The Westpunt Riders is a group of local Westpunt kids that meet every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon at David’s house. David was whom we rented our apartment from for the duration of our stay in Curacao. He also showed us around the island by bike on many occasions. So once at David’s house the Westpunt riders are decked out with helmets, gloves, shoes and a bike to ride that day. David’s friend Derrick is also there helping get the boys all rounded out. I think it’s important to make it clear that these kids are less fortunate, and without the Westpunt Riders Club none of these kids would probably have the opportunity to enjoy cycling at this level. Yes, they might have there own bike with a rusty chain and no brakes to ride around the neighborhood but to actually have a fully functional brand name bike and gear to ride long distance on the road or take to some single track is quit amazing. The group also travels to many of the islands races and local riding events.
Matt and I didn’t miss a chance to go ride with these kids. As I sit here and write it’s hard to put into words why this experience was so amazing. My love for cycling grew so much deeper from this experience. If you ride a bike, and most likely if you are reading this blog you do, then you can understand how riding a bike with someone can bring you closer together. You see the boys ages 8 to 15 years old speak Papiamento, not English. We couldn’t communicate with words but in some weird way we were able to through the bike! I felt that in just a few rides I built an amazing connection with these kids that without the bike I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do.
Having a club like the Westpunt Riders is so crucial to the island and Westpunt community. Just like anywhere in the world, there is crime on the island of Curacao. From what we heard it is mainly drug related, that leads to theft, robberies, and unfortunately sometimes murders. The root that leads to all this is poverty. David and Derrick are investing in these kids by giving them hope and a positive direction in hopes that it will keep them from falling into the same trap that some island locals resort to. The bike is no doubt playing an important role in their lives and giving them something to be proud of. I’ve experienced first hand how the bicycle can be used as a tool to bring hope to the world. I’m so thankful for people like David and Derrick who are taking time out of their lives to impact the next generation.
After this experience I’m even more honored to have World Bicycle Relief as one of our sponsors this year and riding for an organization that is making a difference in poverty-stricken lives around the globe. For me this is what a bicycle is all about, bringing hope.
A picture with Nathaniel, the youngest rider in the club.
Group photo of the Westpunt Riders after an evening ride.
Nothing like a ride to the beach and then some cliff jumping. Matt had to have the moral support of the youngsters before attempting the 25 ft free fall into the water below.
The Westpumt Riders getting ready before the Curacao Ride for the Roses.