The “Cape Argus” is South Africa’s most famous bicycle race and with 35000 participant the “largest individually timed bike race in the world”. This year was my 4th attempt to clock an impressive time, and let’s just say it remains an attempt. The race starts in Cape Town’s CBD and follows the False Bay coastline all the way to Simonstown, then crosses the Peninsula and runs along the breath taking Atlantic Ocean coastline via Hout Bay all the way back to Cape Town.
My starting time for this 110km race was at 06:56, and as I learned from previous years, the trick was to be in your individual starting pen as early as possible. In my case it meant hat I was freezing in the Q box from 06:00 and I was still only in the last quarter of the field, before we even started. The amount of people taking part in this race is amazing, the amount of Portaloos int he starting pens is too – there was a total of 2 toilets for what seemed about 700 Q riders. It was not a pretty sight and I hope that one day this lowlight of any bike race can be taken away…
The race itself was fast and I felt much stronger than in the previous years, which were overshadowed by painful walks up Suikerbossie, the last long hill of the course. This year I managed a 30 km/h average and flew up all the hills, even the dreadful last one – my result was just a few minutes over three and a half hours, which made me quite happy, but left me with the feeling that I should have pushed harder.
The men’s race was won by Johan Rabie in 2:39, the woman’s race by Ashleigh Pasio in 2:53. My kudos go out to the people who spend the whole day on their bicycle because the Argus is their personal challenge to beat. I remember a lot of very humbling moments like being overtaken by a seemingly 70 year old on Chapmans’s Peak or trying to catch up with one of those incredibly fast wheelchair riders. The Argus truly brings riders from any background together: t
here is the lady on the back of the tandem whose husband is doing a lot of pedaling work while she focuses on the shouting, there are riders in support of rhino protection, there are brave people on rigid single speed bikes and there is the hipster in a tweet jacket – the Argus is an amazing spectacle.