Steyn wins the Trans Afrika

Hannele Steyn first across the finishing line of Southern Africa’s toughest, longest mountain bike challenge.

Hannele Steyn, 48-year-old former South African mountain biking champion and self-confessed adventure junkie, crossed the finish line of the Trans Afrika mountain bike challenge in first place on Thursday morning along with fellow competitor, Dan Hayman.

The Trans Afrika, which kicked off on 12 October, has been dubbed as South Africa’s toughest and longest, unsupported non-stage cycle race and is the first ever of its kind.

Commenting on her achievement, a tired but upbeat Hannele says that the race certainly lived up to its expectations of being one of the most gruelling events on the international mountain biking calendar.

With a field of as few as 18 mountain bikers, only two of whom were women, Hannele rode 3 000 kilometres solo, starting at Beit Bridge on 12 October, on the border of Zimbabwe, and ending in Cape Town at about 4:30am on Thursday morning.

The cyclists only had five days to cover the distance between each of the three checkpoints, which were situated at Piggs Peak Swaziland, Moteng Pass on the border of Lesotho and Prince Albert on the edge of the Great Karoo respectively, before reaching their final destination, Camps Bay.

With only 20 days to complete the arduous journey, Hannele managed to finish it in 10 days, 22 hours and rode the last 400km from Calitzdorp to Cape Town in one go.

On day three, Hannele met Dan Hayman whom she affectionately nicknamed ‘the Kiwi’. “We realised that we would probably land up killing each other trying to outsmart the other but we became lifelong friends on the journey and decided to cross the finish line together.”

Hannele enjoying a warmer and less grueling moment on a photo shoot for her sponsors Zurreal.
Hannele enjoying a warmer and less grueling moment on a photo shoot for her sponsors Zurreal.

She adds, “I only had a GPS and a little bag with a bicycle repair kit for my trusty bicycle that I named ‘Deo Gloria’, a Taser gun, pepper spray, first aid kit, two changes of clothes, moisturiser, sunscreen, a toothbrush and dental floss,” she explains. “I also carried a little pocket bible with me because I needed my angels to keep me company during a race like this.”

“It helps to have people behind you who support and believe in you. I wish to thank all my sponsors as well as Resolution Health Medical Scheme and their loyalty and lifestyle partner, Zurreal, for placing their trust in me and for supporting me during this latest adventure. It really helped knowing I had a caring medical scheme in my corner, especially one that does not flinch to cover the healthcare needs of a crazy woman cyclist. Fortunately, I had no major injuries and only had a few close calls with trucks and a couple nasty blisters.”

“I will admit I was a little scared when I set off on this journey but I just love riding, and overcoming my fears is the reason why I subject myself to these extreme and challenging conditions in the first place. I guess I’ve never been described as “normal”, after all, only “crazy” people enter a race like the Trans Afrika but I have lots of support from my friends and loved ones and that is where I get most of my strength,” she concludes.

Trans Afrika logo jpeg

For more info on the 2014 Trans Afrika Bike Race visit www.transafrikabikerace.com.

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