Youthful enthusiasm leads to success at Fresh Start Cycling Club - Cape Town Cycle Tour

Youthful enthusiasm leads to success at Fresh Start Cycling Club

When the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust came up with the idea of a shorter route for the Cape Town Cycle Tour, the intention was for this new event to let younger or first-time riders experience the thrill and joy of the Cycle Tour without the worry of having to complete 109km on the original route. 

That objective was successfully achieved with the inaugural 42km Cape Town Cycle Tour this year when thousands of beginner and junior cyclists took to the roads of Cape Town to take part in the 42km route and join the wider Cycle Tour family at the same time.

While primarily positioned as a ride and not a race, the shorter distance did allow for racing in new junior categories, with a Boys U-15 and Girls U-17 race taking place. This meant that the best young riders from around the country had an opportunity to prove themselves in a safe, fun environment, with all the trappings of the iconic 109km Cape Town Cycle Tour, like huge crowd support and well-stocked refreshment tables, there to spur them on. 

Among the young racers who took part earlier this year was a group of cyclists from the Fresh Start Cycling Club in Cape Town.

The club hails from Ocean View (a suburb that riders pass through when they turn right off the Misty Cliffs road and head towards Noordhoek) and is the brainchild of passionate cyclist and school teacher Abduraghiem de Klerk and his wife Sageda.

The pair formed the club after De Klerk was initially asked by his school to prepare a few youngsters for the Cycle Tour some years back. After some promising results, he and his wife decided that the kids had potential and that a club would be beneficial to the school and the wider community. 

Fresh Start Cycling Club, born out of the De Klerks’ commitment to uplifting the lives of kids in their area, now gives young Ocean View cyclists something to do with their free time and helps keep them away from distractions that could potentially lead them astray. 

De Klerk and the club also encourage the kids to enter races and this year, at the Cape Town Cycle Tour, they achieved success when club member Ronaldo Levendall took first place in the Boys U-15 race in a time of 1:17:38. 

“I started this club nine years ago to give kids something positive to do after school,” says De Klerk. Today the club currently consists of 28 riders, both boys and girls.

“We train every day after school, weather permitting, for about an hour and a half. Ronaldo has been part of our cycle club for three years. Two weekends before the Cape Town Cycle Tour, as part of our training, we did a long ride at a steady pace, not as a race but for endurance. All my time spent on the road with the kids has paid off. We live in a small underprivileged community where negative elements sometimes override the positive elements; the club is a way to make sure there is something positive.”

Levendall says his success at the Cycle Tour was down to his commitment and encouragement from De Klerk. “I trained really hard and put a lot of days of cycling in before the Cycle Tour. We did a lot of riding, with our big club rides taking place every Saturday. It felt very nice to win the race and I was very happy afterwards.”

The first-ever Boys-15 champion of the Cape Town Cycle Tour got into cycling when he noticed a few kids on bikes outside his house. “I saw these guys go past very fast, wearing black and yellow tops. I thought, ‘That looks like fun’.” He adds, “I definitely want to race at the Cycle Tour again next year… and then maybe one day at the Tour de France.”

Another Fresh Start Cycling Club member who enjoyed a good day out at the Cape Town Cycle Tour this year was Rochay Lamb. She participated in the Girls U-17 race, finishing in a time of 2:01:22 for fifth place in her category. 

“My experience at the Cycle Tour was so good,” says Lamb. “I met a lot of people on the route and everyone was friendly, encouraging me all the way.” Lamb has been with Fresh Start since 2019 and says cycling has been good for her. “Cycling motivates me. It’s a sport that has encouraged me to do better every day. I also try and encourage more of my friends to ride. Training with the club gets harder every year, but that’s what inspires me. The different competitions motivate me and I am always looking forward to the next race. I am definitely going to do the Cycle Tour again and improve my time!”

De Klerk says that the addition of the shorter distance to the Cycle Tour is a fantastic way to encourage youngsters to take part and that the Cycle Tour in general plays an important role in the lives of the kids and the club.

“We always train towards the Cape Town Cycle Tour, it’s a big part of our plans. In the past we have had a few members start with the elites, so it is an ambition of ours to get a top rider into the field one day! We also race in the scholars’ division and participate in league rides. The kids get very excited; they love the speed and the thrill of going fast. It’s good for the club because they go home and tell their friends to come and join.”

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