A busy time awaits Khayelitsha’s Matthew Goniwe Memorial High School cycling squad as riders prepare for Saturday’s Discovery Duathlon, in Cape Town, followed by the Tour d’ Plain a week later.
The school is among a number of schools across the city and beyond who are part of the Nedbank Sports Trust cycling programme.
The school’s cycling co-ordinator Bashir Mahdi said the challenges they face – such as lack of bicycles, among others – haven’t stopped them from exposing their pupils to as many races as possible.
This, he said, was because promoting a healthy lifestyle was important for the school as it, in turn, leads to better performances academically.
“The school’s cycling club has about 15 members and six bikes which we have to share.
“Yes, that is a problem, but we try finding ways of working around it so that everyone can have an opportunity to train.
“All our members are highly motivated and at this year’s Cape Town Cycle Tour, for instance, we entered six cyclists who all finished under 10 hours,” he said.
Mahdi who’s been with the school’s cycling team for three years now said they have ambitious plans for the future.
Part of those plans, he said, is to have their own spinning bikes so that that they could have training sessions at the school too.
“Riding in the streets of Khayelitsha can be dangerous sometimes because of the busyness of the streets.
“For now, though, we will continue making good use of what we have. We strongly believe that cycling is more than just riding a bike, it is also about overcoming challenges.
“In a race, for instance, you come across many challenges and you have to find creative ways to overcome them. You learn not to give up until you reach your goal which, in case of a race, is at the finish line,” he said.
Mahdi said another plus for them this year was the fact that they have a programme to follow and they plan to take part in each and every race on the calendar.
“We are looking forward to this weekend’s Cape Town Duathlon where one of our pupils, Ncebakazi Mgodeli, will be taking part.
We will also take more cyclists to the Tour d’ Plain the following week,”
And, the pupils did show eagerness to do well when Vukani visited the school yesterday.
They said they were ready for any race that comes their way.
Yongama Yose, Vuyolwethu Nkomo and Abongile Funani will be part of the team that will compete in the Tour d’ Plain.
Having been part of the race last year, they said they wanted to be at their best this time around.
Having taken part in, and finished, this year’s Cape Town Cycle Tour, Yose is the most experienced of the three.
The Grade 10 pupil from Site B said he will use all the experienced he gained in that race to his advantage come Tour d’ Plain.
“I have learnt a lot from the Argus (the Cape Town Cycle Tour), the race was seriously tough and I remember struggling at Chapman’s Peak.
“I am glad I was able to finish in the end and I know it prepared me for future races,” he said.
“I am also more prepared this year compared to last year. My training included a daily 16km ride to Kenilworth, for the past two weeks, and I already feel sharp,” he said.
Nkomo said he finished second in the mountain bike section of last year’s race and the plan this year is to cross the finish line first.
“I didn’t do badly last year even though I was not fully prepared.
“In fact, lack of preparation was what let me down in that race. I did a lot of training this time around so, I hope, I will be able to finish first,” he said.
Funani agreed, adding that their team is more close-knit this time around than last year.
“Yes, you are alone on a bike but we are still going there as a team, our planning will revolve around how the team should approach each stage of the race.
“So, I am confident we will do well collectively this time around,” he said.
* Call 021 376 0217, 084 526 9006 or 079 928 9077 or visit www.tourdplain.co.za if you would like to book a stall.