An Epic Ride for Pebbles

Friday, 7 June, 2013
Judy Brower -
Riding The Absa Cape Epic cycle race is no mean feat.  700km across rough terrain in the South African winelands, and doing it with a fractured wrist is both crazy and gutsy.  Tanya Rabie and Aubrey Symington (with fractured wrist) must be both, and you need these characteristics in bucketloads to take on the toughest mountain bike race in the world. 
More and more I am coming across people who want to make a difference.
Tanya and Aubrey are friends who wanted to ride the Epic, but also wanted to use their efforts to raise awareness and make a difference in people's lives.
After much consultation with their employers, friends and colleagues, they agreed on The Pebbles Project being their charity of choice.

Sophia Warner, (founder of The Pebbles Project), and her very able and willing team at Pebbles also put in many hours with passion and fervour, working on wine farms with the workers and their families and children, both to identify needs and also to meet many of those critical social needs.
The Western Cape has one of the highest Foetal Alcohol Syndrome rates in the world, and the people living on our farms still have a long way to go to overcome this terrible history of alcohol abuse and lack of education.

The Pebbles Project's purpose is to enrich the lives of children from disadvantaged backgrounds with special educational needs, especially those whose lives are affected by alcohol, through providing support and training to local wine farm and township créches and establishing after-school provision for older children living in the Winelands.  They are impacting on the lives of over 700 children, and have trained over 53 staff.
Their work supports children, teenagers, parents and wider communities in the Somerset West, Stellenbosch and Paarl areas of the Western Cape. 

The ABSA Cape Epic Cycle Race forges through the winelands and Tanya and Aubrey worked hard to find sponsors and raise awareness so that their chosen charity - and the children whom they help - could be positively impacted upon.

Tanya works for IN2FOOD, who package and supply food into Woolworths and employ 600 people directly within the Helderberg area.  Richard Cooper, CEO of IN2FOOD, was only too happy to support a cause that made a difference within the area where they employ the most staff.
"We were looking to make a difference with an organisation that was well-managed, had the right resources and passion, and we found this in Pebbles and are proud to support them."

The team enlisted 9 major sponsors to join IN2FOOD and Woolworths. The sponsors are all current Woolworths suppliers and their values align very much to those of Woolworths. They live these values in terms of the products and services they provide and also in terms of support to the communities they live in. Richard’s words as quoted bears testimony to this. Some of the sponsors have their own community initiatives in various forms, yet they also pledged their support to this initiative, which says a lot about them. They were open minded to the idea, asked to understand the workings of the initiative and decided to support. It shows there is a lot of heart and soul and believe in “what is possible.”
The race ended at Lourensford Wine Estate, in the heart of the Helderberg, and therefore a perfect fit for IN2FOOD and many of the sponsors.

Says Aubrey: "On reaching Lourensford (The grand finale), with the dust settling and hundreds of finishers embracing their riding partners and family and friends, it became clear that the sacrifices made to make it to Lourensford had been well worth it. Whether or not teams realised their desired goal and/or result, we all felt like champions in our own right. Simply finishing was a huge achievement."

"I was again reminded re the beauty of the country we stay in. The friendly and helpful people. The resilience people have to overcome significant obstacles. The power of believing in progress."

Aubrey and Tanya finished 17th in their (mixed) category and 221st overall in the general classification. The ABSA Cape Epic is considered the most prestigious mountain bike race, with a similar status to the Tour de France, so this was certainly no mean feat.  700km in 45 hours... !
From Tanya & Aubrey: "A big thank you to EVERYONE - for all of you believing in us and being with us on the journey (Some of you were even out on the route to cheer us on and or followed our progress daily!), for opening your hearts and wallets to enable this initiative to support Pebbles Project to give others also hope and the belief that tomorrow can be better than today."

"Thank you to all the suppliers who made this possible - Nestle; In2food; Elgin Free Range Chickens; Woolworths ROG; Heartland Foods; Mainstream Refrigeration; BRM Brands; Excellent Meat; Kees Beyers Chocolates; Ambassador Foods; Farmwise.
Also a big thank you to our the medical and bike support team during the event – Annari Jordaan & Lourens Calitz and their teams, and to Suresh and his awesome Woollies team – for the awesome welcoming at every water point and finish line.
Thank you to Woolworths (Ceri, Suresh & Zyda) for giving us this opportunity to do this, and to our families for making this possible"
Tanya, Aubrey and their sponsors raised R65 000 and we were present when Sophia Warner received the large cheque from IN2FOOD CEO Richard Cooper at their offices in the Helderberg.

The money will go towards Pebbles' new sports program and a number of bright-eyed Pebbles children from Eikendal, who attended the handover were excited to hear that there may be a move afoot to introduce cycling on the farm, as many of them already have bikes. 

Look out Tanya & Aubrey, you may have competition on your bikes soon!

Judy Brower

Judy has been running alongside her hubby Kevin Kidson since 1996. She takes photos, attends functions, writes occasionally, sells services, is Mrs HR at the company, cooks yummy lunches from time to time and generally is the glue at