In January, the Far North Flash will be taking on the SRAM Tour de Ranges 30 km.
We caught up with their coach Phil Gibbs to find out more.
Phil Gibbs, a teacher at Kaitaia Primary School formed a team of cyclists called the Far North Flash to support each other in their goals and ambitions. The team is made up of a group of girls, aged from 9 - 14 years old. Phil supplies everything from the bikes they ride to the shoes on their feet. He covers the majority of the running costs of the team from his own pocket and with the help of some sponsors who have come on board.
When asked what inspired Phil to start up the Far North Flash, he tells the story of how he was approached by a parent and asked if he would coach her daughter in cycling and triathlons.
This association lasted for one and a half years, starting his drive and passion for coaching other young people who showed interest. Before they went to their first Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge, the girls decided they wanted to wear a pink uniform, so Phil organised a pink uniform. He said they didn't go 1km in the 100km without hearing someone say how awesome they looked. So pink has been the team colour ever since.
The girls train 5 days a week, all year round but will have a break over Christmas and New Years. “This is our fourth year doing Tour de Ranges 30 km. I will accompany the girls and be around in case they run into any difficulty.”
The team have participated in the Junior Tour of Southland, where they have been two years in a row now. They also train for the Northern Schools events. "We aim high, and they've done really well this year.”
One of the highlights for the team was when one of the girls won the under 13 NZ road cycling championships and came second in the NZ Nationals under 13's last year. As a result of their successes, they have gained recognition, and now the girls are known pretty much all over NZ.
The team have a few sponsors, including Easi Recycling NZ, Mcdonald's, a semi retired couple and other generous people who donate from time to time.
Phil says that he invited the girls to join the Far North Flash, so accepts that because of the distances that need to be travelled and the expense involved, it is his responsibility to cover most of the financial costs. “It is a huge commitment for families that are already under financial pressure.”
I make sure that my girls are taken care of. They work really hard and my budget for my team for a year is 25,000 and a lot of that I pay myself so that these kids can have this opportunity. It always costs lots of money.”
SRAM Tour de Ranges are sponsoring the Far North Flash to enter the event.
Event director, Tim Farmer said "We see potential in what they are doing, and it's a cool way to help out with their team goals."
“You get awesome people like Tim who say we would love to support you on this one, and it's just so cool, it might seem like a little thing, but it's huge for me and just relieves a bit of that financial stress. I just really appreciate it, it’s very cool.” - Phil Gibbs
“These kids are incredible young ladies and athletes, I couldn't be more proud of them. They get out of bed early in the morning because they want to train. It’s just awesome, makes me just want to keep going because they are so awesome.”
Phil runs a cycling event every year, called the Cape to Kaitaia Cycle Challenge. It's on the 15th of June and all proceeds from the event go to the girls. You can find out more about the event here