Proud Beginners Cycling Club currently boasts almost 80 members and will soon dispatch a team to ride in the four-day Tour de Limpopo stage race, which starts on April 22.
The club, based in Midrand, Gauteng, will have six riders at the inaugural event – Patrick Mxenge, Bhuti Mahlangu, Siphiwe Sowela, Phumlani Sowela, Oupa Maluleke and Isaac Mudau.
Proud Beginners was established on 15 December 2014 with the aim of pursuing charity initiatives and providing a platform for young disadvantaged cyclists of colour. It aims to boost social cohesion and to raise awareness about cycling within the community.
“We also focus on both elite and ladies development,” said secretary-general Lebo Nthinya, who is the club’s driving force.
“I was first invited by friends and here I still am, after four years of being involved, enjoying every minute of it.”
Their first official event, which was a mountain bike ride in the Blue Valley Golf Estate, took place a day after its establishment.
The team, which participates in major Cycling South Africa (CSA) road and mountain bike events, grew from 12 members to where it is today.
The name reflects a “new beginning to life’s adventures”, which is evident in how the club’s initiatives have changed cyclists’ lives.
“Their lives have changed for the better because we are able to shift everyone’s focus to that of riding more,” said Nthinya.
He added that their focus was also on providing and obtaining sponsorship, creating a spirit of togetherness and being seen as role models.
This could be seen clearly in the team’s war cry, which is “Aha”.
“You will hear this when the going gets tough in the races and rides. It was coined as an achievement for having reached a peak or [having finished a] journey that you undergo as a person and rider,” said Nthinya.
In addition, they were spurred on by the knowledge that they had a team behind them, encouraging them every step of the way.
The club also has a strong corporate social investment (CSI) involvement whereby the team embark on a three-day tour from Sasolburg to Pietermaritzburg to raise funds for identified charity organisations.
“The first beneficiary is Bethlehem Child Welfare, where the team spend the night of the first day of the tour with the children. The second is Ladysmith Child Welfare.
“These initiatives have always been a success, with no sponsor involvement,” said Nthinya.
He added that they would still like to attract more disadvantaged people from within the community.
“The most inspiring thing about being part of the club is working with this community throughout the country.”