It is not often that an amateur cyclist gets to train for a race as part of his day job but for Kwazakhele sportsman Wesley Simakuhle that is the case.
Simakuhle, an ice-cream vendor by trade, pedals his tricycle cart eight hours a day as he peddles his frozen wares from Kragga Kamma Road to the Port Elizabeth beachfront and back.
The 28-year-old Ola vendor has now decided to put his time in the saddle to good use and signed up for The Herald VW Cycle Tour next Sunday. “It’s going to be my first bicycle race,” he said. “I ride every single day, so it’s going to be easy.” Simakuhle’s aim is to finish in less than three hours – a challenge made harder by the fact that he will be riding his cumbersome red trike.
“I will ride on those three wheels with the box on the front. I tell myself I’m going to do it!”
He says his fellow vendors, who will be selling ice creams at the Hobie Beach race village, have promised to support and cheer for him.
Once the race is done, Simakuhle plans to hop back on and go straight back to work. “I’m excited and want to sell the ice cream!” He said when the weather was good he could sell up to 1 000 ice creams over a weekend.
“I want to say thank you to all the kids and their parents in Walmer and Summerstrand who buy from me. They help me to live.”
Simakuhle lives with his grandmother and two sisters and helps to support his family. His younger brother, Witness, is also a vendor.
The brothers are among 50 Port Elizabeth-based employees in Unilever’s vending programme.
The company created more than 1 500 jobs nationwide last year and aims to add another 1 000 by the end of this year.
The public are now also able to buy The Herald, Weekend Post and Sunday Times newspapers from their neighbourhood Ola vendor.
On Sunday, spectators can follow Simakuhle and his fellow cyclists’ progress at points along the route as well as in the start/finish chute on Beach Road opposite The Boardwalk.
The waterpoint at the entrance to the Lake Farm Centre is recommended for those wishing to give their friends and family an encouraging boost as they struggle up the climb.
For the 106km Classic, the iconic Maitland ascent offers a scenic backdrop for the public.
– The Herald Reporter