1050 Bicycles distributed in Gauteng with City of Joburg this May

Bicycles change lives… and this team have collectively donated more than 25 000 bicycles to South Africans in need!

 

South Africa (23 January 2020) – Douglas Ryder is Team Principal at NTT Pro Cycling (formerly Team Dimension Data). A cycling icon in his own right, Doug captained the South African national cycling team from 1993 to 2002 and competed in the Olympics at Atlanta in 1996, as well as several World Championships. Doug is also a long-time supporter of Qhubeka Charity and shares their belief that bicycles change lives. He and the teams he’s led over the years have contributed enormously to raising awareness and funding bicycles for our programmes.

As NTT Pro Cycling prepares for the 2020 season and the next phase of its journey, we caught up with Doug to hear what’s on his agenda and why he remains so committed to Qhubeka.

What does it mean to you and the team to have raised funds for more than 25 000 bicycles to date?

It means everything to the team and me, and we are truly proud of that impact. We never really looked at a total number, although the dream was to contribute significantly to getting beyond 100 000 bicycles for Qhubeka, which happened in October 2019. That was really special as that was a goal for 2020.
For us, it was about setting a target each season, and we did this by creating the Qhubeka 5 000 to attempt to use the team’s success and our partners’ involvement to benefit Qhubeka, and to connect with our fan base to raise funds to contribute 5 000 bikes per annum to Qhubeka. We topped out at over 7 000 bikes in a year, and that is testament to the full team coming together.

Why is Qhubeka so important to you?

When Anthony Fitzhenry (Qhubeka’s founder) and I first met, and we shared our dreams, we soon realised that this was more than just getting people onto bicycles so that they could be mobile and gain access to so many things. It was also about opening the recipients’ eyes to a sport that, for the most part, they did not know existed. The more people we could mobilise on bikes together, the more chances we had to recruit future cyclists into cycling as a sport. Africa deserves to be in cycling at the highest level; we created a team to give African riders their chance to shine in the world of cycling and show their talent. But it all starts with that first bike, and that is why Qhubeka is so important to us and so important in moving Africa forward.

Please tell us about your recent trip to visit the Qhubeka projects in Groot Marico.

Leaving Johannesburg and driving three hours to Groot Marico arriving in this rustic town, steeped in history, as the sun is setting surrounded by the beautiful African bushveld, is truly an incredible experience. And then to drive to the farm where warehouses host many community workers who have been responsible for assembling and quality-assessing 50 000 bicycles to date is a privilege.

As you arrive, there are Qhubeka bicycles parked everywhere as almost everyone rides to work. Under the guidance and care of Arno and Beate, who run the Madikwe Rural Development Program (MRDP), this is a place of joy where every individual realises the responsibility they have to produce a product they know will give incredible hope and happiness.

I also enjoyed the banter around the Qhubeka beaded bracelets being made with nimble fingers while the crafters were discussing community issues and where will these bracelets end up, at the Tour de France? Where is that? We took a short drive to Koffiekraal where Tiny and her team make the Qhubeka Shweshwe musette bags with such colour, care and delight. This is a must-do trip.

Tell us about the new team colours.

In 2020, our team has a new title partner in NTT Ltd, which is a global technology services company. Our colours will change from the dynamic green and white we had with Dimension Data to now blue and white with NTT Ltd. It is like we have lifted off the grass straight into the sky, reaching for the stars and landing on the clouds.

What are some of the challenges you’re facing as a team, and what will get you through them?

We are no longer seen as an underdog team. We are seen as a high-performing purpose-driven, performance-led, technology-enabled cycling team that had an incredible rise in cycling and saw huge success early.

The last two years, we have been challenged with inconsistent performance due to many factors, including illness, injury, visas and other stuff that happens in this sport and in the world today.

We are working very hard on our culture to unite the team and be better connected. We are leveraging the expertise of our partners to help us make more informed and better decisions using all we have at our disposal, from technology to the experience in our incredible staff.

Sport is always hard to predict, and that is why it is so exciting to be in sport. We have learnt through the challenging years we have had and look forward to 2020.

What are your key plans for the team for 2020? What are you most excited about?

Our plans are to score UCI points, improve and continuously monitor our WorldTeam ranking based on our strengths. We aim to win races, starting with the Spring Classics, and for our riders to have a deeper commitment to the team, focusing on culture, accountability and ownership of the performances. Next season is a busy one with the Olympic Games thrown in, but I am most excited about the riders we have. We have strengthened our team with younger riders, some of whom are “outliers” in terms of their capability and I look forward to seeing them surprise in 2020.

It’s been an epic journey to this point. Can you summarise your feelings on this wild ride so far?

It has been an epic journey, a huge emotional roller coaster with incredible highs and lows at times. But when you dream of doing something, and it happens, it is a privilege to be a part of it. I was always motivated by looking in the eyes of the riders and seeing if they truly believed they could go all the way, and that is what drives me every day. It is the hope you can see when a Qhubeka beneficiary receives a bike, the smile on their faces knowing that they are now independent with the opportunity to move forward.

I love what I do.


Sources: Douglas Ryder
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Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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