A thousand miles on tandem bike for beloved elementary school


Two determined and fit parents from Laerskool Eloff, an Afrikaans school in Delmas, Mpumalanga, embarked on a huge adventure in an attempt to raise money for the little school.

Lambert Langerman, chairman of the school’s governing body, and his wife, Nicolene, began their journey of 1,000 miles (1,600 km) in Vanderbijlpark on Thursday. They will eventually drive 1,060 km of dirt road and 566 km of tarmac until they arrive at the final destination in Bloubergstrand.

Benefactors can sponsor every kilometer they travel.

“We use Unbound Africa’s Legendary Adventures’ 1,000 Mile Joburg2Blouberg route. We will be the first tandem team to tackle this,” Nicolene tells RNews.

“At this stage, however, we are a bit stuck, but we should be on the road again tomorrow morning,” she says.

The plan was originally to complete the route in 11 days, at an average distance of 150 km per day. However, on Tuesday, just outside Hanover, adversity struck: two of their tandem bike’s spokes gave way.

“We were about 10 minutes out of Hanover when we suddenly heard a banging sound; two spokes of the rear wheel broke. It was probably due to the heavy weight, because we ride with our luggage in the back.

“Fortunately, we were able to make a plan to repair the bike to at least ride to the town. After that we ordered new spokes which already arrived this morning – but Lambert measured incorrectly, so the spokes wouldn’t work for our bike.”

Nicolene says that their support group – which consists of parents and friends from the school and cycling groups – stepped in to get them a new wheel that was ordered from Bloemfontein.

“If everything works out as it should, we will be able to continue our journey again on Thursday. We have already covered more than 700 km.

“If we arrive in Wortelfontein tomorrow, we are officially halfway there; then we drove 805 km,” says Nicolene.

“Our next stop is on Victoria West.”

Nicolene says they have met quite a few people on their route and each and every one is incredibly friendly and helpful.

“One night we arrived quite late in one of the villages – I think it was the second night – someone stopped us and asked us if we needed accommodation, it was too dear.

“However, we already had a place to sleep, but the people are really friendly. They want to help and everyone just wants to follow us and know where we are going next.”

And after hundreds of kilometers on a bicycle’s saddle, the legs and buttocks are pretty stiff, says Nicolene.

“When we get on the bike, we can definitely feel it. Our legs and buttocks are very sore, but that will not stop us. We are determined to complete our journey.”

Pedal for the benefit of school

The energetic pair of parents say that they embarked on the journey because they would like to help Eloff Primary School.

“It is a small Afrikaans school and there are only people who cannot always afford the school fund. The school always has some fundraising project to help out and Lambert and I just felt that this would be an exciting way for us to contribute.”

Louise van Niekerk, principal of Laerskool Eloff, says the notable and selfless project the couple is undertaking makes them extremely proud and grateful.

“We are a small, rural school where the staff, parents and governing body are continuously busy with fundraising projects to offer quality education and the best possible opportunities for every learner.

“Lambert and Nicolene give us all new courage and hope.”

The couple would cross the proverbial finish line on Sunday, but say they suspect that they may not land in Bloubergstrand until Tuesday.

“Our heads are right, our bodies just have to work together,” jokes Nicolene.

Follow the two’s adventure here.