by Vata Ngobeni
How I have been able to survive for over 500 kilometres on treacherous and life-threatening roads for the past two days is beyond me.
Along with 16 other cyclists we have now completed four days and just over 500 kilometres of this epic 850 kilometre pilgrimage called the 1965 Ride Cycling for education which will culminate with the peloton arriving in the Eastern Cape town of Queenstown on Thursday.
I can’t wait for Thursday to come but not as much as my behind and my legs which have taken a pounding through the rugged eastern Free State terrain.
All of this made me understand why the likes of Lance Armstrong and many other cyclists took performance enhancing substances but I do not agree with it. You see, our cause is for education and to try to raise as much money as possible so that we can afford deserving but under-privileged kids the opportunity to study at a good school. So for us there is no need for any EPO or any of the performance enhancing substances that have put cycling in such a bad light.
I must admit that yesterday I sat out the fourth day from Ladybrand to Wepener and watched from the comfort of the support vehicles as my friends, old school mates and new friends unrelentingly peddled through the peaks and some of the most picturesque part of the Maluti mountains making the 97 kilometre trek in just under six hours.
While I was busy nursing the flu and sore legs and bum, my admiration for those in the peloton grew tenfold as I watched a friend of mine Dini Gudlindlu stop on the side of the road to take pictures with a group of about 10 children who had been cheering everyone on from the edge of their cluster of mud huts. We took pictures with the kids and gave them sweets and they waved us off. Dini rode away with a big smile, one that said that his ride was made.
You see Dini finished the Two Oceans ultra marathon last weekend, flew to Johannesburg and hit the road with us to Queenstown. Next month Dini will be running his second Comrades marathon and it has had me wondering for the last week how and where he gets the energy to do all of this stuff. The answer was revealed to me yesterday and it had always been staring at me in the face, it is for the children. Dini said to me at the conclusion of the day that meeting those kids and making them smile, even if it was for a moment, was worth the madness of the ride and running the Two Oceans and the Comrades.
So today, I will get on my bike and continue to admire the remainder of the eastern Free State through all the pain of cycling from Wepener to Zastron and I will do it with a smile, all 67 kilomtres of it. No I won’t solicit anyone to get me EPO but I will do it because deep down in my heart, just like Dini, I want to make a child smile and do so because they are receiving an education.
** Vata is Sports Editor of the Pretoria News, and old Queenian, and first time 1965Rider.