04 Nov 2016 From the CEO’s desk (end-October 2016)
This past weekend, we hosted the Mangaung MTB and Road cycling events in Bloemfontein. The mountain bike event was called off after the start due to problems around route marking and land access permissions.
All routes were affected and with so few riders managing to complete their chosen routes, the decision was taken to call off the event and not give anyone a time. After a well-organised event in 2015, this came as a real shock, as I saw frustrations vented and PPA blamed on social media, late morning on Saturday.
I am speaking to the team in Bloemfontein and we are still trying to get hold of the person responsible for route marking and permissions to get to the bottom of exactly what happened on Saturday, but in the meantime, all MTB participants have been offered a refund of their entry fee.
The road event on Sunday went off without an organisational hitch and the team received a lot of compliments and positive feedback.
Unfortunately, a taxi hit 4 riders when the vehicle turned onto the route from a side road without stopping. All riders were taken to hospital, where one has remained in ICU. Liandri, our coordinator in Bloemfontein, has been in regular contact with the families, answering questions and offering assistance where needed. I have also asked her to keep in touch with the SAPS on a regular basis, to ensure this case receives their full attention. Once we have all the facts at hand, our committee with consider a possible course of action. I wish all the riders a speedy and full recovery.
New PPA Chairman and Exco members
At the first Exco meeting after the AGM, Rens Rezelman was elected the new PPA chairman, with Steve Hayward agreeing to serve as Vice Chairman for the year. I would like to thank Steve for a decade of dedicated service and for his leadership of the organisation. Steve will be on hand to assist Rens as he finds his feet in his new role. Rens is an excellent replacement and I look forward to working with him in his new role.
I would also like to welcome the new Exco members: Galiema Harris, Kirstin Wilkins, Sharief Peters, Abbas Harris and Rodney Beck. I look forward to your input over the next 2 years.
In my last letter, I mentioned the Mobility Indaba was coming up and I thought I’d give you a brief overview of the outcomes.
The delegates sat together in 5 working groups and discussed a variety of issues, which were condensed into an Action Plan. We have a commitment from the City of Cape Town to try and implement the points listed within 2 years.
The “Kommetjie Corridor project will see some major road works for a lengthy period of time. The appointed engineers are “cycle friendly” and are adding cycle lanes to the new road. A number of organisations are keeping a close eye on this project, PPA included, to make sure the project is a success and can be put forward as a demonstration project.
CSA Cycling Indaba
I attended a 2-day Indaba last week, hosted by Cycling South Africa. The Indaba’s theme was: “The strategic direction of the Federation with particular focus on Transformation and Development – what needs to be done, and how can it be implemented” – with Friday’s discussion focusing on road safety.
I presented our “Stay wider of the Rider” campaign, stating that it is critical for the development of cycling that our roads are safe and that people, mainly in poorer communities, are safe from crime and have access to affordable and good quality bicycles.
I also spoke about our new bicycle distribution programme and the PPA Youth Academy, as further enablers to developing cycling in both the utility and sports cycling space.
Gordon Laing, responsible for the Cycling Strategy for Cape Town and a PPA Executive Committee member, gave a presentation on utility cycling, how to develop a cycling strategy and what value a cycling culture adds to society and the economy.
Our presentations were well received and elicited a lot of interest from the delegates. I said that CSA and PPA should be working together when it comes to furthering the development of cycling as there is a lot that we have already done that PPA is happy to share with any interested party. Rather than re-invent the wheel, save scarce resources and let’s collaborate. There is a lot, outside of sports cycling, that PPA and CSA can work together on.
The road league got off to a bit of a shaky start with the West Coast Express being cancelled at the 11th hour due to Traffic withdrawing event permission. The league entries received were lower than expected, but the leagues are a member benefit and not run for profit.
We had a crash in the Elite group at the One Tonner, with riders accusing PPA of not having enough medical resources in place and these resources not responding quickly enough on the day. After seeing the comments on social media on the day, I contacted one of the Elite riders involved in the crash and we had a frank discussion about what happened. I kept in touch with the rider and gave him feedback after our event debrief, where it was decided that, while our medical resources were indeed adequate and that the response time was quicker than perceived, a dedicated leagues paramedic will in future follow close to the first few league bunches. To add an additional layer of safety is something that I am happy to put in place.
The juniors are currently racing for the prize of a chance to race overseas and their dedication and enthusiasm validates the decision to make this opportunity available. I would like to urge all riders to race in the spirit of fairness and not try and gain an unfair advantage through any illegal means. A non-member did request that we test riders for banned substances, but that does not fall within PPA’s scope and I have instead contacted the relevant authorities and made them aware of our Academy programme. They have replied to me, thanking PPA for being proactive, and the decision to test a rider is theirs to make.
More Road events
Plans are falling into place for the PPA “Cyclosportive” series, with up to 6 riders in a team. We have provisionally set aside the following dates:
Sunday: 19 May, 25 June, 6 August, 17 September, and 19 November 2017.
Distance: 108 km
Venue: Malmesbury Showgrounds (TBC)
Please remember that while these events will be timed, the emphasis is on having a fun day out on the bike, with friends. Lunch at the finish will be part of the deal.
We are also planning an endurance event at Killarney, probably taking place in April 2017.
Maluti Double 90
Entries for the Maluti are about to open, with the event taking place in Clarens on Saturday 1 April 2017. We have brought the event date a little forward as the weather in May could be problematic; this being the next available date. The inaugural event was a great success and I am sure the word has spread that the Maluti is one of those must-do events for next year. Watch our newsletters and the PPA website for more info.
Thank you very much to the Re-Cyclers club for the invitation to join their ride this morning and the opportunity to address the group afterwards. This is a well-organised group of “mature” cyclists who are still as passionate about cycling as the day they first got on a bicycle. They are lean and mean and keen to race!