The 34th edition of the legendary Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour took place yesterday in Cape Town; and after the howling southeasters of the last two years, most of the 35 000 cyclists set to take part in this year’s Cycle Tour were understandably nervous to even mention the word “wind” or “southeaster” this time around. Even though weather reports were predicting light breezes from the south and north west, the terror was still there, lurking. So when Sunday finally dawned, breathless and calm, there was a collective sigh of relief on the starting line in downtown Cape Town. This was going to be a peach of a day: there was no doubt.
I had been hit by a nasty flu a week before, so was pretty gutted as I was entered and had been quietly hoping for exactly this kind of day to fly around the Peninsula. Especially after the last two years of wind. So after a few days of denial I finally decided (along with my Doctor’s emphatic advice) to not ride, and to take up my spot on the roadside as a supporter. This didn’t stop me from collecting my number and goodie bag from the expo and perving at some of the bicycle porn (carbon frames, sexy single speeds, imported shoes, etc) and witness the pre-race consumer frenzy that cyclists are quite good at.
Back to Sunday, race day: windless, crisp and clear, the soft light of dawn tickling Table Mountain in golden hues as the city woke up, to deliver the finest day possible for the masses of cyclists who launched in wave after wave onto the Cape Peninsula for their 2011 Cycle Tour voyage. Every type of bicycle was there: from tandems to unicycles, bmx’s to recumbents, vintage postman bikes to carbon racers…and more. This humungus event draws all sorts of cyclists for all sorts of reasons. For many it is to compete against their own time from a previous year, for many it is to soak up the atmosphere of the largest timed cycle race in the world, for some it is to raise funds for charity, and for others it is just a good day out, enjoying the sights and sounds of the Cape Peninsula. This quote, from a Tour de France enthusiast, back in the 1930′s seems quite appropriate on this occasion: “We are gathered here in common celebration of the divine bicycle.”
I was on the course at the 104km mark, after watching the start since dawn on tv, I saw the leaders flash by, then the rest of the organised groups of sub 3 hour cyclists, and finally the post-lunch time riders who are definitely the most entertaining to watch, with loads of fantastic outfits, headgear, bodysuits and accessories cruising past. Like the guy on the bmx wearing his luminous green mankini, the various superheroes, the commuters in their business suits complete with fresh baguettes on the rack, the many cows in full suits with jangling dairy bells, the odd banana, a few cheerleaders, it was all there and all happening, all day.
So hats off to all those who put on a brilliant event and those who took part and enjoyed it. See you next year! I might even make it to the start line next time. Maybe even in my mankini who knows.
Here are some pics of what I saw from my spot at 104km throughout the day…