Helping to get Kidz on Bikes
Schools having to upgrade their cycling sheds, children getting fit and losing weight, teachers doing the Argus but, most importantly, children starting to cycle en masse and enjoying every minute.
That’s what Kidz on Bikes programme is all about. Zoon Cronjé, one of the directors of the Kidz on Bikes programme, gets more than excited once he starts talking about the project.
"I think at a rough estimate we are teaching about 200 kids every week about cycling and its benefits. We have had so much success in the past 12 months.
“For example, we had a brother and sister losing 10kg and 8kg respectively, just because they started to ride a bike. For us it is never just about the bike, it is about healthy lifestyle as well," says Cronjé.
One of Cronjé’s biggest goals is to get the Kidz on Bikes programme into Soweto schools.
While Cyclingnews in conjunction with Cycling SA already runs weekly clinics for older school kids in Soweto who race over weekends, there is a desperate need to start identifying talent between the ages of 8 and 12. This is the age group on which Kidz on Bikes focuses.
"I don’t think a lot of those kids really know what cycling is about. I am also sure in getting the kids to cycle we shall discover a champion or two – somebody that might represent South Africa as a cyclist at the Olympic Games.
"Our biggest problem is money. We need a sponsor so that we can launch the Kidz on Bikes project in Soweto, and OUTsurance have given us a good head start.
"What is exciting is that Joost van der Westhuizen, the most capped Springbok, and his wife, Amoré, are going to cycle the OUTsurance Tshwane Mayoral Ride for Kidz on Bikes.
“For every lap they complete, OUTsurance will donate R5 000 to the Kidz on Bikes Soweto project.
"Be sure that we will be rooting for them. It will be fantastic if Joost manages to finish all seven laps of 11km. If he does, it will already be enough to launch the project in Soweto.
"What is exciting for me is that at least 100 of the kids we have been teaching will also be riding the OUTSurance Tshwane Mayoral Ride. For most of them it will be the first time that they participate in a race."
Asked what the Kidz on Bikes programme is about, Cronjé explained that there are four courses of ten weeks, in which kids are learnt how to cycle.
"Tony Harding, the former manager of the South African cycling team, and Robert Hunter, Tour de France-rider, have worked out the programmes.
"We provide everything. We have trailers that are kitted out with 20 bikes and helmets which the kids use. What is really rewarding is the fact that we have managed to get kids that have never been on a bicycle to cycle within an hour of coaching.
"I think there is a big need for cycling to become an official schools sport. Not everybody has good ball skills or can run fast, but I everybody can ride a bike.
"You should see what cycling does to the self esteem of some of the kids who thought they were useless in sport once they get onto a bicycle. It’s unbelievable how their confidence grows.
"Sometimes when a class finishes the parents get onto the bikes and start to cycle. Their kids run next to them telling them how to use the gears and enlightening them on the do’s and dont’s of cycling.
"I have found that the motorists around the schools where we are involved are also much more tolerant towards cyclists. I think it is because suddenly it is their kid that is on the bicycle.
"We also present the classes on a weekly basis to Down syndrome kids at the Gateway school in Ruimsig, Johannesburg."
OUTride Quick Facts
When: Sunday, 29 July 2007
Where: State Theatre, Pretoria (start and finish)
Format: 10.5km circuit lap ride
Distances: 35km (3 laps) / 77km (7 laps) / Kiddies ride
Kidz on Bikes Classic: 14km for u10 and u12 kids
Route: SA Championship Route around the Union Buildings
Starting time: 8:30
Prize money: R18 950
On-line entries: The Cycle Lab website
On-line entries close: 22 July 2007 Also
Free water bottle to every on-line entrant
Free T-shirt to all on-line entrants in the 77km ride
Medals to all finishers
An advance complimentary August issue of Cyclingnews Magazine
Spot prizes at Prize giving, sponsored by Queens Cycles, OUTsurance, USN and Cyclingnews
Loads of entertainment at Start/Finish venue