Letshego Zulu , better known by her fans and friends as "GI Jane", will be getting back on her mountain bike in March next year to take on the Absa Cape Epic for the second time.
The race has bittersweet memories for her.
Back in 2013, as she crossed the finish line to complete her first race, her late husband, popular racing driver Gugu Zulu , proposed to her.
"Gugu was a great influence and got me involved in this fantastic sport, which really resonated with my adventurous side," says Zulu of her late husband, who rode his fourth Absa Cape Epic early last year, and a few months later died tragically of altitude sickness while on an expedition to Mount Kilimanjaro.
Zulu, who cut her extreme-adventure teeth on Fear Factor South Africa in 2006 and made it to the finals of Survivor South Africa: Maldives in 2011, is always up for a challenge.
And the 658km Absa Cape Epic, with its 13 550m of climbing, certainly fits the bill.
Attracting teams from 50 countries, it showcases some of the most beautiful landscapes of the Western Cape. The race begins with a Prologue on Table Mountain on March 18 and finishes at Val de Vie Estate in Paarl on March 25.
Zulu feels she's ready for next year's Absa Cape Epic as she has a good understanding of what to expect, and is excited about and looking forward to the race. Although this time around, she has "more obstacles that make it a little more challenging and interesting, such as being a mom to a toddler", she says she now knows the amount of time needed to dedicate to preparing for it.
For the 15th edition of the Absa Cape Epic in 2018, Zulu will partner with Maurice Mdlolo for team Land Rover, Gugu's former riding partner, and team "Sleek and Rugged Rovers" will also keep Gugu's rider number, 411.
"It certainly helps to be good friends with your partner," Zulu notes, adding that she's looking forward to "giving it a bash with someone you get along with, someone who you can be brutally honest with, without egos getting in the way. Maurice is an amazing friend and certainly my best bet at somehow enjoying the suffer-fest and creating great memories," she quips.
The Absa Cape Epic is a must-ride event on the international mountain-biking calendar. The race attracts people from all around the world and produces many inspirational stories every year.
"I've met some incredible people participating in this event, and I look forward to meeting more amazing people next year," says Zulu.
Gugu and Letshego Zulu (Supplied)