Simon Clarke was off to an exciting start of the race season after he won…
We are a collection of stories and moments. We are family and friends, riders and staff. And over the next few months, we will be sharing our stories with you. How we got here, who shaped us, and what collectively makes our team what it is.
We are EF Pro Cycling — and we are excited to bring you #OurStories.
“In autumn 2016, I thought my days as an athlete were finished. My running days were over and I put my energy into a career as a Town Planner. I thought I was content with what I was doing in life. I was more comfortable than I ever had been, and I was living a great life with some very special family, friends, and a stable career. As happy as I was, something wasn’t right. I missed the challenge of being an endurance athlete, the sacrifice, the testing mental and physical nature of training. I did not truly feel alive, like I once was. Something had to give. And so, I got on a bike. I was outdoors again pressing my limits. I was passionate again for life.
I started racing seriously and with the support of my family and those in my corner, I was able to make the sacrifices on and off the bike in the attempt to go professional. I had no grasp if it would be worth it and like all other competitive industries getting a highly desired position is near impossible and for most it doesn’t work out. But here I am today, in Spain, as a second year pro. I am so lucky to be a professional athlete traveling the world with such an incredible group of people. I cannot wait to pin the numbers back on, hear the passionate crowds and to represent the team and all those that support me back home.
I first met Yves Sikubwabo when he was 17. Someone called into the running shoe store I was working at and told me about a kid living in Ottawa who just competed at the World Junior Championships in Moncton. I managed a running team at the time, and they told me that Yves hoped to run for my squad. About a week later, I was at a local race when I noticed a teenager leaving the field in his dust. It was Yves, and that day I asked him to join my team. A decade later, he remains one of my closest friends.
Born in Rwanda, both of Yves’ parents were killed during the genocide a year after his birth. As an orphan he was raised by his aunt. Him and his family sold bananas to make ends meet. Through sheer will, spirit, and undeniable talent, Yves became one of the best runners in Rwanda. Eventually he would earn a spot on the Rwandan national team that would attend the 2010 World Junior Championships in Moncton, Canada. Yves had never been to Canada, he had never been on a plane, but when he landed he resolved to stay. Post race, knowing nobody in the country and with $150 to his name, he purchased a one-way bus ticket to Canada’s capital, Ottawa.
After a day’s bus journey he arrived with $10 left, a few English phrases in his vocabulary, and nothing else. It’s easy to think of all of the ways that Yves’ story could have gone wrong, but it didn’t. With the help of two amazing adoptive parents and a wonderful community, Yves would go on to earn Canadian citizenship, attend university, and eventually start a business and a charitable organization in Kenya.
Yves taught me many things, however one of the greatest lessons that I learned from him was that no matter how awful the circumstance, if you smile, if you are honest, if you are willing to give—even when you have nothing—things often have a way of working out.
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