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The unofficial mountain biking world cup in Kayamandi

21 Mar 2012

Today marked a special occasion for the program as we held our very own unofficial mountain biking world cup in a local South African township in Kayamandi, Stellenbosch! I don't think Kayamandi has quite seen racing like this before but it has most certainly changed the lives of many a young person and hopefully, in the not so distant future, we'll have a world champ of our own racing in this prestigious event.

The idea to hold a BMX and mountain bike race was crafted around our ambitious goals to take to a whole new level of racing in 2012 by creating our very mountain bike route around Kaya, to cultivate cross-country racing skills as well as upgrade the BMX track to bring it closer to national standards. Added to this we set out to developm the clubhouse, building indoor training facilities and an afterschool facility to develop our education and support program. When we embarked on this in January 2012, I think were not quite sure of what exactly we would be able to pull off, but thanks to the incredible base of people who shower in the most incredible support, we have been able to go so far and achieve so much in just 3 months.

We'll share a few hightlights:

  • Our clubhouse building development program was initiated by Hanlie Booyens of Being Architects in 2007 and later last year Danie Joubert and his team helped us conceive more of what was possible for the clubhouse. In January 2012 Greg Scott of Greg Wright Architects took over the building designs and swiftly took the building through the council submission process, laying the way for John Sparks and his team from TransWorld Projects to start tackling the building. It is his team who have been working weekends and in their spare time to bring our clubhouse to life. We can't wait to see the final development which is just a few weeks away. MacNeil came on-board to sponsor fittings and crucial items to the clubhouse, and an incredible private donor has made a great contribution that will help us see the clubhouse through to final development.
  • BMX riding has gained significant momentum since the songo program inception, and so too have the kids developed great BMX skills. With that the kids were fast outgrowing the BMX track and hungry for bigger jumps and a longer track. Meurant from Amarider stepped in and along with Swen Lauer designed a track that will most certainly will be testing skills for some time to come. And so Meurant has been working also in his spare time, on the weekends and when-ever he had a gap, which is not always easy for someone like him who has a very busy schedule and is in such big demand for his great skills and experience!
  • And then the was the local support from the Stellenbosch Municipality who pulled out all the stops to help us iron out the details and put the necessary plans in place to ensure the day ran smoothly. They tackled everything from sorting out water, getting the grounds cleared and bushes cut. It was just fanstastic to get all this great support from Fred and his team!
  • The sponsors that came on-board for the event were just incredible from Amarider, Specialized, Red Bull, First Ascent, 36ONE Asset Management, Wilde Juice and Go Pro. The day just would not have been the same without you! A special thanks to Velocity Sports Lab who sponsored prizes and brought out their key athletes Ryan Sandes and Raynard Tissink. The professional sound on the day was sponsored by Kilowat AV and just added such an amazing touch to our event.
  • There were numerous volunteers that assisted including Chantelle, Dianie, Bronwyn and Karen who all did such an amazing job of running registrations, merchandise, BMX racing and boerie rolls. Thanks to these ladies we had great sales at today's event.
  • Also part of the volunteer program was the local Kayamandi Neighbourhood Watch program. These local community members, who are so passionate about the upliftment and development of their community, volunteered their time to marshall at our event race.
  • Until 11pm last night and from 5.30am this morning I was receiving calls from the kids so eager to ensure the event was going to go smoothly this today. As I got to Kaya just after 6am, I found the kids had already been hard at work carrying chairs from our office up to the track in preparation for the event! A small few panics in the morning but for the most part everything went so smoothly thanks to all the kids that helped us set up and pack away!
  • To the photographers Greg Beadle and Guido Holz from Sportograf, who came out to shoot the event for free and have taken so many amazing shots for us, thank you so much!
  • A special thanks goes to Meurant and his team from Amarider, not only for developing the track but for all the hard work in managing the mountain bike route, marking in the early hours of the morning and ensuring the riders had a smooth ride through the township. Thank you for sharing your expertise in making this a great day!

But it is Songo Fipaza who attracts and brings together his amazing team and who was able to work such miracles for us today in ensuring this event ran smoothly. And if it wasn't for Christoph Sauser, well then, it just would have the vooma and status that such an event has. Through Christoph's exceptional brand and extensive network, it was so exciting for us to be hosting such a prestigious group of riders. There was lots of hard work involved from these two to make the event successful. We were so proud to see Christoph win the main event on his "home turf" with undoubtably his biggest fans watching live and able to share this experience with their families and friends. We were so proud of the guys and Matthew Lombardi that got the opportunity to ride alongside the world's greatest mountain bikers. (Incidently when we were setting up early this morning I heard all the debating and betting that was going on amongst the kids as we put out the poduims, and many a time on no.1 I heard "Sauser"! All the bets were on him winning today and he did just that for the kids!)

The aim of the day was to celebrate Human Rights Day by focusing on children's rights, specifically the right to play. I think that all participants from BMX to mountain biking had great fun and were undoubtably inspired by the World Champs who showed them what is possible.

In addition, our goal was to bring together all riders, their family and friends, supporters of the program and the professional athletes to share in amazing cultural diversity and to be inspired on so many levels - to believe that it is possible and to go out and make a difference, because every bit counts. From the great responses it seems these goals were achieved.

We'll be posting pictures on our facebook page: so keep an eye out there!

Thank you to everyone who participated and made the day so special.

To all of you taking part in the Absa Cape Epic next week, wishing you the very best of luck!

Final Results Pro Race:

1. Christoph Sauser

2. Burry Stander

3. Jaroslav Kulhavy

4. Moritz Milatz

5. Emil Lindgren