Hi, my name is Paul Sherwen, most of you know me as the voice of the Tour de France in the English Speaking world. What you might not know is that I grew up in Uganda and still alive there today. Africa is my home and bikes and cycling are in my blood.
As a Tour de France rider for 8 years, I learned what it takes to win and the power and support a team provides. Even a great team is not enough, teams in a grand tour cycling event must at times work together for the betterment of not only their team, but in support of the other riders and teams. With the success of Chris Froome, a Safari Simbaz winning the last 3 Tour de France’s and the success of the Rwandan cycling team, we have seen cycling take off in East Africa. To support the great projects and riders who inspire to excel while helping their communities, we have created Paul’s Peloton, with the goal of Leading Africa Forward through Cycling while creating responsible riders who are recognized as world class for their humanitarian efforts in addition to their bike skills.
15 years ago, my friend Pat Montani approached me with the idea of delivering containers of used bicycles to Africa to provide needed mobility for healthcare workers and students having to travel long distances to school. We founded Bicycles for Humanity and it quickly became a global grassroots movement of inspired volunteers and together we have delivered over 155,000 bikes, with over 45,000 bikes going to healthcare workers. today, with no staff or overhead of any kind the Bicycles for Humanity program we founded 15 years ago continues to grow.
Empowering healthcare workers and helping students get to school was our main priority, but along the way, people started racing our donated bikes and entire youth cycling programs have grown in Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana, Uganda and Kenya around the bikes we shipped. There are many incredible African bicycle racing programs springing up, and cycling as a sport is growing at an incredible pace across all of Africa.
As a past pro cyclist, I understood hard work and determination, having twice missed the alloted time for a stage, but when the tour organizers saw the determination to finish, they allowed me to go on and race another day. A strong work ethic and determination is important, but helping others and giving back is equally important. Strong teams and the teams working together in the peloton win races and our goal in creating Paul’s Peloton is to bring together determined volunteers that want to make a difference and young riders who not only show the cycling skills, but also the determination to help their communities, through helping deliver better education, healthcare an opportunity to all through the iEmpowerment program we also founded. Riders who can add value to the sport and to society are what every sponsor and advertiser of a cycling team wants. This is the foundation not our program, we may not be Tour de France ready to ride, but we are tour ready as humanitarians and need the time and support to develop our cycling skills.
Hopefully some day, we will see an all African team at the Tour de France. If all of us in the global cycling community pull together and join forces with the strong cycling leaders in Africa, we can make this happen.
We invite everyone to join us and our team of East African Cycling Initiatives , the Safari Simbaz and Kara Tunga and make together, not only change cycling in Africa, but more importantly improve the lives of all in Africa.