Meet Hannele Steyn, South African mountain biking champion. She is one unstoppable woman.

She recently completed the Trans Hajar Mountain Bike race, which is a 5 day race over some of the toughest terrains in Oman in the Middle East. She placed third in the 400km race and reached the 500 000km mark on a bike, something that we mere mortals would not be able to achieve in a lifetime!

Instead of taking a break, this amazing 49-year-old is getting ready to participate in her 12th Cape Epic.  She is the only woman in the world to have completed all 11 Cape Epic mountain bike challenges and won it in 2005.

Hannele has also finished and won many other national and international competitions, including the Drifter series, the Knysna Oyster Race, Sani2C, the Transalps in Europe and La Ruta in South Americas, among many others.

In addition to all the races, she has also achieved her provincial and Springbok colours in five sport disciplines including triathlon, biathlon, duathlon, road biking and mountain biking! We didn’t even know that many “althlons” existed.

Last year Hannele crossed the finish line of the Trans Afrika mountain bike challenge in first place along with fellow competitor, Dan Hayman.  The Trans Afrika is arguably one of the toughest and longest, unsupported non-stage cycle races on the South African mountain biking calendar. Talk about dedication!

Hannele says that in order to prepare her body for these long rides, she trains for up to four hours on weekdays and over five hours on weekends, burning on average about 12 000 calories a week.

She hopes that these unbelievable feats of human endurance will inspire other women to take up mountain biking, which is one of the fastest growing sports in the world.

“I want to be a role model to women in South Africa and encourage more women to get involved in mountain biking,” she says.

“You don’t have to be as ‘crazy’ as I am but mountain biking really is one of the best forms of exercise and it is a fantastic way to experience Mother Nature. It’s also a family sport so the little ones can join in.”

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