In 1977, Bill Mylrea and John Stegmann, two Cape Town cycling enthusiasts, organised the “Big Ride-In” to raise safety awareness and lobby for bike paths. The following year The Argus sponsored the cycle tour, and the inaugural event was held on 28 October 1978. A total of 525 entrants started outside the Castle in Strand Street, and 446 finished in Camps Bay, having clocked a total distance of 104km.
In 2014, the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Momentum Cycle Tour was renamed the Cape Town Cycle Tour to recognise its global status and international appeal. In 2015 the route was shortened to 47km because of the devastating fires that raged across the Southern Peninsula.
Fast forward to 2017, and 35 000 cyclists are set to embark on the 109km route. If you’re one of the entrants, here are seven tips to get you through this year’s Cape Town Cycle Tour.
1. The night before
Make sure you have adequate amounts of your favourite carbohydrate drink – put it in the fridge or freezer the night before. Decide what you will take to eat on the ride and pack it into easy-access bags. Put your helmet, cycling clothes (pin your race number to your shirt), gloves and sunglasses out. Make sure that your start and finish cards and your transponder are with your clothes. Check your bike – including pumps, spare tubes and puncture repair kits. And don’t forget to pack plenty of sunblock.
2. Be prepared for emergencies
Remember to save all emergency contact details on your phone – and make sure it’s fully charged. Don’t forget to pack your medical aid card so the medical staff can access your details.
3. Know your times
Minimise any possible anxiety ahead of the race by making sure you know your starting time and when you need to be in your chute. If you’re starting later, make a note of which roads are going to be closed and when, so that you can get to the start on time.
4. On the ride
If you’re feeling nervous or it’s your first cycle tour, just keep to the left. Look in front of you at all times and watch out for any incidents. If you need to pull out for whatever reason, move to the side of the road and wait for the sweep vehicle, or stop at any of the official bail-out points.
5. Hydrate your body
You need to drink enough water (but not to the point that you overhydrate) on the route. You can stop at the water points along the way, but be water wise and don’t waste any by pouring it over your head to cool down. Cape Town is currently experiencing level 3B water restrictions!
6. Avoid the burn
You’ll be on your bicycle for a number of hours so apply plenty of sunblock before you start. Don’t forget to slather up your neck, ears, arms, wrists and legs. Reapply regularly along the way – the only burn you should feel the next day is in your muscles, not on your skin.
7. Enjoy the ride!
It’s a gruelling 109km ride along the Cape Town peninsula – but remember to enjoy yourself! Take in the scenery and appreciate the encouragement of the supporters along the route. When you reach the end, don't come to a dead stop – you'll cause a pile up. And don't forget, exercise releases your body's own painkillers called endorphins into your system.
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