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An Email from Dennis

An Email from Dennis

I received an email last night from Dennis. He shared his heartfelt response to my post about Rhode of the Rove yesterday, and asked me share this with all of you:

Once or twice, or at least not many times in our lives, we come across people who touch our lives. Be it through the inspiration they give us, or admiration of what they have achieved. In some cases, it’s how they may have benefited the lives of others less fortunate or more fortunate.

Just having your life touched in one of these ways by someone, adds value to your life. I think that being touched will touch someone else’s life in a chain that will be repeated again and again – if you understand what I mean. Since living in Perth, I have been surrounded by more people that have touched my life, than ever before. Most of these people I have met through cycling, even although some of them don’t actually cycle with me. If it weren’t for cycling, I would not have made their acquaintance.

As the saying goes: “You cannot fly with eagles if you walk with turkeys.” Well then, at the moment I am in an outer orbit space flight! All of us that are involved in our group of cyclists, the rove and other little things we do, I consider to be, of a very high caliber. Each one of them has added value to my life by touching it in some way.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is that if you are reading this, then you are in that group of people I am talking about and I am saying thanks to you for being you and being associated with our group of friends, fellow cyclists, and colleagues.

Thank you Dennis, for sharing this. Your thoughts and sentiments are exactly what Happiness of Pursuits is all about. It’s a place for inspiration, sharing and learning. We all have something to learn and we all have something to teach.

I encourage you all to look around. You don’t have to look far to see how many remarkable people surround you: Ordinary people doing remarkable things. It’s fantastic to be able to share this and feel touched, encouraged and inspired. Like Dennis said so well, it has a ripple effect and it’s one small way in which we can have a positive influence in the world.

If you have a story you’d like to share or a few words like Dennis, please go ahead, Happiness of Pursuits is for everyone. You can contact me by email like Dennis did or you can leave a comment at the end of the post you like or on our facebook page.

Rhode of the Rove

Rhode of the Rove

Meet Rhode, a remarkable man who has turned his passion for cycling into an annual community event with many enthusiastic  participants. This is the tale of how Rhode’s love of long rides developed into “the rove”.  Be inspired as you read Rhode’s story – great things can be achieved when you pursue simple passions that make you happy.


Tell us about the Rove…… how did it all come about?

I started riding with Bike Force Joondalup some 6 years ago and met a group of like-minded folk, one of which was John. He is always one to push himself and that rubs off on others, we started doing longer and longer rides, my nice and easy 20km became 50, then 100 etc. Initially these were called Rhode’s Roves.

John had, from memory, done a few rides to and from Bunbury over the years and he came up with the concept. The Co2 (Committee of Two and a play on the “compressed air canisters” carried by cyclists) was established – John and myself. We embarked together on a one way ride to Bunbury and such was the birth of the Bunbury Rove – a 200km ride. That was December 2009 and I think we had 13 cyclists.


Since then both the name has been shorted to “the rove” (lower case) and the rides lengthened to a maximum of 500km over two days and in 2014 the number of riders was close to 70. This year will be the 6th year. Other than the Bunbury ride we have a One Day Classic from Bullsbrook to Toodyay and return.

We aim to have another two events in 2015 – one of which will be a rove team in the Delirium 24 hour event in March.

The Rove 2012

What’s the philosophy behind it?

The tagline speaks for itself “re-define your limits”. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and surprise yourself with what can be achieved.

What’s your background?

Just hit the big half-century, an immigrant from South Africa. Married to Leslie with a 17 year old son, Michael. A banker / finance guy who found he enjoyed cycling and the company of great people dressed in lycra.

Rhode, Leslie and Michael

What’s your secret to ‘making time’ for cycling and organizing the Rove?

John does a heck of a lot of work on it and designed the rove kit we now use each year, and those fine coffee mugs (see above – stock still available), as well as the website and runs the books. I deal with the front end – registrations, payments, nodding my approval of John’s great work. It does take a bit of time but we have help from an expanded Co2 to Co3 or 4 and each year we learn from our mistakes and improve the process.


What does a typical day look like for you? 

Work / eat / sleep / repeat. I normally wake up at 5.30. If I am riding I will get up and leave home at around 6.15 and 6.45 for either a BFJ ride or a commute to work in town. I normally get home no later than 6.30Pm, have dinner with the family, watch TV, and walk the dog. All nice, quiet mid-life activities.

You took a leap of faith…  Did you ever wonder if you were doing the right thing?

I was concerned last year with the number of riders, many of whom I did not know from other clubs. It does make the logistics harder and more time consuming, and to be honest I thought it was time for a break from being an organizer. But after the event (the leg down in terrible weather) I saw the sense of achievement, the satisfaction, smiles and camaraderie, and the appreciation / gratitude of the riders. It was a fantastic feeling for both John and myself. It makes the time and effort all worth it and I will continue to be a member of the Co2 for a while yet.

The Journey

What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

The weather has always been an issue, one that we cannot control but have learnt to work with. The first ride was too late in the year and therefore too hot. The second was earlier but still too windy. We soon hit on early September as the best time and have stuck with that. The rain is the rain. Last year was the first wet ride and that made it even more interesting and challenging.

Logistically, getting drivers for support vehicles, with the patience to drive at 30kph, is the main issue every year. But it always works itself out at the end of the day. My wife, Leslie, has done it every year and a few others (Bruce C) have done a good number of them. Without them the event cannot take place.We have also secured the support of a number of financial sponsors, most of whom ride with us, and this reduces the cost to the riders. We are most definitely a Not for Profit organisation.

We have also secured the support of a number of financial sponsors, most of whom ride with us, and this reduces the cost to the riders. We are most definitely a Not for Profit organisation.

The next step, starting this year, is to link a suitable and worthwhile charity to the therove allowing others the benefit and not only the participants. Our goal is to become a substantial donor over the next few years.



What are the tough parts of cycling long distances and setting up the Rove?

The distance comes with training and being prepared with nutrition, diet, support etc. The most difficult part is the mind – convincing yourself that you can ride that far (assuming you want to ride that far). A tube of good quality butt cream is a great help.

Can you give us some examples of when you’ve had to dig deep and be brave?

When I asked Les to marry me? Making the decision to leave South Africa for the sake of my wife and son, and leave my parents and sister behind. Both, by the Grace of God, have turned out to be the best decisions I have made.

Who is your role model and why?

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

I have never modelled myself on others. Your talents and goals are yours, and mine are mine. I admire the courage of a soldier who, at the sound of a whistle, went over the top to near certain death. Margaret Thatcher – who took no crap from anybody. Bill Clinton – just because he is Bill Clinton. Of course Mandela – a spirit of forgiveness and a very, very wise man who understood what impact he had and what could have happened if he took a different stance when released.

How has pursuing cycling and the Rove changed your life?

I am fitter and healthier than I have been since the mid 80’s. I have made great mates and it gets me up and out in the morning. The rove is going to grow into something bigger and bigger and the desired goal is to support a charity or two, so that both the participants and those in trouble (of whatever sort) benefit.

I have learnt:

  • Patience, patience and patience.
  • That if you spend enough time at something you can become pretty good at it. I will never be first across the line but that’s not important. Sharing the experience with your nearest and dearest is what counts.

Wisdom for others:

What’s the secret of your success?

By what measure am I successful? I have a loving family, good friends, a healthy mind and body. All of which comes without chasing the mighty $$. Success is in the eye of the beholder. And it’s easy – just do what your mother told you – play nice and be kind to others.

What’s next for you? What does the future hold?

Work & have fun, retire & have more fun, cycle as long as possible.

What advice would you give anyone who dreams of pursuing cycling?

Borrow a mates bike, ride it for a few months. If you enjoy cycling, buy the best bike you can afford. And more importantly the best nicks possible – your butt will thank you. Some guys can be brilliant riders seemingly overnight. For the masses it takes time and kilometers. And just enjoy it, whether you do 10km or 100km on a Saturday morning. But do push yourself at least a tiny bit – you will be surprised by what you can do on two wheels.

What advice would you give anyone who isn’t doing what they love?

Move on. Get out of the rut. Find something that adds value to your life and change whatever you can without hurting others.

How do you think each of us can live the fullest life possible?  

Don’t be selfish, think of others and do for others. One day we leave everything behind. Make sure the legacy and love you leave is what people remember – not the house or car.


Rhode and Leslie at the Lost City


Leslie and Michael













Favourite Quote:

Les-Miserables-207x300And remember

The truth that once was spoken,

To love another person

Is to see the face of God.

Final Lyrics from Les Miserables

Happiest places:

  • On the bike (when the wind is not blowing a gale) and the coffee shop after a ride;
  • Dinner table (not a restaurant) with good mates, good food & good wine;
  • Anywhere I can have a white Christmas.

Biggest passion in life:

To try and be a good father to Michael, and of course cycling.

Most inspiring film you’ve seen:

Two will always stick in my mind – Gandhi and Amadeus.

Most inspiring book you’ve read:

Who Moved the Stone – changed my life many years ago. 

Best light-bulb moment:

That getting married to Les would be a very good thing to do.

Anything is possible… what’s your wish?

Without wanting to sound like a Miss Universe contestant, the eradication of poverty and the suffering of children – anywhere and everywhere.

the rove 2014

Power of the Peloton – Post Rove 2014

Power of the Peloton – Post Rove 2014

I took the dog for a walk this evening. Yes, I realize that sounds really mundane but let me explain: If you live in Perth, you will know that the weather outside is thoroughly wild today! There are blustery winds of up to 96km an hour and rain is pelting down in solid moving sheets at the most unpredictable moment.

On any other day I would explain to my beloved chocolate lab, Chester, that the weather was just too awful for us to even contemplate a walk. He never understands and gently places his paw on your leg, kindly asking you to please take him for a walk because he has been waiting patiently all day. Today I finally understood. The rain and wind were not something I needed to be so afraid of. How did I come to this realization? In the most unexpected way.

On Saturday I took part in an event that has changed me forever. The weather on Saturday was very similar to what it is today and at 6am that morning I set off with three companions to complete The Rove 200km cycle from Perth to Bunbury. We were exposed to rain and wind that I have never experienced in my entire 40 something life! It was a totally foreign experience that taught me so much about myself, my limiting self-beliefs and my unknown resilience and strength – both physically and mentally.

Cycling this distance was no ordinary feat, especially in the conditions that all the Rovers endured. I’ve always wondered what the attraction is to submit yourself to such extreme endurance events. This time I was my own experiment and it was truly a remarkable experience. I learnt many things that are so hard to put into words, but I will try because perhaps you too share or can be encouraged by my experience:


  • You have to seek opportunities to re-define and understand your limits.

    We live in a world where we are not really required to test our physical endurance or mental fortitude. It is the most wonderful, awe inspiring realization to know your own ability to endure and remain strong despite the conditions you are facing. You come away feeling sore, tired, even exhausted but also very reassured. It’s a personal knowing you feel deep inside you that is calming and soothing.


  • A peloton, regardless of size, functions as one.

    Each individual makes their own decisions, but there is a shared unspoken consciousness that guides the group. It’s like a flock of birds navigating the skies, intuitively knowing what each member’s action or direction will be. There’s something incredibly powerful about experiencing this community of consciousness. It is magical and requires precise focus, and commitment to being part of something greater than yourself. It takes trust and a willingness to share an individual goal in a common forum. When it works and you are part of it – one collective consciousness working in synchronicity – it is truly exhilarating.


  • The prize is not coming first.

    This is not the measure of your worth or ability. The measure is different for each individual. No matter how old you are or how fast you can cycle, you can have this experience. It’s up to you to decide what you want to get out of it. I am not a fast or experienced cyclist, but with the support of my companions who felt similarly, we took up the challenge and we succeeded. We started earlier than the rest of the group and we finished after most of them, but we did it! I can’t explain the deep sense of satisfaction we felt just completing the task, despite the hard work, pain and soreness.


  • You won’t know unless you try.

    I decided to do this event because my husband had done it three times and my daughter wanted to do it. I was drawn into the euphoria of the excitement and decided to give it a go. My friend who has completed a half Ironman event wanted to take part too. So we became the awesome foursome. We started training for this event 9 weeks earlier. At that point the longest ride I had done was 100km and it took all day! On one of our training days we started by doing a group ride with Bike Force Joondalup and then after coffee (most important) we extended the ride on Ziatus. (Ziatus is a long road with a pretty rough surface just outside of town and is a good training ground). There is one little hill on Ziatus. Most of the group was ahead of me when I started to climb this little hill – it is really little. I couldn’t do it. I burst into tears crying and sobbing as I struggled to get to the top. My husband was worried that I would end up falling over the edge of the road and I think he was so shocked he really didn’t know what to do. I manage to gather myself and continue until 75km, but my ego was severely bruised and I felt such an utter failure. I decided that I really didn’t have what it takes to do the Rove. I just didn’t have the endurance or fortitude. I was depressed for several days as I contemplated that I was reaching way above my own ability. Despite my disappointment, I decided to keep training with the “awesome foursome” and allowed myself to keep an open mind. I learnt about nutrition, pacing myself, using my heart rate and working with my team mates. It wasn’t until the day before the event that I knew I was going to give it a go. I still did not know if I could do it, but I was going to try and yes, I did it! If I had given up, I would never have known that I could do it! I learnt that if you do the work, you can achieve anything.


  • My creed is to rage against the dying of the light:

The Peloton did not go gently into that long ride,

Rovers mounted their steeds in

Quiet unspoken determination

To rage against the wind and the rain:

Rage against the dying of the light,

And we were “bad ass” and it was good.

The Power of the Peloton – Rove 2014

The Power of the Peloton – Rove 2014

Last year I had the privilege of being a supporter of the participants who took part in the Perth to Bunbury Rove. A ride that requires dedication and determination to cycle 200km from Perth to Bunbury and back again the next day. Can you even begin to imagine doing this for fun? I was so inspired and empowered by everyone who took past last year, that this year I am going to give it ago. I have been training for this with Kelly Snyman and Steph Malone. Our goal is to do the Perth to Bunbury trip – 200km on Saturday 6th September.

When I mentioned this to a colleague, she said, “We really have to talk, why do you hate yourself so much?” She was joking of course, but it does raise the question about why we are driven to do certain things. For me, the Rove is all about breaking my personal limits and learning about just how much I can do with my mind and body. I’ll let you know how it goes! Wish me luck!