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From the Cabinet to the streets of Joburg: Fikile Mbalula is training hard to Ride for a Purpose in the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge scheduled for November, when cyclists will raise funds for charity.
SPORTS and Recreation Minister, Fikile Mbalula, has accepted the challenge – the Cycle Challenge, that is – and has entered the race, scheduled to take place on 18 November.

Sports minister Fikile Mbalula (Photo: Tim Moolman)Cycling is great, says sports minister Fikile Mbalula (Photo: Tim Moolman)Mbalula announced his participation in the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge at a briefing on 13 April at the Primedia Broadcasting offices in Sandton, home to one of the sponsors, 94.7 Highveld Stereo. He was joined by Primedia’s head of news and current affairs, Yusuf Abramjee; head of brand at Momentum, Danie van den Bergh; and 94.7 radio presenters Darren “Whackhead” Simpson and Sam Cowen, who will also cycle in November’s challenge.

“Cycling is great,” Mbalula said. “It is part and parcel of a healthy lifestyle, but it is enjoyable too.”

Adding to his enjoyment is the knowledge that his participation in the race will contribute to a good cause. A key feature of the race is the Ride for a Purpose campaign, which was launched in 2010 as a platform to raise funds and awareness for charities or to ride in memory of a loved one.

A few of the charities supported include CHOC (Childhood Cancer Foundation of South Africa), Afrika Tikkun, MAD (Make A Difference), Pink Drive and Child Abuse Prevention.

“An important part of the race is riding for a purpose and recognising the plight of ordinary people,” Mbalula said. “I will be riding for my foundation, which is opening in June; the foundation will focus on sending young girls to school and mentoring them.”

Mbalula is already taking his training for the race very seriously. “Every morning I cycle from 4am to 5.30am, and then go to work,” he said. With all of this training, he is hoping to complete the race in three hours.

Encouraging a culture of participation in sport is important, but it is necessary to create a space for people to engage in their sport, particularly cycling, in safety. “Safety is of paramount importance, so I call on municipalities to make space for people to cycle by creating multipurpose lanes to ensure safety.”

The well-being of cyclists is also a priority for organisers of the Cycle Challenge, which is why the race enjoys full road closures on the route on the day; it now boasts the motto “Joburg’s safest race”.

Ready to take on the 94.7 kilometres (Photo: Tim Moolman)Ready to take on the 94.7 kilometre cycle challenge (Photo: Tim Moolman)With the race’s focus on safety, fun and riding for a good cause, it is unsurprising that it is so popular, attracting approximately 25 000 riders every year. Places get snapped up quickly, so organisers urge people interested in participating to get their entries in as soon as possible. “Over 3 000 entries are already in,” Abramjee said.

For those who secure their places in the race, there will be a lot to look forward to this year, with the usual high standards of the race being maintained.

This year’s route will follow the new and improved one introduced in 2010, involving a round-the-city loop which highlights regenerated areas and landmarks such as the Nelson Mandela Bridge and Gandhi Square; the route is a winding and scenic 97.4 kilometres.

There will also be 10 water points along the route, as well as one at the finish line to revive tired riders. Powerzones will also be strategically located along the route to provide some much-needed encouragement to riders.

The race is renowned for testing the mettle of even the toughest rider, but Mbalula is confident that it can be overcome and that everyone should give it a shot.  “Everyone can do it, so I call on all to enter. Let’s do this; it is good for the country,” he said.

For more information on the Cycle Challenge, and to enter it, visit the website or contact the race office on 011 017 2700.

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