Botswana: Cycling Tackles Covid-19 Impact

Gaborone — While the world is in a panic mode due to coronavirus outbreak, the world of sports has also taken strain due to the pandemic.

Various sporting codes have suspended and cancelled events due to this pandemic.

Cycling has not been spared either, as already it has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

International races were cancelled like such as the UAE Tour with a couple of cyclists quarantined as suspected cases.

Regionally and closer to home, the same applies as the 2020 Absa Cape Epic got cancelled and the Tour de Limpopo postponed to a later date.

The local cycling calendar also got a knock as Botswana Cycling Association (BCA) cancelled all race events following imposition of restrictions by government to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

"Sadly, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has not spared anyone," said Tsela Riders chairperson, Ediretse Ramahobo. A development cycling club, Tsela Riders find themselves in a very uncomfortable position as they now have to reschedule their training plan.

The club started the year on a high note with two competitive road races locally; Jwaneng general manager's Charity Cycle and Komatsu Kgosi Malope Cycle, as well as another highly competitive road race in South Africa, the Cape Town Cycle tour.

Ramahobo indicated that as a club, they took health and safety issues seriuosly hence they adhered to the call by government to take precautionary measures against the virus.

"During this most difficult period, the most important thing is to ensure our members are kept well informed with the latest information regarding COVID-19," stated Ramahobo.

He said they update their members through the club's whatsapp groups with official information from government and relevant information from reliable sources like World Health Organisation.

Regarding training plans, Ramahobo said the club captain continued to share the training schedules tailor made for solo-rides.

He also noted that members had been advised and cautioned that in the likely event that a rider ended up finding other riders along the route, they should maintain the one to two metre spacing between themselves.

He said members, who have other alternatives such as indoor training were encouraged to make use of them, saying that was the best they could offer to members under the circumstances.

He also applauded their sponsor, GetSure for the invaluable support they had shown the club during this trying time.

"Our sponsor GetSure has also been generous enough to ensure there is constant supply of hand sanitisers to club members to enhance hygiene," Ramahobo noted.

He further expressed gratitude as a club towards BCA for suspending all races, saying the decision would take pressure off riders.

Ramahobo indicated that the impending lockdown would also have serious impact on riders' fitness and also dampen training as the winter season was setting in.

However, he said they would continue to closely monitor the development on COVID-19 and would adjust their training programmes with a view to protect cyclists from exposure at any given time.

For 17-year-old national junior champion, Lebopo Mompe of Tsela Riders club, although the virus had affected his appetite to do more races especially in South Africa, this gave him an opportunity to focus more on endurance rides.

"Now that races are cancelled and postponed, it gives me a chance to now train more and do endurance rides," stated Mompe. He said those rides assisted him particularly in increasing his cardiovascular and VO2 max. Furthermore, Mompe said he also engaged in indoor-training as a way to keep fit and in preparation for the races post COVID-19.

The pandemic has also affected bicycle sales even locally.

One of the bicycle shops, Cycle Base in Sebele Centre is one such point of sale that is experiencing an impact of COVID-19 outbreak. Peak time for bike shops and service centres is the race period, but with the suspension of races, business is on the low.

"This outbreak has caused a lot of panic, with business sales flactuating."

With most races being cancelled, it means less revenue for bike shops market because now the market is inactive. "The race period is when people service bikes, buy accessories and parts and buy bikes," said Cycle Base Shop manager, Jerry Kokwane.

He said since the outbreak there had been uncertainty among people, especially with regard to their training plans.

Kokwane indicated that cyclists had been encouraged to use turbo trainers for indoor training.

However, with the product availabile only in South Africa, Kokwane said they had now run short of them due to the lockdown in South Africa.

"We ran out of stock since South Africa's lockdown and now business had been greatly affected."

BCA president, Mmetla Masire indicated that COVID-19 outbreak had affected them especially that some continental championships were cancelled, which could had been beneficial to local riders.

"The Africa Continental Road Race Championships that were scheduled for Mauritius were going to give Botswana cyclists a chance to qualify for the Olympics and also give them ranking points," stated Masire, further adding that the outbreak had also affected training as group trainings had been reduced to keeping a 1-2 metre distance.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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