Mountain Bike Magazine SANI - Autumn 2018 - Page 107

PEOPLE | RIDERS WE LIKE aster was early this year. Yes, the last weekend of March was a long one and ideally placed for several mountain bikers. With the 2018 ABSA Cape Epic having concluded at Val de Vie on the previous Sunday, four days off from work would no doubt have been welcomed by most finishers. More time to sleep, catch up with family and household chores, not to mention the chance to just relax now that the Untamed African Stage Race had passed. Not that this applied to everybody, though, least of all one top finisher. “Sure, I would love to chat, but can I call you back in a half- hour? I’m just finishing work.” Phillimon Sebona definitely wasn’t putting his feet up… You see, he might be classified as a professional cyclist of various fact sheets, but the other fact is that he holds down a full-time job. He’s just like the majority of Cape Epic participants and riders in general – somebody who loves cycling but also has to make ends meet. “I’m very busy,” he said on Easter Monday, shortly after clocking off for the day. “Every day I ride to work and back, which doubles as my training. In addition to my primary job as a salesman at Wolwespruit Bike Park, I also run my own chicken farm in my hometown, just outside Middelburg. Life is busy, but good!” Botshabelo is a small town in Mpumalanga. Originally a mission station originating in the 1800s, it is steeped in Ndebele history and architecture. The town also has some notable citizens, such as the well-known artist Gerard Sekoto, who achieved considerable success in Europe. It is also the place that Team PYGA Euro Steel pro rider Phillimon was born. In a region renowned for producing great distance runners, why did he choose two wheels as his sport? “Cycling was a means for me to get to and from school,” he explains. “It was a 60km round trip, which would have meant having to pay for a taxi. So getting a bike was my solution to that.” Not that he just went out and bought a bicycle. A born entrepreneur, Phillimon started selling peanuts at his school to raise the cash for his steed. That solid daily commute sowed the seed for the pro rider he is now, that and the fact that his brother Tuis was already an established and stimulation that the off-road discipline gave him. He was on the start line of the Cape Epic a year later and at the beginning of a journey that would prove both adventurous and testing. “I started racing the Epic as a development rider,” he explains. “The opportunities that Exxaro, and later Diepsloot Mountain Bike Academy, provided were amazing. And as the years went by (Phillimon is a seven- time Epic finisher), the gradual improvement I saw in my capabilities inspired me to mix it with top guys.” A mindset shift isn’t always easy to attain; sometimes it takes guts to move forward. And while “I SOLD PEANUTS TO BUY MY FIRST BIKE” road racing pro. “Tuis raced for quite a few teams, including HSBC and Team Excel,” he says. “So road cycling was my first introduction to the sport. I can remember racing against Louis Meintjes, someone who I admire. I’m always following his career and love watching the way he races. He is so strategic.” But Phillimon was on the cusp of finding his true cycling passion. An opportunity to become part of the Exxaro Mountain Bike Academy became available in 2011, and he relished the freedom Phillimon’s positive energy and zest for life is infectious, he also possesses steely determination and desire, two attributes that are requisite for success. Not to mention the ability to roll with the punches along the way. “The beginning of 2017 was difficult for me,” he says. “I had no sponsorship or race bike. My training h ݕ)Ё݅́)Q́ݕɔѡȻt)ѕȁAɥ5ɕݽ)=ݹȁAe%ɥ̰Aɥ)ͅ܁Aéѕѥ)ЁAeɅ)ȁѡݡA)Ѽɕɸѡѡ)Ʌ݅́єЁ݅́ѡ)͕ɥٕ́)ѡЁݽձ͕ͥȁQ)AeɼMѕѕȁѡЁ啅ȸ+qMՍ)ѡ܁t)Aq=ȁ͡Êe)ѽ́ѕ䁙)Ёեаݡ$ͼ)͕ѼѕȀݥѡM)ɥ5ɕձ́Ё)ѕȰѡѡѼ)QAeɼMѕt)AͥѡЁٽх)ѡȁAЁ啅ȁ݅)չѼѕѡ) 丁ѡѥ)əɵɔͥՅѕ) մѡѕ́ɽЁ)́ѡɔȁͥ)ѕ́ѡՕЁȁ)əɵq%Ё݅́ѡ)չ䁕ٕȳtѡ̸͕+qQѕѥѡɔ݅́ɕѡ)䁥хəɵ)ѼѡЁٕȁх)ͽѕȁՍɔ)͕ѼɔѽՔɅ)QɕձЁ́ѡЁ'eٔݽɭ)ɕͥ䁱͍̰)ݡ͕͕́ɭ)əɵt)Aչѕє)AѕȁԁQЁ͡)ɕхѠٕɅЁ )กIѡU $)ѕ䁙ȁѡЁѥ)A܁́ݽɬ)ЁЁȁɕ)ɅѡݽɱéЁ́)ѡLЁ́ѡȸ Ё)ѽЁ́ɥ+q%Ё݅́ͼѼ)ѡɅt̸ͅq5᥹)ЁݥѠѡ́Q ձ) ɥYՑ͡ݕ)ݡЁ́ͥeԁܰ)䁽ȁɽѡȁɥ́ͭ)Ёɔѡ$݅)͍ɕѡɽɽ̸)$Ё՝Ёѽ)ЁѼ͍ɕt)Ё܁ԁɥєѼ危ٕЁЁI1ٔ)ɝхЁ5Q