What makes an event like the Cape Town Cycle Tour so impressive – more so than the stunning views along the route – is the staggering variety of cyclists who take part on the day
From the sleek and svelte professional athletes right at the front, to the family members riding together on a tandem, to newbies right at the back, every shape and size is present.
In fact, that’s the beauty of cycling in general – anyone can ride. And everyone should.
This is the belief of adventure enthusiast, businesswoman, and entrepreneur Letshego Zulu
Since starting her riding adventures over 12 years ago, Letshego has gone on to inspire countless others to get on the bike (and to follow their business dreams, and to stay active, and to reach for the stars!). Her Instagram account is all about positivity and encouraging South Africans to be their best.
Letshego declares straight up, “I am a runner!” Yet 12 years ago her late husband Gugu Zulu arrived home with two bicycles
“I entered us into the 947 Cycle Challenge, it’s in two weeks,” he told her. “You’ll be fine.” he added, “Running is much harder than cycling and you are fit, so you shouldn’t have any problems. You just need to learn how to shift gears.”
As all keen enterers of events know, though, two weeks can fly by. And this is exactly what happened with Letshego. “I only got on the bike the first time on race day,” she recalls with a hearty laugh.
“We took six hours to complete the course and I was being taught how to use the gears the whole way around Jo’burg.” At some points of the ride, thanks to a bottom meeting a saddle for the first time, Letshego had to get off the bike and run next to Gugu while he rode and pushed her bike.
For many, that would have been enough cycling for one lifetime, but not for someone who craves a challenge as much as Letshego does
Since that ride, Letshego has gone on to complete the Cape Town Cycle Tour three times. “My first one was the ‘Windy One’; I could see people who had already started pushing their bikes down the M3 into the gale. It was a bit scary, but we finished!”.
Letshego has also gone on to complete the Cape Epic twice and numerous other popular mountain bike stage races around South Africa. “Every place you go on a bike is a whole new world,” she says.
Letshego’s initial cycling influence was Gugu and he remains in her heart when she rides today
Prior to his untimely death, the couple entered events together, competed together and enjoyed cycling adventures together.
“I was so lucky to have Gugu nurture me when I started cycling. He was very patient and supportive. To this day I find that it helps to have a good cycling partner, someone you can share the ups and downs with.”
After Gugu’s passing, Letshego cycled the 947 in his memory
“We rode in remembrance, it was a way to remember Gugu and the good times we shared. When I go back to events we rode together, I recall the memories, but in a good way. He is in my heart, and I remember the special memories we made on our cycling adventures.”
With her eye for a challenge and always on the lookout for the next adventure, Letshego has her sights set on the 2021 Cape Epic, which she will ride as part of an all-female team for the first time (alongside Dr. Phatho Zondi, CEO of the Sports Science Institute of South Africa).
Though before that, at this year’s Epic, she will lead a female team of Epic Day Trippers – 45-strong – around sections of the course. “This is great to see; more women are getting into cycling and that’s exactly what we want.”