Cycling coach a real pedal pal

Cycling coach Zarina van Schalkwyk in relaxed mood following a heavy training session with her young riders at Bellville velodrome, at the weekend.

Zarina van Schalkwyk, 54, from Plumstead has always been passionate about cycling.

Quick to hop onto the saddle when a cousin introduced her to the joys of pedaling around the block during her teen years.

Van Schalkwyk has spent the better part of her life promoting the sport and getting youngsters to ride their bikes like a pro.

A coach at the northern suburbs-based Kinetic Cycling Club, Van Schalkwyk and her fellow coaches are preparing a group of young riders from across the city to take part in the national track cycling championships, in Pietermaritzburg, in January.

Originally from Salt River, Van Schalkwyk said she took a bit of a break from the sport following the death of her husband, Colin, an avid cyclist who died during a motor vehicle accident while on his bike near Woodbridge Island, in Milnerton, in 2009.

At the time, the Van Schalkwyks had started up a cycling academy but it was put on the backburner after the accident. Fast forward a few years to 2012 and she was back in the swing of things.

Excited to see her charges compete against the best in the country, Van Schalkwyk and co have been hard at work putting the youngsters through their paces at the Bellville velodrome ahead of next month’s competition.

If anything, 2020 has not been kind to anyone with plans to compete in major competitions.

And, in what was to be the last major sporting event of the year in the city, Van Schalkwyk said she was standing on Suikerbossie Hill during the Cape Town Cycle Tour and went into theater just days later to undergo the first of three major surgical procedures – the following two happened during the lockdown period.

However, she was back at training as soon as her health and the lockdown restrictions allowed, barking instructions at the young riders speeding by on their bikes during track training sessions.

“I work mainly with the youth, she said, “ anyone from age 8 to 23 but also help out with our elite riders.

“Normally we train once a week on a Wednesday, but because the SA championships are coming soon, we’ve added an extra day, normally a Saturday or Sunday,” she said.

Kinetic Cycling Club chairman, O’Ryan Bruintjies, said the club, which was established 20 years ago, has always had a strong focus on youth development.

He said they had always tried to send at least one team abroad every year to compete at international events, but that fund-raising is always a major headache.

“We are one of the biggest, if not the biggest, cycling development clubs in the country, based on numbers, based on our performance and administration,” he said.

“We appeal to the community and business to support us in this regard,” he said.

● If you can help, call Bruintjies on 083 532 3445.