IN PICS | Cyclists in mourning as they bid farewell to Alex Otto
Dawn memorial ride brings community and family together
Tears flowed at dawn, people hugged, quiet whispers and clenched hand-holding — then five minutes of complete silence in memory of Alex Otto, 50, the cyclist killed tragically by a speeding taxi on Sunday.
Hundreds of Johannesburg cyclists gathered at their clubs on Thursday morning for what they normally refer to as a coffee ride — only this Thursday it was set down as a memorial ride.
“By 5.45am we were all gathered at the War Memorial in Saxonwold, and then we cycled about 5km to the Otto family house in Oaklands,” said Albert Olivier of Parks Cycle Club, the riding group Alex Otto was a big part of.
“We arrived at the house at about 6am, and the family was already standing outside, ready and waiting for us. I never dreamt something like this could have so much impact, but it did. It was very emotional.
“I think we were all struggling with our own feelings and fears — how we would get back on our bikes and go on after what happened to Alex. But his brother Rene was there and he spoke and he just told us all to go out and carry on riding, to have fun and enjoy it in just the same way Alex did.”
It was a difficult ordeal, but one that proved to be positive as cyclists united in their grief and their love for their sport, and said goodbye to the man many refer to as “a legend”.
Otto’s daughter Jocelyn has been shattered by the loss of her father.
“Dad was loved by and loved everyone. He touched and connected with every person he met, and he put his whole heart into all of his interactions,” she said.
"He was so funny, so kind, so generous, so loving, and really the best dad I could have ever asked for. He also set such an incredible example for my sister and I, through everything he did, and through they way he lived his life.
"His everlasting and unconditional love for our mom also showed us and everyone else that how real and true love is. Even after almost 25 years of marriage they were still so in love.
“I will miss dad every day, but I will also live to honour his memory and to make him proud.”
Former rugby great Joel Stransky knew Otto well. In paying tribute, he said: “There were about 500 riders at the memorial this morning, I guess – a great turn out and superb tribute to Alex.”
Speaking of his friend, he said: “I was quite friendly with Alex and rode with him a lot, particularly down in Plett in Decembers when we were both training hard for the Cape Epic. Alex was a beast on the bike, highly competitive and a real racer. He was a gentleman at all times, always fun loving and a true family man!
“Alex’s death is devastating to say the least, especially to his wife and children, and even more so when one considers the violent circumstances. To be killed by [an alleged] drunk taxi driver, driving a vehicle that did not appear to be roadworthy, is maybe indicative of our society in this country, and the lack of respect we generally have for others and for life itself, particularly on our roads. A totally unacceptable accident.”