It has been nearly a decade since Grant Lottering was declared dead after being involved in a catastrophic cycling accident in Italy in 2013. Travelling at over 60 kilometres per hour, Grant went straight into a solid rock wall, breaking 22 bones and causing his heart to stop almost instantly. The medical team at the scene of the accident defibrillated Grant’s heart twice before it started beating again. When he regained consciousness a day later in an ICU in Italy, the medical staff informed Grant that he was incredibly fortunate to be alive and called him a ‘dead man walking’. “You survived death,” they said, and he immediately knew he had been given a second chance at life.
Despite overcoming significant odds, the struggle for Grant was far from over. Along with many broken bones, Grant sustained internal and external bleeding and numerous other injuries. After the accident, the opinion regarding Grant’s situation was unwavering, “You have zero chance of getting back on a bicycle.”
What the medical practitioners couldn’t see, though, was that Grant’s mind was already made up. He was going to return the very next year to finish the tour that he hadn’t been able to complete because of the crash. “I wanted to finish the race because they told me I couldn’t,” says Grant with a chuckle. “If you tell me I can’t do something, it’s the best motivation for me to go and do it.”
Grant managed to find one surgeon – who he fondly calls Dr P. – who was prepared to work with him. In the space of four months, Grant had five surgeries done. Although he had the backing of one surgeon, Grant recalls how he once asked Dr P. if he believed that he would be able to get back on a bicycle in time for the race. Dr P. replied with a sigh, “I don’t want to be negative, Grant, but it’s highly unlikely…” At times, it seemed as if everything was against Grant and his dream to finish the race. Looking back on those days of hopelessness, Grant says, “Things seemed impossible. I couldn’t walk, in fact, I couldn’t do anything physically. But in my mind, I was cycling in the Alps.”
On the 5th of July 2014, less than twelve months after his accident, Grant completed one of the toughest one-day amateur races in the world, the La Marmotte. The race spanned over 170km and finished on the revered and feared Alpe d’Huez alpine mountain arguably the most famous mountain in the Tour de France. This unbelievable achievement gave Grant the confidence he needed to start and finish the Leggendaria Charly Gaul in Trento in Italy on the 20th of July 2014, the very race that had nearly taken his life in 2013.
The day after this remarkable feat, Grant said that he knew he had found what he was meant to do. “If I could do that with one arm and one leg, I knew I could do so much more when I was recovered.” And so the idea for Grant’s Im’possible Tour came to life.
The first Im’possible Tour – ‘from death to the top of the alps in one year’ brought Grant face to face with one of the most challenging experiences he had ever faced. Now, eight years and twelve surgeries later, Grant is back in the Alps, gearing up for his 10th Im’possible Tour, in collaboration with Mercedes-Benz Vans. The tour will start and finish on the same famous mountain where it all began in 2014, the Alpe d’Huez.
To date, Grant has raised more than 2.5 million Rand for charity and has reached over 160 million people, inspiring them with his remarkable life story while raising awareness for important causes. Since 2016, Grant has been sponsored by Mercedes-Benz Vans, who assist him in continuing his important work. Speaking of his experience with the Mercedes-Benz V- Class, the vehicle that has accompanied him on several tours, Grant says, “Given that I always have a bicycle with me, what I love about the V-Class is the seat configuration. I can move the seats around to create the perfect fit for whatever purpose I need, and then I can just hop right in. Meanwhile, my team also loves it. They spend hours in the vehicle on tours and rave about how comfortable the V-Class is inside and how effortless it is to drive.”
A V-Class will accompany Grant on his next Im’possible Tour, on the 26th of August 2022, the #20onHuez, in aid of Laureus Sport for Good South Africa. Grant says he feels incredibly privileged to be an ambassador for Laureus SA, a foundation which helps children dream and look past their own impossible situations through the power of sport. Grant says, “Through my story and my Im’possible Tours, I strive to inspire young people who find themselves in impossible situations. We are all born with a purpose and destiny, and your purpose is not subject to where you are or where you come from… it’s subject to you believing you have a purpose you want to fulfil in your life.”
A special theme accompanying the #20onHuez Im’possible Tour is one of never giving up on your dreams. Grant goes on to say, “I am fulfilling a dream that I had since I was a professional 20-year-old cyclist, to ride the alpine mountains we see in the Tour de France. The Alpe d’huez is the greatest prize for any cyclist, and now, with the help of Mercedes-Benz Vans, I will be back where it all began in 2014, cycling this famous and feared stretch of mountain road. I will cycle the Alpe d’huez 20 times in one continuous ride to celebrate Laureus SA’s 20th anniversary. This will be brutal 552km of up and down, gaining 21,600m of elevation and my ultimate prize in aid of underprivileged children.”
To find out more about how you can support Grant’s #20onHuez Im’possible Tour, in aid of Laureus, Sport for Good South Africa, please visit www.grantlottering.com.