An unshakeable belief that the Tshwane Classic will become one of the country’s premier road cycling races was at the forefront of Mauritz Meyer’s mind as tirelessly worked to establish the first edition of Pretoria’s signature mass participation road cycling event in a totally traffic free environment last year.
Meyer, the epitome of life after retirement, is the founder of the Tshwane Classic and he is the driving force behind a bid to elevate the occasion to that of the other city mass participation road races in South Africa – the Cape Town Cycle Tour and 947 Cycle Challenge.
As it turned out the race proved itself beyond all expectations last year with more than 5000 cyclists taking part in the inaugural edition.
This year the race is presented on 4 November, in association with Jacaranda FM and Sun Time Square, and the sails are set for significant growth in participant totals following large scale buy-in from the Tshwane Metro and the local community as well as business sector partners Jacaranda FM and Sun Time Square.
Meyer, who has a legacy in politics and Springbok rugby, said a discussion with councillor Sakkie du Plooy, MMC for Health in Tshwane, had paved the way to get the Tshwane Metro excited about the Tshwane Classic.
“I was telling Sakkie what we were trying to achieve, and he was very enthusiastic. He promised to introduce me to the council and that played a big role in making this happen.”
Once Meyer had met with the council, he said everybody got behind the project as they wanted to use the occasion to promote Tshwane as a top tourist destination and display the hosting capability of South Africa’s capital.
“That is why we have created a route that starts and finishes at the Voortrekker Monument and goes past landmarks such as the Union Buildings, the Paul Kruger Statue, Freedom Park and Wonderboom Airport,” he said.
Consolidating the Tshwane Metro’s support of the event was their agreement to total road closure for the 98km, 60km and 20km races, which Meyer said was a crucial element for the success of the event.
Besides the backing of the Tshwane Metro, he said he had received a hugely encouraging reaction from the local community and business leaders. “At the outset I sent a letter explaining our idea to all the cycling clubs and stakeholders in the region and the feedback I received was so positive that I could hardly sleep,” he said.
He added that, thanks to the Tshwane Metro’s roads maintenance team, the roads being used on the route were in excellent condition and would make for yet another safe and exciting event.
“With an excellent route, the backing of the Tshwane Metro and support from the local community and incredible sponsors, everything is in our favour to make this a must-do race on all cyclists’ calendars annually.”
Although not a cyclist himself, Meyer is passionate about the sport. The Bestmed Cycle4Cansa Championship, presented by Optimum Financial Services at Sun City, also falls in his stable of events.
His first venture into cycling came 15 years ago when he worked at the North-West University and wanted to raise funds to assist students in need.
“After the rector told me some students did not have enough money for food, I decided to organise a cycle race to assist them and we did the Bestmed Campus2Campus event, from Potch to Vanderbijlpark,” said Meyer.
He said he later met seasoned race organiser Wynand de Villiers and he became increasingly involved in cycling races. “I retired seven years ago and moved to Pretoria, where my daughter lives.”
His retirement didn’t last long, however, and his focus is now on “making the Tshwane Classic the best race it can be.
“I love the people of Tshwane. They are friendly, and the cycling community is unbelievably supportive. I am really excited because the Tshwane Classic has the potential to become the country’s biggest cycling event.”