Wines to Whales for charity

From left, are Francois Retief, Chris Norton, Hans de Ridder of W2W, and Russell Looms.

Business partners and mountain biking novices Francois Retief and Russell Looms have taken up a challenge that will see them donning lycra, learning to mountain bike and taking on the three-day stage FNB Wines2Whales (W2W) MTB Ride, all in the same year, in support of their crèche 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, who are usually on the other side of the fence at events, fulfilling the role of official sport massage service provider.

According to Francois, 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.

“This race is fun, well organised, 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 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.”

Russell professes that up until this year, he had not ridden further than one metre on a mountain bike. “Francois and I will proudly be riding in the Whale Category,” he laughs. “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 who have been guiding us. Chris is also a huge supporter of the race and crèche initiative.”

“W2W is the best three- day stage race in the Western Cape,” says Chris Norton, who is the owner of BMT bike shop in Stellenbosch. “It supports the communities along the route, a concept that BMT strongly supports.”

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 organiser of the events have also enlisted the services of Francois and Russell, who, with students from the Department of Sport Science at Stellenbosch University, will make weekly visits to these crèches. The goal is to improve each child’s physical wellbeing and quality of life.

W2W starts in the Winelands of Somerset West, and riders will cross through (and over) 13 wineries, 26 private farms, six mountains, historic roads and mountain passes, nature conservation areas (including the Kogelberg Biosphere) before finishing within sight of the whales of Hermanus, during late October and early November.

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