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Long ride for freedom for SA’s MS patients

  • 4000km endurance ride for MS patients
  • Watch out for the guys countrywide
  • Donate if you can – we tell you how


RIDING FOR MS: Ready to roll in Cape Town on August 26 were (from left) the Hyundai H1 panel van support vehicle, Stephan Lourens, Justus Visagie and long-distance rider Johann Nothnagel. Image: Supplied

Johann Nothnagel (61) has left Cape Town in an attempt to ride more than 4000km in support of people afflicted with multiple sclerosis (MS) – an illness that makes riding a motorcycle over such a great distance extremely hard.

Nothnagel has the disease but the software developer says it’s a pastime he has always enjoyed.

He set off on his super-marathon on August 26 from Milnerton, in Cape Town, and will cover a wide circular route around South Africa until he reaches Mossel Bay and then Cape Town on September 7 (full route listed below).

RIDING FOR MS: Johann Nothnagel has multiple sclerosis, an eventually severely disabling disease, but plans to ride 4000km around South Africa to raise money for MS support groups. Image: Supplied

He explained: “I was diagnosed with MS in February 2009 but, in retrospect, recognise symptoms from way back in 1971. By the end of 2010 I was faced with huge medical bills – I mentioned it to certain friends but never expected any help.

“Meanwhile, unknown to me, Think Bike! members in Cape Town collected money and eventually covered my bills.”


This led to the first ‘Unchaining MS’ ride in 2011. Nothnagel’s bike at the time, a Buell Firebolt XB12R, was belt-driven so “Unchaining MS” was born and Nothnagel completed it on the Buell, riding solo most of the way.

His message when he visits MS support groups and people around the country who are affected by or are living with the disease is: “MS doesn’t mean giving up on everything you enjoy doing.”

Through the information media and interaction with groups and individuals , Nothnagel intends to give people a better understanding of the condition. ‘Unchaining MS’ raises money, too. Hyundai, Kawasaki, Sintrex and a private donor are this year’s logistics sponsors, so all money raised by the ride will go to MS South Africa to support its members.

Follow the route with Google Maps

More specifically, The Corner was told, it will be used to pay for home visits, counselling, support groups and information talks, a volunteer programme, workshops, advocacy, resources, referrals and guidance.

Justus Visagie, motoring journalist, co-rider and co-organiser, added: “We invite all bikers to join us on the road to show their support, donate or just because they enjoy the feeling of freedom that comes with riding.

“If you’d like to meet up with us, on the road or in your city or town, please contact us before we pass through.” (Dates below.)


In 2013 Nothnagel rode a Triumph Tiger 800 unaccompanied for most of the journey – as he did in 2011. This year (2016), The Corner was told, there’s a team of three: Nothnagel on a Kawasaki Versys 650 and Visagie and Stephan Lourens taking turns to ride a Versys 1000 or drive the Hyundai H1 panel van support vehicle – it’s big enough to carry a bike should either encounter a problem.

Major cities on the route are Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, Tshwane, Durban and Port Elizabeth (full list below).’MS Unchained 2016′ should reach the Mother City again on September 7.

Route schedule
Fri. 26 Aug: Cape Town (Milnerton) → Barrydale
Sat. 27 Aug: Barrydale → Graaff-Reinet
Sun. 28 Aug: Graaff-Reinet → Bethulie
Mon. 29 Aug: Bethulie → Bloemfontein
Tue. 30 Aug: Bfn → Welkom → Parys → Joburg
Wed. 31 Aug: Joburg → Pretoria → Joburg
Thu. 1 Sept: Joburg → Bethlehem → Clarens
Fri. 2 Sept: Clarens → Durban
Sat. 3 Sept: Durban → Ugie
Sun. 4 Sept: Ugie → Port Elizabeth
Mon. 5 Sept: Port Elizabeth
Tue. 6 Sept: Port Elizabeth → Mossel Bay
Wed. 7 Sept: Mossel Bay → Cape Town

How to donate

There are four ways to support the MS Society and ‘Unchaining MS’:
• Make a deposit to MSSA WC, Standard Bank account No. 0730 84 697, Tyger Manor branch code 05041000. Please reference ‘Unchaining MS’. Tax certificate available on request.
• Go to http://Facebook.com/UnchainingMS and click on GivenGain in the left-hand column
• Give cash or a cheque when you meet the team. (You will be issued with a receipt.)
• Pay with WeChat or SnapScan from a smartphone. WeChat will credit users for all donations made with the WeChat Wallet, up to R200 per payment. So if you give R200, your WeChat Wallet is credited with R200! Use the QR code to the right.

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