Meet the cyclist: Rob Fleming

Rob FlemingEditor: Describe yourself in 140 characters.

Rob: I’m 35, a Queens College Old Boy, (1996). I’m married to Michelle. I work for a global construction consultancy company, managing the construction services business line in African countries, outside of South Africa. I enjoy travelling, meeting new people, experiencing new cultures and learning new things.

Editor: Why did you start cycling (as an adult)?

Rob: A friend of mine got me started by getting me signed up to complete the 94.7 Momentum Cycle Challenge in support of a charity. Then the 1965Ride opportunity seemed like a great opportunity to see a beautiful part of the country from a bicycle.

Editor: What’s your funniest cycling moment?

Rob: Possibly the unbelievable number of times that Ryan Schnell (a fellow 1965Ride cyclist) had punctures on the 1965Ride 2014 edition or, perhaps the ability of Di Peltenburg to be the first fall of the 2014 edition before even leaving the overnight accommodation.   But, I think the one that has to take first place is, Brendan Raasch mounting a sneaky (if that’s possible for Brendan) charge to overtake John Ralph on a downhill finish unsuccessfully, even with significant momentum advantage. I’m sure though that Tony Frost would highlight when I took a moment to turn my brain off and found the back wheel of Owen Dicks while on a horrible stretch of road outside Ficksburg.   As I lay sprawled across the road, all my mind could think of was a big 18-wheeler ironing me out to become a permanent feature in the asphalt. Needless to say, within milliseconds I was up and mounted on the bike once more without any serious damage.

Editor: What bike do you ride?

Rob: Specialised, S-works, Tarmac Carbon Frame with Campagnolo gear set and brakes.

Editor: Have you ever tried riding a unicycle?

Rob: No

Editor: What, why not? You’re such willing, fun guy! Have you seen those guy’s who do MTB races on unicycles?

Rob: I may be a willing, fun guy, but I’m no clown! Besides, I find it difficult staying on the bike with two wheels…

Editor: Tell us about your training programme?

Rob: Getting out to the ‘Cradle’ (in Muldersdrift) with Tony Frost and the team on as many weekends as possible. The post training carbo-loading is well worth an hour or two on the bike!

Editor: Do you shave your legs?

Rob: No

Editor: He’s not telling the truth, not sure why. We (the girls) have a good perve on every training ride!

Rob: Blush, no I don’t.

Editor: Do you wear matching outfits?

Rob: Matching with who? I do have a few sponsored tops and shorts combos from the previous rides, otherwise, its a mix and match.

Editor: Can you pop a wheelie on your bike?

Rob: I haven’t tried.

Editor: It appears that few of the 1965Ride bunch have tried. Perhaps a good thing since they’re all rather accident-prone!

Editor: What’s your favourite cycling food and why?

Rob: The breakfasts that are served on the 1965Ride tour which are mostly served at each of the stops in the Eastern Free State – fruit starter, oats/porridge for main course, followed by a full English breakfast for dessert!

Editor: Who is/are your favourite cycling partner/s?

Rob: It’s too hard to choose only one. In 2013, I spent a good deal of the 1965Ride with Dr Bradfield (on and off the road), who was never short of an astounding story or amount of genetic facts and figures, but generally, I am happy to cycle a few K’s on my own or spend time chatting to others that are cruising at a pace that I am comfortable with.

Editor: He’s referring to a seriously fast pace!

Editor: Have you ever cycled on another continent?

Rob: I owned a bicycle when I lived in London for 4 years and did a fair amount of cycling.

Editor: What’s the most challenging thing you’ve ever done?

Rob: I don’t think I have challenged myself enough yet to have a most challenging thing.

Editor: What is your biggest achievement to date?

Rob: At the age of 29 I was named a director of an international company.

Editor: What motivated you to sign up to cycle the 1965Ride?

Rob: Having not given anything significant back to the school that gave me so much, I thought that the opportunity to get on a bicycle, have fun for nine days, meet some very interesting people and at the same time, raise money for education, would be a good start at giving back. I believe that improving the education of children in our country and in so doing, providing the next generation of kids with an opportunity to contribute to our country’s economic and social growth, is the only hope of a successful and sustainable South Africa.

Editor: Have you done the 1965Ride before? If so, what was the highlight of your trip?

Rob: Yes, in 2013 and 2014. There were too many highlights to select only one, but possibly an overarching memory from both rides is just how beautiful our country is.

Editor: Have you ever completed any other cycling tours?

Rob: I haven’t done any other tours but I have recently caught the MTB stage race bug and was roped into doing the Berg and Bush (B&B) in October last year with a distance of 230km in three days. I rode in my 1965Ride kit to promote our charity ride. The B&B is a seriously amazing race and should be on every cyclist’s bucket list – although it is not for the faint hearted! For those of us who weren’t 100% prepared (maybe about 50% would be accurate), there are long days in the saddle and getting up to do it again on Days 2 and 3 takes a bit of willpower. The good thing is that it is a team race and you have your partner to motivate you. Groaning aside, the single track and jeep track (about 95% of the race) is up, down and over the most incredible terrain. The event organisation is first class and the people are fantastic. The race was started approximately 12 years ago by a local farmer and has grown from 50 odd cyclists in its first year to approximately 4000 riders competing in three different events, held over two weekends, and a midweek option for the various level of riders.

Editor: Do you have any funny photographs or videos of yourself that demonstrate your cycling highlights that we can share on Facebook and twitter?

Rob: Thank goodness nobody had a GoPro when I had my one and only fall of the two 1965Ride trips! That would’ve gone viral for sure!

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