Legends of the Pedal unite at gala dinner

The Legends of the Pedal organisation assembled together at a glitzy black-tie gala dinner held at Ongegund Lodge, a magnificent wine estate set on the outskirts of Somerset West in the Western Cape, on 4 December 2014.

The momentous occasion takes place once a year and celebrates the colourful lives of the legends of cycling from days gone by. Guests are required to wear formal attire while those previous champions wear their high-merit representative sports blazer and tie for The Legends of the Pedal Gala Dinner. No fewer than 19 of the esteemed Legends of the Legends of the Pedal attended the prestigious event yesterday.

The Legends of the Pedal began in 2007. Founder Johnny Koen, a name familiar to all cycling enthusiasts as the man behind the lens on SABC’s Pedal Talk, recognised that cycling had been an active sport in South Africa since 1881, yet there was nothing in place to honour “the old guys”. No one knew who they were, and what their achievements were. Pedal Talk producer, Carina Grobler, wanted to talk to the elite band of guys – the record makers from the old days, and feature them on the show.

 

 
 

“It began by hosting an interview with some legendary cyclists to depict “a day in the life” of these guys,” said Johnny Koen. “The legends started with three guys who had a cheap lunch at an Italian restaurant in Emmarentia one day. Today, the Legend of the Pedal gala dinner hosts 150 people and is oversubscribed – it's a sold out event!”

Lawrence Whittaker was the first person to be inducted as a Legend of the Pedal and was the first President of Cycling South Africa (Gotty Hansen was the last President of the South African Cycling Federation – as it was previously known). A few reputable South African cyclists took a poll and they came up with 50 names that they recognised seen as legends of South African cycling. Out of those names, 30 were selected to be part of the Legends of the Pedal.

The gala dinner is a get together to re-establish relationships and to raise some funds for any of those wanting legends. The sell-out event raised a record sum of approximately R80 000 for the Legends of the Pedal Benevolent Fund, which assists any Legends in need, and which is kindly managed and administered by Legends William Newman and Johan Nicol on their behalf.

“We’ve got the talent in cycling,” said Koen. “Until Penny Heyns claimed two Olympic gold medals at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996, Legend of the Pedal Tommy Shardelow was the most acclaimed Olympian from a bygone era. Tommy competed in the 1952 and 1956 Olympics, winning silver medals in the 4000m Team Pursuit and 2000m Tandem events in 1952.” Shardelow was the guest Legend of Honour on Thursday evening at Ongegund Lodge in Somerset West.

Four new Legends were inducted into the Legend of the Pedal fold. Sammy Davids, the first champion cyclist of colour since South Africa’s re-admission into the international sporting arena; Cathy Carstens, the first “Lady Legend” and previous World Champion; Linus van Onselen, double World Champion; and Freddie Joubert, who has dedicated 60 years+ of his life to cycling. Joubert was a cyclist, administrator and is still operating as a Commissaire today.

The owner of Ongedund Lodge, Alwyn Gey van Pittius, went out of his way to ensure that the “Legends” were provided with five-star treatment, from the moment they arrived until the moment they left. Van Pittius is a keen mountain biker and a past athletics National Champion and record holder. The Ongedund Lodge sponsors the entire evening and is the single biggest contributor to the Legends of the Pedal Benevolent Fund. Koen expressed sincere gratitude to Van Pittius and the Ongedund Lodge for all their contribution and support of the Legends of the Pedal.

Photo credit: Annelene Coetzee

Brief CVs of those Legends of the Pedal who were in attendance at the 2014 Legends of the Pedal Gala Dinner:

Eddie Kriel

SA 20km, Tandem (with Hennie Wentzel!), Ind Pursuit and Team Pursuit Champion

Springbok

Married to Susan Binneman

Elrick Kulsen

1986 1st Springbok of Colour

Multiple SA Champions Track

Manager CSA National Teams

Coach/manger CSA National Paracycling Teams

Phil Liggett

The Voice of Cycling

Honorary Legend of the Pedal: he virtually lives here.

9 Olympic Games

4 Winter Olympics

TdF since 1973

Emmy Award Winner

2005 MBE

2007 American Hall of Fame

Martin Edward Charles Nefdt

The Self-Proclaimed Mayor of Perridgvale

Springbok

Multiple National Champion, Sprint, 5 Times Tandem, 1000m TT and 1500m

1500m in 73 One of the Very Best Races we have seen

William Newman

Elected not to Race in the Window Dressed Era“No normal sport in an abnormal society”

Multiple Tour de Boland Winner

The Best SACOS rider of All Time

Held all of the SACOS Records+ Captained the SACOS National Team

First Legend to be elected as the President of CSA

Johan Nicol

The Son of William Nicol, the Administrator of the then Transvaal

SA Junior TT Record stood for 25 Years

SA Senior TT Record

SA 10-Mile Record

Still an Active Cyclist: MTB

Rowan Peacock

Rome Olympic Games

1965 First SA Rider to Beat the 5 min Pursuit Barrier: 4:55

Twice Boxing Day Winner

1970 All SA TT Records 1500m TO 100km

Roy Peacock

Represented WP and Captained Natal

3 Times SA Team Pursuit Champion

Children Lizelle and Roy both Represented SA at Swimming

Andy Theron

Multiple SA Pursuit Champion

Boxing Day Winner

1973 SA Hour Record 44.7 km at Pretoria vs. Eddy Merckx’s 49.473 at Mexico City

1973 SA Record Pursuit 4:52 when the WR was 4:46… still stands on a “bicycle” no aero equipment… 6 secs off World Record

Tin Thiart

Extremely Popular

1969 Springbok

Twice Boxing Day Winner

SA Champion

Rembrandt Tour Rider

Theo von Ruben

Has had a CSA Racing License since 1967

Winner All Senior EP Championships but the Sprint

World Masters Games 10km Champion

World Masters Games Omnium Champion

Lawrence Whittaker

Natal Colours

Co Founder CTCT

Winner 1st CTCT

1st President CSA

The Bridge Between Then and Now: Racing & Recreational

Chris Willemse

Only Rider Ever to Win Juvenile, Junior and Senior National Road Titles

Took Part in 5 SA Road Championships and Won 5 Medals

Boxing Day Winner

Multiple SA and RSA Games National Titles on the Track

Youngest VP of SACF