Pietermaritzburg’s status as Africa’s ‘Bike City’ has been further entrenched by the significant upgrade to the velodrome situated at the Alexandra Park in the build up to its hosting of the 2015 African Track Championships from 21-25 January. Having hosted a number of world class events in the recent past, which included both the UCI MTB and Trials World Championships as well as the UCI MTB Marathon World Championships, the city has now taken on a number of African Championship events over the next two months with the Track Championships followed by the African Road Championships in February. Event Organiser Alec Lenferna has spearheaded a push to make the venue suitable to host the continental championships later this month but was also quick to point out the far-reaching implications of upgrading such an important facility.
“The velodrome is an important venue in terms of the growing of cycling in the province and upgrading and maintaining it is important. Although we will be hosting the African Track Championships there later in the month it can be used for so much more and it is a great place for youngsters to learn how to ride. The situation of the velodrome makes it an ideal venue for children to go and ride there safely and gain the confidence that they need to become the next generation of riders,” mentioned Lenferna. The venue was in need of a revamp and the organisers have been able to upgrade a number of the facilities that will turn the velodrome into a track that can host top class events going into the future. “We had to put in new lights so we could use the venue in the evenings, we cleaned up the track and replaced cracks as well as repainted all the lines and are in the process of clearing all the weeds from the track. The electrical systems have been upgraded and computer facilities are now available at the venue and there has been an upgrade to the ablution facilities. As much as the upgrade allows for the development of riders the revamping of the infrastructure means that the velodrome is now ready to be used more often!” added Lenferna.
Although the development of riders is something that the organisers of the event are committed to doing, growing cycling as a discipline is something that they have been doing and in recent months there have been a number of courses held to try and get people involved in the sport in other areas. “We have run a number of courses with a commissaire’s course in December as well as a mechanics course and a team managers course, which offer other people the chance to get into the sport even if they do not want to ride. We are investing in human capital and as important as it is to get the children riding bikes we are trying to invest in all aspects that will enhance Pietermaritzburg’s Bike City reputation,” he explained.
Entrance for spectators is free of charge. More information can be found at http://www.cyclingsa.com/2015-african-conti-track-champs
Photo: The Alexandra Park Velodrome has received a major facelift in recent times with the African Continental Track Championships taking place at the iconic Pietermaritzburg landmark from 21-25 January
Photo credit: Craig Dutton/ Gameplan Media