[CAPTION]: Fifteen avid cyclists from Songezo Jim’s Cycling Academy are excited about trying out the brand new bicycles sponsored by the Rotary Club of Claremont, with helmets and kit from the Pedal Power Association (PPA), on Friday, 03 November 2017. The Academy is run by South Africa’s most famous black cyclist, who hails from Masiphumelele. The new bikes (pictured above) effectively double Songezo Jim’s stock of bicycles which are ridden under his watchful eye by eager young girls and boys who aspire to be like him one day.

“We’ve got really talented kids cycling here in Masiphumelele. They’re already winning league races in Cape Town and want to become professional, they even want to beat me! There is some stiff competition,” joked Jim, whose interest in cycling started when he was a teenage spectator watching cyclists compete in the Cape Town Cycle Tour (CTCT). Jim turned professional in 2013 and became the first black South African cyclist to compete in a World Tour event, the Vuelta a Espana in 2015.

During the school holidays Jim, together with the Bicycling Empowerment Network (BEN) will run a cycling development programme for young boys and girls from Masiphumelele. The programme, aimed at novice cyclists, will include the basics of learning to ride a bicycle as well as road safety and bicycle maintenance. With such a high level of interest in cycling, Jim says that all bikes at his Academy are used on a rotational basis in order to cater to as many children as possible. The most promising cyclists will be selected to ride the new bicycles in the CTCT next year.

The Rotary Club of Claremont have a long association with cycling in Cape Town, having been involved in organising race day logistics for the CTCT for the past 34 years. The Club, together with the PPA are equal stakeholders in The Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust, who are responsible for organising the world’s largest timed cycle race. The charitable surplus from the race, which sees 35000 cyclists compete, is shared between the Rotary Club of Claremont and PPA.

Speaking at the handover event, Rotary Club of Claremont President Elect, Malcolm Dodd said,

“The funds used to purchase these bicycles come from the money raised through the Cape Town Cycle Tour and so it is fitting that we use a portion to invest in enabling even more people to experience the thrill of cycling around the Cape peninsula whilst also learning valuable life skills.”

The 109 kilometre race, which will be held on Sunday 11 March 2018, passes Masiphumelele en route to the finish line in the Cape Town city centre.

“The people of Masiphumelele live along the official route and are often seen cheering cyclists with great enthusiasm on race day. We are thrilled to partner with Songezo in his dream to train youngsters to ride, leading by example and giving them a reason to hope for a better future,” says Dodd.

Last month the Rotary Club of Claremont partnered with PPA, BEN and Qhubeka to supply 20 bicycles to Ukhanyo Primary School in Masiphumelele. These bicycles will also be used to teach youngsters how to ride and the basic rules of the road. “We look forward to expanding the footprint of cycling in Masiphumelele and the surrounding Fish Hoek Valley,” concludes Dodd.

For more information on Rotary Club of Claremont and the various community projects and initiatives they are involved with, please visit https://www.facebook.com/RotaryClubofClaremont/.