Meet the Team: Kim Welsh, Lake South Africa

Meet the Team: Kim Welsh, Lake South Africa

Taking cycling to the Cape

For those who love off-road adventures, South Africa needs no introduction in terms of mountain biking. The ‘Cape Epic’ is one of the toughest off-road cycling challenges in the world, attracting riders globally. And, in terms of the roadies, Chris Froome was schooled in SA and started his cycling career at a well-established Boys school in Johannesburg during his formative years. Yes, this sports-mad nation at the southern tip of Africa, filled with dusty plains and roads that wind their way under an endless sun, has woken up to its cycling potential post-pandemic, due in no small part to people like our own Kim Welsh, head of Lake, South Africa, who’s doing her best to infiltrate the cycling market and educate the cycling fraternity that there is an answer to sore cycling feet, hot spots, numbness and bruised toes.

With over 25 years of experience in both the Mass Retail/FMCG sector, and an unrivalled CV for taking brands to the emerging South African cycling scene in recent years, Kim ironically is no longer a die-hard cyclist.  However, instead, Kim’s sports are mainly running, whilst husband James is the cycling mad triathlete of the family. Speaking with the exuberant Kim, she talks excitedly about their time together, where in the early days she would ride up to 200 km whilst wheel-sucking behind James. With training like this, you quickly get an idea for what kit is just right for the ride, and it wasn’t long before Lake came to her attention.  

Kim’s Introduction to Lake

It was when Kim was battling with health issues, that her brother, Anton, also a passionate cyclist, told her that he wanted her healthy as he had found a Cycling shoe brand that he wanted her help to launch into the South African cycling market. Once out of her hospital and on-route to recovery, Kim discovered that Anton had basically said to Bob, send whatever you have available, we will sell the shoes.

Lake cycling shoes consisting of a variety of Road and MTB, all colours, size curves and a variety of models was on its way to South Africa, there was no turning back. With her impulsive and caring brother expecting her to take the lead and introduce the brand to the South African cycling enthusiasts, Kim began on her mission to learn as much as she could about the brand Lake, which would enable her to take the brand to market with confidence and authority.

Having not seen the brand Lake before this time, she focused on learning as much to possible, concentrating on the B2C side of the business and the growing the brand awareness and sales in the South African cycling scene through social media and basically following hot on the footsteps of Christian van Asten.  Learning and absorbing as much as she could from Christians posts.

After 18 months working with her brother, Kim decided to move on and join a company also very much affiliated to the cycling industry. They took over the distribution of Lake from Kim’s brother Anton, and thus Kim was back in the cycling shoe business, with her coveted brand – Lake Cycling. Her vision now, was to somehow manage the brand so that in time to come, her efforts would somehow enable her to work alongside Bob in some way or form. Towards the end of 2022, Kim saw an opportunity in eventually taking over the importing and distribution of Lake in South Africa.  She approached Bob, who asked her to put her plan in writing.  Early in 2023, after working with the brand since 2018, Kim finally got to meet the Bob Maas, who visited South Africa to meet with Kim and to better understand the uniqueness of the South African market.

Lake Cycling SA is born!

This development came to fruition in early in 2023, when with the support of Bob, Lake South Africa started its own independent journey into the cycling scene of the country. Behind the scenes, Kim was able, with her wealth of experience across several companies and organisations helped to bring together the necessary structures, setting up Lake Cycling SA to develop its growing reputation with South African cyclists.  

Speaking with the extremely positive and motivational Kim, she tells me how Lake has been a big part of her life since 2018. With the backing of Bob and Christian from Lake HQ in Europe, she’s been able to put her vison into place, creating a small, tit-kit team and making the Lake brand mean something special to cyclists all over the country, from all walks of life. In cycling shops all over Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, Kim is fondly known as the ‘crazy shoe lady, who’s always on call and on-hand to help cyclists out.’

Standing out from the crowd, through excellence  

Kim knows the cycling scene in South Africa through all its layers. She’s acutely aware of the needs of riders and what our competitors offer them. In her own words, what differentiates us from other brands is that Lake fills the needs that others don’t even think about, with more choice, wider size options and larger size options, personal one on one service and shoe fittings, all made with the legendary Lake adherence to excellence and comfort.  Recently, dealing with a rider, Lake were the only brand in-country able to supply a size 50 cycling shoe for the cyclist to try out. As Kim says, “Being accessible and knowing the customer is key.”

 

Lake Cycling Shoes: Our South African best sellers  

With a lot of riders in South Africa having wide feet, the CX238 in Clarino is the best-selling road cycling shoe. For those taking on the trails, and the epic gravel opportunities, it’s the MX238 Gravel in white and black that grabs their attention and looks after their hard-working feet. One of the great benefits of the 238, in both road and off-road versions. Using our ultra-reliable and comfortable CX/TX Competition Last, the CX238 comes with a profile specifically designed for very high-cadence riding & higher pressure. Our Competition last features a more curved profile than the Sport last, with increased toe pitch and heel lift, a tighter heel and a slightly wider ball girth to allow the foot to expand under high pedalling pressures.

Designed for a better, more comfortable fit, supporting the shoe is Lake's Race carbon fiber sole, offering impressive stiffness and power transfer while remaining low in weight. To protect the shoe from premature wear, the full-grain leather upper boasts a panel at the heel and a rubber bumper at the toe, plus mesh panels for proper ventilation; and, the shoe is also available in Clarino, for a harder wearing upper, which retains our legendary Lake comfort.

South African riders also like the custom colour option with Lake shoes, and Kim is working hard to introduce a new customer payment plan that will make our Lake custom shoe programme more accessible to South African riders. This is a cycling scene that is still growing, and which has so much potential; particularly in the gravel cycling arena – and Kim plans for Lake to be at the heart of it, leading the way on tarmac and trail.


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