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Monday, May 9, 2005 - Web posted at 10:13:22 GMT

 

Bicycle marathon passes through Namibia

 

TANJA BAUSE

 

THE third annual 11 500 km bicycle expedition Tour D'Afrique passed through Windhoek last weekend.

 

The expedition, which started on January 16 in Cairo, Egypt, is expected to finish on May 15 in Cape Town.

About 45 men and women from across the world are participating in one of the toughest mental and physical endurance bicycle expeditions in the world.

The Tour D'Afrique was born out of the passion of two Canadians, Henry Gold and Michael de Jong.

The demanding programme consists of 100 cycling days of 115 km each, with 20 days set aside for sightseeing and resting.

Among the riders are three South African cyclists.

Two of them are part of a very small group who have cycled every single day of the tour.

The only woman to cycle every day since the start is Leana Niemand from Cape Town.

The tour is, however, not just an ambitious exploration of the African continent but also a campaign to raise awareness of the alternate, healthy and inexpensive mode of transportation the bicycle offers.

Participants are donating more than 100 bicycles to health care organisations in seven African countries.

The Dutch Rotary Club initiated fundraising events and raised 10 000 Euro to make this possible.

This year, two HIV-AIDS organisations in Namibia will receive 27 bicycles to help ease their transport problems.

They are TKMOAMS, based in Oshakati, and the Deutscher Entwicklungsdienst (DED) under the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

These community-based organisations in the Omusati Region have major difficulties in reaching their patients and taking care of them because of the huge distances.

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