Comments: 70 • Responses: 29  • Date: 

ChastityPanda11 karma

Thanks for doing this guys!

Are the goals of the academy primarily performance orientated or is it more about just getting people involved in the sport?

What are your plans/hopes for the pro team over the next few years? Are there specific races or tiers or racing that you're aiming to get to? Any Team Skyesque "Rwandan Tour Winner by 2020" type goals?

ancycling10 karma

Our pleasure! :)

The main goal for the academy is to provide opportunities for young Rwandans to learn skills that they would not be able to otherwise. Although the curriculum will be cycling-centric, the main focus will be education. One of the prerequisites of being able to be a part of the academy is that the students are still in school. We will have English lessons, enterprise/business lessons, and nutrition and hygiene lessons (these will be available for family members too). On top of this, we will provide 3 full meals a day, fresh water, and financial help with school fees (the average annual school fees in Rwanda are $25. For a year. Crazy! Just imagine how many lives you could change with so little money!).

On the cycling front, we will be working on developing a regular training routine and building up to entering local races with our team. There will be opportunity to progress up to Team Rwanda, either as a rider or in a support role too. Team Rwanda are working towards having an all-African team in the Tour de France by 2020, and if we can help with that, then that's fantastic. However, community and personal development, in and out of the sport, is the central focus of the project.

Thanks for the question!

Itsalrightwithme10 karma

How has Chris Froome's win at TdF -- technically the first Africa-born and Africa-raised rider to do so -- changed the outlook of talent scouts and also from aspiring riders?

Campagnolo or Shimano or SRAM?

Does Trek make good bikes?

ancycling9 karma

Chris Froome has been a huge inspiration to not just African cyclists, but Africans as a whole. He regularly visits Kenya to support charitable projects and the Kenya team (http://www.kenyanriders.com/). The biggest impact he's had has been to raise the profile of African cycling. Along with MTN-Qhubeka, who will hopefully be in the Giro this year, he has been the best thing to yet happen to African cycling. Scouting for talent is basically how the Rwandan national team started, but the project developed beyond being much more than just a sporting team once it was clear the impact that the project was having on people's lives. In Rwanda, Adrien is a national hero. We rode with him and some of the academy students in November, and there was barely a moment where he wasn't waving to people at the roadside.

Trek make fantastic bikes! My personal bike is a Trek, and MTN-Qhubeka use Trek bikes, along with many other pro teams. So long as you go with a major bike brand, you can't really go too wrong!

Itsalrightwithme2 karma

Thanks for the reply.

Follow-up questions: How has the UCI points system and how they are distributed quite widely worldwide -- notice some very new races in Asia and Australia earn the same points as old classics in Europe -- changed things for mid-career Africa-based riders?

Do you expect changes short-term versus long-term? Good or bad?

Is there a bar/cafe in Kigali where one can watch La Doyenne (LBL) or at least La Primavera (MSR) with other cycling fanatics?

ancycling4 karma

To be honest, it hasn't made much of a difference! Most African riders ride in the UCI Africa Tour, not the World Tour. There are one or two African riders in the World Tour peloton, but they are in well-established teams and so are not really affected. Long-term, the UCI definitely has to focus on creating races where cycling is growing, rather than just going where the money is (as seemed to be the consensus with the new east Asian tours...)!

I'm not sure about bars in Kigali; there are many sports bars, all showing SuperSportTV. I would guess your best bet would be to head out to our academy where we'll be screening it through an online stream!

ancycling2 karma

Just came across this; might be of interest to you. I haven't seen it yet, but it looks good! http://www1.skysports.com/news/15264/9107948/

frontal_walnut8 karma

I just wanted to say I think what you guys are doing is an inspiration, and I can't wait to see the film.

I went ahead and donated $20 to the foundation. Hope it helps! Thanks for the AMA, and I will forward on the link to my friends to help raise awareness.

You're an inspiration to everyone.

ancycling7 karma

Thank you so much! The film is available through the official site (http://risingfromashesthemovie.com/) and since the film was privately funded up-front by investors, all the money from DVD/itunes sales goes to the Rising From Ashes Foundation (one of our partners) to help support development in Rwanda.

That's absolutely fantastic, that donation will pay for a child's education for a year. A whole year. The 5 minutes you just took out of your day to do that will impact a child's life forever. You're the inspiration!

Without the support and interest of people like you, we wouldn't be able to do this.

Thank you!

NotSoKosher5 karma

This is the first I've ever heard about you guys, but I'm an active cyclist who rides road bikes to commute. Do you have any tips for riding road bikes? Or are you guys strictly mountain biking?

ancycling4 karma

Thanks for the interest!

What sort of distances are you riding? What kind of riding are you looking to do in the future? Check out /r/bicycling for general biking stuff, and /r/Velo if you're interested in racing! We are nearly solely road bikes, actually. The roads in Rwanda are perfect for riding; smooth tarmac and very little traffic once you are out of Kigali, the capital.

NotSoKosher2 karma

I bike close to 10 miles a day. Used to bike a lot more before i moved near tomy college campus. I used to have a schwinn varsity geard bike, but i switched over to fixed gear to help build up my leg strength. I am so jealous of the roads and scenery you have to bike through. My town is horrible when it comes to sharing the road. Thanks for the response by the way! Keep making us cyclists proud!

ancycling3 karma

That's some decent base-miles that you're putting in! Just gradually increase your mileage on weekends; get out of the town and onto some quieter country roads, that's where cycling really comes into its own.

If you ever find yourself in Rwanda (make it happen!), let us know and you can come ride with us! :)

phantompowered5 karma

Thanks for the AMA! I think it is a thing to be proud of that cycling is being represented as a global sport and a force for good/growth. The last thing cycling needs is more cynicism or controversy.

How do you feel about MTN contesting for the 2014 Giro wildcard entry, either in itself or as it may relate to your organization?

ancycling7 karma

Absolutely! The way that cycling has changed Adrien's (and the other members of Team Rwanda's; check out their website: https://teamrwandacycling.org/) life is beyond comprehension. Before he travelled to race in America with Team Rwanda, he had never even been in a car, let alone travelled outside of Rwanda. On a more basic level, having a bike in Rwanda can cut the journey time of a child travelling to school by 75%. It can be a form of income in the shape of a bicycle taxi or a cargo bicycle (when we were in Rwanda in November we saw a man carrying 300kg of potatoes on an ordinary Black Mamba steel framed bike!!). It can be the route to a new life; it is most definitely a force for good. Like you say, it is such a shame that people like Armstrong have overshadowed it.

MTN-Qhubeka do so much good work in Africa. They have provided 200 new bicycles for Rwandan children (we're currently waiting on them to be released from customs), as well as thousands more bikes all over Africa. Check out their site too, such a good cause! http://qhubeka.org/2013/ Any thing that can raise the profile of such a worthy cause (such as MTN being in the Giro) can only be a good thing for Africa as a whole, and especially our project as we're so closely linked to them through Adrien! Not only this, but Africa (and Rwanda especially, it seems) has so much potential in the sport. Sport is such a sustainable and stable tool for development, and raising the profile of African sport is perfect for maintaining, and increasing, development in the continent.

Thanks for the question!

Avila994 karma

Posted this in the wrong thread so sorry if you already answered some questions.

  • How do you see cycling in Africa develop over the next years and what is Rwanda's position in it? Are there more initiatives like Adriens?

  • In most (endurance) sports black people seem to have a natural physical advantage and dominate certain events, if African cycling keeps developing do you think this will also happen in cycling?

  • Are African teams in general happy that (mostly) French and Belgian teams come to their bigger races or are they annoyed they dominate a lot of times?

  • How's the country in general nowadays? I kinda just know it from the genocide being in the news at the time. Just wondering how daily life is now.

ancycling4 karma

No worries! :)

  • Unfortunately there are not many initiatives like Adrien's. Since cycling in Africa is really only starting to take off now, people are just starting to look into schemes like ours. As far as we are aware, there is only one other academy-type project, and this has been running for almost 10 years now in South Africa (http://www.velokhaya.com/). Cycling in Africa is really starting to boom at the moment, and especially if MTN-Qhubeka make the Giro, it will only keep increasing. The dream is for Rwanda to become the African cycling hub. It definitely has all the raw ingredients to make this happen; an abundance of natural talent, a supportive population (over 3.5 million, over a quarter of the population, turned out to support the Tour of Rwanda last year), incredible riding, a stable yet growing economy, and a desire to be the best. Whether or not they can make it to be the top African cycling nation, I don't know, but the potential is absolutely there!

  • Once African cyclists have the grounding that many of the western riders have, there are no reasons why they cannot be competitive within the World Tour peloton. There is obviously a natural physiological ability (the East African domination of long distance running is actually what led to the original cycling talent scouts heading there), but only time will tell whether a similar domination will occur!

  • All the teams and people that I have spoken to have been really happy with having the European teams in their races. It brings in more money and more publicity; both of which the sport cannot continue to grow without.

  • Rwanda is so laid back! It's an incredibly friendly place. Everyone is so welcoming and helpful and inspiring. It is impossible to imagine such atrocities happening there. I cannot recommend visiting there highly enough. If you do ever make it out there, the first thing you must do is visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre; it will change your life. The second thing you must do is contact us and come visit/help out/go for a ride!

stknchz4 karma

Amazing work guys... I plan to move there in the next few years, would love to see and hear about the progress you guys are making! Best of luck!

ancycling3 karma

Cheers! Why are you moving out there? What're your plans? Like our page on Facebook/follow us on Twitter for updates!

stknchz3 karma

I liked the Facebook page already! I've studied Rwandan history and politics for almost three years now and wrote my Masters on the failures of the Arusha Accords to fully implement a feasible powersharing agreement in Rwanda in 1992-1993, and the events that snowballed into the genocide.

I have plans to move out there to do some capacity-building work and also because I fell in love with the country during my studies. I hope to be there sometimes in the next two years!

ancycling2 karma


Oh wow... That's very impressive, and sounds fascinating! I assume you're familiar with the Aegis Trust? We're working very closely with them in both the UK and Rwanda.

It does seem to be one of those places that draws people in! On our first morning in Kigali we were instantly in love with the country and its people. If you need help with any contacts in the country, drop us an email and we can put you in contact with people.

GaslightProphet3 karma

Cycling in Rwanda must be the most painful sport on the globe. Are you all based in Kigali?

ancycling6 karma

It's not called 'The Land of 1000 Hills' for nothing...! The local bike taxi guys and cargo bike riders are insane. We once saw a guy carrying 300kg of potatoes on a steel, single-speed, bike. Crazy!

We're actually based in Rwamagana, around 45km east of Kigali. It's probably the flattest region of the country, but still has access to some serious hills for training. Perfect for our needs!

GaslightProphet3 karma

Very cool. I was in Kigali almost two years ago now (I started dating my fiance at Lake Kivu) and really love your nation. You have an absolutely inspiring people, and the work that the entire country is doing to propel Rwanda into the future is pretty outstanding. Obviously, still lots of issues to work out. But there are also a lot of geunily good and gracious hearts there that have every reason to be bitter. Work like yours is work that I think does a lot of good to provide people hope, giving a sense of purpose, normalcy, and excellence to your country.

Keep peddling :)

ancycling2 karma

Thank you for your kind words! We firmly believe that projects such as ours are the way forward. The way that the country has united around Team Rwanda has been incredible; we want to build upon this and use the cycling as a basis for community development.

If you're ever out in Rwanda again, drop us an email via the website or Facebook and come visit!

GaslightProphet2 karma

Thank you for your kind words! We firmly believe that projects such as ours are the way forward. The way that the country has united around Team Rwanda has been incredible; we want to build upon this and use the cycling as a basis for community development.

God willing me and the (future) wife will return again. When we do, we'll come visit for sure!

ancycling2 karma

Fingers crossed! Like us on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/AdrienNiyonshutiCyclingAcademy) to keep up-to-date and in contact with us!

blandjoe3 karma

I don't know much about the team, but I assume there is a lot of racing across the continent, correct? Where are the best places to race and ride in Africa? Do you find its all local talent or are outsiders starting to filter into the scene? Do you think Rwanda will become a cycling center for the continent much like Belgium in Europe or are there other countries already vying for that distinction?

ancycling6 karma

Check out Team Rwanda's website: https://teamrwandacycling.org/, they regularly race all over the continent and are in fact in action in the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo in Gabon this coming week. This is one of the major races in the UCI Africa Tour (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013%E2%80%9314_UCI_Africa_Tour) which is growing every year, and for the 2013/14 season consists of 31 races. On top of these, there are many local races, especially in Rwanda.

The top countries for cycling in Africa are considered to be Eritrea and South Africa, mainly because they have been focussing on cycling for the longest. Rwanda is definitely catching them up though! Team Rwanda had a rider place 4th in the continental championships just before Christmas. An amazing result given that the rider has only been riding properly for less than 2 years!

Europeans will, for now at least, always have the upper hand. The extensive experience and incomparable levels of funding mean that African countries/teams are at a huge disadvantage. Saying that, MTN-Qhubeka are changing this, especially given their hopeful wildcard slot at the Giro next year.

The dream is for Rwanda to become the African cycling hub. It definitely has all the raw ingredients to make this happen; an abundance of natural talent, a supportive population (over 3.5 million, over a quarter of the population, turned out to support the Tour of Rwanda last year), incredible riding, a stable yet growing economy, and a desire to be the best. The drive of the riders is so inspiring.

Thanks for the great questions!

blandjoe3 karma

Thanks for the thorough reply. I'd love to ride and race there some time. Looking forward to watching the team develop in the coming years.

ancycling2 karma

It's an incredible place to visit and ride. If you were interested in coming over and helping us out once we're fully functioning, just drop us an email on the website and we can talk!

cspruce893 karma

So that this AMA doesnt go to waste. What is the current socio-political atmosphere like in Rwanda?

ancycling5 karma

The current situation in Rwanda is very stable and secure. I am yet to encounter a more friendly and welcoming nation of people! It is nearly impossible to imagine that the atrocities that occurred there happened less than 20 years ago.

Virez3 karma

How well is the African talent pool organized ? Do u have a strong network and a base foundation ..or is it still a work in progress.

In the hunt for sponsors, how have u been received as an purely African team ?

Ty for doing this AMA..looking forward to see how your project develops.

ancycling4 karma

The talent pool is very sporadic, just due to the up-and-coming nature of the sport. We have strong links with Team Rwanda and the Rising From Ashes Foundation, although the project is very much a work in progress.

We have had very positive responses from potential sponsors so far, the fact that it is an African project seems to be a very strong selling point.

Thank you for your interest! Keep up-to-date with our developments via our facebook or twitter. https://www.facebook.com/AdrienNiyonshutiCyclingAcademy https://twitter.com/ANcycling

nattyd3 karma

Hi there. I'm a long-time racing cyclist and have been involved in collegiate cycling for many years, including running a nationally successful collegiate team in the US.

One of the big problems we have in recruiting collegiate cyclists is the high financial barrier for entry. It's very difficult to convince even affluent students that it's worth investing $1500+ to pick up a new sport. What's your take on this problem, coming from a more difficult economic environment?

Best wishes for your Academy!

ancycling4 karma

I'm actually from the UK, so I can empathise with the difficulty in making it into the sport due to finances.

In Rwanda we are solely reliant on donations of bicycles, or funds to purchase bikes. The biggest problem to overcome is actually getting new parts! There are no new road bike components for sale in Rwanda, so we have to import anything that we need to get bikes going again. We're actually looking at setting up a bike shop/workshop as a social enterprise alongside the academy, with all profits being fed back into the project.

Thanks for your question!

TheBigVitus2 karma

Is one of you Adrien Niyonshuti?

ancycling5 karma

No, Adrien is currently travelling to Gabon to compete in the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo with his team, MTN-Qhubeka. We are working very closely with Adrien, and plan to do another AMA with him involved in the coming month when he is back from competing!

humanoids-2 karma

Hello and thank you for coming here.

Our class is currently studying the 1994 Rwandan genocide. I was wondering what people can do to raise awareness to prevent these kind of things from happening in the future. Do you think the focus should be in interacting with governments to take action?

ancycling4 karma

Thank you for your interest!

Check out the Aegis Trust (http://www.aegistrust.org/), they are an incredible bunch of people doing incredible work in Rwanda and all around the world.

Personally, I feel that the focus should be on the people of the country, not the governments. It's only when society as a whole changes that really differences can be made. Rwanda is the perfect example of this; I have never been to a more friendly, welcoming, and relaxed place.

If you'd like a contact at the Aegis Trust for research/a project, drop me an email via the website/our facebook and I can put you in contact with someone there. :)

guerrier_papillon2 karma

Hey guys, thanks so much for doing this! It's been a really interesting read.

How do you think Adrien's experiences with the Rwandan Genocide and following political turmoil have affected his life as both a sportsman and a public figure?

Do you think cycling, or sports more generally, have the ability to play an important healing role in a country marked by such a fractured past?

And do you think that cycling is uniquely placed, perhaps in a way that politics or or social activism aren't, to kick-start this process of instilling hope and passing on positive values to future generations?

ancycling4 karma

Thanks! :)

Adrien started riding his bike as a way to forget. In his own words; 'when I'm on the bike, the pain in my head goes away'. Cycling has changed his, and his family's, lives in such an extreme way, and that change is what motivates him to ride. He rides for himself, his family, his community, and his country. That was the motivation for setting up the academy; he wants other people to have the opportunity to change their lives for the better the way that he has.

I think that community projects, specifically sports-based ones, can play essential roles in the sustainable development of a nation. Sport is a very uniting activity; over a quarter of the Rwandan population came out to support Team Rwanda in the Tour of Rwanda in 2013! Our project aims to use cycling as a tool for development; although cycling is the basis of the academy, the main focus will be on education and applicable life-skills. The students in the academy all look up to Adrien and the current Team Rwanda riders. They are their role models; all the students want to do is cycle. The way that they work together and group together to help each other out is truly inspirational, especially given the history of the region and the country as a whole.

ksKES2 karma

Not sure if this was asked already but where do you guys get the equipment from? Is it mostly donated or do you have suppliers set up and your own mechanics. Always have been curious about if I could donate a bunch of my old race frames to less privileged riders!

ancycling3 karma

We're still in the very early stages of the project, currently we're working with lots of old bikes and frames, but are in talks with suppliers in the hope of sponsorship deals. We are our own mechanics, although Team Rwanda does have a full-time UCI-qualified Rwandan mechanic who we are hoping will be able to come and help us out when we need extra man-power!

If you are serious about donating frames, drop us an email via the website (www.ancycling.org) and we can talk! We need all the help we can get! :)

Thanks very much!

ksKES2 karma

email sent thanks for the reply, I hope you guys find sponsors!

ancycling2 karma

Thank you! Nothing has come through yet; try sending it to me directly at: [email protected]


ksKES2 karma

Just did, the contact form on the site said no owner email address set so I sent it to you and rob.

ancycling2 karma

Thanks for the heads-up. We did some website maintenance yesterday and somehow messed that up! Fixed now! Cheers!

tobogganmonster2 karma

Few questions

Will Jock Boyer also play an active role here as in the Rwanda cycling team?

Is the equipment provided by the UCI like it is for the Rwanda team?

Hoping Adrien has recovered fully and has better luck than 2013.

ancycling2 karma

Thanks for the questions!

We will be working closely with Team Rwanda, and therefore Jock, but he will not play an active role in the academy. It's always good to know that we have access to his experience and knowledge if we need it.

We provide our own equipment through fundraising and donations. As far as I'm aware, Team Rwanda's equipment is also provided for through private donations, not the UCI though?

Adrien is fully recovered; I'll pass on your good wishes. He is currently on his way to Gabon to compete in La Tropicale Amissa Bongo. He placed well in the Tour of Rwanda in November, and when we spoke last week said that he is in the form of his life and can't wait for the 2014 season to start!

tobogganmonster2 karma

Cheers, and all the best.

Not the exact link, but meant something along these lines about the UCI and bikes- link

ancycling2 karma

Thanks very much!

Ah, I remember reading about the project, but unfortunately we can't benefit from it as we are not a national team.

Thanks again for your interest.

mohittzomar2 karma

This is a long shot, but I wish there was something like this in India too.

ancycling2 karma

Do it! If there's not something already there, look into making it happen! Drop us an email through the website if you want to chat about it. :)

mohittzomar2 karma

I have not read most of the thread, but what you are doing is great from a cycling pov and a social pov. Can you plz share the link for the website. I said that it is a long shot because Indians unlike Africans are not athletic powerhouses. So if you are looking for champs you would not come to India, specially for a short line cycling.

ancycling2 karma

Our website is: www.ancycling.org/

Ah, I see what you mean! Well, the whole purpose of the project is to use cycling as a tool for community development. If we manage to help some people become top-level athletes, that's amazing, but it's not the point of the project. We want to empower people and provide them with opportunities that they would otherwise not have. That concept can work in any country!