Swakopmund - It is that time of the year again as the annual Nedbank Desert Dash gears up to invade our shores stacked with abundant talent from the Land of the Brave.
The four-person team worth keeping your eyes on is without an iota of doubt the Nedbank Private Wealth/ Mannie’s Bike Mecca (#MBM) Racing Team, of Tjipe Murangi, Alex Miller, Herbert Peters and Vianney Links.
Miller is arguably one of the most talented young cyclists in the business and has taken the world of cycling by storm participating in numerous, rigorous international race while Peters, is another well-decorated rider with up-and-coming Links, also adding a strong element to the cycling quartet.
“The remaining team member, Murangi, is a multiple category winner of the Nedbank Desert Dash and his experience is likely to serve this fairly young team well in slugging it out with their top competitors for a spot on the winner’s podium,” says Gernot de Klerk, Head: Marketing and Communications at Nedbank.
The Desert Dash has attracted over 1 000 riders from 14 different countries cycling in solo, two-person and four-person slots.
This team displays massive potential, with young riders who have consistently shown their talent in local races complimented by the strong leadership of the more senior, accomplished riders.
Murangi looks forward to the Nedbank Desert Dash each year, as it is an enthusing way to end the cycling calendar, allowing him to meet up with fellow cyclists.
“Our team is very young and it is quite exciting to watch the younger generation joining cycling. It’s a good way to keep fit and healthy while the open air does your mind wonders.”
Completing the Dash is an illustrious achievement all cyclists want to add behind their names or tick off on their list. The months in preparation for the final event require a dedicated training programme and the right mindset.
Throughout training, the team has benefited from the support of #MBM’s Mannie Heymans, a celebrated local cyclist who has propelled the sport in our country to new heights through coaching as well as supplying equipment.
“The Desert Dash is not only a physical challenge but also a mental endurance challenge. There is no easy or quick way to conquer the Dash, and the time in the saddle before the race, as cyclists say, is what makes all the difference. After all the hard work, the rush of tackling the treacherous route is an experience that stays with you forever,” comments Heymans.
Nedbank has also supported the team and plans on being on the sidelines for the entire race. Cornell Meeks, Head: Nedbank Private Wealth says,
“Just like our own team based at Am Weinberg, this young cycling team has been selected for their tenacity and absolute commitment to do good. We will be cheering them on all the way to the finish line in Swakopmund.”
Nedbank has a long history of advancing competitive cycling in Namibia, stretching back to 1986 when the first competitive race was held in Namibia, which is now known as the Nedbank Cycle Challenge.
Besides focusing on national events, including supporting the Namibian Cycling Federation on numerous national cycling championships, Nedbank has also supported continental showpieces and has developed lasting partnerships to open up international opportunities for local cyclists, including the Olympic and Commonwealth Games.
With more Namibians competing on the international stage, the next generation of cyclists have been inspired to “emulate their example” Gernot explains further highlighting that the company is committed to propelling Namibia to be one of the top countries for courses and tracks.
“The quality of races held locally serve as a benchmark for our credibility to host top international events, and we are already starting to see the results, with Namibia having secured the hosting rights for next year’s African Continental MTB Championship”.
“The Nedbank Desert Dash, a great example of a high-quality race held locally, is unlike any other race in our country and the world. With 40% of this year’s participants coming from beyond our country’s borders, the international interest is growing.
“Our young cyclists can learn immensely from their exposure to some of the world’s top endurance cyclists. This will help Namibia in its quest to become a continental and global cycling force,” Gernot explains.
At the end of the day, whichever cyclist or team you support, the amount of training and effort that goes into preparing and participating in this type of race for all competitors is remarkable.
“The brave cyclists, who return year after year to test themselves against the stark challenges posed by participating in the world’s longest single-stage mountain bike race in the world, deserve all of our admiration”.
For those in Swakopmund, the finish line at the Platz am Meer Shopping Mall tomorrow will be a hive of activity as family, friends and cycling enthusiasts welcome home the weary, but supremely satisfied and proud cyclists.