It’s all systems go for this weekend’s Heideveld Youth Cycling Club’s inaugural cycling festival, says founder Wendy Rhodes.
She said the club was established two years ago and despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown, it has grown from strength to strength. Saturday’s main event will start at Manenberg police station, at 9am, finishing at the Heideveld sportsfield.
An avid cycling enthusiast, starting a club was a no-brainer as there were no other cycling clubs in the area, she said.
She said the idea was simply to get youngsters off the streets and away from negative influences.
“The initiative was mainly to get the kids off the streets, to empower them and to give them something better to do,” she said.
“So I thought, I love the sport and maybe I could teach and empower someone else to do it. Besides offering youngsters an opportunity to ride a bike, Rhodes said the aim was also to teach them how to do repairs so they could fix their own bikes if needed.
As word of the club’s existence spread in the community, their numbers grew rapidly and there’s just never enough bikes to go around, she said. As anybody involved with cycling will know, it can be a costly affair.
“It’s all coming out of our own pockets, she said, “and we want to help everybody but we don’t have the means to do so. I can never say no to any child. If anyone asks me if I can participate, then by all means, it doesn’t matter what age you are, where you come from, you are more than welcome. The only issue we have is safety gear, water bottles, clothing, shoes and funding to give these kids a decent meal,” she said.
When club member, Reginald “Reggie” De Lilie, himself an avid cyclist with more than 20 Cape Town Cycle Tours under his belt, spotted a group of youngsters cycling past his house one day, the first thing he noticed were some riding barefoot.
It piqued his interest and prompted him to get involved. Thanks to his contacts in the cycling fraternity and community organisations, De Lilie was able to secure a few bikes and training equipment for the project.
“For me it’s about more than just cycling, it’s about an opportunity to really change lives, to create a safe haven and to give them something better to strive for,” he said.
If you’d like to support the Heideveld Youth Cycling Club, call Wendy Rhodes on 074 094 3522 or Reggie De Lilie on 083 303 1397.