Members of the public are invited to welcome a team of injured British combat veterans and their English and South African support riders when they cycle into Knysna from Cape Town this weekend.
The ‘Blood, Sweat and Gears’ tour, which got underway in Franschhoek on Monday, 25 April, is planning to raise £250,000 to support the psychological wellbeing programmes provided at Phoenix House, the Help For Heroes Recovery Centre at Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire in England.
The tour was suggested by Mark Stephenson, CEO of PWS Distributors (a kitchen component supplier), and is supported by South African Tourism, South African Airways, Chris Willemse Cycles, and various British and international businesses.
The team of 21 riders includes four veterans: John Knott, a recumbent cyclist who served in the RAF but was discharged when he developed Multiple Sclerosis; Stuart Redmond, who served in Kosovo, Iraq and Kuwait, and was discharged after losing sight in one eye in a workshop accident; Stephen Docherty, a veteran of Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Belize and Afghanistan who was shot through both legs in 2008, and who has now developed epilepsy; and Sean Donlan, a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq who suffered severe brain injury following an explosion caused by a rocket-propelled grenade.
Their supporters include people like England rugby great Will Greenwood to train for and ride the tour. Three South Africans are also riding with them: Morné du Plessis, Cape Town Architect Rick Brown, and Knysna-based communication strategist Deon Coetzee.
CROSS CAPE CYCLE PATH
Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde said that Wesgro - the province’s destination marketing and investment organisation - is working with cyclists and local authorities to link Cape Town to Plettenberg Bay (30 km east of Knysna) via the off-road Cross Cape Cycle Path, which is currently in development.
“We’re actively looking to attract all kinds of riders to the Western Cape - mountain bikers, roadies, and recreational riders - so it’s really great when tours like Blood, Sweat and Gears take place here. They’re exactly what we want to see happening throughout the year,” he said.
Greg Vogt, CEO of Knysna’s destination and marketing organisation, Knysna & Partners, said that Knysna - which bills itself as #TrailTownSA - shares the Province’s vision for the cycle economy: ‘To be the most cycle-friendly destination in Africa.’
“We’re looking forward to welcoming the Blood, Sweat and Gears riders on Saturday - and to thanking them for choosing Knysna,” he said.