Published on 21st October 2016
Last month Timor-Leste based volunteer Birgit Hermann finished on top of her category for one of the most gruelling mountain bike races in the Southern Hemisphere - the Tour de Timor.
The race covers 450 kilometres in five stages and was started in 2009 by the second President of the Republic, and Nobel Peace Laureate, Dr. José Ramos-Horta, as part of his peace-building and nation-building campaigns.
Birgit is a keen mountain biker, having previously completed a 96 day, 12,000 km, ride from Cairo to Cape Town.
“I was very excited to find out that the country where I just signed up to do a one-year volunteer assignment hosts this annual race, and immediately knew that I would enter it.”
It’s not a race for the fainthearted however, with intense heat adding to the steep difficult terrain, making it a race that not everyone completes.
“The third day [was the toughest]. Temperatures climbed above the 40 degree mark and when I hit the last 8km uphill my gears suddenly didn’t work anymore and I ended up walking and pushing my bike up most of the hill. It took two hours with some near fainting experiences.
“Over 30 people got picked up on that day due to heat exhaustion and one of my teammates had a crash and was in the ambulance.”
It wasn’t all heat exhaustion and broken arms though. In the last stage of the race, Birgit ended up riding with Timor-Leste’s Olympic mountain biker Anche Cabral.
“I caught up with Anche on the flat part and she shouted out ‘Let’s work together’. This was the best thing that could have happened to me. It really felt like a race at that point! It was so much fun and the crowds were spectacular, clapping hands and hooraying us everywhere - it was real goose bumps material.”
Birgit finished the race as the first Female Masters rider across the line and third overall with her #FetoMalae team-mates in the women's team section. Congratulations Birgit!