Charity bicycle ride at Dubai school
Spending 24 hours on a bicyle is not something normal people do. But underprivileged Kenyan children will be thankful this Dubai teacher is far from normal.Afshan Ahmed reports
DUBAI // Brendan Matheson had four massages between Wednesday and yesterday, but his muscles were still aching.
It was understandable, given that the middle-school sports teacher at Dubai American Academy had just spent 24 hours cycling around his school's athletic track, burning 17,600 calories in the process.
"My bottom is very sore and tender," the Australian expatriate admitted yesterday, while relaxing in the pool with friends to recover.
Mr Matheson, 37, took up the endurance-cycling challenge as a way to raise funds for rebuilding a Kenyan school and managed to raise more than Dh35,000.
"I used to cycle a lot but haven't done much in the past 10 to 11 months," he said after completing his final lap on the 400-metre track at noon yesterday.
"I have done a lot of mountain climbing in the past because I love to challenge myself. I thought, why not combine the two and see how far I could take it."
The teacher started cycling at noon on Wednesday and took half-hour breaks every six hours to refuel and massage his legs.
Pupils and staff from the school cheered him along and collected donations, which will help the Varkey Gems Foundation to build 16 classrooms in a school in Kibera, the largest urban slum in Nairobi.
This is not Mr Matheson's first act of endurance for charity. He has also climbed mountains in Russia, Switzerland and Argentina to raise money for those with multiple sclerosis.
Blair Ivy, a Grade 8 pupil at the school, said she was not surprised when her teacher announced his plan in class a week ago.
"We all know Mr Matheson as the bionic man," Blair said. "It's great that he took on the challenge, and without any prior training."
Mr Matheson has been in the UAE for four years and became a PE teacher because of his love of sport.
"I love sports because it allows you to test the ability of your body," he said.
"Teaching it means passing on the same passion to my pupils, showing them how to take their physical abilities to new heights and show them what can be done if they put their mind to it."
Blair accompanied her teacher for a few laps to keep the momentum going.
"I rode a bike on Wednesday evening and this morning as well," she said.
"Everyone was so charged when he was nearing the end. We gave him pep talks and cheered when he completed laps."
Mr Matheson said he needed the encouragement to overcome the tiredness that kicked in every few hours.
His colleagues Emily Rentsch and Ralph Russell ensured he stayed awake and alert during the night as well.
"We arranged for the food, filling his bottles other supplies he would need to continue," said Ms Rentsch. "I also rode with him throughout the night to keep him company."
She said pupils were inspired by his sudden decision to do this.
"I think he'll go on to raise more than Dh50,000 out of it," Ms Rentsch said.
Mr Matheson said he was humbled by the community's support.
"We had Probike in Al Barsha giving us the gear and even the parents came out to egg me on. It brought the whole community together."
Updated: March 30, 2012 04:00 AM