By: Omeshnie Naidoo
Johannesburg - Biker Queen Seipei Mashugane, co-host of e.tv’s travel and lifestyle show, Double-Up Mzansi Style, has been a biker all her life.
“As a teenager in the township, I cycled,” says Mashugane. “I did it for years but stopped in my 20s.
“I yearned to go back. I wanted to reconnect with what made me tick, but when I did, I realised how tough it was.
“I used to be able to cycle 20 to 30km with ease, but now was physically exhausted in just a short distance.
“I was no longer the engine,” she says.
Her love for two wheels saw her go from bicycle to motorcycle.
“Those that knew me were not surprised,” she says. “I chose an 1800 Yamaha, a massive 365kg machine, certainly not a starter bike,” laughs the mother of two.
These days the 34-year-old rides a Ducati 1098 S and a Honda VT1300. She is passionate about the preservation of biking culture in South Africa.
“When I started biking there were a lot of people who wanted to hold me back, but the majority of bikers I encountered were such good people.
“The biking community in our country – people who love bikes and own and ride them as a hobby – are the best of people,” she says, “perhaps not the conventional idea of bikers some people have.”
“Motorcycling is expensive and often the people who take it up are professional, senior people in their workspace and accomplished riders.
“They have brought a lot of respect to the leather outfit. Biking may seem uncharacteristic, but I guess biking is a release for them.
“Bikers are also so giving – you only need to look at the charity rides our South African clubs do to see this.
“I think in the past few years, a lot of young guys have come into biking and attached being cool or drinking to the sport, but they are actually missing the point. Lifestyle and family events are what real bikers are truly about.
“I have been privileged to have ridden with almost every club and tried a number of different motorcycles,” she says. “I found a real sense of brotherhood. It opened up a new world to me.
“I was now interacting with these big biker men.
“I used to be scared just looking at them, but they turned out to be the sweetest men ever, and they all had such respect for me.”
1 IN 9 RIDE
She soon realised that most of the women in the biking world were pillion passengers, not bikers themselves, which is what prompted the 1 in 9 ride in 2009 – one woman riding across nine provinces in nine days to raise money for charity and elevate the position of women in the biking world.
She was soon discovered by Double-Up Mzansi Style, which provided her with the opportunity to take her supporters with her on her journey to discover South Africa.
Mashugane also co-hosted the Motorcyle Diary on Radio 702 every Thursday, where she tackled road safety issues, lifestyle, events and gave reviews on the latest bikes.
Mashugane, who owns and runs a mining supply company called Maznic, says biking has been a metaphor for her life.
“I learnt how to ride in three days and while I have fallen, thankfully I haven’t had any major accidents.
“Riding is a metaphor for life. You do fall, but it’s about getting back up and doing it again.
“Bikes are like the world. It has its own motor.
“It’s going to keep on going, with or without you, so you have to learn to stay on.”