Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

Namibia: Pedal to the Medal

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Cycling has received much attention over the past couple of months with legendary cyclist Lance Armstrong admitting that he doped during his Tour de France competitions. Most cycling fans around the world have expressed their disappointment as cycling is seldom riddled with such attention.

But one man's actions has not dampened the joy of riders here in Windhoek who are gearing up for this years' Nedbank Cycle Challenge. The event, which has become a highlight for the cycling community, will take place over 2 weekends. On 09 February, the " Nedbank mountain bike challenge"kicks off and on 16 February the "Nedbank kidz challenge" will be hosted and lastly the closing event, the "Nedbank Cycle challenge"will be hosted on 17 February. The closing date for entries was on the 02 February.

All eyes are on the Nedbank Mountain bike challenge which is still relatively new in the game. The first race of the Nedbank Mountain bike challenge took place in 2011.

According to Ian Grassow who is one of the organisers for the mountain bike challenge, they have received just under 400 applicants for the event. "For the first time, there will be 3 mountain bike distances, 15km,30km and 60km. The 60km route will take an average rider around 5 hours to complete so it will be a challenging route. The 60km route will include 30km's on the stunning Molteblik Farm which we acquired for the race courtesy of the River Crossing Lodge."

The terrain is picked specifically for the mountain bikes and promises to test the will and strengths of racers. He further added, "The Namibian Cycling Federation will be choosing riders to take part in the Mountain bike African championships in South Africa at the Nedbank challenge so we expect competition for the 60km to be quite fierce." Based on their arrangements the terrain for the 15km is meant for beginners but still requires a rider who is skilled in mountain bike racing. The 30km route will consist of both a single gravel track and a Jeep route and should create a fun experience for the riders.

In conclusion, the organisers urge the general public to adhere to the cycling rules but to also pay special attention to the environment. Grassow said, "We urge all riders to please make sure that their bikes are serviced recently and that they have thorn proofing for their tyres. We ask all riders to respect the beautiful terrain they will cycle on and that they should not litter at all."

The other cycling events will also prove to be entertaining especially for the cyclists. The Kidz challenge is directed to all the children who are 10 years and younger. It will involve a 2 hour race within the vicinity of Windhoek. The Cycle Challenge will take place on 17 February. Four different challenge routes will be demarcated for the racers: those taking 20 km, 35km, 75km and 100km routes.

The start of the race will be at Independence avenue and the finish will be at Windhoek Gymnasium School.

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