Pietermaritzburg – Martin Dreyer’s RMB Change a Life Academy recently enjoyed yet another historic moment in the grassroots development initiative’s journey when emerging marathon star Sthembiso Masango became the first ever black rider to be awarded KwaZulu-Natal colours for mountain biking.
Masango’s award was added good news for the outfit after he and team mate Mboneni Ngcobo also secured a highly commendable tenth place overall in the popular FNB Wines2Whales MTB stage race in the Western Cape a few weeks ago.
“Sthembiso’s award and his and Mboneni’s Wines2Whales effort goes to show just how far our RMB Change a Life Zulus have come in the past year or so,” said Dreyer.
“It is extremely pleasing to see all the hard work we have been putting into the programme is already starting to pay off as noticeably as this,” he added.
Masango received the award after his strong display at the 2014 Sunday Tribune Jeep Hill2Hill ultra-marathon event which also doubled as the year’s KZN MTB Marathon Championships.
“Sthembiso’s earning of KZN colours is extremely exciting!” said Chairperson of the KZN Mountain Bike Commission, Charles Roberts.
“On top of the countless hours in the saddle one has to put in in order to be successful, it is also an extremely expensive sport and so can be difficult for development riders to get into.
“This goes to show that it is possible to succeed in this sport and that he was prepared to go through quite a lot in order to obtain this achievement.”
“It makes the sport more accessible to the broader population as he gives his fellow riders something to aspire towards.”
Roberts also believes Masango’s achievement will play a significant role in the development of mountain biking in KwaZulu-Natal.
“This goes to show just what a great job Martin Dreyer is doing through his RMB Change a Life MTB Academy.
“The Western Cape have the very successful Songo programme and the Diepsloot Academy in Gauteng get a lot of coverage but development in KZN is something we are taking very seriously in KZN as well.
“We have started mountain bike programmes in nine of the eleven districts in KZN, with plans to roll out programmes in the final two shortly, and hopefully Sthembiso’s award is a sign that KZN is also now on the map.
“Sthembiso’s success also helps the cause of mountain biking in our provincial structures significantly as results such as these mean things are actually happening on the development front.
The Wines2Whales outing was a momentous few days for Masango, Ngcobo and Dreyer alike as life firsts like boarding an aircraft and cycling career dreams of finishing inside the top ten came true.
“TV commentator Gerald de Kock described the field as ’arguably the most competitive South African field in a mountain bike stage race, ever assembled’,” said Dreyer.
“The congratulations, well wishes and support from other riders in the race village was overwhelming; something Sthembiso & Mboneni had never experienced before!
“Coming from the distant Valley of a Thousand Hills, riding onto the beach at the finish was a fitting end to a fairytale MTB and life experience for our RMB Change a Life Zulus.”
While Masango and Ngcobo did battle up front and with John Ntuli busy preparing for his assault on the longest one day mountain bike race in the world – the 369km Desert Dash in Namibia – the less experienced pairing of Bongumusa Zikhali and Ndumiso Dontso learnt many a lesson en route to their 37th place finish.