WINDHOEK, 20 JUNE – The rise in popularity of mountain biking has become increasingly evident during the last few years, given its suitability for family to enjoy the outdoors and the countryside on a bicycle whenever the need arises to shake off the hum-drum of city life.
Nedbank Namibia has been the country’s foremost supporter of cycling development for over three decades. Over the years the banks support has only increased and cycling is now the bank’s largest sponsorship property. The Nedbank Rock and Rut Cross Country Series is built upon the premise that there is a need to consistently offer quality races to allow mountain bikers and young people especially, the opportunity to hone their skills and competitive edge as cyclists. Gernot de Klerk, Nedbank’s head for marketing and communications firmly believes Namibian cyclists are of a high calibre, “we do not have to stand back for anyone as far as sheer talent is concerned. With the enthusiasm and commitment shown by Rock and Rut Mountain Biking Club and the Namibia Cycling Federation, we remain exceptionally proud of our association with the Nedbank Rock and Rut Cross Country Series, our young cycling winners and their motivation, undoubtedly show again why Namibian cycling is starting to show its true mettle.”
Mountain biking at the IJG trails were dominated by a new generation of young thrill seekers who pedalled their hearts out to achieve their goals. Marie Thier won the girls under 10 race at this weekend’s Rock and Rut Nedbank XC3 Cycling Series. She started cycling at the age of 6 and enjoys cross-country cycling the most. “I enjoy everything about it, it’s an adventure!” says young Marie after the race. This brave ten year old skilfully manoeuvred the IJG trails and took top spot. “ For today I was hoping to win the race, which I did, I would also like to get better and get faster in order to win a championship,” Marie says.
As her very own dad for a cycling role model and mentor, this diligent young cyclist is aware that young people are the future of cycling in Namibia. She dreams big and hopes to see even more local competitions to compete more often and eventually become the world champion. This ten-year-old understands the value and importance of cycling well, “cycling is good for your health, it’s a good outdoor activity to do with your friends,” says Marie. She believes that for someone to start cycling they only need to train really hard and aim to get better… wise words from a ten-year-old champion in the making.
13-year-old Kevin Lowe also participated in the cross-country series; his participation in the race was fuelled by the UCI points gained, but mostly for the love of the sport. Cycling since age 7, he too finds the outdoors and nature as the most enduring traits of mountain biking. Kevin’s goal is to participate in international races and his participation in the XC series is helping him work toward that goal. “Being active and involved in these races helps a lot as I am getting better with every race,” Kevin adds. As a young cyclist in the starting blocks of his cycling career, young Kevin would like to see the sport grow, “I would like to see more competitions for us youngsters, this will make us more competitive as I would like to participate in international events,” he says. For someone his age who would also like to start cycling, Kevin advises to start small by cycling in the neighbourhood, then get into racing and the passion for the sport will develop from there.
Roger Suren, who won the race for the under 12 boys category loves downhill riding and mountain biking mostly because he does it with friends. His dad taught him how to ride a bike, something he has been doing since the age of 6. The young Roger motivates more youngsters to get on a bicycle, “My goal today was to challenge my friend Justus, he won our previous race in Swakop so I wanted to win today, and I did,” says a motivated eleven-year-old Roger. Roger, like most of his young cycling peers, love competing and envision a great future for cycling in Namibia. “Cycling is the best sport in the world, learn how to ride and I am sure you will be motivated to get better.” His XC3 Series win also allowed him to gain UCI points.
Bianca Lowe, mother to her cycling sons Kevin (13) and Sean (10) believes that cycling provides children the opportunity to learn important life skills.
“The most important part is that cycling keeps them away from being in front of the screens all day, “Bianca says. She supports her boys by attending cycling events to encourage them, “it’s very important for a child to see you on the side lines rooting for them, it gives them that extra boost of confidence,” she added.
The Rock and Rut Nedbank XC3 series was attractive to a lot of pre-teens, Bianca says, “this year for the kiddies, there is so much competition, anyone could win and that’s what makes it exciting. The series is nearing the end and they would all like to gain UCI points so everyone brought their A game.”
Bianca believes that cycling allows children to achieve results physically, as it is beneficial for health and development. Emotionally, as it teaches good sportsmanship as they learn to handle defeat with a positive attitude, and get to celebrate their wins, which boosts self-confidence. And lastly, socially, children meet new people and build healthy friendships with other children who share the same passion.
Cycling is developing in Namibia at a rapid pace and Bianca concurs, “It is huge! Seeing as more youth is getting involved. There is an increase in passion for the sport among youngsters, as they have become more competitive and are more excited about championship races. There are wonderful facilities offered by clubs like Rock and Rut, camps facilitating training by a highly skilled trainer for children from a very young age.”
For parents who are not cyclists but would love for their children to become involved in cycling Bianca advises to start off by walking their dogs while your child cycles or they could enrol their child into a club where trainers are available, or they could start small and even get their children involved in school leagues.
The next race in the series takes place on 7 July 2018 at the IJG Trails in Windhoek. For more information visit: www.rockandrut.org – NDN Staffer