Written by Charlene Hartung


2 Comments(s)

28 Jun, 2021

‘Cycling is within me. Cycling is me. My happy place. The best part of me.’

As many stories are told, I started exercising to lose weight and then I came across my great love: cycling. 

I started cycling four years ago after a friend told me he was cycling, that he loved it and that it challenges him so much. That made me think…maybe I should try it out. So I did and I absolutely loved it. I went again and again and again. Now when I go on holiday I don’t leave my bike behind. It’s a part of me, I pack it like I do my toothbrush. 

Cycling changed my whole life, the way I see things, my relationships and it has brought so many new things to my life because it taught me to fight and it taught me to not give up. In addition it brought so many new people I love dearly into my life and I get to cherish everyday. 

My first race was the Nedbank MTB in Windhoek. I did the 15km and kids were my competition. They kicked my butt but I had a lot of fun. I have even won a race and gotten the podium a few times.  In 2017 I set myself up in a Four Man Desert Dash team. For the longest of times I kept thinking “gosh what did I get myself into?”. 

The Desert Dash is a race through the Namib Desert, consisting of 6 stages separating the 373km from Windhoek to Swakopmund. You have 24hours to do it. In a four man team all four members do the first stage, then one member does one of the stages in between and the last stage to Swakopmund is again done by all four. 

It takes a lot of training, dedication and positive thinking. The belief that you can is important and at the end its “mind over matter” when you are alone in the Namib Desert at night on your bike. My training started slow, with one hour rides, then two hours and before I knew it I was going for 70km at a time. Today I want to do a solo. A solo is when you cycle the entire 373km by yourself. Talk about ambition, crazy, I know! 

To date, I have done three Desert Dashes, one four men mixed team, one four man ladies team and one two man mixed team. 

My friend Alfons helps me with technical skills, the handling of my bike, posture, obstacles and tactics during races. I believe he essentially made me a cyclist. Heleen, my friend and biokineticist with whom I do functional training also writes my training plans and ensures I don’t injure myself!  I always want to push the boundaries, but Heleen keeps me in tune. 

Then there’s Meike. She takes care of my nutrition, ensuring I have the right nutrition for races and just to be functional every day. Without the 3 of them, I really would have a tough time growing as a cyclist. 

Cycling is such a huge part of my life and it has changed my mindset about so many things. It has taught me to always keep going, keep trying and to never give up. It teaches me to face challenges and my fears, and to be humble. It is pure discipline, routine and just doing what needs to be done that keeps me going. 

And on any given day, I am always trying to stay on my bike, as I’m known for falling off of it. 

Love, Raquel 


  1. Stephano

    Awesome story. I have personally been part of your cycling journey. I have seen how you have grown from a rookie to a podium cyclist.

  2. Rene

    Raquel you are a true inspiration for anyone, your humour, endless energy and the way you explain any incident can make anyone laugh. Keep it going!


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