Cycle Tour

BMX mom to ride Argus

2010-03-11 16:24
Shalene McGilvray (Gameplan Media)
Pietermaritzburg - The stereotypical image of BMX racing is a bunch of teenagers racing over jumps and turns for a few hundred metres, so the sight of 51-year-old Shalene McGilvray riding over 100km in the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour on her BMX is something out of the ordinary, but then McGilvray is not exactly your normal mother who does things by the book.

The Pietermaritzburg DTP operator spends her working days behind a computer and then heads off after work every day to "restore her sanity" by honing the skills of her passion: BMX riding.

Ranked second in the world in the 45 plus age group for women, McGilvray is well-known in South African BMX circles and is hard in training for the BMX World Championships which are taking place in Pietermaritzburg from July 29 to August 1.

There is a double reason for McGilvray riding her first Argus at the weekend. Her main focus is preparing for the World Champs, but she will also be riding with five other BMX riders to raise funds for the Sunflower Foundation.

She was asked to ride the Argus by Wayne Robertson in order to raise funds for the Sunflower Foundation and to commemorate his 10th Argus on a BMX (and his 20th in total).

In 2001 Robertson broke his back mountain biking and was told he would probably never walk again. His response was that he promised to do 10 Argus Cycle Tours on a BMX, and 2010 will be the culmination of that promise.

McGilvray started cycling by doing downhill and cross-country mountain biking but started racing the smaller bikes 12 years ago after watching her sons taking part in a BMX event and deciding "this is easy". In keeping with her character, she decided to give it a go and a couple of weeks later she "was covered in roasties" after crashing off a borrowed BMX at the next race meeting.

That was just a minor setback and she is now a fixture at BMX events in South Africa and a regular at World Championships all over the world.

Because so few women race BMX in her age group in South Africa, she is happy to take on the men and is currently ranked second overall in the 45 plus age group in the cruiser category in this country.

Being able to race the World Championships in her home town is a dream come true for the 51-year-old McGilvray.

It will be her fifth World Champs and she is motivated to earn the number one board in front of a cheering crowd of supporters.

"Being able to ride the world champs in front of my home crowds is unbelievable," said McGilvray as she prepared to head off to Cape Town this week. "When I heard Pietermaritzburg was going to host the event it was like wow, it is going to be so awesome."

"Australian Cheryl Poynton beat me last year in front of her home crowd so I want her to be here so I can try and get my revenge."

In 2006, in her first World Champs, McGilvray was forced to race in the 19 plus age group because there were not enough competitors and she finished fourth. In 2007 in Canada she was second in the 45 plus category after leading for most of the final before she misjudged a jump and her pedal hit he jump and unclipped, which allowed a rival to pass her.

McGilvray struggled in 2008 in China, partly because she was forced to race in the 25 plus age group, so she is hoping a large number of over 45s come to South Africa in July so she can "beat them all".

Anybody wishing to donate funds to the Sunflower Foundation is asked to use the following account:
The Sunflower Foundation; ABSA Bank; account number 4051834719; branch: Tokai; branch code: 632005; reference: Sharlene McGilvray or Wayne Robertson.

Photo: Gameplan Media


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