Sports editor Vata Ngobeni takes up the 1965Ride challenge

Vata Ngobeni

Editor: Describe yourself in 140 characters

Vata: (in many more characters than 140!) I’m a 35-year-old journalist by profession and love sport, politics, people and my country. I was born and grew up in Umtata and spent some of my formative years in Nkowankowa (somewhere in Limpopo near Tzaneen) and Pretoria. I matriculated at Queens College and went on to study journalism at Damelin before graduating from Midrand Graduate Institute. I was lucky to spend my 20s living my dream as a rugby writer at the Pretoria News and the South African Press Association. Later, I became a freelance rugby journalist and analyst for SABC Sport radio and television. I have been involved in the establishment of two companies in the hope that they make me very rich soon. I’m married to the beautiful Thandokazi (who I met when she was at Queenstown Girls’ High School but never wanted to date me) and we have been blessed with a beautiful daughter Masana.

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

Vata: My good friend and fellow classmate at Queens College, Lwandile Qokweni, in his infinite wisdom decided that it would be a good idea to join the 1965Ride. From flirting with the idea and having been there in 2013 when the cyclists arrived at the Rec in Queenstown, I thought that it was a rather good idea. And before he could dare me to, I agreed to join him. The rest is history.

Editor: What’s your funniest cycling moment?

Vata: On our second training ride of 2015 as we were heading towards Kromdraai, the Butter Chicken with Masala pizza which I had gobbled down at a dinner with fellow Queenians, Mbongeni Xundu and Frank Esmeraldo, decided to plan an immediate exit. I tiptoed for over five minutes looking for a prime spot to leave a little bit of the Indian cuisine somewhere along the hills in the Cradle. I found a spot, not entirely ideal but slightly hidden and I offloaded nature’s best fertilizer. Thanks to the grass that had been cut recently, I got a taste of what my fore bearers had experienced before westernisation! I finished my 43km ride with great encouragement from the last remnants of the Butter Chicken pizza still rumbling in my tummy.

Editor: Too much information!

Editor: What bike do you ride?

Vata: A Momsen mountain bike

Editor: Have you ever tried riding a unicycle? 

Vata: Any wise ideas I have left have been towards this year’s 1965Ride!

Editor: Tell us about your training programme?

Vata: A lot of spinning during the week – four to five times – and a good and hard ride on Saturday through the Cradle with the gang at Bishop’s Ridge. In my mind, I have had plenty of Sunday rides but my body is yet to experience it!

Editor: Do you shave your legs?  If so, why?

Vata:   Nope. I’ll leave that for the Miss South Africa, Miss Selborne College and Miss Grey High School contestants.

Editor: A dig at his fellow cyclists!

Editor: Do you wear matching outfits?

Vata: Yep

Editor: Ok, that’s honest!

Editor: Can you pop a wheelie on your bike?  

Vata: Being on a bike for hours on end is crazy enough.

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

Vata: Tony and Jen’s croissants with peanut butter and jam. That’s usually followed by a solid breakfast at Mugg and Bean and my double gin and tonic with two slices of cucumber. Seriously, grilled chicken with a salad and two rolls.

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

Vata: Lwandile Qokweni and Owethu Matshaya, the BEE Heavyweights!

Editor: Have you ever cycled on another continent?

Vata: Nope and I don’t want to.

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

Vata: The Two Oceans half marathon

Editor: What is your biggest achievement to date?

Vata: Getting married, becoming a father and becoming sports editor of the Pretoria News.

Editor: Aaah, what a nice guy!

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

Vata: Lwandile Qokweni and the desire to contribute positively towards changing someone’s life.

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

Vata: I haven’t, this will be my first.

Editor: Have you ever completed any other cycling tours? 

Vata: I’ve done a few Giro del Capo and Cape Argus’ – all of them tiring, plenty of hard work and at times painful from the ‘babalaz’ while sitting in the comfort of the media bus with the legendary Phil Liggett, Johnny Koen, Kevin McCallum, Larry Lombard, Wilhelm de Swardt, Ian Sadler, Tommy Ballantyne and David Bellairs!

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