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Passion ignited….changing lives and inspiring dreams

25 Apr 2011

Theo and Troy's bike

I am pretty sure that we returned Theo Ngubane home today having had an experience of his lifetime so far, with stories he’ll be sharing for a long while to come.

Theo, a boy from Kayamandi who rides BMX in our songo.info program, won our songo World Cup Mountain Biking competition and was treated by Specialized to a trip to Pietermaritzburg to join the Specialized Cross Country (XC) and Downhill (DH) teams who were racing their 1st World Cup events of the 2011 season.

We were spoilt rotten with 1st class treatment spending time in the Specialized pit with the likes of Christoph and Burry, as well as Todd Wells, Jaroslav Kulhavy and Lene ByBerg from the XC team, and Sam Hill, Troy Brosnan and Brendan Fairclough from the DH team. Throughout the course of the weekend Theo was to be found being lifted by Christoph on his handlebars or by Sam Hill on his bike or “hanging” with his new friends in the Specialized camp.

Theo is our songo.info kid with the greatest passion for downhill riding. His passion is so deep and sincere that it’s hard not to become excited about DH yourself after spending a little time with him. He’s fully up-to-speed, for as far as he can get his hands on magazines and information, on the DH circuit including all the big names and their results. He claims Jonty unleashed this passion for DH after he saw pictures and videos of him riding. This has grown and extended to Andrew Neethling, who he follows avidly.

The weekend was an incredible experience from the start when he got to meet his great favourite Andrew Neethling and an autographed picture from him, as well as the offer to meet up back home. Sifiso Nhlapho was also around and shared tips on BMX racing and career opportunities for the kids in Kayamandi. This was just paradise for Theo as he pointed out all the superstars, bikes, kit and other DH paraphernalia.

This passion and excitement was almost brimming over when he got to meet the Monster Energy Specialized Team of Sam, Troy and Brendan. Spending so much time interacting and chatting with the guys was no doubt the highlight of the weekend, and will undoubtably leave Theo a changed person. I can’t begin to thank Sean, the team manager, and all the guys for being so good to Theo and taking him in as a member of the team!

On Saturday afternoon the excitement for the XC racing was building at the track, and as I headed out to watch the XC racing, I called across to Theo to join me. His response was that he was all good and he was going to “hang” with the DH guys! Two hours later I returned to the Specialized pit to find Theo ”parking off” on the Specialized bean bags “hanging” with his new friends Sam and Troy in his brand new autographed Monster cap, new Monster shades, and a big grin on his face. To say that he is a changed person, is an understatement!

But the excitement on Saturday was only just the start as the DH race loomed ahead on Sunday. Sunday morning Theo was up so early, a little busy eyed from all the previous day’s action, but itching to get to the track. A ride up to the track on Christoph’s handle bars would mark the start of an extraordinary day for him.

After spending a little time in the Specialized camp, and wishing his new friends all the best, we headed up to the DH track to watch the girls racing. His enthusiasm and exciting was contagious and only just beginning as he explained all the manoeuvres, jumps, lines, etc. to me, anticipating what the guys would be doing in their race a little later.

After finding our friend Nic Lamond, who was our very informative guide for the day, we rushed down to the catch the last lift up to the top of the DH track to follow the guys down the course. The absolute priority was to get there before Troy headed off. As we made our way through the forest to the start, we felt the tension and excitement of all the downhillers on their stationary bikes warming up. Close by was Troy who Theo could wish well, and then on to the track to catch all the excitement.

We watched jumps, airlifts, rocky descents, radical berms. Nic discussed lines, tactics and strategies, tracking each rider until Troy came by. Smoothly descending through this rocky drop off, Theo was in awe of his speed and agility. Theo proudly announced to the surrounding spectators… “that’s Troy, he’s my friend! He’s 17!”

Down the track we went, inspecting the crazy runs, table tops and drop off’s – insane!

One by one the riders came by, until it was “Needles” – Andrew Neethling! Theo was shouting and cheering away. Before long we were almost at the bottom to catch Sam Hill going through a rocky section, Theo was beyond excited! And finally to the end to see the last rider of the day crossing the finish line, South African Greg Minaar!

So much exhilaration and such extraordinary experiences! But that was not to be the end of it! Theo had me rushing back to the Specialized pit so he could congratulate his friends who had just completed the race. And without a moments rest, it was straight to the stage, wriggling to the front row to support Troy, junior winner of the day; and then back again to hang out at the Specialized pit.

We had great times with the guys as we hung out while they packed up with Theo keeping us entertained, recounting various parts of the day’s events or sharing his newly learnt downhill customs. Another signigificant highlight was the opportunity to go for a spin on Troy’s bike!

The great experiences of the weekend were rounded off with dinner with the Monster Energy Specialized Downhill team. Theo was in his element sitting at the table next to Brendan, Troy, Sam and Sean. They made such a huge impression on this little man with very big dreams and aspirations, who can now walk away and call these guys his friends.

Huge huge thank you to Christoph and Bobby who made this possible as well as to all the athletes, particularly the all the downhill guys who really spoilt Theo. You guys really ROCK!! Special thanks to the The Monster Energy Specialized DH Team who took Theo in as a teammate and made him feel so special.

Next up is our adventure on joBerg2C where we are taking 3 boys up to Johannesburg to ride all the way to Scottsburgh, Natal. These boys have never flown in a plane or been to Johannesburg or Durban! They are in for an exciting adventure for sure!

More pictures can be found on our new Facebook Page songo.info Non Profit page: http://www.facebook.com/songo.info or click here to view the images on our gallery.