Business partners and mountain biking novices, Francois Retief and Russell Looms have taken up an impressive challenge that will see them donning lycra, learning to mountain bike and taking on the three day stage FNB Wines2Whales (W2W) Mountain Bike (MTB) Ride, all in the same year, in support of the FNB W2W Crèche Educational Initiative.
Co-owners and founders of EPT, a South African based company specialising in health wellness, Francois and Russell are both qualified Biokineticists and advanced sports massage therapists that are usually on the other side of the fence at events fulfilling the role of official Sport Massage Service Provider.
According to Retief, he entered W2W for two reasons. “I wanted to experience what the riders experience. More importantly I also wanted to give back to society and the community, what better way than by supporting the event’s charity. I know that W2W is a lot of fun. It’s well organized with well built and maintained tracks and lots of single track. Russell and I make a great partnership. We can laugh together and cry together. We’re also sure to have a weight advantage on the downhills. The FNB W2W Crèche Educational Initiative lies close to our hearts as we both have young children. We love to help people, educate and make a difference. The FNB W2W Crèche Educational Initiative ticked all the boxes.”
Looms proudly professes that up until this year, he had not ridden further than 1 meter on a mountain bike. “Francois and I will proudly be riding in the Whale Category,” laughs Looms. “We are both passionate about our families, our business and giving back to the less fortunate. Our team goal is to ‘ride for the children’. We are thankful to the guys at BMT that have been guiding us. They’ve insured that we’ve invested in the proper gear and also take great care of our bikes and equipment. Chris is also a huge supporter of W2W and the W2W Crèche Educational Initiative. The support that we’ve received so far has been overwhelming. We’re extremely privileged and cannot wait to get to the start line.”
“W2W is the best three day stage race in the Western Cape,” says Chris Norton, Owner of BMT Bike Shop in Stellenbosch. “It supports the local communities along the route, a concept that BMT strongly supports. Francois and Russell have chosen to ride for a great cause. BMT strongly supports this kind of community spirit. We are proud to support them on their journey and look forward to witnessing their progress. We will definitely help where possible to ensure that they get to the end comfortably.”
The FNB W2W Crèche Educational Initiative was launched in 2016 as part of the event’s continued drive to make a sustainable difference to the communities that feature along the event’s route. Four crèches in Bot River and one crèche in Lebanon are currently the beneficiaries of this initiative. The organizes of the FNB W2W MTB Events have also enlisted the services of Francois and Russell, who together with students from the Department of Sport Science at the Stellenbosch University, will make weekly visits to these crèches. The goal is to improve each child’s physical wellbeing and quality of life.
“We are proud to be able to incorporate the expertise of Francois and Russell, two qualified and highly recommended Biokineticists, into the FNB W2W Crèche Educational Initiative,” says Michael Meyer, FNB W2W MTB Director. “Movement is an essential part of everyday life, irrespective of one’s age,” continues Meyer. “It affects development, learning, communication, working, health, and quality of life. With the help of Francois and Russell we hope to help improve the physical wellbeing and ultimately the quality of life of each and every child that is currently part of our Crèche Initiative.”