Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour, South Africa

 

Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour 2013, South Africa - Cycle Race
Sunday 10th March, 2013
Weather: Sunny
82F / 28C
Total Time = 03:24:29
Overall Rank = 3195/31644

The Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour is arguably one the cycle races every cyclist should have on their bucket list, with it being the largest individually time cycling event in the world and being located in the stunning Western Cape, South Africa. The race itself attracts cyclists from around the world, with the majority being South Africans of course and the race showcasing some of the best road cycling routes around Cape Town, including the False Bay Coast, the famous Chapmans Peak, and the infamous Suikerbossie Hill, although known to myself as Alex’s Hill of Death.

I wanted to do this race since I started getting into cycling and living in Cape Town in 2010, but five weeks before the race I was diagnosed with a bilateral femoroacetabular impingement with chondrolabral damage that required hip arthroscopy on both sides. Roll on a few years and I finally made it to the starting line with one of my oldest friend whose fault it was that I got into cycling. Not only does he come with a wealth of knowledge as he works in the bike industry, but he also sold me my first road bike, which I then wrote off in a car door a few weeks later. Good start to my cycling adventure.

An early start is a must; due to the Western Cape Heat, and the amount of cyclist taking part. Some cyclist don’t depart until 10am, and some won’t finish until 5pm. Our aim was to keep the time under 3hr30mins, a time quite capable for both of us, but my friend who I was hoping to pace me through the race, had an upset stomach 24hrs before the race. Not a pretty sight I must admit. Pre-race meant to ensure he got to the starting line in the first place, and to ensure that he had everything he required for the race. Strategy was that I would pace him instead for the majority of the first 50km, and then either stick with him through the whole race or just go and try and hammer the rest on my own.

The first few km were relative slow, simply because the amount of cyclist in front of us, who were slower than us. The Cape Argus Cycle Tour has a seeding system, and you have to do a few races in South Africa to ensure an earlier starting time. As an International Entry we did not have this option, and subsequently started at the end of the seeded places. I believe that the majority of International Entries are cyclists of decent quality, who would benefit from starting further up the field. I for one would not fly all that way, if I would struggle through the race.
We knew that once we get some of the first climbs that the field would stretch out and give us room to move, and subsequently with only one hickup of a spare inner tube getting into my buddies backwheel, all went well with him sitting behind me most of the time. In his defence, that although he sat on my backwheel initially, he is a cyclist who gets better and better the longer the race is, and I knew that even with his stomach problems he would grind through it and do well.

At the 50km on top of Swartkop Hill, I decided to go out on my own. My friend seemed okay, but I wanted to push a bit more. And off I went, the aim was to finish in under 3hr 30mins and I knew if I found another cyclists going a the right pace that I could do it. Yet only for about a 15km Section which was relative flat was there another cyclist going at my pace, or I should say I was trying to go at his pace. Once the climbing started again, I was not able to keep up. But it gave me the momentum to continue to push, and for the next 17km I was on my own, although there being a massive amount of other cyclists on the road, there pace was not my pace.

With my arrival at the Top of Chapmans Peak, I knew that all was possible with my time being 2hr 35mins then, and on the way down picking my way around other cyclists carefully, as I m not the greatest descender. On the way down from Chapmans Peak I found another cyclists who wanted to do under 3hr30min as well. So off we went, and in truth he pushed me harder that I could sustain, but I managed to keep the pace until Suikerbosse Hill, which I call Alex’s Hill of Death, simply because it is a straight climb which seems to go on forever. I don’t mind climbing, yet I prefer them to have a few bends, to keep my mind occupied. I always end up struggling on this hill. At the top of Suikerbosse it is pretty much a straight shot of 16km to the finishing line, with the majority of it with a slight descent. Every cyclist know that once you made it across Suikerbosse, you are pretty much home.

The finishing line was near with last 16km being over quickly, but which included calf cramps, and another cyclist pacing me the last 1km, as I just wanted to roll through the last section. He didn’t let me slow down, so thank you very much. My face at the finishing line said it all, I don’t think I was able to even smile, but final time was 03:24:29. Success. My buddy finished only 10minutes behind me. Did say that he gets stronger throughout the race. Was told that he even stopped for a loo-break. Impressive performance knowing what he went through the prior 24hrs.

Will I do it again? Yes! The Aim next time under 3hrs. Is it possible? It’s a definite yes for 2015!