John Macaskill and Henri Joubert recently rode the MTN Panorama Tour, finishing in second place in the Grand Masters category and winning Stage 3. They donated their prize money of R500 to Qhubeka.
John and Henri are members of MTN Club 100. Henri has been cycling for 30 years and John for 10 years. “We were both long term bankers and met some 35 years ago having worked for FNB,” explains John. “In 2009 we tackled the Panorama Tour and followed this up later that year with the Hot Chilli London to Paris. We have since undertaken several cycling tours together.”
“Both John and I have been members of MTN Club 100 for many years, so as Qhubeka evolved we were certainly aware of it,” says Henri. “Because I know how much a bike made a difference in my life as a boy, and later as a man, the concept has been a hit with me from the outset. Our L2P participation in 2009 was for charity, and many of the earlier cycling events that we helped organise or participated in were for charity, so the concept of cycling to give something back is a great one for me.”
“The Qhubeka approach of improving the lives of communities by encouraging these communities to work on worthy projects such as recycling waste or growing and planting trees, and through this earn much needed bicycles, is a great philosophy worthy of support,” says John. “Linking this to cycling, which we thoroughly enjoy, deserves support wherever we can provide it.”
The role that bicycles play
Henri recalls his first bicycle and the role cycling has played in his life. “Cycling has always been an adventure for me,” he says. “I got my first bike, a chrome Triumph 3-speed, when I was about seven years old. It immediately changed my life, as it gave us kids the opportunity to venture out and explore away from home. I remember well the first cycle out of the suburb. It was like visiting a new world! Later on we moved from Pretoria to Rustenburg and our bikes became the means to get out of town into the country. We had great fun going down trails and ramping over rocks. This was long before mountain biking became an official cycling discipline.”
His love for cycling stuck. In high school he acquired a second hand Raleigh steel frame racing bike, stripped it, re-sprayed the frame racing red and re-built the bike. He would cycle around Pretoria and later to Hartebeestpoort, and even Rustenburg. After embarking on his career and getting married, cycling took a back seat to other sports, but in late 1994, he did his first Argus Cycle Tour with colleagues from the newly formed FNB Cycling Club.
“It was such a great event that I vowed to do 10 in a row so that I would complete my 10th at age 50,” he recalls. “This I achieved, despite some niggly injuries. Needless to say it didn’t stop there and I have continued and will be completing number 21 next year. In between we have sought new and interesting events to do, and the likes of the Jock of the Bushveld and Panorama have been added to the list.”
Both Henri and John thoroughly enjoyed the 2014 MTN Panaroma Tour. “This year’s Panorama Tour featured two new interesting routes, the first day towards Sudwala Caves and back to the finish and the fourth day time trial out towards Spitskop with a fast return to the finish,” says John. “The scenery, if you are able to take it in, is always stunning, with this year’s changes giving the added benefit of seeing the speeding peloton well on their way back to the finish ahead of us trudging cyclists.”
“The Panorama Tour is unique and every cyclist should do it at least once,” agrees Henri. “The area is beautiful and the climbs are often endless.”
John notes that cycling provides a great opportunity to meet new people from all over the world, keep fit, challenge and enjoy oneself for many years after retirement. “South Africa offers the climate and beautiful countryside to do just this,” he says.
“Cycling provides a wonderful opportunity to share experiences with like-minded friends and colleagues,” adds Henri. “It also allows one to see and experience outdoor places and destinations that are always much more pleasurable on a bike than in a car. Our goal each year is to add some new routes or tours or events which provide a different experience from previous years. For example, I just completed a 200km Audax ride with some club members, and we plan to tour the Baviaans Kloof this year, as well as ride the Coronation Double Century. Of course next year is the 10th Panorama Tour so I’m sure John and I will be back for that.”