Change a Life Academy
5 Mar 2015
Written by: Kyle Gilham
Positive start to 2015 for RMB Change a Lifers
Pietermaritzburg – Sunday’s Illovo Wartburg Classic was another successful
day in the saddle for the RMB Change a Life MTB Academy as no fewer than
three top ten finishers and five of the top 15 bore the colours of the
Valley of a Thousand Hills setup.
MTB captain John Ntuli was the fastest Change a Life Zulu to cover the 65km
course as he powered home in fifth position overall, just four and a half
minutes behind winner and pro rider Andrew Hill (TIB Insurance).
Sixth place Sthembiso Masango was just a further eleven seconds adrift and
Bongumusa Zikhali rounded out the top 10 while Ndumiso Dontso (14th) and
Sipho Khupiso (15th) aided in the academy’s sublime team effort.
These results come off the back of their strong showing at the first clash
of the season, the Subaru MTB Classic at Cedara College, where Ntuli (3rd),
Masango (4th), Khupiso (8th) and Dontso (10th) again secured top ten
“I was extremely impressed with the way the guys handled themselves over
the festive break, not eating too much Christmas cake,” explained academy
founder Martin Dreyer. “They had been allowed to relax and recharge over
December but they obviously kept ticking over as they returned to training
in great shape!”
“They have been hard at work in training and are super motivated to take
their fitness to higher levels. It’s great to see the RMB CAL Zulus
producing great results so early in the season!” he added.
Ntuli’s run of form has been a slightly more extended one than the rest of
his team mates after he charged to a hard-fought fifth place in the 369km
FNB Desert Dash in Namibia – the longest single day mountain bike event in
the world – in mid-December.
“John (Ntuli) rode a phenomenal race at the Desert Dash!” said Dreyer.
“The race starts at three o’clock in the afternoon and goes through the
night so that participants avoid the majority of the desert’s heat.”
“John positioned himself well and was third coming out of the final water
point with forty-five kilometers to go when he missed a right turn in the
early hours and ended up going four or five kilometers too far."
“John turned back however two other riders had already gone past and he
“Post-race he was understandably disappointed however that’s behind him now
and it has been great to see him bounce back at the past two races where he
has been our top rider in the RMB CAL Zulu camp!”
While marathon racing is what comes naturally to Dreyer’s charges due to
the natural playground of big hills and contoured paths that the Valley
offers, 2015 will see a slight shift in focus for the RMB Change a Life
“This year we’re also looking to try our hand at some cross country riding
as the technical, skilled nature of that type of racing will almost
certainly contribute positively towards the overall riding performance of
“It has also been fantastic to have the support of Patrick Morewood this
“Our top eight riders will all be on his PYGA 650B carbon machines, which
we’re really excited about and having Patrick’s knowledge and advice has
been a great asset, as he is a true bike scientist!” smiles Dreyer.
As the Change a Life setup has grown so too has the level of riders within
it, something Dreyer is also eager to address this year.
“We trained a lot as a group last year but with varying levels of rider’s
abilities, we’re breaking up into smaller groups of similar abilities and
hopefully this will see the guys continue to push themselves even further.”
This exciting grass roots development project would also not be possible
without financial backing and in Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), the Change a
Life MTB Academy has tremendous support.
“It’s great to have the support of RMB! We’ve developed a fantastic
relationship with RMB, so much so that on numerous occasions RMB have
hosted their cycling clients down into the Valley of 1000 Hills to
experience mountain biking in its purest form with the RMB CAL Zulus!” said
“Having a sponsor who believes in your cause takes away one of the major
hurdles of operating a non-profit setup and for that we are extremely
grateful for RMB’s generosity!”
download the hi-resolution pic
Change a Life
Academy logo - jpeg
Sipho Kupiso is one of the many
RMB Change a Life MTB Academy riders to have put his hand up early on in
the 2015 mountain biking season as the Valley of a Thousand Hills setup
looks to make a big impression this year.
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