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Previous Attempt:

Dr.Botha's Extreme Cycling Challenge II

Daily notes from the crew and Dr. A Botha

John Isinger in fine form

Aug 7, 1998: - Day 25 - 225 Km. Hello Everybody

We drove off the Ferry at 6 a.m. this morning. Everybody is very tired!! - not much sleep last night. We stopped at the Information Centre in Port -aux-Basques. These centers are really wonderful, lots of information, free maps, history etc. We found out where there are campsites. We sat in the motor home - struggling to get going this morning. We wrote faxes - not wanting to get on the bikes. John is also tired having stayed up on the Ferry until 4a.m.

Arno is sad today. Neil’s departure has affected him. We started at 9 a.m. after working out our mileage for the next four days. Every 3 Km. today is one less to do for the next 4 days – we are counting backwards now. We know we have 905 Km. to St. John’s. Today will be a recovery day - the last 3 days took lots out of us. The end is near and we know now that we will finish this Challenge.

Newfoundland is really beautiful, it is pristine!! - very clean and isolated. There were lots of high round shaped hills, lots of lakes, water and wild flowers. The sides of the road are seas of pink, yellow, purple, and white - it is wonderful. "Brook" seems to be the name for many towns around here. Corner Brooks is where we stopped after 225 km. Arno didn't think we would make it. I felt positive today except for a really sore butt. I had to stop often to see to it, very sore sores today , but it eased off towards the afternoon.

John is coping well on his own, taking video, photos, fixing the bikes, passing us water bottles, bananas, power bars – without him this trip would be impossible!


Aug 6, 1998: Day 24

What an incredible day!! We started 27 Km. west of New Glasgow, very early. We knew we had to make good time because we are booked on the Ferry from Sydney, crossing the channel to Port-aux-Basques – a total of 277 Km. – the pressure was on. Last night we had cycled one hour in the dark. We were tired and nervous that we would struggle today - one never knows what could come up like wind, bad road surfaces or hills. Today we cycled for 10 hr. & 57 min.
-- for an average of 25Km. /hr.

The scenery was really beautiful . At Port Hastings we had to stop at the bridge for a sail boat to cross. A whole piece of the road, including part of a railway line moved sideways to let it through. It was really nice to stand so close by and watch. If we had been in a car we would have missed it. That is what is so wonderful about this trip, - traveling at 25 - 30 Km/hr, you get to see a lot more and smell the country side (wild flowers) and the Sea.

We made the Ferry after having a few races up and down hills. It’s quite incredible to push your body and mind to the limits. It was a good day, but we were sad too because we had to say good-bye to Neil, who is flying to Toronto to get back to South Africa. He was the only one with no moodiness on this trip – a real stabilizing factor on this trip and we will miss him.

Michelle Wald’s parents came to see us. We went out for Chinese food and talked about the cycling experience. Michelle’s mom brought cookies, scones, pasta and pasta sauce, which was so nice of her. We said our sad good-byes and departed on the Ferry.


Aug 5, 1998: Day 22 & 23

Note from support crew member John Isinger

Hi Everybody

Nothing much has changed but the weather. The last two days have been very hot. Arno and Zaan have done very well the last few days. Travelling through Quebec we found it hard to communicate with Folks there.

On the morning of August 3rd on the East Side of the Harbour -- we were told that we were very inconsiderate and not thinking of other people when we were starting up the plant to prepare breakfast for the crew. The gentleman complaining, was sleeping with his family in his Van in the Parking Lot. I think he could not afford the R.V. park only three blocks away. The gentleman was told that we respect all of the Provinces in Canada , not only Quebec.

At this time Niel and I are sitting in the Nova Scotia Information Centre. We find people here are very polite and helpful. We hope to be at the Ferry dock at 12 midnight on Aug. 6th for roughly a six hour ride.

Niel figures I should have a blue dress to match my eyes and he is looking for an apron for me.

I hope everything is going well.
John I.

Note from Webmaster:Happy Face

Gee John! I wonder why anyone would complain about someone firing up a generator in a campsite at 5 or 6:00 am in the morning?

Aug 2, 1998:Day 20

Saint Felicien - Saint Simeon –186 Km. Started off very slowly. We had to stop after 26 Km. for coffee and Lidocaine - then off we go and made it to La Bale, a beautiful town. Zaan slept and I phoned home and spoke to my family for the first time in 3 weeks. I went to a bike shop to get a new part which made a big difference. The Ferry was leaving at 6:45 and 9:30. We started to race to make the early Ferry - sent John to get a place on it.

We enjoyed cycling 48Km. in 75 minutes but still missed the early Ferry. Had a beautiful dinner - a nice day at the end. Arno

Aug 1, 1998:Day 19

We camp at a beautiful spot in the park, next to a lake – very isolated. Very cold this morning, started off very slowly. We had to stop for hot chocolate to warm up after 35 Km. Stopped to look at two young people who drove into the ditch - fell asleep but were unhurt. Started to cycle better and better – my knees improved. Peninsula area very bad - roads deteriorated. We cycle like a machine today. Dark caught us at 262 Km. A very good day and tomorrow we hope to finish Quebec.

July 31, 1998:Day 18

Cycling through Northern Quebec -- beautiful but very isolated. Cycling is starting to have an affect on our bodies. I have very little body fat, as Zaan as well. It is difficult to replenish what you lose every day. My knee is much better. As Zaan said if one can only cycle without pain it will be a pleasure. Buttock sore (massive). We have to carry on – from now on – no return. Arno

July 30, 1998: day 17

A letter from John to his co-workers:
Hello girls at the Town office and guys at the Town shop

This trip is an experience that everyone will never forget. In between washing dishes, cooking, and vacuuming I am beginning to believe that I might have to wear a dress one of these days. When I do and when I am done with it, maybe it will fit one of you girls.

The weather has been unbelievable. If it is not the wind whistling in my ears, then it’s the rain messing up my hair do. There has been about six days of rain so far and about 3 beautiful sunny days. The roads in some of these Provinces are terrible- I am very glad to be an Albertan.

Nobody has complained about my cooking so far. I think why they haven't is because I said at the beginning - if there were complaints - they would have to make their own meals.

I met a new friend on the voyage across Canada - - His name is Neil from South Africa. In roughly 28 days trying to learn about our country, he is finding things are very different here compared to South Africa. At the moment Neil and I are sitting in the motor home across the Quebec boarder enjoying the view of trees and more trees.

I hope this finds everybody in good health. Say hi to the Town crew for me.

John Isinger

July 29, 1998: Day 16 Cochrane to Val-d’Or -- 267 Km. - 9 hours 33 mins.

Still cold and raining - very hilly road and bad surface. Went into Quebec - people think they are in a real rush. It is very dangerous and we’ve had many close calls. It is very difficult to communicate etc - nobody speaks English. It is not easy to get around. Stopped at Rouyn-Noranda for lunch - beautiful country.

Zaan and myself are physically and emotionally so tired that if we have a disagreement we cycle the " " out of one another -- at least make quick miles, and we find afterwards that we are friends again.
Good day,

July 28, 1998: Day 15
Mattice to Cochrane – 262 Km. – 9 hours 14 mins.

Forecast called for 20% chance of rain – it did rain. Everything got wet and we had to dry before we could carry on.

Traffic was bad – people drive like maniacs. We enjoyed most of the day, in spite of the problem with my left knee. Zaan was content to cycle behind me the last stretch – unable to make town before it became too dangerous with the darkness and pain.

July 27, 1998: Day 14

Geraldton to Mattice – 278 Km.

I was glad to pass Geraldton because of all the pain I endured last year. Inspite of my ache and pain I was happy in my mind. One gets so confused about time / days. The only thing in one’s mind is to do miles and concentrate on your body – intake, food and to pay attention to present injuries. You push your body and mind to the limit. That’s why they call it a challenge.

We are happy about our progress in spite of bad road surface and rain.

July 26, 1998: Day 13

We started late from Thunder Bay - 7a.m. When the tough get going the going gets tough!! We are still on the road , it’s day 13 and our bodies are telling us to please stop now. This is such an incredible challenge in all regards - physically , mentally , emotionally. Our 1st stop was at 58 Km. - sore knees for Arno, sore seat for me. These wounds will take a few weeks to heal so taking a day off to rest won't help. Arno is worried that I will quit today, but we keep peddling to make steady miles.

The road surface varies a lot. We pass signs that say "Road Improvement Project - completion Fall 1998". We are never quite sure if we should rejoice or prepare for the worst. Today we cycled on gravel and poor roads for many kilometers. It rained quite a bit too , so it was a bit muddy. I really enjoyed the change in weather and road surface – everything is relative - so we can go on any road. In some places the road was like a race track and we'd do really good time – 34Km/hr.

We cycled past a dead skunk in the road - I thought I was going to puke. We stopped often today to tend to sore and stiff knees from the rain. We are out of dry clothes and tomorrow will be another challenge. We miss you all at home and hope you are thinking of us. At anytime we appreciate your thoughts. Checked in this night at Geraldton for a good 260 Km. - at 9 p.m. We are about half way, so we know we have to still endure what we have done till now.

July 25, 1998: Day 12

We started at 6 a.m. from Ignace, where we camped at a lovely spot on the lake . It’s beautiful here . The morning was really freezing - even though we had 3 layers on.

My wounds on my "seat" have gone septic and the anaesthetic cream doesn't kill the pain. Every revolution is painful - luckily there is a Doctor on board who has started me on antibiotics.

Arno’s knee ( which was hurt in the car accident ) is always good in the morning, and slowly deteriorates toward the end of the day. We have found that 60 Km. at a time works. So 60, 120. 180, 240 (till the end) is what we do. At the rests we ice knees, eat, pop pills and various meal replacement drinks. Coffee helps too, but not too much, otherwise it interferes with hydration (as does alcohol).

Our 3rd stop of the day took us to near the Kakabeka Falls . We loaded the bikes into the Izuzu and drove to the Falls. It was truly beautiful. Arno was there last year and really wanted to show the rest of us. We took Photos and Video and saw a ( ) the size of a house. Back to where we stopped - now the last push to the Terry Fox Monument. The road before Thunder Bay was very bad- lots of pot holes , ruts, gravel - very uneven. Lake Superior is Huge!

The Terry Fox Monument put goose bumps on me. It’s incredible !! to think he couldn't get a sponsor and by the time he got to Thunder Bay he had raised 24 million dollars, on one real leg and one artificial leg. It was very inspiring!! More photos and then off to find a camp site – a total of 255 Km. for the day .

Will let you know how it goes tomorrow.
Love Zaan

July 24, 1998: Day 11 - Friday -


Kenora - what a beautiful place . As Neil said - we can live here. If you only have to cycle and not all the additional problems. First the fridge packed up. Two thousand dollars later a new one was installed in Winnipeg. Neil stayed behind to do chores in Kenora. He phoned back – the Izuzu is packing up. I had to buy a hose – all new problems. John had to turn back to go and help Neil. We cycled alone 75 km. to Dryden and stopped at an Information Centre -- beautiful area. Cycled into Ignace - completed 245 Km. so called it a day

My left knee still gives me problems.
Tomorrow is another day.

Arno & Crew.

July 23, 1998: Day 10 - Thursday -

We started on the East side of Winnipeg today. Camped at a lovely spot. It is quite hard – yesterday Arno and I were saying how we help each other – today we are both flat and very tired. Our first stop was just 48 km from were we started. The road out of Winnipeg was really rough. We both have huge sores, raw patches on our "seats". It burns like crazy. We use an anesthetic cream to deaden the area – but it is short lasting and I think we are becoming desensitized too. Our next stop was at 100 km. We fell asleep with our plates of food on our laps and magic bags on our knees. It is the second half hour sleep of the day. We are exhausted!! Lovely lunch of clam chowder and ham, cheese and tomato sandwiches. We think we may not make it to our desired 288 km to Vermillion Bay. The scenery is starting to change again. Lovely trees; spruce, poplar and some other large leafed trees – like oaks Lots of little lakes. Falcon Lake is beautiful. Lovely house right on the water, lots of boats too. No more flat roads, some small hills. We stopped just before the Boarder for a break. Seats are SORE!! Got to Kenora at 6 o’clock for a total of 204 km. Walked along the "beach front", looked at float planes and boats. Went to dine at a Greek Restaurant, best food we’ve eaten, really excellent!! Camped just outside Kenora, lovely spot right on the water. Asleep by 10 p.m. Hopefully we will be stronger and rested tomorrow. 500 plus to Thunder Bay. Think of us. Love everybody.

July 21, 1998: Day 8 - Tuesday -

Hello Everybody:
I’m privileged to write today. Arno said I could give our account of yesterday – instead I’ll tell you more about the trip as a whole – from a woman’s point of view. When this trip is over, I’ll be able to write a book (not about cycling), but with all the dirtiest jokes in North America. It is quite a challenge to be sharing such a small space with 3 grown men. Everybody has their moods – ups and downs. It is not only the cycling that is a challenge. So far it has all gone very well. Niel and John are getting to know each other better. Niel is over his jet lag now and seems to be waking up. He really enjoyed B.C. and the Rockies, but found the last few days monotonous in scenery. Us two cyclists really enjoyed the West, actually not the west wind, the last few days.

This trip would surely be impossible without John. He is very organized and precise, a little moody sometimes if things don't go as planned, but mostly he is a card. Our refrigerator packed up a few days ago with the heat in Saskatchewan, so today John left us after lunch to get to Winnipeg to have a new fridge installed. So we cycled 177 km with only the Isuzu as support. That means no ice packs, no cooked meals, no hot magic bags, no toilet, no sitting with your feet up, no music, no shelter from rain or heat. It was very tough mentally to know we are out there on our own. Unfortunately Niel had trouble with the Isuzu, so we cycled 100 km without any help. We got caught in a rainstorm and had to pull off the road to phone Niel & John. Since John was in Winnipeg getting a new fridge, we didn't have a change of dry clothing, so we cycled the last 55 km in wet clothes. I am having a wonderful time. Every evening I look at our map of Canada, and I can't believe how far we have come. My most memorable experience on the trip was just before Golden, after the big Summit climb, there was a small hill and as I changed gears my chain came off, so I stopped and put it on again. While I was doing that I heard a noise in the ditch on the other side of the road. I looked up and there was a huge black bear looking under stones for insects. My heart stopped. He/she looked at me. HUGE!! Thank heavens I saw the Bear after I got my chain back on and not before. I just quietly got back on my bike and peddled away with a heart bat in my chest that no Summit climb can be compared to.

I am quite amazed at how the roads differ in each province. I thought all Canadian roads were as well manicured as they are in Alberta. We have had some very poor road surfaces. It is quite incredible what a difference a good road makes. On a poor, bumpy road we would be going 28 km/hr compared to 32/34 km/hr on a good road. Arno tells me that the roads in Ontario are very sorry. I’ve been practicing cycling on the white line!!

I take my hat off to Arno who did so well last year. This is a real EXTREME CHALLENGE. I don’t know how anyone could do this alone. The road is so long, the day is long, with no company it would be very difficult. We help each other a lot. I’m usually slow the first 2 hours in the day. Stiff and sore, half asleep (even though I usually wake up before John’s alarm goes off). Arno helps a lot to encourage me those first few hours. I’m strong in the late afternoon and early evenings. That’s usually where I get to help him. But everyday has many hours and each hour many kilometers/miles. Everyday has new challenges.
Zaan, Arno, Niel & John

July 20, 1998: Day 7 - Monday - 278 Km.

Woke up to the wind blowing from the WEST , waiting for a year for day like this, everybody upbeat . Started at 6 a.m., made very good time -- 33Km. /hr. Dr. Botha feeling good but Zaan has sore knees today. Stopped after 84 Km. for breakfast. Road surface wonderful, makes a difference on the behind, but bathroom breaks are a problem - as no trees in Saskatchewan, so are on the lookout for hay bales. Arrived in Moose Jaw (172 km.) at 12 o’clock, had bikes serviced, slept and ate Chinese food and back on the road from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. John in top form tonight, and Neil is getting used to Canadian time.

July 19. 1998: Day 6 - Sunday - 233 Km.

Left Medicine Hat at 6 a.m. East Wind, thought the worst was over!! A real struggle to the Saskatchewan border, stopped for breakfast, carried on and cycled through Swift Current, went back for soak in hot tub, we are very saddlesore. John made very nice moose steaks for evening meal and considering all not a bad day.

July 18. 1998: Day 5 - Saturday - 288Km.

Left Calgary at 6 a.m. --- beautiful day, sunny. Dr. Botha’s injuries are improving but chest and laft knee are still painful from accident. Riding at about 29.5 Km./hr. Zaan’s husband Dr. Claassen and family met us at Brooks. Dr. Claassen took some great videos. John and Neil, our support crew, are doing a wonderful job without them the trip would be impossible. We have to ice and heat the knees every night as they are very painful. Cycled into-through Medicine Hat, two big hills in town.

July 17, 1998: Day 4 Friday - 278 Km.

Left late this morning, 6 a.m.- time change. Lots of hills to Field where we had breakfast. Stopped at the top of the pass for a minute and down we went to Banff, stopped at Canmore, off again , wind from behind, fun, hot, feeling great, going well . Dr. Botha had first flat, Zaan broke a record - no flats for two days. Lots of holiday traffic, seems everybody going away. Traffic very heavy through Calgary. Stopped for the night 10 Km. Out of Calgary. Had a Good day.

July 16, 1998: Day 3 Thursday - 222Km.

Left Sicamous at 5:30 a.m. under cloudy cool conditions. Stopped just before Revelstoke, - beautiful area, had breakfast and off to Glacier National Park. Stopped just before Rogers Pass to rest before tackling the pass. Stopped at the top, met a Dutch couple who are cycling, exchanged pins for small dutch shoe pins. Off to Golden and up the hill where we stayed. Good Day!

July 15. 1998: Day 2

Left at 5:30 am. Weather was overcast and cool
Raining intermittently
Stayed last night at Sicamous
Total of 550 km. to date

July 14. 1998: Day 1

Extreme Challenge II left Vancouver in the rain this AM.. Have passed Hope B.C. the rain has quit and all is going well.

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