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The two Namibian mountain bikers Frank Snyman and Piet Swiegers both achieved excellent results at the Trans Andes Challenge from 23 to 28 January. Swiegers, the manager of the Klein-Aus Vista lodge business (Gondwana Collection Namibia), crossed the finish line after just 28 hours 51 minutes, coming in 22nd out of 40 participants in his class (men under 45). Frank Snyman (Toshiba Namibia) took an hour longer but with 29 hours 57 minutes nevertheless won 7th place in his class (men over 45). The two bikers were supported by their wives, Sophia and Christine, as well as numerous Gondwana fans on Facebook.

Frank Snyman (Toshiba Namibia) and Piet Swiegers (Gondwana Collection) before the start of the Trans Andes Challenge. Photo: Sophia Swiegers

Frank Snyman (Toshiba Namibia) and Piet Swiegers (Gondwana Collection) before the start of the Trans Andes Challenge. Photo: Sophia Swiegers

The demanding six-leg race through the heart of the Patagonian Andes in Chile was driven on single tracks, off-road vehicle tracks and open terrain. It started in Panguipulli and ended in Pucón. The challenge was not posed by the distance that had to be covered per leg (50 to 82 km) but by the altitude that had to be negotiated: differences in altitude of between 1,780 m and 2,500 m had to be overcome every day. Of course there were plenty of downhill stretches as well, but the mountain bikers had to ‘climb’ 12,250 m in total.

Piet Swiegers (Klein-Aus Vista/Gondwana) and Frank Snyman (Toshiba Namibia) came thoroughly prepared for the event. The grounds of the Klein-Aus Vista Gondwana lodge near Aus in south-western Namibia were ideally suited for training: The mountain bike trails in the Aus Mountains are a mountain biker’s paradise. The first Klein-Aus Vista MTB Challenge was held there on 30 April and 1 May last year; the next one is scheduled for 29 and 30 April this year.

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More than 12,000 metres in altitude / Wanted: 12,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook

Frank Snyman and Piet Swiegers training for the Trans Andes Challenge on the mountain bike trails of Klein-Aus Vista. Photo: Sophia Snyman

Frank Snyman and Piet Swiegers training for the Trans Andes Challenge on the mountain bike trails of Klein-Aus Vista. Photo: Sophia Snyman

Namibia is represented at the brutal mountain bike race through the Chilean Andes for the first time: Frank Snyman and Piet Swiegers are taking part in the Trans Andes Challenge from 23 to 28 January as individual bike riders. They are sponsored by Toshiba Namibia and the Gondwana Collection Namibia. Their wives Sophia and Christine are in Chile with them to lend support. But Namibians and Namibia fans can also help them to conquer the amount of more than 12,000 metres in altitude – by ‘liking’ them on Gondwana’s Facebook page to spur them on. The demanding six-leg race through the heart of the Patagonian Andes in Chile is driven on single tracks, off-road vehicle tracks and open terrain. Panguipulli is the start, Pucón the finish. The challenge is not posed by the distance that has to be covered per leg (50 to 82 km) but by the altitude that has to be negotiated: differences in altitude of between 1,780 m and 2,500 m have to be overcome every day. Of course there are plenty of downhill stretches as well, but the mountain bikers have to ‘climb’ 12,250 m in total. This race demands the utmost from the bike riders, physically as well as mentally. The number of participants is limited to 250. Piet Swiegers (Klein-Aus Vista/Gondwana) drives in the men’s Elite Category (under 45 years), Frank Snyman (Toshiba Namibia) in the Veteran Class (over 45 years).

Frank Snyman and Piet Swiegers training for the Trans Andes Challenge on the mountain bike trails of Klein-Aus Vista.  Photo: Sophia Snyman

Frank Snyman and Piet Swiegers training for the Trans Andes Challenge on the mountain bike trails of Klein-Aus Vista. Photo: Sophia Snyman

None of the two wants to compete with the professional mountain bikers but both of them are determined to represent Namibia as best as they can. They have prepared for the event for a long time. The grounds of the Klein-Aus Vista Gondwana lodge near Aus in south-western Namibia were ideally suited for training: The mountain bike trails in the Aus Mountains are a mountain biker’s paradise. The first Klein-Aus Vista MTB Challenge was held there on 30 April and 1 May last year; the next one is scheduled for 29 and 30 April this year. All Namibians and Namibia fans are kindly asked to actively support Trans Andes mountain bikers Frank Snyman and Piet Swiegers. On each of the six days of the race ‘likes’ are collected on the Facebook page of the Gondwana Collection Namibia (www.facebook.com/gondwana.collection.namibia). The aim is one ‘like’ for each metre in altitude which the two Namibians have to conquer. Each morning the accompanying team on site, Sophia Snyman and Christine Swiegers, will upload pictures and information on the previous leg and the progress of the race.

Conquering the Andes for Namibia (l.t.r.): Frank and Sophia Snyman as well as Christine and Piet Swiegers.  Photo: contributed

Conquering the Andes for Namibia (l.t.r.): Frank and Sophia Snyman as well as Christine and Piet Swiegers. Photo: contributed

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