In the small hours of Sunday morning, 7 September, while most students were returning home from a night out on the town, eight UCT Cycling Club members assembled to begin their assault on 'Mount Everest'.
Their goal was simple, though lofty: to ascend the equivalent height of the highest peak in the world in a single ride.
The eight were Jonty Adams, Gregg Christy, Emily Clarke, Wayde Finch, Craig Getz, Bruce Hughes, Edwin Mooney and Liam Swanson. A ride of this magnitude had not yet been recorded in Africa and in the weeks leading up to the challenge many had called this attempt both foolhardy and ridiculous.
But the UCT cyclists had extra motivation to see this challenge through as all money raised during this ride would go to Velokhaya, a cycling academy based in Khayelitsha which uses cycling as a medium to steer youths away from the negative influences that plague marginalised communities.
In order to be inducted into the 'Everesting' hall of fame as the first Africans to complete this challenge, the team needed to choose a single hill that they would have to climb repeatedly until they had ascended 8 848 vertical metres.
The team chose the winding road from Camps Bay to the top of Signal Hill. Covering a distance of 303km over a period of 19 hours, the cyclists road throughout the day and late into the night – battling both physical and mental demons, wind, high temperatures, and extreme fatigue.
Finally, at 22h00 on Sunday night, four of the starters – Swanson, Getz, Adams, and Finch – crested the hill for their 24th and final time having ascended just over 9 000m and in the process raising nearly R25 000 for Velokhaya.
Story by Bruce Hughes. Image by Shaun Bongani.
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