Justice Makhale’s Cycling Journey
Friday 24 March 2018 was a pivotal day in the ABSA Cape Epic. After six days of racing, the end was in sight for riders and supporters alike. Yes, it had been a very hard week toiling through the mountains and farmlands of the Western Cape but it is not called the Epic for nothing.
While the incessant dust of Robertson had been replaced by the lush grass fields of Wellington, cycling shoes and kit still required cleaning. Usually reserved for the team carers or riders themselves, cleaning dust-caked shoes and hand washing dirty cycling kit is a process in itself. And for at least one team manager, this meant some time spent at the race-provided taps after the daily manager meeting.
‘I’ll be finished soon,’ said a smiling Justice Makhale to a pro team carer waiting to rinse race bottles. ‘The Exxaro guys kit is almost clean – I’ve just got to finish the shoes.’
As far as mountain biking is concerned, Justice has done it all. Cycling was his passion from a very young age, so much so that he would barter fruit with a friend in order to ride his bike. His homeland of Venda is a mountain biker’s paradise, what with its majestic mountains and lush grasslands. But with no bike, his dream of racing at the top level looked dashed. But the goodwill of MAVU’s founder Kenneth Neluvhalani saw Justice finally mount a steed of his own and compete in Europe less than a year later. And, as they say, the rest is history.
A fixture in South African mountain bike racing since the late 2000s, Justice is now dedicating his efforts to to nurturing and guiding new talent through the Exxaro MTB Academy. Exxaro’s mission is to introduce the mountain biking experience to historically disadvantaged communities and individuals and Justice is a key part of this, what with his own racing experience. He knows the ropes and is only too happy too pass this on to up and coming youngsters.
‘I’ve been the Exxaro MTB Academy team manager for seven years now,’ said Justice as the last pair of cycling shoes sparkle clean. ‘Sure, I love riding my bike but I also love the role of guiding and mentoring the team.’