15 August 2016 – What started as a cycling programme in preparation for the annual Cape Town Cycle Tour has swiftly become a 12-part all-year-round series of community cycle races, which today, is steadily gaining momentum in the Western Cape. The most recent Community Cycle Race held at Scottsville High School in Kraaifontein on Tuesday 9 August witnessed almost 200 cyclists – ranging in age from U10 to Junior Boys and Girls – with the community involved in every aspect of the cycle race.
Mike Tippet of The Sports Trust said that the objectives that were set from the beginning of the programme were wholeheartedly achieved. After realising that by simply preparing once-off for an annual race resulted in an approximate two-month process of training only. Tippet set about making cycling a lifestyle change, and something that the local communities could compete in and support all year round.
“We looked at making cycling more regular, and the aspect of a community cycle race started,” said Tippet. “We looked at joining the schools’ league, but these were held at wine estates and at the Killarney race track. We needed to take the racing to the community and get the whole community to support cycling.”
Of the 12 schools that are part of the programme, each school takes a turn on a rotational basis to host an event. “We’ve already held races at De Doorns, the West Coast and Vygieskraal Stadium in Athlone this year; and then the most recent event at Scottsville High in Kraaifontein.” The races started with an eight-kilometre mass cycle ride through the community, which generated interest and support from community members. This was followed by a 1.8-kilometre crit race.
“Tuesday’s event was to plant a little seed in the community. We now need to take extra bikes and helmets for little kids to ride too. The cyclists do the crit races according to age groups,” said Tippet.
Apart from the cycling aspect, Tippet has introduced a holistic approach with the emphasis on “lifestyle” and not just exercise. “The Cancer Association had a stand there as well, handing out juice, sunscreen and pamphlets to explain the dangers of skin cancer; we also had an empowerment company present to help the kids for their studying and so on; Nedbank was there to explain how to save; and on Tuesday we linked in the YMCA and they did HIV and diabetes testing. More than just cycle races, this has become an informative lifestyle event.”
The next community cycle event on the calendar is scheduled for Piketberg on 25 September, which also involves all 12 schools.