South African Cycling

Eric Tollner cycles solo from Namibia to Knysna

2016-07-07 22:06
Eric Tollner (Supplied)

Cape Town - On June 18, philanthropist Eric Tollner, completed  the 100km Fish River Canyon Ultra Marathon.

Not only did he just take part, he won the race!

The very next morning he swapped his trail running shoes for mountain bike cleats, and started the 1 500+ km cycle from Ai-Ais in Namibia, where the ultra marathon finished, towards Knysna.

He took on this epic journey so as one of “The Cows” to raise funds for the CHOC Foundation.

The Cows were started in 2008 by a group of 8 enthusiastic cyclists keen to make a difference and raise money as an independent fund raising arm for CHOC. 

They ride every year in memory of little Jessica Bain who passed away in February of that year and for other friends and family who have had to deal with cancer.

Every year they ride in an array of cow cycling gear, taking part in a number of sporting events across South Africa and even have a handful of riders who ride on company sponsored ice cream bikes.

CHOC (an acronym for Children’s Haematology Oncology Clinics) was established in 1979 by a parent group in Johannesburg and is the Childhood Cancer Association which plays a key role in providing care for children diagnosed with cancer across South Africa. It is a country wide organization that provides the highest level of care required to treat childhood cancer in keeping with the latest developments world-wide.

Tollner’s three week off-road trip took him through Niewoudtville, Tankwa, Sutherland and Price Albert before reaching Knysna on Thursday, July 7 where he was greeted by friends and loved ones.

Tollner’s family and followers didn’t hear from him for days at a time due to the lack of cellphone reception but luckily he was being tracked by a live satellite device called a SPOT Gen3 which requires no GSM cellphone signal to function.

Despite enduring freezing temperatures, an involuntary river submersion and failed bike brakes going down a treacherous mountain road into Merweville, Tollner always maintained his high spirits! 

Tollner survived the Little and Big Karoo, the Cederberg Mountains, a 16km bike portage across rugged mountains, the Tankwa reserve, snow, sub-zero temperatures and flooded rivers. He also had an opportunity to ride past the famous SALT telescope in Sutherland.

Tollner said of his adventure, "You lose count of the days which seamlessly merge and blend between canyon walls and distant horizons shimmering in the sun, desolate wilderness and mountain ranges, frozen streams and icy winds, and the endless life cycle of pedals clicking and wheels turning over and over and over. 

The days are rich in overwhelming abundance, and it has been a ride beyond anything I have expected or imagined. Google Earth can only prepare you for so much, but the rest you have to embrace along the way. Emotions get raw as the days draw deeper into a journey like this, and the fine line between keeping it together and not becomes increasingly thin and blurred. Not everyone gets it, so it's difficult to explain, but those who have been here understand. Learning gratitude. And deep, deep humility. In truly overwhelming doses.”

To end off his crazy odyssey, Tollner will take part in the Knysna Forest Marathon on Saturday morning after only one day of rest!

If you’d like to support Tollner’s fundraising project, please go to:




Donation Page:

The Cows: (fundraisers)

CHOC: (beneficiary)

Arrived in Knysna! At the lighthouse (Supplied)

Eric Tollner's route travelled (Supplied)


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