The end ….. and not the end

I wrote on the 1965Ride Facebook page that the 2016 edition of the 1965Ride cycle tour was done and dusted. Well….it is and isn’t.

This year’s chapter is almost closed but it is merely the precursor to the 2016 version of the journey. There is no doubt that 2016 will be different than its predecessors. Hopefully also better. But different certainly. This is the case each year. Each year we have different groups of people cycling; different weather conditions; different support teams; different sponsors; different challenges; different highs and lows.

However one thing stays immutably unchanged and unchanging: the tour is not about the tour, nor about the cyclists individually, nor collectively, even though they are incredibly important, even essential, to the whole mission. The 1965ride is about education and about creating opportunities for talented young people to have the best possible chance of being the very best they can possibly be.
When we ride into and onto the Rec and experience the emotion and the welcome it is right that we feel good, that we are made to feel like heroes. But it is the kids we help that go on to make something of their lives, and then to give something back to their communities who will ultimately be the real heroes.

However this last blog of the year is a fabulous opportunity to say thank you to the heroes who have sacrificed much by way of time, effort and energy to make the 2015 edition of the 1965Ride the success that it undoubtedly was. We will never fully know what it cost each of them. But we and generations of bursars will be enduringly grateful to them. So who are these heroes? In alphabetical order:

Leon Annandale is one of a very small group who have participated in every tour since inception. His first year from Hazelmere; second from Aliwal North; and then he took the big leap and rode all the way with his friend and colleague Clint le Roux. Leon has done as much as anyone, and more than most, to change the tour from being for Queen’s College only to one open to any school who wishes to participate and we have been able to benefit all of the 6 member schools of the Queenstown Education Foundation for the last 2 years as a result. Quiet and unassuming he is like lightning on the road and his bobbing and weaving style and spinning legs are enough to make most of us weep!

Louis Bolton videographer/producer extraordinaire! We are truly fortunate to have someone of Louis’ passion and ability on our team for the three years he has produced and documented every inch of the distance travelled. He starts in the mornings before most of us are awake to capture the beauty and glory of the rising sun and works until most of us are long gone to dreamworld to review and edit the day’s production. He is a champion of his craft.

Peter Bolze does not make a lot of noise, but he certainly gets on with the job of being at the forefront of our support team. His quiet unobtrusive way of making things happen is misleading. Things happen without one really being aware that it is he who is making it happen. The myriad of requests and demands from cyclists is never-ending – from procuring ice at ungodly hours; to purchasing provisions that have either run out or were not acquired in the first place; to making sure that everyone ended up with more or less the sleeping plan they wanted like moving non-snorers into rooms with other non-snorers to allow the snorers to get on with their noisy task undisturbed and the non-snorers to get on with catching up on well-deserved sleep! And much much more!

Marc Bradley epitomises the 1965Ride cycle tour. His passion for education, for making a difference, for contributing without counting the cost, for his love of his fellow being and for always being available to help no matter how menial the task stand out as to why he is a great ambassador for what it is we are trying to achieve.

Richard Dalziel spent a lot of his days in contemplation with music in his ears and behind the steering wheel of the documentary production vehicle, ferrying Louis to and fro to help capture the best possible shots of the tour. When we finish the day Richard’s task starts: To scope out the theme for the day with Louis and then to turn that them into a piece of visual art that captures the imagination of the world. He has done that to perfection for 3 years now and he always finishes his long day after the rest of us have retired.

John Ferguson is a one-of-a-kind person. Unrushed and unrushable! He is responsible for caring for our catering needs over 850 kilometres every 25 kilometres. He has to find a spot that is not at the bottom of a hill, nor one that has no shade; he must be ready when we arrive; it must not be further than 25km from the last stop; the cups, coffee, tea, rusks, endurance drinks, Jen’s fruit cake, Debz’s condensed milk cookies and much more must be ready and good to go by the time the first cyclists arrive. When we leave he alone has to pack up all the catering detritus and then move on to the next 25km stop. A tough job done impeccably well!

Rob Fleming has been a stalwart for three years now. He holds the record for the most spectacular dismount and remount on the tour to date. A great sense of humour and always around to encourage. You will also always find him near the front of the tour with speedsters. 1000% reliable. Often first at the party, often the last to leave but up and about and ready to fire next morning! The best kind of friend to have.

Shelly Goldschmidt Wow! How Shelly has taken to the 1965Ride tour! Unrecognisable from last year. Perhaps the new bicycle has something to do with it but this year Shelly was always right up front in the parlotone except on the day after some of us were hit with a powerful down-draft tummy bug. She just put her head down and rode and rode and rode. What an example to the girls she teaches at Queenstown Girl’s High School!

Dini Gudlindlu earned, really earned his nickname of uMatshini! The weekend before the start of our tour Dini ran the Two Oceans marathon. The last time he rode a bicycle was when he was in matric in the late 90s. He never missed a beat, he never missed a cycle stroke. But there were times when you could see he was really wondering where his madness had come from. He is an inspiration to everyone! His enthusiasm for our cause is terrifically infectious!

Leon Jacobs is a veteran from our very first tour in 2011. He brought along the same bike he rode then, it has never been washed and still carries some of the dust from that first exploratory tour. Another quiet member of the parlotone who just keeps pedalling away in the middle. He loves to laugh and his laughter is very infectious. He has dry self-deprecating sense of humour and it was great to have him back in the middle of things!

John Koller he of the growling Harleys and massive help out of Heidelberg! We have grown to depend on you and your team John. Many thanks for seeing us safely onto the road out of Heidelberg. It makes things so much easier and you guys are real professionals. One year I think you must set off and then welcome us in at the other end. We seldom have rain so that won’t be a problem for the Harleys!

Andrew Mills made history by becoming the first old boy from Grey High School to cycle on behalf of the school kids of Queenstown. He was a great asset to the tour. Always full of fun, ready to laugh and extremely patient with a bunch of Old Queenians always ready poke fun at the sole Old Grey in the pack. Andrew played a fabulously positive role in the months preceding the tour and contributed to the fun of the tour in many ways and was seen to be leading the charge next to the Orange River and showed his multi-disciplinary talents to the full!

Debz Neilson home-baked condensed milk cookies lasted almost through the third day. There was no stopping Andrew Mills from snatching the last one from under the nose of the Queenians. Sorry Debz but you have cooked your own place permanently on the 1965Ride tour now! These biscuits are definitely to ride for!

Andrew Nel Big, quiet, fast, indefatigable and caring with a super sense of humour kind of sums up this generous man. Andrew rode in 2014 for the first tie and has now made his place on the tour a permanent one. He is always looking out for others to make sure that they are okay. You will find Andrew always at the front of the parlotone, either leading, pulling others along or giving those in front the incentive to stay there!

Vata Ngobeni is a journalist of note. He wrote the most beautiful articles and columns for his newspaper The Pretoria News and others while in transit. But he rode and rode and rode. One of the newcomers to the 1965Ride. He had some idea of what to expect having done a 100km ride on the route a couple of weeks preceding the event. However, he was unprepared for the magnitude of the 850km tour but he stuck with it and savoured the journey. His ability to laugh at himself and still push pedals carved for himself a special place on the tour.

Adie Peltenburg was another newcomer to the tour and was also one of those who experienced the discomfort of diarrhoea on day 3. This was not a friendly welcome to a tour as long as ours but Adie stuck with the task and always had a friendly and cheerful never-say-die attitude which he surely shares with the Queen’s College First hockey team of which he is the coach. He was always part of the front bunch pushing the pace and leading the parlotone and simply never seemed to be tired.

Lwandile Qokweni, the BIG guy! Most don’t know that Lwandile developed a blister on the sit-upon part of his anatomy on the third day of the tour. He suffered and suffered and vowed that he would be smaller, faster, stronger in 2016! But he stuck to his guns and blazed everyone away up the last hill over the railway next Hoërskool Hangklip. Nobody had to work harder than Lwandile and no-one was happier to finish strongly than him!

Bruce Raasch is firstly a wonderful human being and secondly has grown stronger and stronger since his first tour. He is proof perfect of the value of good preparation for your 1965Ride cycle tour for education. He makes a huge effort and is generally with or close to the lead bunch. You can be always be certain of a big warm welcoming smile from Bruce. Here is a man who really cares about and for those around him.

Jenny Ralph, baker of fruit cake par excellence! We didn’t eat any on the first day but it was polished by day 3! Thanks Jen and although you didn’t ride this year it was great to see you and John en route between Wepener and Zastron for a coffee and catch up. Thanks for the brilliant fruit cake. Our order is in for 2016. Start baking now!

Adele Rizzo is a newcomer to the tour and brought the other half of the Gautrain Express, Danie Venter, with her. We were privileged to have Adele with her quiet and determined demeanour with us. It just goes to show what you can do if you put your mind to it. The sight of Adele and Danie powering away on their tandem will live with those of us that experienced this year’s tour for a long time. And then there is her face-lighting smile!

George Slabbert is a veteran and experienced cyclist and a hugely supportive sponsor of the 1965Ride since the beginning. This was the first year he joined us in the midst of his company’s year-end and new budgeting season. In addition to this he gave Lwandile more than just one helping hand up more than one long upward slope! Thanks George. Great to have you along. Come for the whole trip next year!

Toni Suddes rode with us in 2013. A newcomer to the Jozi 1965Ride contingent back then, she embraced the cause with fervour and volunteered to assist with marketing and PR. She has played an invaluable role, helping secure several media interviews this year. Her infectious laugh and sense of humour make her a pleasure to have on the team. Ride with us again in 2016, Toni!

Ashley Truscott does much more than just ride the 1965Ride. She also does the marketing of our initiative and the amount of coverage we are garnering has grown year by year and this year was a bumper edition. And then there is Ash’s very unique cycling style. The Metronome was her nickname in the first year and this is her fourth tour – only 3 other people can claim that accolade! In four years we have only seen her grumpy once and this was this year at the end of a very hard penultimate day and it was an impressive performance all round. Ash is right in the heart and soul of the organisation of the tour and lives it from the week after the one tour concludes all the way around until the next one rolls along. We owe her a big thanks!

Danie Venter is a big, quiet extremely polite and generous man. He gave of himself on this tour. He rode at the front and pulled the parlotone along at paces they could only have dreamt of. He is the other half of the Gautrain Express with Adele Rizzo. Another newcomer to the tour he took it head on and made his own unique place for himself on the team. He showed what a difference meticulous preparation can make to the comfort of your tour!

Mike Warren. Big Mike, Magic Mike, Mike the Medic, etc. These nicknames all tell some of the story of the man. He is larger than life. He has a big heart. He loves the 1965Ride with an unequalled passion. He brings energy and caring with him every day. He had the thankless job of driving behind the last cyclist all of 850 kilometres. Nothing got him down and he brought an intense caring to every medical condition brought to his attention. We are seriously lucky to have a man like him and his company Alderson Ambulance supporting us all the way!

Rodger Webb, the Bionic Man. Three 1965Ride tours to his name. He gets stronger and stronger notwithstanding his triple heart bypass, his two plastic knees and various back operations. He doesn’t let any of these disabilities hinder him in any way and Rodger is an amazing example to everyone about taking life’s challenges just as that: a challenge, and not a permanent disability. His enthusiasm for what we are trying to do and the part he plays on the Organising Action team are invaluable. I am sure some of the younger members of the cycle tour found him difficult to keep up with on and off the bicycle!

Jen Wilson. Perhaps it is fortuitous that Jen ends up last alphabetically because she visited every one of the accommodation establishments we stayed at and made all the arrangements at each of them long before we even got close to our first pedal stroke on the ride. Hers is a thankless, time-consuming, often frustrating job. But she got it done with grace and a smile by putting in hours of after hours work and persistent pursuit of answers. She produced a page-a-place anatomy of the tour for Peter Bolze containing every imaginable detail that could be required. She was desperately disappointed not to be able to complete her 5th 1965Ride on medical advice but I am sure she will bounce back and be right there with us in 2016 and will probably have sorted out all out accommodation well before the time as well.

Of course with a tour like ours there are many people to thank. One always runs the risk of missing someone so I will make our thanks collectively. First and foremost our thanks go to the cyclists who took on the challenge, raised their sponsorships, and rode the ride. Big thanks folks and well done. You have helped to change our nation and the way we think about ourselves.

We owe a lot to all our sponsors. Big and small. Every Rand counts. Many thanks – you are part of a nation-building exercise that will resonate well into the future.

Without the schools who house and educate our bursars and their friends this would not have taken place at all and so we would like all our schools: Balmoral Girl’s Primary School, Hangklip Hoër- and Laerskool, Queenstown Girl’s High School, Queen’s College Boys High School and Queen’s College Boys Junior School to know that we truly value our association with you and hope that this association will grow stronger and stronger in the years ahead!

Congratulations to all those who participated in the Walk-the-Walk and the East London to Queenstown ride. Well done – we are proud to be part of what you are doing and hope that we can spawn still further initiatives like yours.

Finally to the media and all those who helped in any way to make our efforts known – many thanks. Our 1965Ride tour is growing in its reach and impact and may it long continue to do so!!

Tony Frost

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