NELSON Mandela Bay cyclists joined hundreds around the country who are paying tribute to two-time Olympic mountain biker Burry Stander by participating in memorial rides.
Stander, 25, was killed in a road accident in KwaZulu-Natal last week. He was returning from a training ride in Shelly Beach when he was hit by a taxi on Thursday.
On Saturday, more than 100 Bay cyclists joined a ride, organised by Fat Tracks Mountain Bike Club, in memory of Stander. After a moment of silence, the cyclists left from Augustyn Brothers Bicycle Shop in Walmer on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Villiers Road at 10am. They went up Ninth Avenue to Dodds Farm where they cycled for about an hour before heading back to the shop.
Fat Tracks Mountain Bike Club chairman Charl Joubert said they believed the ride would have been what Stander wanted.
“He [Stander] enjoyed the rough road. Everyone was sad but we enjoyed the ride. He would have loved to see people enjoying the ride in Baakens Valley which has good roads.”
Joubert said cyclists and motorists needed to be aware of road rules and be cautious. “Often car users don’t see cyclists or pedestrians. The accidents are not by ignorance. Nobody wants to knock off a cyclist on purpose. Also as cyclists we need to be aware of the rules of the road.”
Stander’s wife, South African marathon mountain bike champion Cherise Stander, said at the weekend her husband’s last words to her were “I love you”.
She said Stander went out later than usual for his training ride. “I woke up tired and we decided to go ride a bit later. It ended up being so hot we could only train quite late in the afternoon.
“Burry phoned me when he was halfway in Port Edward. We ended our conversation confirming our love for each other.”
About an hour later, Stander was dead. He suffered serious head trauma and there are indications that his neck might have been broken on impact.
Cherise said she did not bear a grudge towards the driver.
“Burry was always paranoid about abiding by the traffic rules. He always kept everyone in line on group training rides. Burry was always the one who constantly emphasised that we had to be careful and alert,” she said.
In KwaZulu-Natal yesterday, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula joined Stander’s family and others in a memorial ride to the intersection where he was killed.
Stander finished fifth at last year’s Olympics in London, a huge improvement on his 20th place in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
The dates and times for a memorial service and official rides around the country are expected to be announced today.
The taxi driver is due to appear in the Port Shepstone Magistrate’s Court today.