Pedal Pusha

by Vata Ngobeni

I love that old saying by Nelson Mandela about “it always seems impossible until it’s done”.

That seemingly impossible task was the last 22kilometres of Day One from Heidelberg to Frankfort in the 1965 Ride Cycling for Education yesterday.

Forget that the 140kilometre distance was the furthest I have ever cycled in my life but it was almost made impossible by the elements as a strong head wind and endless hills in the final stretch into Frankfort.

The cosmos that had adorned the roadside for the greater part of our ride in the Free State, the sunny conditions and non-existent winds were quickly forgotten towards the end as most of the 17 riders had one thing on their mind, and that is to get to Frankfort.

In my mind especially in those last kilometres I got the feeling that Frankfort didn’t want us and frankly I didn’t want it, it’s wilting cosmos flowers, bad roads and what felt like gale force winds.
But in fighting the elements it gave me a moment to take in the sights and sounds of Frankfort and its dusty township.

As my eye surveyed the endless RDP houses and untarred streets riddled with little kids, it dawned on me that I had yet to see a school.
Not seeing a place of education, even if one or two do exist, surprisingly gave me that extra boost of energy to get myself over the last two hills and pierce the wind with the intent of making the impossible possible.

That is the reason for this ride I have embarked on with my fellow riders as we cycle from Joburg to Queenstown in nine days.
So many have been denied their basic right to a good education and all we want is to give as many children as we can that opportunity to expose them to a good education at six schools within Queenstown.
But education is not just a Queenstown or an Eastern Cape problem, it is a nation wide problem which should be solved as a matter of urgency.

As the ride wound from Heidelberg town in the early hours of yesterday morning and past the township of Ratanda, I hardly saw a school, again not to say that there aren’t.
My ability to spot any school may also have been hindered by the unrelenting hill leaving Heidelberg towards the Free State but in the huffing and puffing and ducking taxis in the process, I really don’t remember passing by any school.

My appreciation for what we are doing over the next week and a bit was also distracted by the many aromas I was taking in from the stench of cows and the by product of whatever they are being fed to the wonderful smells given off by nature as one is alerted to their crossing of the Vaal River by the roaring water as it comes off the dam wall.
Somehow though in the many moments of solitude on the road to Oranjeville, I realized that what we perceive as impossible is very much possible if we put our minds to it.

It may have seemed impossible that I would ever ride a bicycle from Joburg to Queenstown as much as many beneficiaries of the Queen’s College Trust may have at one time thought that it was impossible for them to have a good education.

There is also the impossible thought that may have never dawned on many residents of Heidelberg, Deneysville, Oranjeville and Franfort of seeing three black man on bicycles with 14 white men and women.
But as impossible as my ride into Frankfort had seemed in those final kilometres, it was made possible by the very same determination South Africans must have to ensure that education in this beautiful country of ours is accessible to all and so too the resources that have for a long time been enjoyed by a handful of schools in the country.

To follow the progress of the ride log onto follow it on Twitter @1965ride and follow Vata Ngobeni @Vata_Ngobeni who will also be writing a daily column on the ride.

* Vata is Sports Editor of the Pretoria News, an old Queenian, and one of the cyclists on the 2015 edition of the 1965Ride

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