Workers Day workout: Cape Peninsula

Today Cape Town was lucky to enjoy beautiful autum weather – mild 23  degrees, no wind and blue skies. Ideal to go for a bike ride and as Brett Roux and I are both training for some sort of endurance event (Sani 2 c in his case, Vatternrundan in my case) we grab the bull by the horn (or the bike by the bars) and left Mouille Point on the Atlantic Coast shortly after sunrise.

Chapmans Peak / Cape Town (by @BrettRoux)

Chapmans Peak

After making our way through the Cape Town CBD (fine on a public holiday) and through Woodstock (supposedly still up and coming, like it has been for the last 10 years…), Main Road takes us all the way South to Steenberg. A fairly uneventful first 30 kilometers, before we hit the highest climb of the day, Ou Kaapse Weg, a 4 km  -400 metre ascent with stunning views over the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town. A fast 10 kilometres later we are at Cafe Roux (apparently not related to Brett’s family) in Noordhoek, enjoying cappuchino before the next big climb of the day:

Chapmans Peak is probably the most spectacular coastal road in Africa and must be my favourite climb in Cape Town, especially on a day like this with light cloud cover, the sun beaming through every now and then and the rocky shore hiding in the mist. We flew up this 300m ascent and rolled into Hout Bay, where my nemesis awaits: Suikerbossie is the most painful climb at the end of any Cape Argus Cycletour, but today no cramps were in sight. A fast ride along the Atlantic, via Kommetje and Camps Bay took us back to Seapoint in a bit less than 3 hours, including the coffee stop.

A beautiful ride!

Sometimes all you need to describe your ride is a photo – this was taken this afternoon in the rolling hills outside Cape Town, namely “Contermanskloof”. Autumn is a wonderful time to ride in South Africa as the summer heat is gone and rides in the afternoon sunshine are perfectly manageable. The route is one of Punctureking’s favourites.


Review: GUTR Sweatband

Fortunately I get to ride my bicycle in South Africa, possibly the most beautiful country on this planet. However, the advantage of warm sunny weather and challenging landscapes also require something I always disliked: sun tan lotion and sweat management. There is simply nothing worse than cycling up Chapman’s Peak in Cape Town, with a mixture of suntan lotion and sweat running into your eyes. For those people in the north: it burns like hell.

The clever people at GUTR have developed a sweatband that doesn’t attempt to catch and retain your sweat (and sun tan lotion) like many other products. In other words – it doesn’t turn into a wet and smelly piece of fabric that can hold a certain amount of sweat and then turns useless. The GUTR sweatband is a silicon band with an inbuilt gutter that merely channels the sweat running down  your forehead to the sides of your face. That is all. Simple, brilliant. Does it work?

I have tried the GUTR on a multistage MTB event with some 6000m of climbing and once you adjusted the size correctly (it comes with three different size connecting rings) between painfully tight and uselessly lose your are perfectly fine. The sweat that builds up on or runs down your forehead is efficiently pushed to the sides of your head. You realize how well it works when you feel the stream of sweat running down your cheeks. There are two drawbacks though: I found it quite difficult to get the helmet fitting perfectly without pushing the headband down onto my ears, but I blame my head shape for that. It also won’t stop 100% of the sweat from running down, as some of it transpires below the sweat band, e.g. in your eyebrows etc. It does however stop 95% of the sweat, frustration and burning eyes. Possibly one of the greatest cheap bike expenses you will make.

The Gutr sweatband - sweat management

2013 Cape Argus PicknPay Cycle Tour, Cape Town

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

One of the most beautiful coastal cycling routes in the world.

One of the most beautiful coastal cycling routes in the world.

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.