First he made history. Now he’s opening up roads for the riders of tomorrow
The township of Masiphumelele is nestled between the rolling hills of the Cape Peninsula. This is where Songezo Jim restarted his life after loss. Orphaned at the age of 14, the road ahead didn’t look good. “I kind of felt hopeless in a way,” Jim says. Until one day, the Cape Town Cycle Tour riders flashed past his house. “I didn’t even know how to ride a bicycle,” Jim says. Yet something stirred inside him. Inspired, Jim picked up the sport and started racing towards a better path.
“There are very few people who come from disadvantaged communities into this sport,” Jim says. Opportunities for progress are scarce. But once he starting riding competitively, Jim saw his route widen, and he decided to push his passion towards a greater purpose. In 2015, he founded the Songezo Jim Cycling Academy to get children on bikes and away from street life. “We are each other’s family,” he says. Though Jim’s heart belongs to his neighbourhood, the open road is his true home. “You have to always try and challenge yourself,” he says. “Always be hungry to do more.”
In 2015, the cyclist became the first black South African to compete in the Vuelta a España, a world-renowned multi-stage race that takes place annually in Spain. A role model and leader to his team, Jim is on a winning streak. In 2012, he was placed third in the Under 23 race at the African Continental Road Cycling Championships. With each victory, Jim is adding the next link to a chain of positive change. In isiXhosa, Masiphumelele means ‘let us succeed.’ Jim is driving the community’s full potential. “Cycling saved me,” he says. “It can do the same for others.”