KZN Overport resident Gray Braatvedt has undertaken a challenge to compete in the 30th Tsogo Sun Amashova Race on a Unicycle. The veteran and experienced rider is the first ever unicyclist to enter the race to complete the 106km route in his attempt to raise R20 000 for the non-profit organization called AuSOMEtism.
On each occasion that Braatvedt got on his bike to cycle, whether it be in a local cycling competition or to enjoy a leisurely ride over the weekend, he relived the joy he experienced during his youth before he moved to Limpopo and took a break from his cycling. Affectionately known as a ‘racing snake’ in the 80’s he often finished in the Top 20’s of the various races he participated in.
After taking a long break from cycling and gaining extensive weight at the end of 2013 Gray decided that ‘enough was enough’. After getting his hands on a unicycle from a good friend Al Buhler who also challenged him to ride it for three months. Gray decided to set this challenge as a New Year’s resolution for 2014.
Ever since then Gray’s love for cycling on one wheel developed and he was hooked from the start. “Unicyling is much harder to ride. It has a direct drive and no gears so you have to have good balance, and in doing so this helps build up your core muscles. Patience is also important because you may fall over (a lot) in the beginning, but eventually you will get the hang of it and then there’s no turning back,” says Gray.
Gray added, “During my quest to losing weight and becoming fit and healthy again. I was fortunate enough to meet a spectacular individual, who has adopted an autistic child. Shaun Murphy informed me about the AuSOMEtism charity and their slogan, which is ‘ Different, not less’ and that struck a chord for me and is the reason behind my entry and participation in this year’s race. The Tsogo Sun Amashova Race is considered one of the oldest and biggest bike races in South Africa and years ago I competed in the race but on two wheels instead of one. I always loved the race and it has a fantastic following so with that in mind it made sense to enter and use the race as a platform to raise funds for the charity and awareness about AuSOMEtism in a way that turns heads because riding it on my unicycle is ‘ Different, not less.”
The AuSOMEtism charity is a non-profit organization that was founded by Shaun Murphy after their adopted son, Nicholas, was confirmed to be on the autism spectrum. According to Murphy what started with a cycle from Jozi to Cape Town six years ago to create awareness around the condition, has gained momentum over the years transforming this one-man-band initiative into a fully fledged autism foundation dedicated to raising awareness and funds across the country. The AuSOMEtism foundation was born out of a need to raise awareness about Autism and to assist the families of Autism children to learn about the early intervention and appropriate schooling methods that will give their children a chance to express themselves and learn in an environment that encourages thinking out of the box. This year’s funds raised from the Tsogo Sun Amashova race completed by Shaun and Gray will go towards the upgrade of the Pinetown based Brown’s School autism wing. The facilities and equipment required for this section of the school include an outdoor jungle gym, tablets for downloading appropriate apps to assist the children with their vocabulary and communication skills, sports equipment, educational games and puzzles, arts and crafts equipment, among some other necessities for the school and its learners.
Tsogo Sun Amashova Race Director, Annie Batchelder, said they were delighted to have Gray and Shaun taking part in the race this year. “This is just another special addition to our 30th birthday celebrations and we wish them all the best and hope they get all the support and funds they need to be donated to such a worthy cause. We look forward to cheering them on from the sidelines along with all the other inspiring cyclists who are also riding for charity,” concluded Batchelder.
Late entries are available at registration at the Garden Court Marine Parade on the following days:
• Thursday, 13th of October 13h00 - 18h00
• Friday, 14th of October 09h00 - 18h00
• Saturday, 15th of October 09h00 - 16h00