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 Pedal Power Association, Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The third annual Tour d'Afrique bicycle expedition entered South Africa on Monday through the border post at Noordoewer.

 

After 120 km's the days' race ended just short of the border and into South Africa, our final country, we cycled, writes Astrid Starke. The big countdown has begun and there are only six days of cycling left after nearly four months on the road.

 

After nearly four months of pedalling, cyclists are looking forward to finish in Cape Town this Sunday 15 May. Around 45 men and women of all ages and from across the world started their journey on 16 January under the watchful eye of the Sphinx in Cairo.

 

Cycling through Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, intrepid adventurers prove that it is possible to cross the African content by bicycle in four months via a safe a mode of transportation that will lead the way to the future of the bicycle in eco-friendly tourism. The expedition is one of the toughest mental and physical endurance bicycle expeditions in the world.

 

But the tour also aims to raise awareness of the bicycle that offers an alternative, healthy mode of transportation that also promotes a clean environment. 

 

There are three South African cyclists on board, Maarten van Dalsen, Henning de Jager and Leana Niemand. Both Maarten and Leana are two of a small group of cyclists that have cycled every single day of the tour since its start in Cairo. This is an astonishing feat as the cyclists are constantly plagued by dehydration, exhaustion and infections from cuts and abrasions. Unfortunately Henning had a very nasty spill and had to sit a few days on the truck. His leg infection never quite healed. Eventually his leg puffed up to gargantuan proportions and he developed a fever. He had to be rushed to a hospital in Ghanzi, Zambia for emergency treatment.

 

Maarten is a fierce competitor and is still in second place. Leana  Niemand from Cape Town is the only female to have cycled every single day up to this stage. She is  looking very strong and is thoroughly enjoying herself.  Three broken collarbones, a broken hip, broken  fingers, cuts, stitches, dehydration, and multiple bruises are just some to the injuries sustained while traversing the challenging African landscape. However, it has not stopped the cyclists form persevering in their mission to cross Africa by bicycle.

 

The bicycle expedition is expected to arrive in Mouille Point, Cape Town on the 15th of May where there will be a press conference and a welcoming party. All local cyclists are invited to come along and greet the expedition. You can email the tour's communication team, Astrid Stark and Theresa Brown at astridstark@gmail.com or teebrown@gmail.com, for more information about the expected time of arrival.

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