13 Oct, 2016

I want to ride my Bicycle


Although Liezel van der Westhuizen spends most of her time modelling, hosting events and presenting shows on TV and radio, she always makes time for the one thing she really loves: Cycling! Take a look at some of the awesome things Liezel does when she gets a break from her ‘everyday life.’ – BY KYLE DEELEY

MC: Who taught you to ride a bicycle?
LVDW: My dad.

MC: What is your favourite cycling memory?
LVDW: Waking up on the morning of my seventh birthday and seeing a pink bicycle next to my bed, neatly placed with a red ribbon around it.

MC: What other exercise do you do when you’re not cycling?
LVDW: When I am not cycling, I spend a lot of time doing stand-up paddle boarding. I love it and can spend hours at a time out on the water.

MC: Who do you enjoy riding with most?
LVDW: I enjoy riding with my cycling partner Mike Fannin. He is a much stronger cyclist than me, but is very patient when I am struggling up a climb. He is also motivating, which helps through the hard times.

MC: Who is your cycling hero?
LVDW: My hero is Zanele Tshoko. I met her through the Velokhaya Cycling Academy and we trained together for the Double Century. Now Zanele has been invited by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) to take part in the African Women’s Cycling Team Training Camp at the UCI World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland. I am so proud of this incredible woman!

MC: What is one thing that nobody knows about you?
LVDW: I haven’t been on my mountain bike for the past year because I am currently recovering from various old mountain biking injuries. I am working with Johno Meintjies from Fitness Faculty on a recovery programme to get me back on the bike. I didn’t do any rehab after those injuries and now they’re all catching up with me…

MC: You are very involved in the media industry, working on radio and television, hosting events and doing motivational talks. What is this industry like and what made you choose this career path?
LVDW: I have always loved the media industry and growing up I could always see myself doing it. I love working in the media and I have a lot of fun on a daily basis. I also make it my goal to introduce as many of my work colleagues as possible to cycling. I work with Ryan O’Connor on KFM Breakfast and introduced him to the mountain biking scene.

MC: You are only the second woman in the world to present Idols… What was it like presenting the show?
LVDW: It’s an incredible opportunity that I was given and it helped me get a whole lot more involved in the entertainment industry. The show also does a lot to promote young singing talent in South Africa, making it even more interesting to work with them.

MC: When you’re not working (or cycling), what do you do in your spare time?
LVDW: I spend this spare time sitting on the beach, soaking up the rays. I enjoy being on the beach and most days will take my rescue puppy Leia with me.

MC: You have competed in many gruelling events over the years, but what was the hardest event, and why?
LVDW: Ironman was incredibly hard for me. I had only ridden a bicycle as a youngster and had to start learning to ride a bicycle properly again 12 weeks before Ironman started. This was a massive challenge for me, and to make things worse, I had to learn to use cleats. The race was incredibly gruelling, but I finished – and that’s all that matters.

MC: Tell us about the charity work you also do.
LVDW: I am doing the full Ironman next year to raise funds for SONGO.INFO, which is a fund that aims to better the lives of township children in South Africa. Then I work with Signature of Hope, which is a non-profit organisation that aims to build communities and better lives. I also serve on the Safe Cycling Committee and go round to schools to promote safe cycling and hand out helmets, reflector bibs and lights to those who can’t afford them.

MC: Who is your all-time favourite cyclist?
LVDW: My all-time favourite has to be South African Olympian Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio. She is the future of women’s cycling in SA and an inspiration to all young cyclists in this country.

MC: Do you have any advice for those entering the sport of cycling?
LVDW: Find a cycling group in your area, join it and make cycling a regular activity. I joined the Pedal Power Association (PPA) and have met so many people through this amazing group.

Kyle Deeley

Kyle Deeley

Editorial Assistant |