Rural Cycling Project changes lives

The Bottelary Hills Cycling Development Initiative was launched in 2022 in collaboration with Cycle2Ride supported by the EduInnov8 Foundation. This programme is having a marked impact on the lives of children in the rural community

Local youth from Bottelary Primary School, Vlottenburg Primary School, St Vincents Primary School, Froggies Aftercare at Devon Valley Primary School, Anna Foundation and Pebbles Project are given the opportunity to explore cycling as a sport.

Weekly coaching sessions by professional cyclist and former SA national champion Jaco Venter enable learners to hone their cycling skills. Training aims to improve handling skills, develop the ability to cycle in groups and near other riders, improve gear selection, establish a level of fitness and endurance that will assist in riding trails and increasing the riding time, setting goals and training with a purpose as part of a team.

The first Bottelary team competed in the Western Cape Schools Cycling XCO League on mountain bikes donated by the WAWWA Foundation to give them a competitive chance in the provincial competition.

According to Bernadette November, Life Skills & Extra-Curricular Manager at Pebbles Project the impact of learners who forms part of the Bottelary Hills cycling development project and competed in the short track series and Western Cape Schools Cycling XCO League, was significant.

“Learners expressed feelings of pride and accomplishment for being chosen to represent their organisation in such a prestigious event. Many of them did not anticipate the magnitude and scale of the competition. Although they acknowledged the challenges they faced, the overall experience left a lasting impression on the learners, instilling in them a sense of achievement and resilience as they navigated the demanding competition.”

The short track format is the ideal entry-level competition for beginner riders, especially young female riders. The races range from eight minutes for the 7-year-old riders to 12 minutes for the high school learners, lap distances range from 800m to 1km are not technical with less than 20m elevation per lap. Due to the low level of elevation and low technical demands of the track, riders with single speed bicycles can be competitive.

Training on the single speed BMX bikes continues throughout the year at the various schools involved for the next short track series that will commence in September this year.