Last week I completed the Cape Town Cycling Tour, formerly known as the Argus. This is the third largest timed event in the world with around 35,000 participants, and after entering last year, but travelling and missing it, I had to re-sign and plan to do it this year.
My training didn’t go quite to plan, much to many people’s disgust, and in the lead up to the ride, I had managed to clock up an ‘impressive’ 441km of actual bike riding since May! I must admit, that my constant checking and re-checking of the route, and the elevations – I was a tad apprehensive beforehand, but a big Thursday night of beer and shisha, followed by a few beers and another shisha on Friday, and finally no beer and a little shisha on Saturday night and I was all set!
The route was touted as being both gruelling yet picturesque as it headed south from the City Bowl through Constantia, Muizenburg, Simons Town, Smitswinkel and along the Atlantic Ocean then around to the Indian Ocean seaboard over the infamous Chapmans Peak mountains, into Hout Bay, Camps Bay and back to Cape Town stadium. My confidence wasn’t given any boost the night before when the SA weather department issued the follwing forecasts including wind gust between 50-70km/h for the entire race day, with the first 50-60km into a head wind. What had I signed up for, and had my pre-ride training been actually adequate?
The issue was I had gone public and told too many people I was doing it to back out, but I did think of what excuses I could use to ‘pull out’ or should I simply start, roll around the corner and hang out in the pub all day only to re-appear later in the day and say I’d done it…the only flaw in this plan is I would have no official time, or proof on Strava or Garmin!
The ride started at the Grand Parade precinct, made famous by being the lace where Nelson Mandela gave his world famous speech in front of hundreds of thousands of Capetownians, but today it was thousands of bikes and lots of nervous energy. With a start time of 9.26am, some 3hrs after the elite riders started (and had probably finished), it was time to roll…straight into those predicted blustery winds. I was wondering why they couldn’t have been wrong with this forecast like they were all last year with the rain predictions!
Straight away after hitting the highway it was uphill and into the wind, but the first hour went by not too bad, down past Josh’s school and onto the open freeway towards Muizenburg. A few selfies here and there, as an excuse to stop for 2-3 minutes and to prove my existence had to occur, but before I knew it I had covered 40 or so Kms and was feeling pretty good, but still really shitty about the wind.
After Simons Town then at Smitswinkel we turned right up another of the famous hills everyone talked about, but it was ok…and soon I was on the way back with some relief from the wind, and heading along the Indian Ocean.
One of the most amazing aspects was the number of supporters on the road the entire route. Every town was like a party with DJ’s, couchs and bars set up on the road, and people simply enjoying the day and giving support to all whom passed…even offering beers and Braai’s on the side of the road to cyclists!
Chapmans Peak approached – this was the big one all had warned about, and I had driven it in a car and thought holy shit…no chance, but again to my own surprise it was straight up, then I knew I had about 29km to go and about 15 of these where rolling downhill!
Hout Bay to Camps Bay was awesome rolling along the coast, with one last major hill, but again, nailed it, and then a viscous head wind greeted us back into Cape Town stadium to the finish line…
Overall, it was about a 5 1/2 hr ride for the 109km, which was better than I thought considering my preparation….and to the shock of many of my so called ‘supporters’. Stacey was in disgust that I actually made it given my choice of pre-training and pre-race preparation…but hey if it works, it works…and I can maintain the self proclaimed title of N.B.A – Natural Born Athlete….
Until next year…..and so my training has started again!