Sport remains one of the world’s most effective means of bringing people together, and we don’t need to look too far to find examples that prove this – the Springboks’ recent rugby World Cup win, for instance, brought the nation together in roaring support of the boys in green and gold (just like they did in ’95). 

The same can be said of cycling. South Africans, in our shared love for endurance sports, rally around cyclists representing the nation in the sport, from the UCI World Championships and Tour de France to the 97 km 947 Ride Joburg race that takes place right here on South African soil. Even within the sport, cyclists are one another’s biggest cheerleaders and support. “If you see someone stuck or struggling, broken down, you have to stop and see if you can help. This is a big part of the sport,” says Lucky Ledwaba, a young rider from Alexandra Township.

It makes sense, then, that cycling was the basis on which the 22-year-old and his 77-year-old tandem riding partner, Ian Anderson’s friendship was built. As they prepared to ride tandem for the third time to raise funds for Rays of Hope in the upcoming 947 Ride Joburg race, taking place on 19 November 2023, Lucky and Ian (Madala as Lucky respectfully and affectionately refers to him) reflected on their friendship over the years.

“My middle son said to me the other day, ‘You’ve inherited a fourth son’,” says Ian proudly. “Lucky stays over every now and then and we see each other whenever we can. He’s been part of the family for a long time now.”

Lucky, too, sees Ian much like a father figure, who has helped him with everything from pursuing his passion for cycling by providing him with his first bike, and even helped him with obtaining his driver’s licence.

“It’s so unfortunate that we don’t have too many people like Madala. If more people from Alex had someone like Madala, they would be far better off. I’m especially saying this because I didn’t grow up with both parents, they’re no longer with me, and to some extent it gives me a feeling of what it’s like to have someone in your life who can help you and care about you,” says Lucky.

Lucky and Ian first met at the Rosebank Union Church at a fundraising cycling event facilitated by non-profit organisation Rays of Hope, an organisation of which Ian has long been a fervent supporter. Ian had offered a group of young men from Alexandra Township the opportunity to pursue cycling as a sport and Lucky was the first to put his hand up.

On the reason for riding tandem, Ian says that the new 947 route, which includes a fair amount of hill climbing, necessitated working together. The pair rode the new route together when it was first introduced, then the second, and the rest is history.

“I can tell you now, I’ve learned a lot from Madala in the time that I’ve spent with him and in this sport,” says Lucky. “For me, that inspires me to do the same for others. If most people did that we would have a far better world than we have now. If you do good for someone that particular person might get inspired to help another person as well. What’s important is that we overlook the problems and our differences so we can move forward as a nation and try and help each other,” adds Lucky.

With a 55-year age gap and a world of cultural differences between them, on first glance Lucky and Ian may not seem like a pair you would typically find becoming such close friends. But look a little closer, delve just a little deeper, and it couldn’t make more sense.

“I’ve just adopted the principle that if I could help one guy, and he could help another guy, then who knows where it’ll go. But if no one does anything there we’re going nowhere,” says Ian. “Plus, if you’re gonna pick a partner to ride with, you might as well pick someone strong and young, you gotta be smart! I don’t wanna have another Madala with me!” jokes Ian.

Lucky and Ian have committed to tackling the challenging 97 km 947 Ride Joburg route on tandem, commonly known as ‘the stretch limo’ for a cause that is greater than themselves. Show them your support by donating generously to their chosen charity, Rays of Hope – an NGO that strives to bring enduring hope and change to the people of Alexandra Township.

Donate at www.raysofhope.co.za , with reference ‘94.7 Ian-Lucky’. Section 18A certificates can be provided, or go to https://www.givengain.com/campaign/rays-of-hope-947-ride-joburg-2023 to donate on the GivenGain platform to Rays of Hope.