Jay does the 'Cape Argus Bike Tour'
Cape Town, South Africa - March 2004

This year I participated in the Cape Argus bike tour, which is the largest timed bike ride in the world... with 35,000 riders! This race goes around the Cape for 110km (65 miles); made more difficult by wind & heat. I figured my time would be 4hrs 45mins. This chart above shows the hills which needed to be climbed, but my legs think they forgot some; I had practiced only the last two.

I got a bike and my ticket (very  hard to get) from Hans Peter. With no stick pins I had to use the Canada pins (from Valery). I had never done a race before and tried to practice a bit before.

My group started at 10:01 am; behind 30 other groups. The first group started already at 6:30 am! My group had about 500 eager riders. We gathered and queued in a "pen" like cattle for an hour. We were then led to the starting point; groups left about every 5 minutes; it was well organized!

I didn't have the "normal" bike suit and decided to wear long-
sleeves for sun protection.
This was the view from the starting gate looking forward; I had a pretty good starting spot. This is looking backwards; everyone was in good spirits and looked ready for the race.

They played some loud music to get us excited (Queen) and then the gun sounded. We were off ... to join the other racers. The slower people kept left to allow for passing. The temperature was hot (32C / 84F ) and strong winds were predicted around the cape; yikes!

At Simons Town (40k or 33%), I got settled into a pace and got the camera back out. The earlier hills were tougher than I thought; by this time I 
was already quite tired.
The road was closed to cars, which was great for us; it's too bad they can't do it more often.

The beautiful ocean views made me forget the cramp in my leg and that I had a long way to go. The winds were not as bad as predicted, so this part of the trip turned out to be very enjoyable. I usually stopped to take pictures, but I took this while moving; just aiming behind me.

After Simon's Town we cut across the cape; we had to go up  the 3rd biggest hill on the race.

The sun was strong/hot and I was glad to see a water stop near the top.  We were now half way! 

From the top of the hill we could see Hout Bay (nice) and the two largest hills looming ahead (bad).

The inland route (Nordhoek) was quite boring; periodically we saw  groups clapping for us! Without much wind and high heat, many people took a long break at the next stop. They served water, powerade and coke; sometimes they had bannanas and candy bars.

The route had fantastic views and I enjoyed them all; the serious racers could not do that. At the 80k (66%) point we started up Chapman's Peak, the first of the two biggest hills. The first bend was very pretty; but lost it's allure when we saw the long uphill road ahead.

We then entered an area which was closed for 5 years, due to rock slides. In one area they constructed a ledge to protect the road from constant rock slides. In other areas they put up extensive series of nets to catch the rocks... what a difficult task!

As I looked backwards, the views were stunning. You could see the steady stream of bikes coming behind us. This area was beautiful, unless you were too tired to enjoy it.

Towards the top, many people started walking; to the point 
that a traffic jam occurred.
I walked for 15 mins. before I got by everyone (the break felt good);  I then came over the top. From that point it was down to Houts Bay (yeah) and then up the biggest hill (yuk!).

Climbing the big Suikerbossiel hill was tiring, but the view at Llandando made it worth it. With the biggest hill behind me, 
it was just pure cruising from 
this point ( or so I thought).
A cool sea-breeze kicked up as 
I entered the resort town of Camps Bay; it was very quiet!

After Camps Bay we came to an unexpected hill; painful! At Clifton it flattened out and 
the views were stunning again.
As I shot back, you could see our "route along the sea".

Upon entering Cape Town we were greeting by many people. As we came down the final stretch the pace picked up. The finish line! My time was a disappointing 5hrs & 15mins.

Afterwards I was amazed when 
I saw the local stadium set up 
as a gigantic bike parking lot.
I then made my way to the beer tent; I met with some friends 
and traded race stories.
The was a band playing and most people were celebrating; a few were suffering though!

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I enjoyed my first Cape 
Argus Bike Tour.
I did not suffer any injuries 
and even got a medal!
Will there be a chance to 
repeat in coming years??

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