I haven’t been on a SUP or surfboard since 13 Feb 2017, my birthday – and that was in Paternoster. The reason for that is simply because I’ve been training all out for my virgin Cape Town Cycle Tour (previously known as the Argus) at every opportunity. I started training in November already but decided the last month will be total dedication.
If you don’t know what the Cape Town Cycle Tour is, it’s a 107km cycle, held in March of each year, going around the Cape Peninsula. It’s also the biggest timed cycle race in the world, 40 000 cyclist registered for the 2017 – so it’s big.. apparently not the toughest race in the world but for a 1st timer like me… scary – and from some of the stories I’ve heard from other amateurs – can be brutal.
As luck would have it on the day of the race – gale force winds, veld fires and protest over some part of the routes and the race is cancelled! Major disappointment for everyone involved and I’m ‘all dressed up and nowhere to go’. Downer – I’ve trained so hard, got all the energy gels and drinks and now I’ll have to wait another year to cross a 100km cycle of my bucket list.
With the above in mind I search for another race to do, just so that I can at least put my ‘cycle fitness’ to the test. I come across the ‘WACT Race’ – Week after Cycle Tour – apparently there was quite a few people who had the same idea as me and the PPA (Pedal Power Association) decided to organise this 102km race in Malmesbury. I register immediately and make arrangements for the coming weekend to go race… and so the big day arrives Saturday 19 March 2017 – Race day in Malmesbury!
The race starts from the show grounds which is right next to the accommodation spot we booked via AirBnB. The weather forecast is for a hot day (36 degrees C) and some moderate wind. Race starts at 07h00 and I’m there by 06h00 to get my race number. I’m not seeded so I start right at the back, group W. At about 06h40 I move to the starting line up – nervous, exited – all at once. As I walk to the back of the grid I can’t but help observe that most of the other cyclist looked like pro’s – fancy bikes, with all the gear and accessories – and here I am with my old mountain bike, tekkies and brand new cycling shirt!
Of course the start would be delayed, donno exactly what the reason was but we only get away at 07h30 – by now I’m so ready to go ….
The 1st 10km or so is pretty uneventful, we ride out of town and into the country. There are no major uphills and I even manage to pass some riders that were seeded in the earlier groups, I’m feeling strong.
The next 10km feels like one big climb and there is one really long, steep hill, the wind picked up and is blowing straight into our faces making life on the bike just that much tougher. I’m still within a bunch of riders.
Once over the crest there is a looong down stretch and never the less the wind, I motor downhill and cruise the relatively flat section at a decent speed to the 1st water point at about 27km in. I refill my water bottle and grab a handful of jelly beans and jump back on the bike. Only 75km to go – I’m feeling good.
During the next 30km to the next water point at 57km, things gets a bit tougher, the wind is definitely stronger (and either in your face or pushing you side ways) and it’s getting hot. The bunch of riders has now thinned out to a series of individuals or pairs all pushing forward, heads down, legs pumping. I get to the 2nd water point at just after 10am, about 2 and a half hours of cycling. Same procedure as at the 1st point, refill water, grab some jelly beans and go… 45km to go and I’m feeling ok.
The 3rd and final water point is at 81km, that’s my aim now… get there. There are no big hills to climb, it’s just what they call rollers – a series of up and downs. This really drains my energy and with the heat I can now feel that I’ve been in the saddle for a couple of hours. At around 75km I start to wonder why the hell am I doing this to myself..!? But here I am.. I’m just gunning for the 3rd water point now, my legs are starting to protest as I get closer to 80km but at least by now I can see the flag indicating the water point, it’s uphill… I’m tired!