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:
SA 20km, Tandem (with Hennie Wentzel!), Ind Pursuit and Team Pursuit Champion
Married to Susan Binneman
1986 1st Springbok of Colour
Multiple SA Champions Track
Manager CSA National Teams
Coach/manger CSA National Paracycling Teams
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
2007 American Hall of Fame
Martin Edward Charles Nefdt
The Self-Proclaimed Mayor of Perridgvale
Multiple National Champion, Sprint, 5 Times Tandem, 1000m TT and 1500m
1500m in 73 One of the Very Best Races we have seen
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
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
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
Represented WP and Captained Natal
3 Times SA Team Pursuit Champion
Children Lizelle and Roy both Represented SA at Swimming
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
Twice Boxing Day Winner
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
Co Founder CTCT
Winner 1st CTCT
1st President CSA
The Bridge Between Then and Now: Racing & Recreational
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