Africa’s only professional cycling team, Team Dimension Data Qhubeka once again excelled at the Tour de France – the world’s toughest and most prestigious bicycle race staged over three weeks in July.
The team won a stage of the three-week long marathon despite the loss of star rider Mark Cavendish who crashed out early. Technology has played a greater role in the off-road dynamics of the Tour de France than ever before. South African IT firm Dimension Data placed a hi-tech transponder under the saddle of every rider to provide GPS-based streams of analytics. Cycling has become one of the most technologically advanced sports with its use of science to measure performance, rider energy output and aerodynamics.
The 2017 marathon stands out in terms of quality and quantity of information provided by Dimension Data. Even though Team Dimension Data Qhubeka (TDD) is now recognised as one of the leading road racing outfits, it also has another important mission – to raise funds to provide bikes for impoverished communities. Qhubeka, the World Cycling Relief charity and partner of Dimension Data that enables African communities to develop through pedal power has already provided thousands of cycles for schools, community workers and small businesses. The impact cannot be underestimated:
- Students improve their school attendance by 28%
- Community health workers make 45% more home visits
- Dairy farmers increase deliveries by 25%
- Every 16 km cycled saves 3 hours on foot
Take Royce, a community nurse volunteer in Zambia who now sees 18 patients a day rather than the three by foot she used to help. Royce says: “I became a caregiver because I have a passion for helping people. Before I would wake up before dawn to do my own chores before walking miles to reach patients”. This includes providing treatment to HIV/AIDS patients, the elderly and orphans and vulnerable children in the surrounding villages. Royce had endless potential and a strong desire to help others. But she was held back by the daily challenges of time and distance. With her bicycle, Royce works more efficiently, with less physical effort.
The simple idea that #bicycleschangelives is at the heart of the programme. The efforts of the professional cyclists and the charitable fundraisers go hand in hand – all stars of the racing team buy-in to the philosophy. An important factor is that the team nurtures and encourages African cyclists such as Eritrean Daniel Teklehaimanot.
Among the many programmes that have enriched lives ,the collaboration between Children In The Wilderness (CITW) and Qhubeka which supported the delivery of 250 bicycles to learners at N’wanati High School in South Africa’s Limpopo province stands out. The 250 bicycles and spare part set-up kits were donated to learners from CITW’s Eco-Club at the High School to those who achieved good academic results and demonstrated their ongoing commitment to giving back to their community and to the environment.Dr Sye Snyman, CITW regional programme director, expressed how thrilled she was to work with Qhubeka on this exciting project that smoothly delivers bicycles which enable these students to get to school quicker and, in some cases more affordably for those who use public transport.” The empowerment of students is key for uplifting communities in the long run.
Sarah Phaweni, Qhubeka’s Executive Director expresses similarly expresses excitement on how the bicycles will help learners save time on their commute and allow them to play with their friends and do chores. She also expressed excitement on the partnership with Children in the Wilderness to create a better life for South Africa’s children.
Rural schoolchildren are particularly badly affected by lack of mobility. Having a bicycle helps to change lives by increasing the distance people can travel, what they can carry, where they can go and how fast they can get there.The Buffalo bicycles provided are extra sturdy machines built for the demands of rural living.
Doug Ryder, Team Principal at Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, expressed how changing lives is at the heart of why Qhubeka rides. He believes that the teams relationship with Qhubeka is the main reason it has been embraced by the world. The team hopes to continue raising awareness for the charity through each mile.
The team has another objective in its sights – creating a champion African cyclist. At the moment the leading rider is Daniel Teklehaimanot but there are other young prospects such as Merhawi Kudus. The Qhubeka project remains at the core of the project and the very reason why the team exists but creating a champion cyclist could have a massive impact on the charity work too.
Featured image | Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka | flickr
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.
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