Hello and greetings from the halfway point of my South African adventure.
I don’t have one specific topic I’m writing about today but figured I am due for an update from the Mother City (as Capetonians like to refer to their city).
My legs/knees/feet seem to be fully recovered from the Tsitsikamma hike, although I’m still beating them up a bit as I prepare for my next big challenge, the Cape Argus Cycle Tour. The Argus is the largest timed cycle race in the world with around 35,000 riders (!) on the 109 km route.
The race is on March 9 so I’ve kicked my training into high gear. This morning I logged about 50 kilometers, which has been my longest training ride yet. Next week I’ll get in some 50-75 km rides and do one 100 km ride the weekend before the race.
(Yes, I’ve pretty much stopped thinking about distance in terms of miles. Temperature, however, has proved more challenging and I keep my apps in Fahrenheit.)
I can’t imagine there being a more scenic cycling course anywhere in the world. The race starts in town then winds its way around the Cape Peninsula. The first half is relatively flat, and then you hit the end of the peninsula and some serious hills. The course is largely along the coastline and has some stunning vistas.
I’m told that thousands of people line the course on race day to offer encouragement, snacks and even a few places to stop off for a beer. The signs have already started going up warning of road closures on race day.
I live smack between the two largest hills on the course so my training rides all take me up at least one of them. It’s painful but I figure it’s much better to train on the hills than the flats.
Unfortunately, those two hills come towards the end of the race. The second tallest, Chapman’s Peak, is about 80 km into the race and the long, steep Suikerbossie hill is at the 90 km mark. I ride Suikerbossie on fresh legs and get wiped out, so we’ll see how it goes on dead legs.
As you might have figured out by now reading this blog, Cape Town is a very active city. The motto of Sean and Oliver’s bar is “Work Hard, Play Hard” and that could very easily be the motto for the whole city. My weekends have been fun of riding, diving, wine tasting, long lunches and braais (the South African term for barbecuing, which they take VERY seriously).
During the past week I’ve been keeping myself busy by trying to get a few articles off the ground and helping the internship business launch a new website (with payment in the form of a Forex bar tab, thank you very much). I’ve made a few contacts connected with the Cape Town World Design Capital, plus I’m pursuing writing about a project in the townships that creates gardens on shacks to grow food, keep them cool in the sun and prevent fires. Hopefully some of those pan out.
I’m also having a good time working on the website. It turns out I miss writing and helping design a site.
Seeing as I can’t stray too far from my Portland roots, I’ve also been exploring Cape Town’s thriving coffee scene. Cape Town is a hip, young city and beyond wine, people are seriously into craft beer and artisan coffee.
Case in point: I’m sitting at a long communal wood table now drinking an Ethiopian pour-over that was served in a wine glass because, as the waiter explained, that helps bring out the flavor of the beans. Sound familiar?
This roaster, called Origins, also does cold brew. Iced coffee in South Africa typically means a frozen concoction so I’m very glad to have a solid cold coffee option in the summer heat.
The weather has generally been very nice so far, although this weekend was a scorcher. February is typically the hottest month of the year here, but even Capetonians were complaining about the 100+ heat on Saturday and Sunday.
We spent part of Sunday wine tasting in Stellenbosch, which is a bit inland and therefore at bit hotter. At one point my weather app said we hit 108. Not even the car AC could keep up with that and it felt like a hairdryer blowing when we opened the windows.
Today is actually overcast and drizzly, which is a welcome change. I’m not going to complain much, however, because a typical summer day ranges between 75-85 degrees and usually has a nice breeze.
That breeze, however, can easily become 15-30 mph gusts, which is a real pain when it’s blowing in your face during a ride.
I mentioned this to a few of you already, but I’m ending my trip a week earlier than I originally planned. I’m doing a week at the end in Turkey and it turns out that Oliver and Sean are also planning to be in Istanbul for a day en route to Nepal for a trek to Mount Everest base camp.
I changed my ticket so our Istanbul trips will overlap, which means I’ll be back in the states on April 7 instead of April 15.
I have just 3.5 weeks left until Ali and Marcus arrive. I’ve been missing all my Portland friends and family a lot so I’m very excited to welcome them and show off Cape Town. I think Marcus will be impressed with my driving skills, although I would stay away from me once I return until I stop driving like a South African and return to driving like an Oregonian.