Up The Road

Victory is not the same for all people: The story of South Africa’s cycling team

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The pro peloton is a demanding environment. It’s an unforgiving place that demands the most of its inhabitants, allowing for only the strongest to thrive. In a lot of ways, it’s like rural Africa. And in a lot of ways, it’s not at all. The unique intersection of the two existences is where you will find Team MTN-Qhubeka.

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The team preparing to deliver bikes to children and families

On a hot Thursday in Vosloorus, South Africa the members of Team MTN-Qhubeka, the world’s newest Pro Continental race team, are taking a break from their rigorous training schedule to help others who know a little something about rigor. On this day, one hundred rural South Africans will be receiving purpose-built Buffalo Bikes provided by World Bicycle Relief in exchange for growing 100 seedling trees each for a national reforestation program or removing 1,200 kg of refuse from their village. “Qhubeka”, an Nguni word meaning “to progress”, is the charitable program through which the team is able to deliver the bikes to their very deserving neighbors.

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100 new trees = 1 new bike

While the effort to earn a single simple bicycle may seem disproportionate, consider what the bicycle means to a person living in this environment:

A bicycle can increase a human’s carrying capacity by five times. This means medicine, clean water, food, and other goods can be carried over longer distances for either commerce or survival.

A bicycle, compared to walking, decreases transportation time 75%. Children can now spend much of the four hours they spent walking to school working on the studies that will improve their lives.

Qhubeka Kids
A bike in Africa can be the gateway to an education

In rural Africa, a bicycle can drastically alter the course of one's life. Providing this life-changing tool is the larger mission of Team MTN-Qhubeka.

The team, comprised of Africans of various nationalities and ethnicities throughout the continent, is the vision of former pro racer and Team Director, Doug Ryder. Where the result of the work is measured by more than just podiums and trophies, the team must strike a unique balance between competition and philanthropy. “Our dream is to develop a World Cycling Champion from the African Continent and to do this we need heroes and more children riding bicycles,” said Ryder. “The team is creating heroes at the highest levels of cycling while Qhubeka - powered by World Bicycle Relief - is providing the bicycles to children in communities across Africa. The more success the Team has around the world, the more it will open people’s eyes to the cycling potential in Africa and expose African children to a sport they may otherwise not know exists.”

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The team training in South Africa for their first Pro Continental season in Europe

In 2013, MTN-Qhubeka will compete in Europe, the epicenter of world cycling, as Africa’s first Pro Continental team. We will be following them throughout the year as they step onto the world stage, representing the aspirations of thousands of Africans working to build a better life for themselves.

  Qhubeka Kid



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