McGregor’s Young Warriors
Situated in the Breede Valley, McGregor is a small village known for its tranquillity and laid back atmosphere. A popular destination for those seeking to get it away from it all, it is also well known to mountain bikers, with the Ride2Nowhere being held there every September. But for at least one resident, cycling represents much more than a favourite pastime.
‘Cycling is a great way to promote a healthy lifestyle among the local youth and expose them to career prospects outside of McGregor,’ says Max Menzies. ‘The McGregor Young Warriors project has been on the go for a couple of years now and has impacted positively on the lives of a number of the youngsters around here.’
Two years ago, WeChat donated seven bicycles, a storage container and R56,000 to the Breede Centre in McGregor. The idea was to establish a cycling program for the local kids, participation in the Ride2Nowhere being the goal. This proved the seed for greater things and, as Max explains, the Young Warriors project has continued to grow.
‘The main thing is for the local kids to have fun and also have events to look forward to. They participate in one PPA event per month, the two big events of the year being the Ride2Nowhere and the Cape Town Cycle Tour. It’s a very “hands-on” project, meaning that each kid gets involved in all aspects. From trail building to helping write articles and raising enough money to help pay their way to certain events, all of the Young Warriors have a hand in making things work. The Cycle Tour is a good example of this where each of our riders went out to work for the R800 needed to make that trip to happen. We’re not about handouts – we’re about empowering them and developing their life skills.’
With the help of Con Viljoen, the Young Warriors are currently in the process of building a pump track in McGregor. Once complete, it will have a youth centre and be equipped with WiFi and, most importantly, be open seven days a week. And while local cycling talent will no doubt start to show on the daily group rides, the bigger picture is what the Young Warriors project is all about.
‘We would like to eventually expand to other towns and get something similar going there,’ says Max. ‘Getting the kids on bikes and showing them the world outside of McGregor through event participation is greatly uplifting. While I’m sure some of these youngsters will develop into great riders if they want to, the emphasis is on fun and empowerment. Talent is a bonus.’