After enduring 109 kilometers, I finally have a race medal I can add to Ali’s overflowing wall of racing accomplishments.
My official time in the Cape Argus Cycle Tour was 4:54:36, which I’m very happy with for my first-ever bike race.
The racing aspect was fun, but the atmosphere along the course made the day incredible. I now understand why so many of my friends keep signing up for races. The feeling of competing and riding/running with so many other people is a special thing.
There were 35,000 cyclists in the race and tens of thousands more Capetonians lined the roads to cheer us on.
The biggest crowds headed to two of the four large climbs – Edinburgh Drive and Suikerbossie. People cheered, sang songs, played instruments, sprayed water and a few handed out beers.
In one beach town I saw some guys who had opened their garage along the street, set up a small stage and rocked out for the cyclists cruising by.
The crowd was especially helpful on Suikerbossie, which is the most notorious hill on the course. The 2.5 kilometer climb is consistently steep and unmercifully comes after you’ve already completed almost 90 percent of the race.
I had climbed Suikerbossie and Chapman’s Peak – the second hardest climb just about 7 kilometers earlier – many times since they are near by house. I’m very proud to say that I set personal records on both climbs during the race. The cheering crowds gave me an extra kick.
Two sections race stand out to me as particularly memorable. The first came as we passed through an area along the Atlantic coast called Misty Cliffs. When I rode Misty Cliffs in training I had a stiff headwind, but on race day the wind was at my back.
The southeaster that was helping push us also tends to clear up the ocean, so the water was looking especially blue and clean as you looked down the cliffs and saw thousands of cyclists for kilometers in the distance.
My other favorite section came about 30 minutes later as we passed the Ocean View township. In every town we passed people lined the streets, but the Ocean View residents took it to the next level with a dozen-person drum band and a giant cardboard and paper-mache figure that was dancing around. Little kids even lined the roads and held out their hands for high-fives. It was an amazing boost during the later stages of the race.
It was an incredible day and will easily be one of the highlights of my trip. I’m already planning and plotting ways to get back to Cape Town and ride this race again.
You certainly look the part of a cyclist! I hope four hours in a bike seat is worthy of a place on Ali’s medal wall.