Saturday, December 9, 2023

Combining the love for cycling and charitable causes

I cannot safely say I have met anyone who is more passionate and enthusiastic about their hobby as Tsela Riders Cycling Club chairman Charles Vaughan. His face lights up at the mere mention of the word cycling. 

Our 30 minute conversation about the sport turns to a very short 2 hours as Vaughan takes Lifestyle on his cycling journey for the past 7 years. Despite what seems like a significant growth in the sport over the past few years cycling cannot grow fast enough for Vaughan.
“I’m not happy about the pace at which the sport is growing,” he says. “Some people still won’t take cycling because of the ‘expensive’ stereotypical image associated with the sport.” He says cycling is not for the affluent as some people choose to believe. 

“Everything that you buy from the bicycle itself, to the gear is just a once off payment,” he says, adding “…and once you have everything you need you never have to worry about incurring any more costs.” Although he has owned a bicycle for the better part of his life it was not until 2009 that he was convinced to take up cycling as a hobby. The gym was where he spent more time spinning, lifting weights, and doing aerobics. It was only when a friend tried to recruit him that he gave cycling a consideration. 

A huge fan of American champion cyclist Lance Armstrong while growing up Vaughan thought it might be time to emulate his icon. Having excelled in spinning back at the gym taking to cyclic was like fish in water. 

“I dusted off my old bike and started doing solo rides along the Gaborone A1 before eventually deciding to join a club.” He says it was while riding on the A1 that he met other riders through whom he learnt about various cycling clubs across the city. Tsela Riders was his preferred club. He joined the club in 2010 and has never looked back. Vaughan has since taken part in countless major races across the country. 

While most people have taken up cycling as a hobby or sport to stay fit and healthy, Vaughan has combined this with his love for giving back to the less fortunate. He is passionate about riding for charity causes as evidenced by his most recent 1000 km Ride for Pink where he joined other cyclists under ‘Team Chainring’ to race funds for Cancer Association Botswana (CAB). The team had partnered with Nando’s Botswana.

They began their Ride for Pink on the 8th of May and completed their 1000km journey for cancer awareness on the 14th of May from Maun to Gaborone. The initiative was an idea borne from the need to increase cancer awareness across Botswana, especially in the peripheries, through sharing critical statistical data and general information about the disease. “If we are going to ride for fun we might as well do something to give back to the community while we are at it,” Vaughan says. Since January 2016 Vaughan’s Tsela Riders Cycling Club has participated and/or organised three successful tours for charity. They have worked in collaboration with other clubs. Beneficiaries in their previous events have included Tsogang Trust which is an organization based in Mogoditshane caring for orphans and vulnerable children.
He is also concerned about the lack of sponsorship for the sport especially from the government. He says very little goes towards the Botswana Cycling Association (BCA) when funds for various sporting codes are allocated. He would love to see more women and children take up cycling. “Women especially, are not forthcoming when it comes to cycling and that needs to change.” Following a recent accident involving a cyclist and a motorist that claimed the former’s life Vaughan advocates for safer infrastructure for the cycling community. “There are not enough cycling paths across the city and this poses a risk for cyclists as they have to constantly come into contact with reckless drivers.” 


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