IN PICS | Cyclists in mourning as they bid farewell to Alex Otto

Dawn memorial ride brings community and family together

07 October 2021 - 12:32
Flowers pay tribute to popular cyclist and much-loved family man Alex Otto, who was killed by a speeding taxi on Sunday.
Flowers pay tribute to popular cyclist and much-loved family man Alex Otto, who was killed by a speeding taxi on Sunday.
Image: Supplied

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.”

A moment of silence - united in grief.
A moment of silence - united in grief.
Image: Supplied
Janet Otto, wife of Alex Otto who was killed on Sunday, receives touching support.
Janet Otto, wife of Alex Otto who was killed on Sunday, receives touching support.
Image: Supplied
Cyclists and the Otto family unite in their grief.
Cyclists and the Otto family unite in their grief.
Image: Supplied
Tears and trauma in a moment of silence.
Tears and trauma in a moment of silence.
Image: Supplied
Cyclists and the Otto family observe five minutes of silence as they pay their respects to Alex Otto, whose death on Sunday has shocked the community.
Cyclists and the Otto family observe five minutes of silence as they pay their respects to Alex Otto, whose death on Sunday has shocked the community.
Image: Supplied
A moment of silence as family and cyclists gather.
A moment of silence as family and cyclists gather.
Image: Supplied
The devastated Otto family welcome cyclists on their memorial ride as they pay tribute to Alex Otto, killed on Sunday by a speeding taxi.
The devastated Otto family welcome cyclists on their memorial ride as they pay tribute to Alex Otto, killed on Sunday by a speeding taxi.
Image: Supplied
The devastated Otto family welcomes riders outside their home.
The devastated Otto family welcomes riders outside their home.
Image: Supplied
Memorial riders in solidarity, on their way to pay their respects to the Otto family.
Memorial riders in solidarity, on their way to pay their respects to the Otto family.
Image: Supplied
Cyclists head for the Otto family home in Oaklands to pay their respects following the death of Alex Otto.
Cyclists head for the Otto family home in Oaklands to pay their respects following the death of Alex Otto.
Image: Supplied
Dawn cyclists joining the memorial ride for Alex Otto.
Dawn cyclists joining the memorial ride for Alex Otto.
Image: Supplied
Riders head out from the War Memorial to pay their respects to the Otto family at their home.
Riders head out from the War Memorial to pay their respects to the Otto family at their home.
Image: Supplied
The dawn memorial ride for Alex Otto.
The dawn memorial ride for Alex Otto.
Image: Supplied
Hundreds of cyclists whip through Joburg streets as they pay tribute to cyclist Alex Otto, killed by a speeding taxi on Sunday.
Hundreds of cyclists whip through Joburg streets as they pay tribute to cyclist Alex Otto, killed by a speeding taxi on Sunday.
Image: Supplied
Members of the Parks Cycle Club lead the memorial ride for Alex Otto who was killed by a speeding taxi on Sunday.
Members of the Parks Cycle Club lead the memorial ride for Alex Otto who was killed by a speeding taxi on Sunday.
Image: Supplied
Cyclists head out at dawn on their memorial ride.
Cyclists head out at dawn on their memorial ride.
Image: Supplied

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.

Daughter Jocelyn with her dad.
Daughter Jocelyn with her dad.
Image: Supplied

"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.”

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