A GROUP of local cyclists will start a gruelling 900km journey from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town tomorrow, in a bid to help create awareness and funds for Operation Smile.
Operation Smile is a rescue project which enables children born with facial deformities, such as cleft lip and cleft palate, to undergo reconstructive surgery.
According to cyclist Martin Glaum, the team, which consists of 13 cyclists, will cycle approximately 80km to 100km per day to cover the full distance to Cape Town and this will take place in the duration of 10 days.
He said it takes a lot of commitment, dedication and effort to prepare for an endurance event of this magnitude as without the necessary preparation, the cyclists would not be able to complete the event.
â€œEver since I cycled the Langkloof route from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town three years ago, with a few friends, I wanted to repeat the process but this time for a good cause.
â€œSo, a few month ago we decided to make that dream a reality and chose to support Operation Smile,â€? Glaum said.
He said nothing could adequately prepare oneâ€™s body to cycle these kinds of distances for 10 consecutive days, â€œItâ€™s all in the mind. Our group of riders are all reasonably fit from having fun on our MTBâ€™s (mountain bikes), so, we just needed to toughen up our butts by spending longer hours in the saddle.â€?
Training preparations went well, averaging at three rides per week, including indoor training and partaking in local cycle races.
Operation Smile ambassador Shannon Smit said, â€œIt costs a mere R5 600 to change a childâ€™s life completely to rectify a cleft palate. We would like to use this opportunity to change as many lives as possible.â€?
The ride will start from Bridge Street Brewery in Port Elizabeth at 18:30 and the group will stop at various towns, such as Jeffreys Bay, Storms River, Plettenberg Bay, Groot Brak, Riverdale and Hermanus, to name a few, where they will give talks on the importance of safe surgery as well as the work done by Operation Smile.