TWO VISUALLY IMPAIRED RIDERS COMPETE FOR S A GUIDE-DOGS IN THIS YEAR’S
This is the first year that the South African Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind has entered a team into the Momentum 947 Cycle Challenge and has been overwhelmed by the amount of support it has received from over 100 riders. Included in the team are two riders who are visually impaired and are who are competing on 2 tandems.
Neels has been visually impaired from birth and has been very involved with S A Guide Dogs since 1985 when he received his first Guide Dog, Bridget. “Bridget opened another world of independence for me and as a student, she was not only a guide, but also a wonderful companion, which assisted me to make many new friends.”
Neels has been involved with many fundraising organisations and is currently employed by the Department of the Premier, Western Cape Government, as Assistant Director: People Monitoring and Evaluation. Neels is just getting to know his 5th Guide Dog Kimble, who is a 2 year old blonde Labrador who particularly likes to speed to work and home, Facebook other dogs through generous sniffs of their owners’ clothing and make new friends with any other person and/or dog close by.
When it was suggested that Neels should ride the Momentum 947 Cycle Challenge with Alan Robb he said “I am looking forward to the challenge but am definitely not on the same fitness level. It will, however, be a fantastic opportunity to learn more about all Alan’s achievements. The world of cycling is relatively new for me and striving to get fit enough for this race was hard, but enjoyable.”
Many people may have already heard of Alan Robb from his days of running the Comrades Marathon in which he competed 41 times and won it 4 times but they may not be aware that he also rides a tandem. To be fair, neither is he, as the Momentum 947 Cycle Challenge will be the first time that he has ever ridden one. “I was keen to support S A Guide-Dogs and somewhat casually suggested that I should ride a tandem with someone who was visually impaired. Little did I know that my daughter knew Neels Troskie who was also keen to take part in the race so the next thing I knew we did our first, and our last, 10km ride on a tandem and we were entered into the race. Thankfully we will have the support of the rest of Neels’ cycling family and so I’m sure we will have a fantastic ride together and I’m really looking forward to it”. Alan will of course be wearing his famous red socks that he first stole from his father’s wardrobe and the rest of the team will be supporting him and Neels by having a red band on the sleeves of their S A Guide-Dogs cycle jerseys.
You can sponsor Alan and Neels via Alan’s online sponsorship page listed here:
Marlene Wilson and Giovanni Del Castello
“This year will not be the first year that Marlene Wilson is competing in the Momentum 947 Cycle Challenge as she as ridden it many times before. Marlene and her tandem pilot Giovanni Del Castello will be riding the same tandem that she used for the South African
Championships way back in 1993. Next year Marlene will be involved with a totally different type of tandem by doing a tandem sky dive in aid of S A Guide-Dogs and as if that wasn’t enough, in 2016 she will be off to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Marlene is a great supporter of S A Guide-Dogs and has had 4 German Shepherd Guide Dogs, all of whom worked with her at the bank before she retired. “When I received my first Guide Dog Paddy in the 1980’s it was like getting a drivers license and my first car. Paddy gave me such freedom and confidence and because of her I met so many more new friends ”. Marlene is hoping to achieve her best time in this year’s race but most of all is looking forward to enjoying the day.
Like Marlene, Giovanni is a keen athlete and is a fully fledged Iron Man. He is also a keen supporter from the sofa and being Italian, can support no other team than Ferrari during the Formula 1 season. And of course, true Italians know their pizzas and Giovanni even used to own his own Pizzeria in Corlett Drive where he used a still secret recipe to make the best pizza bases in town. He is a proud father of two girls and grandfather to twins. Giovanni has known Marlene for over 20 years and says “we know each other so well that we even managed to stay upright on our tandem when we had a blowout last week, I just hope that doesn’t happen to us during the Momentum 947 Cycle Challenge!”
You can sponsor Marlene and Giovanni via their online sponsorship page listed here: