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From the CEO’s desk (end-July 2016)

From the CEO’s desk (end-July 2016)

This month we mourn the loss of Gugu Zulu, who passed away on July 18 while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Gugu was one of our Safe Cycling ambassadors and we will miss him. He was always smiling, enthusiastic and willing to help. Gugu was an inspiration to all of us and we wish his wife and daughter and his family well in this time of sadness.

The phones in the office are ringing off the hook as members are phoning, asking why the website is slow and why their payments were not accepted.

Why this sudden rush to renew subscriptions? We announced the conditions of entry for the 2017 Cape Town Cycle Tour yesterday.

Cycle Tour entries will only open late in August. The Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust has not communicated the exact date yet, but we will let you know as soon as we know.

In the meantime, we have made sure that all paid-up PPA members will be accommodated in the entry process. We request that you make sure that you are paid-up by 15 August, in order to be first in line for an entry as soon as they open. The problems experienced yesterday by the banks have been fixed, and the online payment portal is back up and running.  CLICK HERE to renew your PPA membership now, if you have not already done so.

Back to Cycle Tour entries. Once you have entered, you will be notified of your successful entry within 24 hours. We are keeping a keen eye on the process and will be ready to help anyone who hasn’t been notified within the stipulated period.

We would like to see all our members out there on the day, enjoying the spirit of the Cape Town Cycle Tour.

Cyclists living further afield are not excluded. For a R170 upcountry PPA membership, you too will receive priority treatment for the Cycle Tour, plus all the other benefits that a PPA membership offers.

Yesterday’s rush to renew memberships once again highlights how important the Cape Town Cycle Tour is to our members. It remains the single most important PPA membership benefit and we will ensure that every member who wishes to ride the Cycle Tour, will be able to do so.

We are busy compiling the events calendar and finalising the road and new MTB League events. As soon as all of the organisers have come back to us, we will publish the list. October is already looking busy, which brings me to our One Tonner.

170 km is a challenging distance for most, but the event is a popular training session for teams taking part in the Coronation Double Century. This year we’re adding a 58 km and a 109 km route to the event, opening it up to a broader spectrum of riders and to extend the road funride offering. 

We received confirmation yesterday that the 109 km route will also be a seeding event for the 2017 Cape Town Cycle Tour, which is good news for a whole bunch of riders not keen to tackle the long route. The original One Tonner route remains unchanged… You will be tested!

Because of the internet problems we’ve experienced this week, we’ve extended the discounted ‘Early Bird’ entries for the PPA One Tonner to 17h00 on next Wednesday. Normal entry fees will thereafter apply until end-September. CLICK HERE to enter the One Tonner now.

The events team is busy scouting potential routes and venues for new road events. I hope we can add at least one new event to the calendar this year, and another in the new year.

I have asked the team to look at routes that head over iconic mountain passes into the back country. I have asked our favourite cycling MEC for input and guidance. No promises, but we are trying our best to put on more road events and I am looking at formats that may allow us to access road and mountain passes that have in the past only been accessible to events with international exposure.

As most of you know, road works are ongoing in the South Peninsula, with a road construction project commencing around Kommetjie within the next 6 weeks. The City has informed us that we can’t host any events in the area in 2017. That is the reality and it is pretty much beyond our control.

We really have engaged with everyone, trying all avenues to keep events going in the South Peninsula, but we’ve run out of options for next year. The events are not lost – for next year, we are simply looking for alternative venues in the Northern Suburbs. While this might not suit all of you, I think the fact that the events are still taking place, is worth bearing in mind.

Our Tiletoria Elgin Valley MTB is coming up in August. The team is working hard to ensure that this event is even better than it was last year. Routes are better; there’s prize money and medals for the top 3 riders in the 70 km and 45 km routes, with food, beer and wine on sale at the finish, amongst others. Do come and join us there. Entries close on 15 August.  CLICK HERE to enter now.

Things have been confusing, to say the least. Early opening has been bandied about for a long time, with most of those dates in the past now. Currently, August is the new “early opening” date for Tokai.

We have been waiting for 18 months, but the end is finally in sight. It might not be August, but things are moving forward.

PPA has committed R175 000 to fund 55 trail build days, tons of soil and plant hire to get the existing trail network repaired and ready for opening. Reto Mani and Shäun Havenga will be overseeing the building, with volunteers doing the clearing and heavy lifting. Work has already begun and will gain momentum in the next 2 weeks.

I had a meeting with the San Parks area manager responsible for Tokai and proposed a plan whereby PPA manages Tokai and ploughs the revenue from permits back into maintenance and expansion of  Tokai and the rest of the park’s cycling trails.

The current permit fee structure would have to change to a “user pays” system, with PPA managing funds and performing an oversight role. PPA members and the cycling community would benefit from us being involved. Funds go where the riders have always wanted their permit fees to go and we create a world-class trail network on the mountain.

Tokai MTB and PPA are currently working jointly on a permit system proposal, which I hope to present to San Parks within the next 3 weeks.

We have almost completed our project funding allocations for this year’s batch of applications. The reason it has taken longer than usual is because I’d like to make some changes to the way we do this going forward.

I have been meeting with BEN and Qhubeka to bounce some ideas around and to see where our visions align. PPA is going to be introducing our own bicycle distribution program. We are staying with a locally available, tried and tested rigid mountain bike, but we will be branding it at source. Our own “PPA Mobility Project”.

Similar to Qhubeka, we want to give people access to opportunities through bicycles. Be it by cycling to school, in order to get there faster and more efficiently, to access economic opportunities, to explore, be independent and be healthy. We all understand the joys and freedom of cycling.

We receive regular requests for better quality bicycles from clubs that enjoy racing. And so they should, it’s great to push your limits and excel. We’d like to help here too, but this is where we will be asking the applicants to assist.

We have negotiated good discounts with two of the major bicycle distributors, which we will use to subsidise the purchase of racing bikes. All we ask is that the clubs contribute a portion of the cost, in return for an excellent deal. The PPA mandate covers entry-level bicycles, but we understand the needs of sports cyclists and are happy to support them in this way.

I am also looking at a “PPA Academy”, where an unbiased panel of experts evaluates young, aspiring cyclists. The panel will be made up of respected experts in coaching, sports medicine, team managers and industry experts that will identify future talent. It will provide the means to support these riders for a period of time. Details will follow soon; for now it is a work in progress. Having spoken to some young riders, there seems to be a real need for a structure like this.  If you have any ideas or suggestions around the Academy concept, please forward them to me.

The bicycle distribution program, the PPA Academy and the Safe Cycling at Schools project area few examples of PPA’s contribution to the development of cycling in South Africa. Project funding will continue in tandem, but here we will focus on specific themes going forward.  The change in direction will be a little disruptive at first, but I feel that PPA needs to have its own development projects that align with our mandate, which is to put more people on bicycles.

In all, exciting times ahead.