Johann Rissik


24 March 1959 – 21 January 2019

The news of Johann's passing in Madeira earlier this year came as an enormous shock, not only to his family but also his friends across the cycling community.

Tributes started pouring in and it was clear to see that this humble, helpful and generous man had made a mark on the cycling community.

Johann was a legend of the Freedom Trail and Freedom Challenge community. In early 2004 he receive a call from David Waddilove, who he had met 22 years previously on a camping trip to the Drakensburg, asking if he remembered David and enquiring whether he was able to help him and two others who were riding the inaugural Freedom Challenge. Clearly Johann remembered David, and was prepared to help!

"Thinking back to that moment, I could have said no thanks and my life could have turned out quite differently. The rest is history, I have been honoured to be part of the event ever since" (Johann – 2015)

He gained notoriety for surprising Freedom Challenge riders with coffee and rusks, with a toolbox always at hand. Johann could fix things!!

For Johann, 'the best part was meeting the generally humble, often quirky, totally exhausted, "super extreme athletes"; getting to know some of them, and very slowly starting to form his own game plan".

Over the years Johann communicated with support station hosts up and down the trail trying to relieve the surprise factor of unannounced riders pitching up at odd times (he was a dot watcher of note). And so he developed relationships with many support station folk, many of whom he had never met.

"Despite prodding from many quarters over the following ten years, I never got it together to ride the Freedom Challenge, an ingenious array of excuses and some very real challenges had intervened. Until 2015. Eleven years of watching and planning turned into a commitment to ride. Things were about to change". (Johann – 2015)

Johann became a proud blanket wearer in June 2015.

From initiating the Stone Saddle Award, founding the Prince Albert "Dikwiel Kommando", trail blazing the Sishen to Saldana route, fixing bikes for under privileged children, being an avid bike and things blogger, a supporter of Warm Showers, he was passionate about all things bicycle. Often funny and facetious, his humbleness was steadfast. Nothing glitzy or glamorous when it came to Johann.

Johann will always be remembered by the Freedom Challenge community. That "spot" some 30km on the Willowmore side of Prince Albert, will forever be a place of remembrance for many a weary Freedom Challenge rider

RIP Johann
Written by: John Bowen

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