Roanoke Bike Racing Team Works to Send Equipment to African School

Students at the Nianjema Secondary School in Tanzania.

Kazane Racing, a regional cycling team based at Keirin Culture Bicycles in downtown Roanoke, has partnered with the Nianjema Secondary School in Tanzania to provide road bicycles for the school’s new cycling program. Team members will collect used bikes, parts, and accessories from other cyclists in the region at various races and events. The team’s goal is to send over 15-20 complete bikes along with spare parts, clothes, and helmets late this summer.

Charlie Sloan, a 1993 Virginia Tech graduate, started the Nianjema School eight years ago after working in the region with the Peace Corps. It began as a small endeavor but now has over 400 students and is one of the highest rated schools in the country.

Team President Stratton Delany contacted Daphne Sloan of the Tanzania Education Fund last fall to discuss a partnership between the team and the school. TEF is a US nonprofit that exists solely to raise money for Nianjema. “The timing on this was perfect. Plans were already in place for a cycling program for the students but they had no bikes or funds to cover them. It was decided that the team would be in charge of collecting equipment and shipping it over to Tanzania,” said Delany.

Roanoke-area cyclists should bring any road bikes, parts, clothes, or accessories to Keirin Culture Bicycles at 310 Second Street (corner of Kirk and Second). Cyclists from outside of the area can arrange to meet a team member at a race or other cycling event. At the end of the collection drive the bikes will be refurbished and sent to the school.

The team is also in charge of shipping the bikes to Tanzania, at an estimated cost of $1,200. Profits from the Kazane Racing Working Man’s Classic, a three-night race series to be held in Richmond this June, will be earmarked for the shipping charges. This year will mark the 3rd year of the event, which is a favorite among regional cyclists.

In addition to the bike project, the team is holding a bike-related art auction in late March to raise money for Nianjema. The event is called Velo Sanaa (Velo is French for bike; Sanaa is Swahili for art). Art show promoters Delany and Hunter Dickenson have assembled pieces donated by artists from Roanoke as well as other areas.

Artists who have provided pieces for the show include Natas Kaupas, a legendary skateboarder and well-known graphic artist, and Akirash, a Ghanaean mixed-media artist who has shown work in Europe and the US. The format will be a silent auction. Most pieces will be on display at Keirin Culture in the weeks leading up to the closing event, but bids can also be made online through an upcoming Facebook event page.

The Kazane Racing team competes at races all over the mid-Atlantic. For 2010 the team has expanded to over 20 members, many in the Roanoke area. They have the support of some new sponsors from the area, including Graham Thomas Homes, a custom homebuilder based in Salem. The team has also begun a relationship with the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club that will help facilitate more contact between local racers and recreational riders.

If you wish to support this project please visit Keirin Culture Bicycles, or email Stratton Delany at njs@keirinculture.com. The collection drive will continue until June but early donations are encouraged.

By Cheryl Hodges
cheryl@theroanokestar.com