Grant Clark Cycles For Kids’ Literacy Upliftment
Capetonian Grant Clarke threw all his bucket lists into one (very big) bucket and came up with a charity initiative #AfrikaLegBurn, which will see Grant cycle solo and unaided from Cairo to Cape Town to arrive in time for the 40th Cape Town Cycle Tour. He then lines up for the Cape Epic a week later and then the start line of the IRONMAN 2017.
#AfrikaLegBurn is a journey that promises to throw up mental and physical challenges that Grant has never had to deal but he’s focused on finishing the initiative in aid of Shine, a non-profit organisation that seeks to improve literacy outcomes for young children from disadvantaged communities in South Africa.
“In 2006, I was about to turn 30 and I wanted to cycle across South America. I’d read a book called Trail To Titicaca a few years previously about three mates who had cycled up South America and their tale of adventure had stuck with me ever since. I researched the trip, I went to cycling touring talks, but in the end I got scared and with no one else to ride with me or keep me inspired, I pushed the concept to the back of my mind and settled down in London for a few years,” says Grant. “Now, 10 years later I am about to turn 40 and I realized that if I was ever going to take this continental plunge, ignore my numerous anxieties about my capabilities, mental and physical, and tackle something really big, something overwhelming, something that was going to catapult me as far out of my comfort zone as I could imagine, then it had to be now. Cairo to Cape Town across Africa is one of those mythical journeys to me, it doesn’t matter what your form of transport. For me it was always a journey that was going to be have to done by bike. So here I am. Going big.”
An avid reader, a published writer and lover of books and the stories within them, Grant says it was clear that his springboard diving career and then his touch rugby career weren’t going to shower him with the glory and riches and free stuﬀ that he craved, I turned to cycling. “I’ve fallen in love with a sport that is one of the purest forms of transport you can get and is probably the most popular mode of transport in Africa,” he explains. “Recently and with a growing passion for the impact that literacy levels have in Africa on education and general knowledge, I’ve looked for ways to help inspire more children to read and discover the world of books. This has led me to Shine Literacy and volunteering for them. They do incredible work in South Africa and I’ve grown to respect and admire the time and eﬀort they put into improving the literacy levels of young children in our incredibly beautiful and unique country. So we have: Book lover + bicycle lover + some time oﬀ = Africa cycle for Shine. I wasn’t great at math, but that about sums it up!”
Grant says he can’t wait to feel the burn in his legs, all in the name of a good cause. “I’ve always known deep down that if I train hard enough, prepare and visualise enough, I should pull it off barring some catastrophic accident. The IRONMAN 2015 was the closest I’ve come to doing something that I wasn’t sure if I could pull off, I had never swum that far and had never run that far. But even with a fractured hand from a bicycle accident a month before and hitting the ‘wall’ quite badly on the bike – I was so scared of the run, that I ate too much while on the bike leg! – I still came in with some time to spare,” explains Grant. “I’m doing this because I don’t want to have regrets. Haven’t you always wondered what it would be like to take the biggest thing on your bucket list and actually do it? I’m doing it because I can. I’m doing it because I really don’t know if I can do it, because it actually terrifies me. That there is something that is so out there, that I will just have to think on my feet and make the decisions in the moment. And it’s not bravery which everyone thinks it is, it’s ignorance, it’s faith that the adventure will work out in the end, it’s the promise of some insane experiences, it’s for a very meaningful cause and it’s a lot of stupidity. But hey, I wasn’t not head boy for nothing!”
And who exactly is Shine and why them? South Africa’s literacy rates remain unacceptably low and too many children do not fulfil their academic potential at school. At the end of Grade Four more than half of our students cannot read for meaning and interpretation and a third are completely illiterate in any language. Grant will be taking on these challenges to fund-raise and give as much exposure as possible to Shine, a non-profit organisation that seeks to improve literacy outcomes for young children from disadvantaged communities in South Africa. This is an organisation close to his heart and one he currently volunteers for Shine at Zonnebloem Primary School in Cape Town. Shine delivers training and programmes to schools, parents/caregivers and local communities that support children to become good readers and writers, whilst also growing their conﬁdence, self-esteem and their appetite for learning.
These programmes are helping to transform the prospects of some of South Africa’s most vulnerable children, by breaking the destructive cycle of poor literacy, low educational attainment, wasted potential and poverty. With the help of Shine and Book-Dash, Grant will aim to take some small (as in size not age) children’s books with him on his journey down Africa and connect with some charity literacy initiatives along the way, where he will do a country share and drop off the books he has and take some new ones onto to the next destination. He would really like to get people to donate as many books as possible for this initiative.
Grant has more than enough experience in endurance races. A double SA Representative (Springboard Diving, Touch Rugby) and Dual National Representative in Touch Rugby (South Africa, England) he has competed in the 800km Camino de Santiago pilgrimage across Spain by bicycle, one Ironman SA, two Half Ironmans, nine Cape Town City Cycle Tours, two Wines2Whales MTB races and one 5km Open Water sea swim (with one shark alert during race!).
Grant will be taking on this challenge on his own accord to make a real difference in the life of some of very special kids in SA. He has been super blessed so far with BH Bikes coming on board to supply him with a bike for each stage of his challenge. (PS BH Bikes are currently being ridden by the super awesome Thomas Voekler in the 2016 Tour de France!) And then much to his mom’s relief, Spot Africa, have made Grant an ambassador and kitted him out with a SPOT GPS Tracker Gen3 unit. What this will mean is that we will be able to live track Grant’s route as he makes his way down Africa, as Grant says; you will be able to watch him get horribly lost in real time! And he will be able to communicate with loved ones via SMS letting him know that he is alright at all times!
Pay It Forward
At the time of going to press Grant had raised just under half of the target of R50 000 he needs to take part in this journey. If you are in a position to help him with funding, please log onto www.givengain.com/ap/afrikalegburn/donate/#start for more information. Grant has set up a Facebook Page called @afrikalegburn as well as a twitter and Instagram account with the same name.