Cycling the Cape Argus

cape town cycle tourI’ll start with a small confession – I wasn’t really that keen to go to Cape Town. The main reason being that it seemed a long way to go for a 3 and bit hour bike ride. How wrong can you be!

The trip turned out to be one of the most fun and enjoyable trips we have been on, for so many reasons. To start with, Cape Town is a stunning location, the weather was perfect – nice temperature and crystal clear blue skies. Our group of 7 got along really well, with no stress or disagreements, which really added to the trip.

We had some great food and drink at some stunning restaurants, a fantastic wine tour (big thanks to Nick Brooks for his assistance with this), and of course some great rides! Huge thanks also goes to Lena who kept us organised throughout the trip.

So to the cycling. We started with a coffee run on the Friday; a gentle 60km warm up to make sure our bikes were ok after their flight. The ride out was fine, coffee was good, nice to catch up with other people who had come down from Dubai. As we headed out after coffee, the comedy moment of the trip – my front tyre was flat, no problem, I have a spare. However, as we took the front wheel off, the back tyre burst in sympathy! So there I am with two punctures. Luckily I borrowed a tube, and we were on our way.

Saturday’s ride took us the wrong way along the Argus route, heading out of Cape Town, through Camps Bay, and toward Hout Bay. After a quick stop for coffee and a scone, we headed back to Cape Town. While steep, I was wondering what all the fuss was about Suikerbossie – or Psycho Pussy as we nicknamed it! – I would find out why on race day…

cape town cycle tour cyclist

So to the main event. Andy, Keith and I had a starting time of 6.29. So an early start! Breakfast at 4.30, leave the hotel at 5.30, and into our starting area for just before 6. National anthem plays over the PA, and off the pro’s go. We then start moving forward. Nerves building, but the weather is just about perfect – cool, dry and hardly any wind. As an aside, lots of talk has been had about times – 3 hours being something to aim for – assumed this was out of reach, needing an average of 36.1km/h over the 109km.

Bang! That’s our start! Off we go. I have to confess I have not studied the route, I have no idea where we are going! Probably not the best preparation, but can’t worry about it now. The route quickly climbs, pace OK, keeping up with the pack. Heart rate high, but manageable. 3 rises, and then descent – wow, look down at the Garmin – 71km/h! Concentrate. Stay with the pack. Watch out for the tandems flying by!

Then follows a lovely 20km or so on the motorway, speeds in the high 30’s running with the pack. Now on my own – Andy and Keith nowhere to be seen – could be ahead or behind, no idea! Pace is looking good – maybe the 3 hours could be on!

We reach Simon’s town, the road surface gets worse and narrows, and the pace slows as we funnel through. Average down from 37 to mid 34 – oh well, let’s enjoy the ride.

Reach the southern most point, and then turn back to Cape Town. The road climbs, and I am passing groups of people as they start to tire. As we reach the top, I find myself at the front of the group with about 12 others, and in the distance, there is another group. Well let’s go for it! Some lovely downhill roads, speeds over 50km/h. After 10kms of chasing we finally reach the group. Great, done it!! Not so fast… before we can recover, the road kicks up, and almost immediately we are dropped! Average now high 35’s…

Ok, keep pushing, now approaching Chapman’s peak – quick look at the scenery – wow this is stunning! Road is climbing, following the coast line, legs burning, hook on to two Novo Nordisk riders, and hope for a group, which soon arrives. Reach the top of Chapman’s, sun in our eyes, and start the descent to Hout Bay. Fly down, but stay in control – sadly a couple of people have already come off, and look in a bad way.

Through Hout Bay, crowd already building, and giving very welcome encouragement. Then start climbing – must be the Psycho – but this doesn’t look familiar… a few minutes later recognize where we had got to the day before – ah, so only rode half the climb!! No time to worry now, push, push, push! Reach the top, and again time to head downhill, speeds up into the high 60’s, don’t think about the consequences of coming off… Average touching 36 – is this possible?!cape town cycle finsih

Descent over all too soon, into Camps Bay. Again great support from the crowds, the small climb out of Camps Bay feels like Everest now, but try to keep the speed up. Now approaching Cape Town, push as hard as possible, look down at the Garmin – watch as the time ticks over the 3 hours mark! 2km to go – so close yet so far! Cross the line with a time of 3 hours 2 minutes, average of 35.7km/h for 109km, actually very pleased with the time – first attempt at the event, lots to learn, and a perfect reason to come back next year!

In summary, the route was amazing, fellow cyclists were generally very friendly, and looked out for each other. Indeed the whole trip was great fun for so many reasons, and one I would recommend to any cyclist.

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