by Vata Ngobeni
When I started writing this column about the 1965Ride tour from Jozi to Queenstown, I spoke about my quest to do what seemed impossible. At the time, the nine day, 850km ride was impossible for me and two mates who were also making their debuts on the ride.
But yesterday as we entered the Victoria Recreational Grounds in Queenstown, we had made the impossible possible and the pain and suffering endured over the past nine days was worth it as we met three of the beneficiaries of the ride which is to raise funds for educational bursaries for children to attend school at one of six schools in Queenstown. As much as the end justified the means, I realized upon finishing that this was more than just raising money for children to go to school.
This was a life-changing experience that awoke a spirit of action within me rather than doing what many of us South Africans do on a daily basis – and that is to complain. It was from my fellow riders that I learnt that sitting and blowing hot air about the state of education in the country and many other matters will not change anything and instead it is what we do that will bring about change. In taking action, I learnt that the road to making change is not easy, it is riddled with uphills, winds blowing against you, long and character-testing stretches of road and the fact that the body can do anything that the mind sets out to achieve.
In the founder of the 1965Ride, Tony Frost, I saw a man that believes that anything is possible and that there are no limits to where this country can go. Tony is a young 68 years old but his fitness and unwavering belief in making a difference in others’ lives, has left me wondering what more I can achieve in the 33 years before I get to his age.
Tony was not alone on this annual pilgrimage to Queenstown, which happens to be his 50th anniversary having left our alma mater Queen’s College, but there was his classmate from 1965 Rodger Webb who stops at nothing in completing every single kilometre of the 850 that stood ahead of us when we set out last week Wednesday. You see Rodger has run over 20 ultra-marathons, done countless half marathons and done some other crazy endurance sports and all of this has earned him two back operations, two knee replacements and a triple heart bypass. In all of this, Rodger is willing to give his life to ensure that others get the opportunity to a better life.
Then there are the likes of Danie Venter, Adele Rizzo, Andrew Nel, Marc Bradley, Lwandile Qokweni, Dini Gudlindlu, Leon Annandale, Rob Fleming, Leon Jacobs, Adie Peltenburg, Shelly Goldschmidt, Andrew Mills, Bruce Raasch, Ashley Truscott, our support crew of Michael Warren, Peter Bolze and John Ferguson, and film crew Louis Bolton and Richard Dalziel. All these individuals have given of their time and have gone to many lengths to raise sponsorship all in the name of giving to someone else who many of them don’t know. I salute everyone of them, their families, their sponsors but more than anything their decision to act for the benefit of a better education system and a better South Africa.
Our journey has come to an end for this year and with a heavy heart I got off my bike for the last time on this ride. But I walked away believing that a better South Africa is not impossible, all it needs is for everyone of us to act and make it possible.
** Vata is Sports Editor of the Pretoria News and first time 1965Rider