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Team Lunsar: the road to the National Championships

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As a company that’s always been passionate about cycling, we were delighted to be given the opportunity to sponsor the Lunsar Cycling Team, based in Sierra Leone. In the first in a semi-regular series, ex Speak Media copywriter Tom Owen updates us on the team’s recent progress.

The rainy season in Sierra Leone prompts cyclists to take their off-season a little bit earlier than those of us here in Europe, where the time when cyclists ride the least tends to coincide with the Christmas break. In West Africa, heavy rains render the roads virtually unusable for motorised vehicles – let alone push bikes – in August and September, and so the riders of Lunsar CT take their yearly break during that time.

October, then, is the month when riders are returning to training, putting in the big base miles and enjoying being back together as a team.

At the moment Lunsar are training two or three times a week as a group, with the riders organising their own solo sessions to keep the miles up. They have – generally speaking – had a successful start to the season, although one rider was hit by a motorbike and is recuperating in hospital. We wish him a speedy recovery.

Karim Kamara, who leads Lunsar CT as their all-action rider-coach-mechanic-fundraiser, and is documenting much of his journey on Instagram, reports that the usual competitiveness found among all groups of cyclists is just as present in Sierra Leone.

“All the small guys are trying to beat the big guys, while the older ones are protecting their pride by making sure they beat the young ones. Presently, the rides are really hard and fast.”

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Getting political

There will be national elections in Sierra Leone in March, and Karim has a scheme to move the Tour de Lunsar (a race he and the team organises around their local roads) from April to February. He’s confident that local politicians will fall over themselves to ‘sponsor’ the race in election season, in the hope of currying a bit of favour with the local population. Karim is nothing if not an entrepreneur.

The other big race next year on the domestic scene is the National Championships, sometime in April. The team is hopeful that current national women’s champion, Elizabeth Mansaray, can retain her crown, which would put her in a good position to be selected for Sierra Leone’s squad for the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

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The first of the jerseys we’ve sponsored, meanwhile, are soon to arrive in Sierra Leone, being couriered over for us by one of Karim’s friends – who is going to visit London in the first week of November.

We’ll hope to have photos of a handful of the team in their jerseys to share with you soon!

You can keep up with the LCT on Facebook here.

Tom Owen