Video: Australian cyclist, Kate Leeming tells learners of the Mondesa Youth Opportunities School in Swakopmund about her journey of more than 22 000 kilometres across Africa and shows them how the all-wheel drive system of her bicycle works. – Footage: Niël Terblanché
KATE Leeming, the Australian explorer and professional cyclist will start on the second leg of her historic journey from the mouth of the Kunene River to the mouth of the Orange River later today after stopping off at Swakomund for a few days rest.
While on her break in Swakopmund, Leeming visited two schools to speak to learners about motivation in the face of adversity and how she copes with the challenges on each of journeys. Her talk focussed mainly on her world first 22 040 kilometre journey from Point des Almadies in Senegal to Cape Hafun in Puntland, Somalia. On the map these two places represent the furthest western and eastern points on the African Continent.
On the journey Leeming did not just cycle straight across the continent. When she reached Chad she turned south and cycled through most of the countries in the western coast of Africa coming as far down as Namibia before starting back east and north through Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya until she reached the coast in Puntland.
She visited and got know the Grade 7 learners from the Festus !Gonteb Primary School as well as learners form Mondesa Youth Opportunities School.
“Unsurprisingly, the students were very responsive and quizzed me with great questions,” she said.
During her motivational talk Leeming also showed the students the mechanics of the special bicycle she is using on her current journey through Namibia. Through the innovation of an inventor in the United States of America, Leeming’s bicycle can be set to drive in both wheels while she is pedalling.
She told learners that the bicycle was developed as part of a project to develop an even more specialised bicycle that she aims to use to cycle across Antarctica.
“No other person in the world has ever used a bicycle to cross the planet’s southernmost continent and I need the best possible equipment to make sure that the journey can be done successfully.”
She said that she is using the journey down the Namibian coastline to gain experience in the sand because it will aid her when she tackles the ice and snow of Antarctica.
The motivational talks with learners is part of Leeming’s secondary project which entails enhancing education opportunities for marginalised learners that often have to cope with s a lot of adversity in their lives through the Breaking the Cycle: Education program.
After a few days rest Leeming is ready to set off on the second part of her journey to the mouth of the Orange River. Ahead of her is the Namib-Naukluft National Park and roughly 500 kilometres of beach and dunes until she reaches Lüderitz.
“It is going to be tough. There will be 500 kilometres or so of sand and no roads whatsoever until Lüderitz. This will be the longest, most remote part of the journey.”
The courageous Australian woman is the first person in history to attempt to cycle down the Namibian coast on the shore line from the Kunene River to the Orange River.