For years he has been a familiar sight at the University grounds, with his Civil Engineering students, using their distinctive instruments. Now he has become a familiar sight on the roads north of the town.
Sandile Phakathi, a Technician in the Department of Civil Engineering, said he has taken to riding a bicycle as a hobby. But all you hear when he tells his story is the talk of professional cyclists. All he talks about is the riding gear, the right attitude towards training, the type of bike he is riding and why he chose that particular bike, the roads where he trains, which are marked for bicycle riders, the time he trains, and his plans.
Phakathi says he has been riding for four years. He rides for the ‘Amashova’, a popular bicycle group, and has participated in several races.
“In 2019, I did 38 km from Hillcrest to Durban. My performance was average. I finished in 2 hours and 15 minutes. In 2020, I did indoor virtual cycling due to Covid-19 restrictions. Virtual cycling is when you ride at home with the help of an intelligent App. You can go on a variety of cycling adventures without leaving the comfort of your own home. The route you are riding is shown on the laptop, or television set screen connected to the App,” said Phakathi.
In 2021, Phakathi took part in a 102.6 km race from Durban to Cato Ridge, then back to Durban. This year, he rode from Cato Ridge to Durban, which he took 2 hours and 35 minutes to complete.
Phakathi defines himself as an average rider. However, that is likely to change if he sticks to his plans. His approach is professional.
“Well before 2008, I used to race on 150 cc dirt bikes; it was a good sport for me, but it was way too expensive. I was forced to quit,” said Phakathi.
But his love for the sport drew him back.
“A bicycle is a useful vehicle that helps us reach our destination without polluting the environment. It also helps with exercising your body. I believe in that we should involve ourselves in a sport that helps our body to be healthy. Cycling helps to strengthen your heart muscles, and reduces fat levels,” he said.