Robert “Rob” Fillis, 62, and his son Tristan Fillis, 24, of Flamingo Vlei have decided to cycle the Eurovelo 15 Rhine Route in Europe, next week, with the aim of encouraging people to “never give up, no matter what life throws at them; and to spend enough time with family, through finding fun things to do.”
Rob played tennis competitively having represented South Africa in the veterans section, up until about a year ago, when he had a bad fall on the tennis court, and snapped his Achilles tendon – he was told he shouldn’t step back into the sport again.
He was not happy to hear that, he said.
With his ankle strapped in a cast for six weeks, and another four weeks of wearing a “moonboot”, he said he became “very grumpy,” and started to rehabilitate himself, with the okay from his doctors of course.
He bought a mountain bike, cycling for short distances in his community, and in a case of monkey see, monkey do, he started to follow his son on cycling for longer distances around Cape Town.
“I started cycling for 1.5km, and with loads of training, five months post-operation, I found myself doing nearly 60km around the city,” said Rob.
Tristan, who claims to have been born with an adventurous spirit and a love for cycling, was at his father’s side every step of the way, and was his father’s primary carer at the time he was in a cast.
He said he wasn’t too keen about his father climbing onto the saddle while still recovering, but said his father’s “determination to never give up,” has left him inspired.
The cycling duo will leave for their tour on Tuesday May 23 by aeroplane to Zürich in Switzerland, there they will get on their bikes, and cycle to the nearest station called Zürich Hauptbahnhof where they will travel for another three hours to Andermatt, where they will set up camp, and start their cycling tour the next day.
They plan to cycle through Lichtenstein, then to Bregenz in Austria then to Basel in Switzerland, through the Black Forest in Germany, and follow the Rhine River through Germany to Düsseldorf and finally end up in Amsterdam, using GPS tracking data.
This should take them five weeks, if all goes well.
Tristan said altogether their whole cycling journey could be about 2000km, and they plan to take on that task by doing between 60km and 100km, per day.
“What I don’t look forward to is my dad pushing me to do more in one day, than I plan to,” said Tristan.
Each of them will carry bags on their bikes, containing food, water, crockery, cutlery, coffee, tents, table, chair, a battery pack, to charge their phones and smart watches, and a portable gas stove.
Tristan said they have been doing research about their route and hope to make minimal stops on their way for food so they can soak up the scenery.
“It seems as if my dad is taking the whole house, and I’ll be taking a lot less things, maybe about 18kg,” he teased.
They will take along pasta and tuna to eat, which won’t only keep them fuller for longer, they said, but will give them the extra energy they need on the tour.
Rob said he looks forward to the unknown because after all it is an “adventure that I get to do with my son”.
Rob got teary-eyed and said, “I didn’t get to do something like this with my father, because he was already old. And many people don’t get to this with their children, this is a real big event for me,” he said.
He said spending time with family is important, and encouraged parents to do fun things with their kids, no matter how old they are.
Tristan said, “I can only go as prepared as I am right now,” and chuckled.
Rob said he taught Tristan to always follow this quote: “You cannot determine how well you play but you can determine how hard you try,” which is what they will adhere to as they cycle through the five different countries.