While watching "An African journey with Jonathan Dimbleby" on June 6th on BBC 2, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that speed cycling is the fastest growing sport in Ethiopia! Dimbleby, who has been traveling for the BBC to Africa the last 40 years, reported on a local bicycle race.
The bicycles used were not the most fancy or state of the art and the roads not as polished as to be desired, but the amazing enthusiasm of the riders made up for that. Suddenly realizing that the majority of color variation in the "Giro" or the "Tour de France" comes from the shirts, it made me hope for these guys to come shake things up over here.
The Fact that the race in Dimbleby's documentary was won by an Ethiopian woman, who seemed as fresh as may morning dew after the 50 km's in shattering heath, made it all the more exciting.
After looking a bit further it came to my attention that Ethiopia already had a cyclist present at the Olympics as early as 1956; Mr. Geremew Demboba.
Dutch photographer Chris Keulen published the book: ‘Hete Glassplinters; Le Tour d’Afrique’ on African speed cycling in 2008, For five years, he photographed the African bike-racing routes in Senegal, Cameroon, Eritrea and twice in Burkina Faso. For his photo feature taken in Burkina Faso he received the World Press Photo Award. you can see some of it here.
© Chris Keulen 2008