The Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek presented by Biogen kicks off in Mossel Bay this Sunday, 14 October.
Pro riders are gearing up for ag test of grit, and behind-the-scenes an entire Klein Karoo community is preparing for the biggest sporting event of the year.
South Africa’s ‘Race with Soul’ not only offers competitive cyclists the chance to participate in a UCI registered event, but also offers much-needed financial support to local schools located along the eight-day route.
Van Kervel School for learners with special educational needs is one such school that has been a part of the Cape Pioneer journey since its inception 10 years ago.
Deputy Principal Hennie Koegelenberg comments on the impact the event has on his learners:
“We benefit from this event immensely - it’s our biggest fundraiser of the year! Many of our learners come from an underprivileged background, so the financial support helps us in so many ways. Our ‘Broodjie Projek’, for example, is supported through the funds raised by the Cape Pioneer, and we’ve been able to give our pupils a meal at break everyday. We’ve also invested in sporting equipment and the development of our hostels.”
A percentage of each entry for the event goes to Van Kervel School, and in return the school offers its facilities for the race village at that particular stage of the event. Learners help prepare food and set up tents for the cyclists, and get to interact with some of the world’s top racing talent.
“I’ve seen a growing interest in cycling from my learners as a result, and some have even requested to make it their main sport next year. They love hosting the Cape Pioneer athletes, and do their best to cheer and support the riders as they pull into the school,” said Koegelenberg.
Other schools that benefit from the Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek presented by Biogen include Milkwood Primary School in Mosselbay and Langenhoven Gimnasium in Oudtshoorn.
In addition, Dryland Event Managment employs locals as marshals, bike washers and officials for this event and around 400 temporary jobs are created in the process.
Transnet National Ports Authority has not only granted the event access to land for the Prologue route, but also play an integrated role in the upliftment of the local community. Port Manager Shadrack Tshikalange commented:
“Public events such as the Cape Pioneer Trek are a great platform for bringing people into the port environment and we are delighted to be part of this event for a fifth year. TNPA is focused on transforming South Africa's ports into 'people's ports’ that benefit and uplift their communities through tourism, leisure, recreation, sport, careers and business opportunities. The future Mossel Bay Waterfront development will one day allow us to host even more events of this nature. In addition, the fact that this race also benefits local schools appeals to us, since education is a key pillar within our own corporate social investment strategy. In and around Mossel Bay we have programmes in place to support our own adopted schools which include Indwe High School, Hillcrest High School, Garden Route Primary, Isalathiso Primary and Imekhaya Primary.”
Besides carrying a social responsibility, the event does well to bring the entire Klein Karoo alive with a festive atmosphere that carries throughout every one of the seven stages in store.
One of the biggest draw cards for spectators this year will come right at the start with the return of the ever popular Mossel Bay Prologue. The route offers cycling-fanatics a chance to watch top riders take on exhilarating cliff-hugging trails.
The route runs past the old Lighthouse, famous Mossel Bay Cave and the Point area. The prologue also crosses the famous Munro’s Bay beach, the place where Bartolomeu Dias set foot on African soil in 1488 – a fitting piece of history for the event. With a true pioneering spirit, Dias rounded the Cape of Good Hope at a considerable distance and after 30 days without seeing land entered what he named Aguada de São Brás (Bay of Saint Blaise —later renamed Mossel Bay).
With just three days to the start of the event, an excited Aneli Gerber from Mossel Bay Tourism invites the public to come join in on the fun:
“Mossel Bay Tourism is delighted to welcome the crew, riders and support teams for the Cape Pioneer Trek in Mossel Bay. The whole town is excited to be spectators to this event again this year. We wish the riders well and trust that all their training and perseverance will pay off for them. The public is welcome to cheer the riders on from the different spectator points along the route. These include The Point, Santos Beach and The Station/ Harbour area.”