With the 2020 edition of the aQuellé Tour Durban cancelled under the COVID-19 lockdown along with the swathe of other public gatherings, cyclists around the world are rallying together to support the virtual version of the race this weekend and in the process keeping the income lifeline to The Domino Foundation alive.
The virtual aQuellé Tour Durban got under way on Wednesday night with the first of two rides that use the online Zwift platform, with a second scheduled for Wednesday 29th July at 9pm.
This weekend cyclists from all walks of life will be taking part in the virtual mass rides, with Saturday being the focus for the mountain bikers and Sunday the turn of the road racers. A donation of R50 is asked from each participant, each of whom will receive a personalised race number for the event.
For KZN North Coast cycling enthusiast Larry Cramer the virtual rides will unite him with his family on the other side of the world.
“My son Matt lives outside Toronto in Canada while my other son Scott is close to Houston in the USA,” explained Cramer, a regular at the aQuellé Tour Durban and a veteran of 22 Cape Town Cycle Tours.
“I will be out on my mountain bike riding with a friend, knowing that my sons and their families will all be involved riding on trails or roads or in a static peleton in the same virtual race,” he said.
Riders will then choose how they want to get involved on the two days, either by riding their own rides on roads or mountain bike trails or by following the live stream show that will be shown on the event website and Facebook pages.
“We are no longer under the sever lockdown regulations and we can go out and ride on the roads and trails around us,” said event director Alec Lenferna. “That means that riders can choose where they want to ride on the days of the virtual mass rides.
“They will be issued with a race number, which can be printed out and worn on the ride, and the idea is that they share their experiences on the day on the Tour Durban Facebook page,” he added.
“The whole world has gone through trying times with the coronavirus lockdowns, so we hope this can been used as a positive rallying call to unify riders from all over the world.”
Lenferna said that entries for the virtual rides had been received from many countries abroad, and participants had asked if they could enter and get involved by doing alternative forms of exercise.
“Some riders have opted to set up their trainers or static bikes in front of a TV and follow the live stream show. Others are arranging yoga classes while watching the stream, and some are running on treadmills.
He added that the main reason for the virtual event was to keep alive the revenue stream that flows to The Domino Foundation every year from the aQuellé Tour Durban.
“The essence of the event is #Ride4Good. It is all geared up around raising money for a non-profit organisation that, right now, is working overtime to help families that have been left destitute by the lockdown,” said Lenferna.
He added that participants in the virtual event would get preferential places in the 2021 event in April next year, which may well be subject to a strict limit on the number of participants.