On 12 October, adventurous cyclists will gather at Beitbridge for the start of the Trans Afrika, an adventure cycling race based on the successful Trans Continental and Trans Am races.
Race director and Qhubeka supporter Andy Masters explains that the concept is to provide a framework for adventure cyclists to race between two points unsupported. “The Trans Afrika added the dimension of riders being able to race together as teams or as individuals,” he says. “The riders select their own routes, but have to travel via compulsory check points. This year those check points are at Pigg Peak Swaziland, Moteng Pass in Lesotho, and Prince Albert in the Karoo. The riders have to get through the various check points within specific time periods. Adventure cycling a growing part of cycling through out the world and the number of participants in these races grows year on year. The Trans Continental from London to Istanbul is seeing winners cycling 3200km in seven days. These are not professional athletes with team cars and masseuses, but ordinary men and women with a taste for adventure and life, who like to make their own choices.”
Qhubeka has been selected as the official charity for the race. Andy says this is due to Qhubeka’s commitment to putting people on bikes and “changing their lives through the best form of transport, a bicycle”. Andy has previously purchased a Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycle for an employee and was impressed that it was so sturdy and came with helmet, pump, bike lock and tool. “Thought had gone into ensuring the bike and equipment would keep the recipient on the road,” he says.
“TransAfrika selected Qhubeka as the bikes are earned by the recipients and not just given to them,” he says. Qhubeka works on the principle of giving a hand up, not a hand-out.
Andy notes that Trans Afrika is all about adventure. “Riders select where and when they will sleep, what route they will travel and what equipment they will take with them,” he explains. “Faster riders will travel light and sleep rough using bivvy bags and carrying their minimal equipment in Apidura type bike bags. Other riders will find accommodation along the route or travel with Arkel type panniers carrying their gear,” he says. “The emphasis is on the riders making their own decisions and race strategies. The race will be between 2600km and 3000km depending on the routes selected by the riders.”
Currently, 17 riders are registered to take on this mammoth adventure, including 15 men and two women. “The oldest rider is 63 and the youngest is 32. “There are two New Zealand entires as well to add some flavour to the race,” says Andy. “The riders will leave from Beitbridge at 06h00 on 12 October 2014. The race starts with a 15km escorted neutral zone, and once the riders get to Messina, they are off. The faster racers will be expected in Cape Town in under eight days, having scaled the 2840m high Moteng pass in Lesotho along the way and joining the Two Mile High Club.”