Angela Sibanda, Chronicle Reporter
A KEZI man has left people in awe after cycling all the way from South Africa to Zimbabwe in two days.
Meli Ndlovu, who is based in South Africa, is a 40-year-old father of two who is cycling to raise awareness on Covid-19.
To embark on this gruelling journey, Ndlovu, an award-winning cyclist and cycling coach, left his wife and children in South Africa where he has been staying for the past 21 years.
He left Midrand in South Africa on Saturday at around 3am and reached Bulawayo yesterday at around 1pm.
A Chronicle news crew caught up with the cyclist who became popular on social media platforms as people shared his pictures and updates of his journey.
Meli The Cyclist, as he is widely known, has spoken to a number of people along the way, raising interest on Covid-19 issues.
He was amazed by how Zimbabweans are well aware of the pandemic and share stories on how they are surviving and overcoming.
“I am actually happy because the number of people that I met on the way had their masks on and most of them told me they were fully vaccinated,” Ndlovu said.
“My main emphasis was on the issue of social distancing. We are in the festive season and a number of my fellow Zimbabweans will be coming back home and there will be a lot of family gatherings. So, I think social distancing is one of the things that we really need to practice to avoid a spike in Covid-19 cases during the festive season.”
Ndlovu cycled a distance of just over 900km to get to Bulawayo.
“I cycled all the way and as much as it was a long distance it was not much of a challenge because I am used to cycling long distances. I usually cycle around 250km and I can’t spend two days without cycling,” he said.
“I was cycling at an average of 40km to 45km per hour on the South African side but I was ranging around 21 to 25km/hour after Beitbridge because of the damaged roads and I had to constantly give way to trucks.”
Ndlovu is using his advanced giant carbon fibre bike which he said has been very essential in competitions that he has won.
During his awareness journey, he faced challenges with motorists as they were not opening up enough space for the cyclist on the road.
“Motorists, especially truck drivers, were not giving me space to cycle and this slowed me down and I had to rely on the N1 lane to try and make up for the lost time,” he said.
“I did not have any challenges with the police in any of the two countries although South African police were questioning me on why I was not cycling in the face of oncoming traffic but I did not conform because I knew it was a dangerous thing to do,” he said.
Ndlovu is a member of a cycling team, TeamView, in Bedfordview South Africa and among the 70 members, he is the only black.
“I also cycle with Tembisa Cycling Club and we are about 20 members both South Africans and Zimbabweans and I have 20 medals from different cycling competitions,” he said.
The cyclist started cycling at an early age in his rural home in Goholi in Maphisa and this became a foundation for his cycling career.
“I used to cycle going to shops and other places near my home. When I got to South Africa I cycled to and from work,” he said. He worked as a security guard in South Africa.
“One of the people I was working for introduced me to a cycling club and when he saw that I was good at cycling, he started providing me with cycling equipment and helping me to get into competitions,” he said.
The cyclist survived the long journey by taking a lot of water and juices along the way.
He has received much love and support from most people through social media and on his arrival in Bulawayo, he was met by a small crowd.
“Someone sent me R500 through an e-wallet but I don’t know the person. I received so many messages from a lot of people who are congratulating me and some want to offer me financial help,” he said.
“I was also offered accommodation at Gwanda Hotel by the owner and I spent the night there before proceeding to Bulawayo.”
The now popular cyclist is currently unemployed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He is surviving through cycling competitions, donations from individuals and other part time jobs such as gardening and painting.
Ndlovu also has a class of 15 cycling students in Tembisa whom he coaches.
Article Source: The Chronicle