Cycling towards prestige

Jeanette Diergaardt
Jeanette Diergaardt

Twenty-two St. George’s Diocesan School learners start their holiday this month with a 500 km cycle challenge that will take them across parts of southern Namibia.

On 16 June 2022, a group of learners start the #iride4hella challenge, in honour of the late Hella Rust, who played a pivotal role in the cycling community of Namibia and at the school.

“The fact that we are doing this, is because we want to honour her legacy,” said Sybille Schroeter, head of the department of student affairs. Rust was a key player in the college’s annual cycling challenge and founded the initiative in 2016.

The journey will start at Weissenfels guest farm, 110km from Windhoek, on Thursday, and take the cyclists onto the dirt roads of Sossusvlei towards their end destination at Lüderitz. The ride back home starts on 27 June.

“It is quite a unique challenge,” said Lezél Amoraal- Füscher, marketing manager at the St. George’s school.

Grade 10 learner and first-time participant in the challenge, Talishi Itembu, said, “Despite all the difficulties I might face, I am determined to make it through the challenge.”

Itembu is excited to take part, even though she only recently started cycling.

A seasoned cyclist is also part of the team. Nathan Chase is a junior cyclist as well as a triathlon athlete. He advised his fellow cyclists and teammates to service their bikes in the evening, to stay hydrated and to eat regularly, even if they don’t feel hungry.

“A cramp or hunger can come upon you very suddenly and it’s painful and hard to get rid of,” he said.

The young cyclist looks forward to riding the Remhoogte Pass and practising his wheelies.

One step closer

St George’s is the only Namibian school that is part of the Round Square global network of schools, which challenges schools and learners to complete a number of challenges, as well as contribute positively to the community, to ultimately compete for the prize of ‘Round Square White Blazers’.

The blazers are prestigious symbols, not easily come by. The cycle challenge, which fulfils the adventure component, provides students with one step closer to white blazer glory.

To qualify for a blazer, a learner has to tick six topical pillars: internationalism, democracy, leadership, environmentalism, adventure, and service. There are a certain number of hours required for each of the pillars.

Before the pandemic hit, the cycling challenge included routes that wound through the Zambezi region into neighbouring countries such as Botswana and to the popular Victoria Falls.

Round Square connects over 250 schools in 50 countries globally.