I was walking with my uncle from the mall to home when a group of my friends passed us at speed. I coughed from the dust they were making.

“Exe, Mtibza,” Sboniso my friend greeted me. “You better come and witness when the X Factor beat Double X Boys in Siluma Park.”

He sped away after I promised that I’d be there.

I lied.

How was I supposed to go when I did not have a bicycle? All of my peers had their own bicycles, it was only me who didn’t. This made me isolate myself from my friends and peers. I played marbles alone while they rode their bicycles.

“What will they be doing there?” My uncle saw through my lies. I told him how it sucked not having a bike and that I had to watch on the far side of the park with girls when other boys were racing and stunting on their bikes.

My uncle simply replied, “I will get you a bike, don’t worry.”

I was so happy. Every day I would clean his room and run errands for him without expecting something in return. I knew he’d be getting me a gift that would be the dearest gift to me. I polished his shoes, mopped his stoep, and did everything that I had never once done when he had asked me to before.

My uncle surprised me. He didn’t buy me a brand new bike; instead he opted to fix and resurrect an old one for me. He used a frame that had been abandoned on top of his roof. The only thing he bought were tyres, the other parts he collected from people he knew.

On Saturdays we sat in the backyard and fixed my bicycle. As each weekend passed, the bicycle started coming to life. I had the luxury of witnessing the making of my bike. Me and my uncle worked on it; he could work while he drank and smoked. The only time we stopped was when he started to get drunk.

Phew! After tiring months, my bike was completed. After putting on the chain, my uncle lit another cigarette. Puffing out the smoke he asked, “So what are you going to name it?”

Mmm. I hadn’t thought about that yet.

“I think I should name it Spencer – for ‘speed’ and ‘enter’ because I’ll be entering races with speed.” We both laughed out loud.

My first ride on Spencer took me back in time to when Sbonelo taught me how to ride a bike. He gave me a push-start and yelled, “Pedal! Don’t stop pedalling forward!”

Oh, man! Look at me now, riding my own special bike, I thought on that first ride. It almost felt like he was behind me, yelling.

Me and Spencer officially got the X Factor badge. We were officially in the crew. We did wheelies, spinning around like those BMWs in the ‘So You Think You Can Spin’ show.

Even nowadays, when I wake up late, I use Spencer to get to school on time. I also run errands quickly and efficiently because of Spencer’s help. Though he has changed colourwise, Spencer’s help is still, importantly, the same.