This year’s Cape Argus Cycle Tour race is set for Sunday 11th March, and if you went down to Camps Bay for breakfast this week you will have seen whole squadrons of cyclists stopping off for refueling after an early morning training run. The Argus is one of Cape Town’s premier events, with about 35,000 local, national and international cyclists taking part. As a test it’s akin to a Tour de France Stage; a 109 km circuit around the peninsular, containing at least 4 grueling and tortuous climbs. While the leaders may come through in about 2hr30 – depending on conditions, notably the wind – the rest of the field will often be making the most of the refueling stops and massage stations along the way. Some I know competing this year might even stop off for a pedicure along the way given half a chance. I would say that just completing the Argus is a noteworthy feat, only that feels a little grudging. I think just having the stuff to enter is worthy of respect. Special admiration goes to those hardy souls who dust off the old iron steed, pump up the tyres once again, go out and buy a new larger size of lycra bicycling short, for their annual slog around. Surely a special way of claiming the Cape as your own…
As the serious athletes finish in time for breakfast, the rest of the race unfolds and becomes more carnavalesque with the declining sun. A nice spot to watch from is the deck of Chapman’s Peak Hotel, with a nice bottle of chilled white wine or two, as the stream of game participants continues to flow unabated. All are relatively chipper at this point from freewheeling down Chappies, buoyed by the enthusiastic encouragement of the crowds in Hout Bay. Though some have been reduced to tears at this point given the prospect of the beast of Suikerbossie still left to climb with 90km of pain in the legs already. They come through on racing bikes, mountain bikes, tandems, and all manner of para-0lympic devices. They come through in costume and in drag. I once saw a cycling bear and a penguin, though I have yet to see a Penny Farthing. (Actually the penguin may have been attributable to the third bottle of wine!)
As you watch the riders, all ages and shapes and sexes, you can’t help thinking that many of them must have been drunk when they agreed to do it. And I know for a fact that this is true. But who cares, the point is they are all in the process of achieving something brilliant on a bicycle. Bravo! They are exultant, triumphant, exhausted, broken, jubilant. So let’s have another bottle! In truth, it really is a marvelous sight and a testament to the courage and spirit of all the participants. Or is it just stubbornness and folly? Plain foolhardiness and delirium? Is it utterly worthwhile or perfectly meaningless. Hmmm… It is probably just a fantastic exuberant mix of all these things. A celebration and a mass brilliant manifestation of what the heck let’s do it spirit!
And what it most definitely is, is a great witness to the magnificence of the Cape Peninsular.
Vive le Argus!
BUT IF YOU DON”T HAVE A BIKE OR IF YOU WANT TO DO THE ARGUS ROUTE IN JUST 10 MINUTES TRY THIS
though to be honest, the video doesn’t do justice to the fact that a lot of it does go UP rather STEEPLY
and remember, you can also do it in an mx5 convertible from Wiggle Cars!
Good luck to all!