How much can you learn about Douglas Ryder over a cappuccino…
Name: Douglas Ryder
Facebook: Douglas Ryder
Day job: Director of the Pro Cycling Team that includes being Team Principal of Team MTN-Qhubeka, Advisory board member of Qhubeka Foundation, included in my portfolio is MTN Club 100 and the World Cycling Centre Team MTN-Qhubeka feeder team.
Number of Bikes: 4; Team MTN-Qhubeka TREK Madone 7; a MTB bike, a tandem and a Qhubeka bike
EPIC?: No, not yet.
Best Argus/94.7 time (specify which one): Argus 2001 because I had the fastest time on the day, I won
Most notable achievements:
I guess in the late 90’s and early 2000’s it was difficult to make it in cycling but highlights for me was the 10 years when I captained the national team from 1993 to 2002 , in that time we raced all over the world including the Peace Race. We had an amazing time with amazing riders that loved cycling. Other highlights locally was winning the Cape Argus Cycle Tour in 2001 and the Boland Bank Cycle Tour in 1995 against the ONCE team which was the number one team in the world that year. Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996 was also the first Pro Olympics and it was great to be in that event. I got into management and running a team which I have done since 1997 when the Lotus Development team started, I have always believed in South African talent and wanted to put a team together to give riders the best opportunities to succeed. My teams have always been performance managed and strived for big results each year to improve and increase the level of cycling in South Africa. The dream was always to take a team to the biggest races in the world like the Tour de France but first we had to be the best in South Africa, then the best in Africa and then take on the world. We are there now.
Brief cycling bio:
Ryder by name and rider by nature, Douglas is a South African cycling icon. Having captained the national road cycling team from 1993 to 2002 and competed in the Olympics (Atlanta, 1996) and multiple World Championships, he also counts winning the Boland Bank Tour in 1995 and the Cape Argus Cycle Tour in 2001 as highlights of his career.
Having raced for various professional teams as well as working for corporate businesses, Douglas brings the perfect blend of passion and experience to his role as team principal
How did you get into with road cycling?
I started cycling in 1983 and then road cycling was the only option other than track cycling and I enjoyed the hours of training in beautiful scenery on my own or in groups with friends. My uncle was a keen cyclist and when the Rapport Tour came to Cape Town I went to watch some stages and I was hooked.
What do you enjoy most about cycling?
When I was racing I enjoyed the freedom, being on the road training for hours without other worries other than becoming better as a bike rider, in cycling hard work and the effort you put in you will see in your performance and I enjoyed that. The opportunity to see so many places in South Africa and around the world through cycling, travelling to events. Now as a team owner I love the organisational side and putting people together to get the best out of our riders and when you see them perform and do something significant it makes it all worthwhile. As a cyclist I dreamed of racing the biggest races in the world like the Grand Tours and the Tour de France but I never had the opportunity so now I have the opportunity to try and make this happen for others and that is rewarding.
The Tour de France to watch and hopefully to see live next year in a team car. To ride – Sani2C.
What countries have you cycled in?
I have raced on every continent when I was a racing cyclist, I lived in America for 2 years racing on a team in 1995 and 1996 and before that in Germany for a year, but my most incredible experience was racing The Peace Race in the Czech Republic which was amazing.
I love technology and I always wanted to see how gadgets and analyzing cycling statistics could help improve performance. I love the culture of road cycling where riders frequent coffee shops and network and talk about their riding or just anything in general. I love socializing and I think cycling is the best sport to do that.
Its Saturday morning at 5am, and it’s raining outside; do you (elaborate – don’t have to choose one):
- Roll over and hit snooze
- Duvet and DVD’s
- Head to the gym
- Indoor trainer
- No such thing as bad weather… only bad clothes… get outside!!
Today I have to say that 50% of the time I will hit the snooze button and the other 50% I will get on the indoor trainer, I am no longer participating in cycling events so I don’t have any personal cycling goals to work towards as I just ride for fun but by asking this question I think I better get a cycling goal as when I was a pro there was no such thing as bad weather, ever.
There are two types of cyclists: Those that have had an accident, and those that are about to… Where do you fit in?
Those that have had!
Next month you’re taking the first African team to a Grand Tour event. What has the journey been like?
It is the realization of a dream, as that was what it was 7 – 10 years ago but we slowly chipped away believing in riders and increasing the international racing program. Working closely with Dr. Carol Austin who heads up our High Performance program we knew we were getting close to being world class through the data we were getting from our riders so we made a huge effort in getting the right partners to back a dream team to go to the best and biggest races in the world and in 2012 it became a reality when MTN announced their increased investment to see if it was possible. We then setup the infrastructure to ensure the riders could compete on equal footing and here we are today competing in our first Grand Tour La Vuelta a Espana.
How close are we to seeing an African team in the Tour de France?
Very close, we hope a year away but we need to invest in riders with more depth to crack the nod and we are busy doing that now.
Black African marathon runners have had incredible global success in the last twenty odd years. Do you believe this can be translated into cycling?
The theory behind the team and partnership with Qhubeka is that we have always believed that since Africa has developed the best Endurance runners why can we not do the same in cycling? The answer was really simple in that there are not many bicycles in Africa nor access to bicycles so the Qhubeka Foundation is trying to rectify that and we are promoting it across the world to try and get people to donate to make a difference.
What do you think it will take to get there?
Time and investment. We are 1 team that is doing what we can through the exposure at the high level and we have our feeder team on the ground. The time is in the riders learning the skills of bunch riding in Europe where you have 200 riders on narrow roads and lots of “traffic furniture” in the road every 20 km’s when you go through each town. Bunch skills are difficult to simulate for the rest the riders we have been working with definitely have the power to be the best.
What would you like to change to assist in your vision, and to get African cycling performing consistently on the international stage?
The answer is to get more people onto bikes and try and get Africa and South Africa to adopt a cycling culture for commuting, recreational riding to get fit and healthy and then we will have a larger pool of riders to draw from to become professionals and it will take less time to develop their skills and bodies for cycling.
24-26 October; Africa Cycle Fair… will we see you there? The tickets are in the post…
Absolutely, it is the Africa Cycle Fair after all.