Confessions of a first-time Cape Town Cycle Tour rider

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Cape Town Cycle Tour

In an impulsive and slightly ill-advised move, Ive decided to take part in the Cape Town Cycle Tour this year, happening on 8 March!

Every time Ive told someone the news Ive been asked the same questions. Have you been training? Have you taken part in a long-distance road race before? Do you have a proper bike? The answer to all these questions, Im embarrassed to admit, is no.

To be clear, Im not advocating that anyone should just do any form of long-distance endurance event on a whim. The Cycle Tour is a challenging and internationally renowned race that demands respect (and some decent leg muscles), but Ive taken on this challenge with some faith in my mental endurance and baseline fitness levels. (Im also putting my social life on hold to get in as much cycling as I can in the next few weeks!)

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As far as the training goes, Ive been spinning for years and love taking classes at my gym multiple times a week, which has definitely upped my fitness, but Im not naive enough to think that quick-burst sessions on a spinning bike with the air conditioning blasting and Katy Perry songs pumping is the same as spending hours in the sun and wind, sharing the road with thousands of other cyclists.

As for the bike, I luckily have cyclist friends and family who have taken me under their wing and some have even offered to lend me one, but this has left me a bit indecisive. Im more comfortable on a mountain bike, as its what Im used to from my little experience, and I know its not uncommon to ride the race with one, but my more experienced cycling friends have warned that the 109km route could feel like 200km without a proper road bike.

But if I get a road bike Ill need to get comfortable with it before the race and sort myself out with some proper cleat shoes. Hopefully by the end of the weekend, Ill have a bike sorted so I can actually hit the road and get a proper sense of whats coming (which Im sure is when the nerves will set in).

Thats where Im at currently, and while Im nervous Im also very excited to be a part of this prestigious event, and also to learn more about this sport and its friendly community. Ill post updates on my progress in the next few weeks. My next goal? Finding a pair of padded cycling shorts to give my poor bum a break.

In the meantime, here are some frequently asked questions and answers for other first-time cyclists:

How far is the Cape Town Cycle Tour?

The route is a 109km loop and has a pretty iconic route, starting in town and heading past UCT, down the M3, around the peninsular past spots like Muizenberg, Simons Town and Scarborough, up Chapmans Peak, and through Llandudno and Camps Bay and finishing at the Cape Town Stadium.

How much does it cost to enter?

General entries cost R550, and are still open. Very important to note: if you are taking over someone elses entry, you will need to transfer it officially or you could be disqualified and suspended from participating in future events. Heres abreakdown of the substitution and transfer process.

What if I have bike trouble on the day?

There will be mechanics and medical assistance along the route to help anyone who needs it, and in worst-case scenarios there are sweep vehicles at the ready to pick up cyclists and bikes that cant make it to the finish line.

What kind of training do I need to do?

Race day is fast approaching, so if youre like me and youre joining a bit late youll need to be tactical in your approach. According to the Cape Town Cycle Tour website, cramming long-distance training in late could do more harm than good, and its more beneficial to focus on learning to ride a bit quicker and fine-tuning your skills for the big day. Click here for their recommended training schedule for the next few weeks.

Image: iStock


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