Aiming for top cycling honours
27 October 2020 | Sports
NCCS, formed in 2011, produced their best results in 2018, when they ended second in the two-man team and sixth in the four-man team, results which they aim to better.
The Nedbank Desert Dash bucket list event, is a gruelling 373km endurance race across the Khomas Hochland and through the Namib Desert over 24 hours.
NCCS team principal, Eben Iita, says that while the four-man team has already been registered and will be sponsored by Nedbank Namibia, they are organising sponsorship for up to three solo riders and support vehicles to participate in the Dash. “Thank you so much for great companies like Indongo Toyota for their willingness to support.
“The Nedbank Desert Dash offers an opportunity for previously disadvantaged cyclists to compete with the best riders from all over the world. We now have the experience of competing at the top, so we believe we can challenge for top honours,” he said.
NCCS has already participated in competitions sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), held in South Africa, Swaziland and Botswana where they have performed far beyond their expectations.
On why he saw the need for a cycling team from Katutura, Iita says the idea came to him when he took up the sport as a lifestyle change to lose weight. “I met up with Lotto Petrus, a two-time Namibian champion and one-time African champion, who said we should help boys from Katutura who cannot afford to join established teams. We started with three riders in 2011 and now we have more than seven professional riders,” he said.
Lotto recently made news headlines when a motorist knocked him off his bike while on a training ride on the Western Bypass. Luckily, the soft spoken and humble cyclist did not suffer extensive injuries.
Iita adds that the team continues to grow and has started an amateur team called Etameko Cycling Club, whose main aim is to develop the sport in the western suburbs.
They have also joined hands with Physically Active Youth (PAY) to recruit youngsters interested in the sport and to develop them by offering sporting opportunities.
On how the team has been received by their local community, Iita says they are very happy to see the youth taking up a sport previously reserved for the elite. “Our people are more attuned to football and boxing, but with our team, we are working hard to make our people aware of cycling as a sport. We are also hoping companies can support the development of the sport in the previously disadvantaged communities.”
He is also confident that with proper development structures and talent identification programmes, Namibia has the potential to produce world-class cyclists to challenge even the world-best cycling nations.
Trials and tribulations
Iita added that it is not smooth sailing in the cycling world, as they face many trials; he says last year they missed out on an opportunity to participate in a competition in Mauritius because of lack of funds.
He also noted cycling equipment is expensive, with quality bikes said to cost more than N$100 000—an amount most cyclists in the team cannot afford. “Not only are the bikes expensive, but you also need different bikes for different races. For example, our riders usually use normal bikes for time trials, which already places them at a 10-second disadvantage when competing with a rider who has a time-trial bike. This lack of resources makes it difficult for us to implement all the projects we have planned,” Iita explained.
He said maintaining the bikes is another cost, as during endurance races you need support vehicles, supplements, a masseur, proper cycling shoes and uniforms. “However, we are looking at using these challenges as motivation to work hard and making cycling one of the biggest sports codes in Namibia.”
NCCS plans to start developing cyclists from a younger age, and will soon invite people to donate old bicycle frames that can be re-assembled and used to train children as young as five years old.
The Nedbank Desert Dash race starts in Windhoek on Friday, 11 December and ends in Swakopmund 24 hours later.