There have certainly been many highs and lows on the trek from Johannesburg down to Queenstown but that could have never prepared the 2017 1965 Ride cyclist for the mixed bag of emotions that welcomed them to the Recreation Grounds on Thursday.
It’s certainly a mixed bag filled with an array of bodily aches in normal and abnormal places while the sense of relief of having completed the epic nine day journey is quickly overcome with the feelings of disappointed that this life changing expedition has come to an end.
The high and outpouring of emotions at the tear jerking arrival to a packed Rec encircled by the many school children that have a handful of sprinklings of some of the bursary recipients is rapidly dried out and extinguished by the eerie silence that is left behind in the moments after the abrupt and rather speedy ending to proceedings at the Rec.
However, for the riders the moment lingers on well into the afternoon and the chill in the afternoon air brings to life the enormity of what has just happened.
Everyone who was on the road for the past week and a bit will never see life the same nor will the lives of the bursary recipients be the same after their dose of a good quality education.
Friendships and life long bonds were made on the long, hilly and often windy roads of Gauteng, the Free State and Eastern Cape and all of this as a vehicle to unshackling the hope and dreams that will free many from the life-long bondage of being without the simple and basic right to education.
You see the 1965 Ride is a special event to be part of and one that everyone should embark on in their lifetime.
It doesn’t have to be done in the saddle or behind the wheel of the support vehicles, all it takes is everyone doing something from making brownies, handing out bananas, cheering on the side of the road, a message or phone call to the smallest or biggest donation and sponsor.
For us and those that watched over us on the road to Queenstown all the aches and pains are worth it, so too the high and anti-climax that comes with that first day in Heidelberg to that moment when you get off the saddle for the last time on Frost Street.
It is worth every stroke of the paddle, every kilometer, every bump and hill, every swirl of wind into our faces and rarely behind us and those much loved downhills that a child’s life will be changed forever.
In the famous words of founder Tony Frost “it is all downhill” this ride just like others truly felt like a downhill at the end.
There are too many people to thank and there are countless more who made selfless sacrifices for the ride to happen for the seventh consecutive year.
But it would be unjustified not to mention Tony Frost, our leader, father, brother, mentor and the man behind this fantastic idea.
What started as a journey of hope into unchartered territory has become a movement and a calling for change.
Change that must happen in our lifetime and change will last well beyond our lives and bring to life the dream and ideals that South Africa is the greatest country in the world and one that belongs to all who live in it.
This is Tony’s mantra and it has become the mantra of all the men and women who have participated on every edition of the 1965 Ride.
Tony Frost you are one of a kind and the true embodiment of how one man’s selfless sacrifice can be the realization of the dreams of many.
To us you are just Tony but to the world and especially South Africa, you are that man whose place in history is secured as one of those people who changed the world for the good and one that we all know already has a special place in heaven.
To you Tony and the heroes and heroines of the 1965 Ride past and present, you may be one in the world but you mean the world to one and many people whose lives have been changed forever by the education they have received.
“Use us, we are available” in the famous words of one Lungisa Tshele!
Ryan Schnell and Vata Ngobeni