British Olympic Games hero Dame Kelly Holmes, at home on the athletics track, will move out of her comfort zone when she takes on the Bestmed Tour of Good Hope cycling race in South Africa next year.
The 46-year-old double gold medal winner at the Athens Olympics in 2004 says she is a rookie on the bike and that she is a touch nervous about tackling the 515km (320-mile) examination.
Holmes, who lives in Kent in south-east England, will join eight British cyclists who will travel to South Africa for the country’s flagship road tour among the Cape Winelands from March 6 to 10.
The former middle-distance athlete, who has a holiday home in Stellenbosch, said she had entered the Tour of Good Hope after discussions with her friend and semi-pro rider Alexis Barnes.
Barnes has helped Holmes adapt to life on the bike and assisted the track star through her first outing in the RideLondon-Surrey 46, which took place in east London in July.
Holmes knows she is in for one of the toughest assignments of her sporting career, but said she would be “hoping for some good hope”.
“I enjoy a personal challenge and doing something at which I’m not so good makes me all the more determined to do well,” she said.
After doing the London Marathon in April, Holmes said she felt her running days were numbered, despite a notable time of 3:11.
“I realised my body is not geared up for running these days, so I thought I would get on my bike a bit more.”
Now she will test herself in South Africa’s premier road tour and she said she had plenty of training to do.
“I know I have to train really hard for the next four months. I just want to get as good as I can and not let the others down.”
The British star retired from athletics in 2005 after winning both the 800m and 1 500m races in Athens.
She was knighted in the same year and has become closely involved in charity work, setting up the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust to assist children who are disadvantaged.
She will use her trip to the Tour of Good Hope, which is presented by Scicon and the City of Drakenstein, to continue her fundraising efforts, while she also wants to take the chance to raise the profile of the cancer disease, myeloma.
“My mother is suffering from the disease and we want to bring more awareness to those who are battling with it,” said Holmes.
“We want to get the right treatment and the right drugs to the patients, so I want to do more work to raise that awareness.”