What cy­cling for a pur­pose re­ally means

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

HE rid­ers of Team MTN Qhubeka drove down Hind­ley Street in Delft yes­ter­day, past cy­cle lanes painted on the pave­ment that led to the en­trance of Blikkies­dorp, the in­for­mal, yet for­mal set­tle­ment on the Cape Flats. It is a place of much con­tro­versy, called a “dump­ing ground” for the poor, a tem­po­rary re­lo­ca­tion set­tle­ment as they were moved away from Cape Town ahead of the 2010 World Cup. Here, some of the best pro­fes­sional cy­clists in the world got to see what the Qhubeka in their name stood for.

TIt’s a grey, dusty place, a R30mil­lion col­lec­tion of one-room cor­ru­gated iron shacks that make up Tin Can Town. It’s a hard place to live, a hard place to grow up and even harder to grow food to eat. Yet, some man­age to prise life from the dirt, grow­ing plants and vegetables. Mar­ius, who did not want to give his sur­name, has a lush patch on which spinach, cab­bage, toma­toes and other plants grow. He uses th­ese to feed his fam­ily. The other plants are taken back to the “treep­eneurs” pro­gramme run from the Spier wine farm by Les­ley Joe­mat, an em­ployee of the farm. The pro­gramme is part of the Wild­lands Con­ver­sa­tion Trust, an NGO be­gun in KZN, that re­warded “treep­eneurs” for grow­ing saplings and trees from seeds, so they could be re­turned to the en­vi­ron­ment.

They swap the plants for vouch­ers for “food, cloth­ing, agri­cul­tural goods, tools, and bi­cy­cles – even school and univer­sity fees”, says the lit­er­a­ture.

It is the strong, yel­low bi­cy­cles that MTN Qhubeka ride to raise money for in Europe. The more aware­ness they raise, the more money goes into the pro­gramme, the more the peo­ple of Blikkies­dorp get to make the daily strug­gle of their lives that lit­tle bit smoother. For some of the new for­eign rid­ers, the ex­pe­ri­ence of Blikkies­dorp drove home to them ex­actly what they are rid­ing for.

MTN Qhubeka are the only cy­cling team in the world to have a char­ity as part of their head­line spon­sor. Aus­tralia’s Matt Goss, the for­mer win­ner of the Mi­lan San­Remo, rides for the kid who needs a bike to fetch milk for his fam­ily from the shop up the road. Amer­i­can Tyler Far­rar, Tour de France stage win­ner, rides for the mother who uses her bike to fetch wa­ter for her plants. Norway’s Ed­vald Boas­son Ha­gen, Tour de France stage win­ner, spent time talk­ing to Mar­ius about his gar­den and fam­ily. Wed­nes­day, each of them were shown the re­al­ity of how the majority of South Africans live. It hit home. Hard. Wed­nes­day’s af­ter­noon pre­sen­ta­tion about how to raise more money for Qhubeka made more sense.

They are rid­ing for a pur­pose. They are rid­ing for the peo­ple of Tin Can Town, a place where noth­ing grows with­out a fight.

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