Songezo Jim, a 22-year-old from Masiphumelele, is an up-and-coming cyclist who grew up in Umtata, Eastern Cape, where cycling was the last thing on his mind. Though he had dreams of being the next Lucas Radebe (former Bafana Bafana captain), in March 2005 everything changed. He had moved to Cape Town, where his friend Siyathemba Adonisi introduced him to the world of cycling. “We were watching the Cape Argus of 2005,” recalled Songezo with an excited smile. That major cycling event was where the passion for this self-motivated and hardworking cyclist was born.
Cycling has played an important role in Songezo’s life, allowing him to travel the world and meet and interact with new people. One of the highlights of his travels was cycling alongside seven-time Tour de France champion, Lance Armstrong. Songezo is currently racing for one of South Africa’s biggest cycling teams, MTN Qhubeka, and for the National Team. “It has always been my dream to ride for one of the best teams in South Africa,” he told LIVE, beaming with pride.
Songezo considers cycling a “fair” sport because individual riders can only succeed through hard work, determination and intelligence. He highlights that you need to work on your strength physically and mentally in order to succeed. He is now looking to the future: he wants to start an academy training young kids in cycling and reaching their potential.
Sider Bar: Quickie Facts about Songezo
Best race: 2010 Western Province Championship, where he was crowned champion
Role model: Swiss road bicycle racer, Fabian Cancellara
Motto: Never give up without a fight
Best countries visited: Belgium, Holland and Rwanda
Advice to budding cyclists: a good cyclist needs dedication, self-discipline and the ability to manage time.
Headline for fun facts: Bits and Bobs about the Bike
• Rumour has it that Leonardo DaVinci — the man responsible for almost everything according to Dan Brown (if you don’t know who he is, check out The DaVinci Code, and yes, it was a book before becoming a movie). DaVinci designed the modern bicycle in 1490. Fact or Fiction? You be the judge.
• France must have thanked Ernest Michaux for having a brainwave in 1860 and inventing the Velocipede, or “fast foot”. It was like a hobby horse with pedals. Unfortunately Michaux made the wheels out of iron (we can’t really blame him for not having rubber, as it wasn’t so readily available in those days). Imagine: iron wheels and cobblestone roads. Ouch! It became known as the bone-shaker for obvious reasons.
• The smallest adult bicycle ever made used silver dollar coins as wheels. We just want to know who rode it.
• It takes 20 stacked bicycles to fill up a normal parking space. This means someone actually took a whole lot of bikes and tried this. Clearly that person had a lot of time on their hands. The real upshot: think bike!
Writer: Mawande & Ndu