Page 30 - Cemair SkyNews Aug/Sep 2017
P. 30


         RIDING HIGH

         MTB events across the country provide the

         opportunity to not only have a great time,

         but also support enduring social initiatives.

          The MTB annual events calendar in South Africa is   of  the  first  year.  Today,  we  have  30  students,  and
          full  to the  brim with opportunities  for  all  riders,  of   the capacity to double that over the coming years.
          all  levels, to  test  their  mettle  against themselves,   More  recently  we  have  established  a  permanent
          and  their  competitors.  Most  events  cater  for  all,   base  at  Murray  High  School  and  employed  a  full
          with  shorter  races for families  and  friends who   time Program Leader from the community, so we are
          are  participating in  the fun  of the occasion,  plus   delighted with the progress that is being made. And
          longer,  more  adventurous races  for  the  seasoned,   none of this would have been possible without the
          experienced riders.                       MTO Tour de Plett.”
             But if you dig a little deeper, and talk to a few      Meanwhile,  over  on  the  South  Coast,  some
          people who are involved in organising these races,   equally great work is being done by the organisers
          you will see a whole other side to what the staging   of the Sappi Scottburgh MTB race, an integral part of
          of these races means to the wider communities that   the South Coast MTB series.
          they represent.                              Back in 2012, Flavio Scarpa and a group of fellow
             I  spoke  with  two  organisers  of  regional  MTB   riders formed a cycling outfit called The Cycling 4
          races:  Colin  Shave,  one  of  the  principle  members   Mobility Team, which took part in the Joberg2c race
          of the organising team for the annual MTO Tour de   with a view to raising funds for individuals in their
          Plett, and Flavio Scarpa who is equally as involved   community who require a wheelchair, but don’t have
          in  the  Sappi  Scottsburgh  MTB  Race  (part  of  the   the money or the resource to buy one.
          South Coast series) which will take place this month      Flavio recalls: “Through that event we were able
          (August), to find out more about the positive impact   to gain incredible support through riders and event
          that these events have in helping the less privileged   sponsors  which  enabled  us  to  purchase  the  first
          members of our society.                   wheel chairs for those in need.
             The MTO Tour de Plett is now a regular fixture on      “Soon after that event, I was asked to take over
          the town's calendar, with the seventh edition taking   the running of the Scottburgh MTB race, and a swift
          place 7 October 2017. The event attracts riders from   decision  was  made to run  it under the banner  of
          all over and is widely regarded as one of the best   Cycling 4 Mobility.
          one-day MTB races on the calendar. This is helped      “It’s  overwhelming  at  times  to  see  just  how
          by the incredible scenery that the Bitou region has   generous our benefactors are, both at a corporate
          to offer, the challenging but fair course, and also has   and regional level. There are too many to mention in
          the unique novelty of racing in the mountains, and   entirety, but special mention must be made to Sappi,
          finishing in spectacular style on the beach.   title  sponsors  of  the  Scottburgh  race,  Old  Mutual
             What the Tour de Plett  brings is fun  and   and  XPS  Deliveries  who  have  all  made  massive
          excitement,  but  ask  the  students  at  the  Kwano   contributions over  the  years.  With their  help,  the
          Cycling  Academy,  and  you’ll  see  that  this  humble   help of all our sponsors and the contributions made                                                                                          Photos by Desmond Scholtz
          race is doing so much more than that.     by participating  riders we have been able to donate
             As  Shave  says:  “After  a  few  years  of  hosting   over 200 wheelchairs to date.”
          the Tour de Plett here in Plett, we were able to fulfil      And Flavio has a special word of advice for the
          our ultimate objective of opening the doors of the   riders that are going to be competing at this year’s
          Kwano Cycling Academy (KCA) to help youngsters   event, “I often tell riders at our event that at some
          in less fortunate environments.” Working in tandem   point during the race they are going to have to battle,
          with  Murray  High  School  in  Plett's  Kwanokuthula,   to dig deep. And when they do, to find inspiration
          the doors of the Academy were opened on the 15th   from the fact that they can race, unlike the people
          February 2014.                            who  must battle  everyday  of  their lives without
             “The aim of KCA is to use cycling as a catalyst   mobility. It helps put things in perspective, and could
          to uplift historically disadvantaged youngsters and   provide you with the extra determination you may
          communities, providing them with an environment,   need to prevail.”                                                                                                                                    Top: Sappi Scottburgh
          the coaching  and the equipment to  get  them      These are just two examples of many initiatives                                                                                                      MTB Race start. Bottom
          started whilst at the same time ensuring that their   across  South  Africa  where  the  MTB  community                                                                                                 from left: The Kwano
          education  remains a priority.  We combine  cycling   is helping to change lives. So, get out and support                                                                                               Cycling Academy team;
          with  academics, focusing  on  a common  set  of   your local MTB event, and add your support to the
          values, teaching life and leadership skills to produce   wider reaching community projects that these races                                                                                             cycling for a good
          more employable graduates.                support  and  fund.  You’ll  have  lots  of  fun  in  the                                                                                                     cause - Cycling for
             When  we  first  started,  we  could  accommodate   process!                                                                                                                                         Mobility; muddy faces
          ten students, which increased to fifteen by the end                                                                                                                                                     after a long, tough ride.

         30 | AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017 CEMAIR SKYNEWS                                                                                                                                              CEMAIR SKYNEWS AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017 | 31
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