In the big field of mountain bikers that will gather at the start of the aQuellé Tour Durban MTB races powered by CycleLab outside Cornubia Mall on Saturday 27 November will be nineteen pupils from Hillcrest Primary School, many of them riding their first MTB event.
The project is a fundraiser started by the pupils themselves to support the Sanctuary Project that carries out sterilisations on dogs and cats in the greater Upper Highway area, and has gathered momentum in the fledging school MTB training group run by experienced riders Amy-Jane Newcombe-Bond and Rose Owen.
For the eager young riders the Covid-19 lockdowns robbed them of most of the events that they would have targeted, until the novice-friendly 20km aQuellé Tour Durban MTB ride was confirmed, with an age limit that paved the way for the primary school pupils to enter.
“For most of them it will be their first race!” confirmed Owen. “Our training group ranges from Grade 3 to Grade 7 and there is a lot of excitement in the group for the aQuellé Tour Durban MTB ride, and a few nervous parents as well, I can tell you,” she added.
One of the training group is Nikita Wilson, who has been a committed fundraiser and volunteer for the Sanctuary Project, and quickly the idea of entering the 20km MTB took root as a group fund-raising effort.
“We initially set a target of raising R1500, but we passed that in the blink of an eye,” said Owen.
“We adjusted the target to R3000 and we have already passed that in a week so, almost unbelievably, we have now set our total at R6000.
“That will cover the costs of a lot of sterilisations in the valley, and, importantly the process of education that goes along with each visit,” said Owen.
The ride will be the culmination of many months of training and fitness directed by the experienced MTB rider Newcombe-Bond, and with the added weight of the fund-raiser, it will be a landmark occasion for the primary school athletes.
“We will manage the ride in small bite-sized chunks, and to complete this ride will be such an achievement for these young men and women,” said Owen. “And every cent that is raised will help the Sanctuary Project help more dogs and cats”