Intrepid cyclists Colin and Bianca Cooper recently passed through the Karoo while on their Beer Bread and Bicycles fundraising tour from Johannesburg to Cape Town. They are raising funds for Qhubeka, an organisation that helps provide bicycles to rural South Africans, mainly impoverished children. To add to their enjoyment, they are sampling produce from as many bakeries and craft breweries as they can find! Colin’s wife Maggie is accompanying them in a support vehicle, and she takes care of their shopping and catering needs, as well as providing portage when necessary.
The father-and-daughter team of Colin and Bianca have been involved with Qhubeka for five years. Colin is a retired engineer and founder of the Marico Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycle manufacturing plant. Bianca is a private emergency physician and regional manager for ER Consulting Inc.
Both Colin and Bianca ride Qhubeka Buffalo bicycles, and one of their aims on their tour is to show people that it is not necessary to spend tens or even hundreds of thousands of rands on a bicycle. The Qhubeka bicycles reflect the “back to basics” approach – they are designed to last a lifetime and are locally assembled, fully rigid, single-speed, steel frame bikes. In four years, Colin has ridden over 50 000km on his trusty machine!
In 2015, the pair also passed through this area on their Nine Peaks challenge, which involved visiting the highest peak in each province. As well as awareness of these sturdy and reliable machines, they raised R30 000 for the charity –enough for eleven bicycles to be donated to rural children.
On this trip, day 11 of the tour saw the family in Nieu Bethesda, where they sampled the delights of The Brewery & Two Goats Deli. The next night was spent in Graaff-Reinet, where they camped at the Camdeboo National Park and sampled the beers at GRT Brewery and acquired some bread from Polka bakery. The next day, they battled very strong headwinds along the N9, and also had to contend with the numerous “stop-and-goes” along this section. No breweries or bakeries in Aberdeen to add to their “collection”, but they enjoyed a 25km outride with Maggie and visited the Bookshop. Pagel House seems to have acquired a reputation as THE place to stay for cyclists, and the Qhubeka riders were happy to find that the hospitality lived up to its reputation!
From Aberdeen they battled even more severe winds to Willowmore, and eventually reached Cape Town last Friday. The final amount raised is not yet known, but more details of their trip and the work of Qhubeka can be found on their website www.heavymetalbikes.co.za