OG’s Epic Quest
In the first article we get to learn a bit more about OG, his training for the Epic, his FOMO and about his passion for sports development. Obviously we also get to drool over his super-cool Trek Top Fuel (and his very well manicured lawn, see below:)).
We are one month away from the Epic start line – can you tell us a bit more of how this has come about? Five years ago I attended and covered my first ever Absa Cape Epic and it just so happened that one of my friends was riding it as well. I saw just how much of a challenge it was that I promised myself that one day I’d build up the courage to attempt one of the toughest mountain bike races in the world. Late last year another friend of mine had a sponsored entry courtesy of Absa and asked if I’d be keen to be his partner. Even though I had a lot of reservations, I agreed as I thought this could possibly the only opportunity I ever get to ride the Epic.
You are an incredibly busy man, how has the training been going? To be honest, I’m not 100% happy with the amount of training I’ve been able to put in for such a gruelling race. With the work I do and also joining a new company, time hasn’t been kind to me, but I’ve tried to take advantage of the little free time I’ve had to put in a bit of training. I’ve been fortunate to receive a bit of help from the UJ Sports department as well as the wonderful team at Bicycle Power Trading who have loaned my a Cycle Ops H2 to use at home and it has come in very handy because of my hectic schedule.
….and the bike? What is your weapon of choice? So one of my biggest worries upon accepting the Epic entry was what am I going to ride. I have been fortunate enough to collaborate with Trek South Africa and they have sponsored me with a Trek Top Fuel 9.8 which I am absolutely in love with. The bike is a pleasure to ride both on rough and technical terrain as well as on the road. Since I have such a massive need for speed, I absolutely enjoy its speed and this rocket gives me the confidence I need to believe I’m a much better rider than I truly am.
They say mountain biking is the new golf. We know that you are a keen golfer, but when did the cycling bug bite you? Has it been tough giving up your first love? Hahahaha… they do say mountain biking is the new golf, but I totally disagree. Both provide a certain type of thrill, very different but thrills nonetheless. The thrill of speeding down a single track does come close to smoking a driver down the middle of a fairway. I started cycling as a challenge when a former colleague of mine said I could never complete the 94.7 Cycle Challenge, so I organised a bike, did a little 10km ride to loosen the legs and off I went to complete the race in more than five hours. I’d achieved my goal and caught the bug at the same time. A year later a friend I had to opportunity to ride four days of the Joberg2C and that’s when I fell in love with mountain biking and I’ve never looked back. To be honest, it’s been VERY difficult to give up playing golf while I’ve been preparing for the Cape Epic. I’ve muted all my golf groups on WhatsApp because I can’t stand the FOMO.
Talking about golf – tell us a bit about the OG Molefe foundation? So The OG Molefe Foundation is a nonprofit organisation which aims to provide mentoring programs in the form of education and sport.
Our first project has seen us help out the Rhulani Mabasa Children’s Foundation based in Soweto. Through repeated failures in the classroom and the development of destructive habits, at-risk young people have lost faith in the possibilities that await them, if they are successful in putting their lives together.
To accomplish this goal, young people must be in a caring, inclusive learning environment that promotes their best effort and reinforces personal respect.
So I founded the OG Molefe Foundation as a direct response to the growing number of young people that are falling through the cracks. The focus and the goal remains to empower these young people using golf as a vehicle to make positive changes in their lives.
What is your take on cycling development in SA? I don’t think there’s enough being done to develop cycling in South Africa. The barriers to entry for a child in the township are so huge and I think those need to be broken down because I have little doubt that we can unearth so many talented youngsters if they were given adequate opportunities to get into the sport. I always rave about Nic Dlamini because I believe that he’s a gem and the truth is, there are more like him, but they need to be given the right opportunities to excel, just as he was.
How do you think we can best break down the barriers (in golf and cycling)? People like Sipho Mona and Luthando Kaka are leading the way and helping to break down those barriers and I wish we had more passionate people like them to make sure that those who can’t afford to get into cycling are given the opportunity to so without having to worry about the ever rising costs of trying to get into the sport. If we could replicate the Velokhaya model across the country, then we’ll be well on our way to breaking those barriers.
Growing up in Kagiso, can you tell us a bit about your childhood…any cycling memories? I had a happy childhood in Kagiso, I was never felt that I was excluded in any way and maybe that was because I didn’t know any better. My first love has always been football and that the only sport that’s remained constant since my childhood. I remember my first bike fondly, it was a red BMX and I learnt how to ride it on the same dusty pitch where I used to play football. I fell numerous times before I could ride properly and I still have a scar on my thigh from my first bug tumble.
Any words of wisdom to youngsters reading this and hoping to take up cycling as a sport, but don’t have the resources? I know all about the hardships young people face and for most kids a bike might be the last thing their families think of buying with the many other challenges facing them. But I’d try to find a local club around where you live. They may not exist in every hood I know, but many are springing up and that may be the best way to get started.
You have had some great achievements in your career, including winning Sports Journalist of the year, but what has been your biggest achievement? If you finish the Epic where will that rank? Awards are always great to receive and I cherish those dearly. I’ve climbed Mt Kilimanjaro and completed two Comrades marathons and those I’d regard as the hardest things I’ve ever done, and finishing the Absa Cape Epic would rank high up there with those. But none of them come close to being a father to my two wonderful children
Finally – we know the Epic is also about teamwork. Tell us about your partner, will you be the one pushing him up the hills? My partner is Lux September, he’s definitely the leader in this team and I’ll be relying on him to get me over the hills. He’s been riding bicycles way longer than I have and I’ll be counting on his experience to see us through the race.
Look out for our follow-up articles and posts on OG’s journey on our website and social channels. You can also follow OG’s journey to the Epic via his Twitter and Instagram pages and by using the #Journeytotheepic hashtag.