. According to Harris, the goal is to have the center up and running sometime in September.

Date: July 7, 98

Botha Sets off on trip across Canada

by Jim Mihaly: Mile Zero News
Grimshaw's Dr. Andries Botha is on a mission. A mission that will not only see him journey across Canada by way of a bike, but at the same time promote two causes thathe feels strongly about: Fitness and alcohol & drug abuse prevention- not necessarily in that order.

"My main objective is to promote prevention of alcohol and drug abuse. It's a major problem in North America," noted Dr. Botha." Onein ten households are affected by alcohol in North America."

The good doctor is also looking to promote fitness along the 6,937 km route which is hoped to take place over 24 days and conclude at St. John's, Newfoundland. "It doesn't matter what age you are - you should remain active and have a healthy lifestyle," stated the 46 year-old doctor. Extreme Challenge II is appropriately named as Dr. Rotha will be setting off on hissecond excursion of. this nature in asmany years.

Dr. Hotha and his crew are planning to leave on their journey later this week. On Thursday July 9th, they will be travelling to Edmonton, and from there, to Vancouver B.C`. where the journey begins. The "Extreme Challenge II" journey will officially begin on July I4th. (The MZN has the complete itinerary in this week's paper).

"The Accident"
An accident, where Dr. Botha as struck by a vehicle near Fairview two weeks ago, has left him a little stiff and sore to saythe least. "I'm not 100% yet. I'm having back spasms from time to time. I hope to be 100% or close to that number, by the time I leave.That's why 1 decided to leave two days later to give me time to recuperate., he noted. Dr. Botha wanted to pass on his thanks to the many Peace Country residents who extended best wishes following the recentaccident. "It was very much appreciated," he said.

1997 Journey....
Last year's attempt at the Extreme Challenge was thwarted by adverse weather, bad road conditions and, ultimately, a kneeinjury that stopped his trek about 300 km before Thunder Bay, Ontario, barely half way to his goal. With last summer's experience still fresh in his mind. Botha has planned a slightly different route and will start about a monthlater hoping that he will be blessed with better weather and better luck this time around. Funds raised from last years trip went towards the purchase of fitness equipment for Grimshaws residents, not only to aidin physical rehabilitation but to promote substance abuse prevention and maintenance of a healthy lifestyle. This year's funds will go to purchasing equipment for a similar program in the newly renovated Peace Country Sports Clubin Peace River. "It is a real incentive" Bothasays. "I hope that once the Peace River program is up and running, Grimshaw will implementtheirs." He will be accompanied for at least part of the trip by Grimshaw resident John Isinger. Isinger was with Botha last year andhe admits that it was sometimes hard, given the conditions under which he and Botha made the attempt. "It kind of gets you down," he said. "you want to do your best... It is a struggle for the ( Dr. Botha) and it's a struggle for thecrew, too. You have to he organized. You've got to try your best and when stuff breaks down you have to fix it quick...." Isinger added that it is important that the crew doesn't allow these mishaps to affect Botha. he has to concentrate on hiscyclingand nothing else. Botha recognizes and appreciates the efforts of his crew and all those who have helped him by lending moral and financialsupport so he can make this journey.

"Web-Site"
You can find Dr. Botha's web-site, thanks to the assistance of Harvey Johnson at http:/members.tripod.com/~drbotha

Send off...
Prior to Dr. Botha and company leaving the community on Thursday, a send off will take place on Wednesday, July 8th(TODAY). The event will take place at 5:00 p.m. at the Mile O Monument. Donuts and refreshments will be served.

Date:June 23, 1998

Botha Sideswiped by Truck While Cycling

Bike Helmet Prevents Serious Injury

by Sharon Reichert --- Mile Zero News ---

Fairview RCMP report that Grimshaw physician Dr.Andries Botha was struck by a half ton truck whilecycling on Highway 2, 17 km south of Fairview. Herecieved various cuts and lacerations but, thanks to his bicycle helmet, his injuries were not nearly as serious as they could have been. The driver of the truckand a second cyclist were not injured in the incident,which took place on Friday evening, June 19, 1998 RCMP say Botha was sideswiped by the truck and charges are pending against the driver, who was the sole occupant of his vehicle.

Botha and the other cyclist were both training foran upcoming cross country bike tour. Botha biked halfway across Canada last summer before being sidelinedby an injured knee and he is planning to attempt the trip again this July. His training involves biking hundreds of kilometres on local highways. Botha said thatExtreme Challenge II will proceed as planned, thoughhe is taking this week off from his training.

Police said they were amazed at the lack of seriousinjuries to Botha and that his helmet was severly damaged. Both the cyclists and the truck driver were southbound at the time of the incident. Botha was takento the Fairview Hospital for treatment of his injuries.

Note from Webmaster:Happy Face

This story was first broadcast by CKYL radio of Peace River, Alberta. In a taped interview later Dr. Andries Botha stated that in a way he was lucky he landed on his head as he might have been killed otherwise.

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