Thando Nontangane was only 10 years old when his mother died and fours years later, he dropped out in Grade 8.
He was heartbroken and depressed and only his love for bicycles kept him going .
His heartache, however, faded for a moment on Saturday when he won in the spinning category of the Boni Lifestyle biking competition at Thokoza Park, Rockville, Soweto. The competition brings together cyclists from all over Soweto and other surrounding areas to showcase their biking skills, bike designs and bicycles they build. It is a brainchild of Tysys Capital Group, which is run by founder and CEO Modise Motloba.
Saturday’s event was the third of its kind this year and had bikers aged eight to 25.
Nontangane, from Mofolo South, was among dozens of young and adult cyclists who descended on Thokoza Park.
Riding on his elongated bike with two saddles, Nontangane, who is popularly known as “Magesh” by the crowd, displayed fancy acrobatics using his bike that left the audience amazed . He built the bike in February.
“I love biking. Growing, up I loved anything that spins. So I decided to go into cycling. I would cycle around with my friends and learn moves from them,” said Nontangane.
Nontangane walked away with a golden trophy, star gloves, spanners, tyres for his bike and a bicycle pump as his prizes.
“I feel so happy. I do not know what possessed me today. I just went out there and did what I am good at. School was not for me and I knew that I have a big love for bikes. I have been rewarded today,” said Nontangane.
Nkululeko Dlamini, 17, of Lenasia, was victorious in the silver challenge category, which had cyclists showing off their silver-coloured bicycles. Dlamini walked away with a trophy, bicycle pump and bike gloves.
He started cycling when he was 10. His bike is silver with red stripes and has a small speaker and a red Coca-Cola can mounted on it.
“I am excited. This is what I have always wanted. This sport took me away from a life of smoking weed and stealing. I have a talent for biking and when I am riding my bike, nothing else occupies my mind,” said Dlamini.
Sihle Siwela,16, of Braamfisherville, was the winner of the stance category and won a trophy, bike gloves and a bicycle pump.
In this category , cyclists presented their bicycle designs and showed how they have been assembled. The bike that looked more appealing to the judges in terms of its design was voted as the winner.
Siwela’s blue bike had a black speaker mounted on it along with two cans of energy drink and Learner Driver sticker.
“I decided to participate because I love riding my bicycle. My father bought me my first bicycle when I was two years old and he noticed that I love bicycles. He would buy me one every year. I like this sport. I am looking forward to being a businessman who will sell bikes and teach children how to cycle,” said Sihle.
Motloba said the Boni Lifestyle promotes the culture of biking in the townships. “These young people are doing some wonderful things. They are designing the bikes themselves and assembling them on their own. They put colour, style and sound to the bikes along with a lot of acrobatics,” said Motloba.
“It is exciting and this sport takes children out of some of the social ills that we experience in the township. We know when they are here there is absolutely no issues about drugs. We keep them going. They are busy and creative,” said Motloba.
He said the cycling competition takes place every month and the next one is set for May.
“I am a Sowetan. I love this township. I am passionate about youth development. When I saw these creative bikes that the young people are making, I decided that maybe I should be part of the agent of mobilising them and creating space for them to express themselves and hopefully take them to the highest level in terms of commercialising and really making an incredible culture out of this event,” he said