A brand-spanking new riding kit awaited me as I entered the hotel room in a town south of Dijon. Good kit it was, too – fitted well, top quality, understated design.
Two days later, having ridden some fabulous terrain with excellent company – including FdJ pro riders – eaten terrific food and drunk probably the finest wine I have ever tasted, the jersey and shorts were effectively redundant. My club kit is the preferred outfit for most rides, with a couple of back-ups for occasions when it’s in the wash. What to do with this stuff?
If you don’t hate me already for these first-world cycling journalist problems, please read on.
Things had reached breaking point at home. The endlessly-patient Mrs C, with the ability to forgive a never-ending stream of bidons cluttering up the kitchen cupboards, had snapped when it came to the Ventoux-like pile of shorts and jerseys I’d be sifting through in the bedroom when deciding what to wear. Something had to go.
Matt Brammeier was my unlikely saviour. As a pro rider for Dimension Data, he ends every season with a pile of unworn kit, wondering who might make use of it. Having met team-mate Adrien Niyonshuti and been inspired by the Rwandan’s story and his determination to reach the professional ranks, Brammeier launched the Africa Rising Kit Appeal, sending clothing to help young riders at Niyonshuti’s cycling academy back home in Rwanda
It rapidly snowballed. What started as a few donations from fellow pros and amateurs alike soon became an unstoppable tide as major manufacturers added their contributions to the appeal.
Brammeier has had to learn about logistics, customs and excise, and a host of complications not normally found within the skillset of a pro bike rider. He has pulled in favours, scoured his contacts book and made things happen. Hats off to the Irishman.
If you’d like to help make thing happen too, go to the africakitappeal.com website and see how to get involved. Apart from cycling kit (medium size or smaller) what they really need is cash to pay for import duty to Africa. Any fundraising ideas most welcome.
After all, as the Qhubeka and Dimension Data motto goes, bicycles change lives – three simple words that say it all. You can help make that change.
A fund raising dinner for Qhubeka, The Girona Gala, takes place in October, with special guests, a fine four-course Catalan meal and a ride with Dimension Data pro riders