Patrick Liwonde was among the 1,000 extremist mountain bikers who lined up for South Africa’s toughest one-day mountain bike race on Saturday, 19 January 2019.
The 2019 Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme presented by Biogen once again presented a demanding 121km route that tested every participant’s mental and physical ability to endure.
Despite all sharing a gruelling training regimen to arrive at the start line and complete the race, Patrick’s story stood out from the rest as he had to work so much harder to get to the start line.
He lives in a township in Friemersheim, very close to a section of the event’s route. He makes his humble income as a gardener and by selling wood on the side of the road.
With a bicycle as his only means of transport, Liwonde has by default become a strong cyclist over the years. Without fail, at the start of each season, he watched in awe as the country’s top racing talent stormed past his home for the Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme presented by Biogen.
“I’ve witnessed a piece of this race for a long time, and it has always been my dream to someday enter it,” said Liwonde.
Chasing a dream
His dream to race the event seemed unattainable at times, until a sudden streak of luck arrived right at his doorstep. John Cable, who by chance had ridden the Attakwas Extreme before, stopped to buy wood from Patrick two years ago.
Describing Liwonde as a truly “remarkable man”, Cable made an effort to support Liwonde’s business whenever he travelled past that area. Having built a relationship with Liwonde, he explained:
“In December Patrick told me that’d he’d bought himself a better bicycle after saving up for six months and had entered a local race. I later discovered that he’d kept up with the leading group for most of the race until he got a puncture on the final climb! I realised that he really had a talent in this sport.”
A dream realised
While entries for the Attakwas Extreme had closed at this point, Cable took a chance by contacting Momentum Health and Dryland Event Management to see if there was any chance that Liwonde could race the event.
“This is what we call a momentum shift moment and in Liwonde’s case, it really is such a positive shift. We were delighted to give him a complimentary entry and have him in the field of participants,” said Carel Bosman, Momentum Head of Sponsorships.
“I had waited for this opportunity for a long time, and now I finally have the chance to show people how well I can ride!” Patrick went on to finish the race in a respectable time of 8:14:42.
Photo by www.zcmc.co.za