Dr.Botha's Extreme Cycling Challenge II
In the News
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
"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
"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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
You can find Dr. Botha's web-site, thanks to the assistance of Harvey Johnson at http:/members.tripod.com/~drbotha
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
Note from Webmaster:
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.