Kampala, Uganda | AGNES E NANTABA | Maxime Van Pee is a three time champion of motocross sport in Uganda. The 25 year old fast rising star has competed in several national, African nations (Kenya and Uganda) as well as East and Central African Championships.
“It only gets rewarding when you realise that you are leading the race,” says Maxime.
Riding is something that runs within the family and they all used to ride together; including his father and the girls. But motosport being quite risky and less competitive among women; it became tough. For example, although his elder brother Olivier was initially faster and better than Maxime, he has since taken a break from the sport after suffering an accident that broke his leg. So the girls eventually lost interest. But they still ride when it suits them.
Maxime started riding his first bike when he was 12 years old. That was too old. But the teenager and his elder brother, Olivier, dived deep into self-training. Initially, it was his father’s idea having been a fan of bikes but two years later, motocross had taken over football as Maxime’s number one passion. The drive was not about racing but fun.
“Even at that time, it was hard to go the next level because I was still young,” says Maxime.
Long time motocross champion and one of the legends of the sport in Uganda, Arthur Blick encouraged Maxime’s father to consider track.
At 14 years, Maxime started racing and even when it appeared that he and his brother were the slowest, they were encouraged to push on. The motocross space in Uganda was not also threatening with only about 10 riders in a race. This has since grown to accommodate over 70 riders in a single race.
11 years later, Maxime is a three time champion for not only Uganda but the east African region. He is now eyeing the continental championships.
“The last three four years have been the best in my life,” he says, “I have won four national and three east African championships and these mean a lot knowing where I started from.”
Winning a motocross race is not that easy. Maxime maintains that it takes a lot of dedication and practicing; especially being a physically demanding sport. But it also takes a lot a courage and risk taking because at times, it gets too dangerous. The sport is also expensive; especially knowing that sponsorship is only gaining ground in Uganda.
He says, “It is really costly to purchase race winner bikes and the parts”.
For the sport in Uganda, Maxime maintains that the industry has made tremendous progress. Key among them is the exemption of taxes on importation of racer bikes and the coming on board of several sponsors. The challenge still lies in the lack of official dealers for spare parts leaving them with the option of importing from Kenya and other countries.
Maxime is not about to give up the race, “I am not just doing this to win titles so I will continue and even carry on the sport to my future children”.
Maxime is the second born of the five children of Patrick Van Pee, a Belgian-Ugandan and Adolphin, a Rwandese. He was born in Uganda but partly stayed in Rwanda and Congo following on his father’s businesses. He went to école française les grands lacs (French school) before completing primary education at Kabira International School. He completed secondary education at International School of Uganda and went on to pursue a bachelor in Business Management at University at Fontys University in Venlo, Holland.
He aims to keep as a humble, respectful, and hardworking individual.
“I also like to be remembered as a motocross champion who took Uganda to the world map of motocross,” says Maxime.