There aren’t many women in South Africa, and in fact the world, who have clocked up over 600 000km on a bicycle. South Africa’s very own woman of pure “Steyn”less Steel, Hannele Steyn will be on the starting line of the 14th Absa Cape Epic race this year, which is also her 14th Epic in this world class event.
The race will be a “playful”competition between her and 3 other men that have also completed all 13 Cape Epic races to date.
Eventually, as one or another drops out or fails to finish, there will be one person left who has finished each event: The Last Lion standing, will receive the Last Lion Trophy, a much sought after artwork.
Last year Absa Cape Epic CEO Lynn Naudé announced the Last Lions concept: “We decided to recognise these athletes in a special way. They have shown amazing commitment and drive, and are obviously very talented athletes. It is quite something to just get to the start of the Absa Cape Epic, but to finish is truly amazing.”
“My bicycle sponsor Momsen Bikes has custom sprayed a bike especially for the Last Lioness of the Cape Epic, and equipped it with the SRAM Eagle,” Hannele says.
Hannele’s performance in the Cape Epic includes: second mixed team (2004), winner ladies team (2005) and second ladies team (2010).
Steyn, is a former South African mountain biking champion, provincial and Springbok colour holder in five sporting disciplines including triathlon, biathlon, duathlon, road biking and mountain biking.
Steyn has also finished and won many other national and international competitions, including the Drifter series, the Knysna Oyster Race, Transbaviaans, Sani2C, Karoo2Coast, 36ONE, TransCapeMTB, the Transalp in Europe, La Ruta in South America, and she achieved a massive feat when she completed the third annual Trans Hajar Mountain Bike race in Oman – among an extensive list of many others races.
In 2014 Steyn crossed the finish line of the Trans Afrika mountain bike challenge (3000km from Beitbridge to Cape Town, in first place along with a fellow competitor. The Trans Afrika is arguably one of the toughest and longest, unsupported non-stage cycle races on the South African mountain biking calendar.
The Munga inaugural race 2016 and the Freedom challenge, a 2600km adventure orienteering race in 2007 was also part of the endurance races she successfully completed. According to Steyn, 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 000calories a week.
She hopes that these unbelievable accomplishments 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.