Pedal pals in Epic mountain bike race

Velokhaya pro riders, Mthetheleli Boya and Loyiso Fulu get in some bike time ahead of the start of the Cape Epic mountain bike race, which ended in Paarl, on Sunday.

Two cyclists from Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy, a non-profit organisation involved with positive after-school lifeskills activities in Khayelitsha, were among the riders who took part in the 16th edition of the “Untamed African Mountain Bike Race”, commonly known as the Cape Epic, which ended in Paarl, at the weekend.

Loyiso Fulu, 19, a matric pupil from Usasazo High School debuted in this year’s race with his partner, Mthetheleli Boya, 25, a fourth-year sports management student at Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

The duo, who took part in the gruelling eight-day-long race, are the latest in a long line of talented riders produced at Velokhaya.

Boya, who completed his second Cape Epic, said he has been a part of the Velokhaya family since he was 16.

Velokhaya Life Cycle Academy board member Luthando Kaka, himself a product of Velokhaya, said the two are riding quite well considering they are a new pairing for the event.

“Most of the time, they ride a road bike so it’s new for them to be in a mountain bike event. For newbies, they are doing quite well and, of course, this is the start to something great for them,” he said.

“Loyiso started cycling when he was 15, four years ago. He’s made steady progress. He’s very talented and a hard worker. He moved up into the pro team. He’s a senior now.

“Mthetheleli is one of the longest serving members. He’s got experience. He’s done the Epic before in 2017,” he said.

Kaka said that in April they will be among eight Velokhaya riders taking part in the Tour of Limpopo

He said since its humble beginnings in 2003, Velokhaya now caters for about 200 cyclists.

He said it was started as a registered NPO in Khayelitsha, at the back of a house, before it moved to its current location near Rands.

He said that Velokhaya is about more than just cycling. It has an information communication and technology (ICT) centre, a mini library and a mechanics workshop.

“It’s a conducive environment with what we are trying to achieve. We have about 200 cyclists, but only 80 have bikes, and some are using commuter bikes. We have developed a running programme for those without bicycles. We also have a full-time teacher based at Velokhaya to help with school work.

“The kids come from all over Cape Town, including Eerste River, Kuils River, Philippi and Khayelitsha. Our aim is to always get the kids from the previously disadvantaged areas,” he said.

Kaka said part of their aim is to get the youngsters off the streets after school, to give them something to better their lives, while fighting to eradicate alcohol and drug abuse.

“We would like to supply all our youngsters with bikes to better their lives.

“We always say to them that they must never allow their current circumstances or past events to put them down. They must work hard and think positive,” said Kaka.