"Cape Argus Cycle Tour 2011" Cape Town Things to Do Tip by Chrisjoseph42
Cape Town Things to Do: 1,232 reviews and 2,191 photos
Cape Argus Tour, Cape Town, South Africa, March 13, 2011
In short, it was the best race and possibly one of the best experiences of my life.
The Argus Tour is the largest timed bicycle race in the world. Sometimes as many as 35,000 people participate in this 110k (68 mile) event through the mountains and along the beaches of Cape Town, South Africa. Competitors come from all over the world. In 2009 and 2010, Lance Armstrong and team Radio Shack was in the mix and Phil Ligget did the commentary. It certainly has the European tour feel about it. I felt very fortunate to be a part of it.
I was up at 6:00am. I ate some breakfast bars got dressed and rode my bike to the start in the dark which was quickly becoming dusk. There were a lot of people but the organizers did a very good job getting people to where they needed to be for the start. The pros went first at sun up. I started about an hour later. We were funneled into our groups and I eventually found my group. This race is very well organized, which I can?t stress enough. The planning was amazing.
I started the race with the international group AA. There were two groups of international riders AA and BB. I most likely got AA because I am a licensed cat 4 rider with USA cycling. This race is huge. To put it in perspective I knew some people who also raced and I never saw them. They were were in group OC and they started a full two hours hours after I started. I did get a email later in the afternoon that Isabelle and her brother finished at around 4:30. Very impressive as they were on flat bar mountain bikes.
I began the race at the back of the AA ?international? group. I cruised the first few miles with my group and was in awe by the amount of spectators. They close many major highways and mountain passes just for the race, and riding down the middle of a major highway was cool!
After about 20 minutes I was warmed up and feeling good when the good paced train of riders arrived. It was the first riders of the BB group. I hopped in and helped with the rotation. Now my body was working and it felt very good. We rode out of the city up a few nice hills and to the inside coast near boulders beach. This is where I went to go see the penguins just two days before. The weather is perfect. P.E.R.F.E.CT. Zero wind and clear skies.
We cruised at a nice even pace for the next 20k. Both sides of the street were lined with people with standing room only. I was thinking that everyone in the race just put their people on the first climb. Wow, was I wrong. The people and support were like nothing I have ever experienced.
After the first climb we flew down a few hills into Simonstown. It was very fast into a lot of tight corners. Some riders were afraid and rode the breaks. This is what I live for! I hope I didn?t upset anyone - I was just trying to use my energy wisely. After town there was a medium hill and I climbed it with a steady cadence. Within the next 45 minutes, I passed the AA, Z, Y, X groups and a few Vs and Ws. I was climbing up the alphabet of the seeded riders. In this race, if you get dropped your race isn?t over. You can just pick up the next group coming along. I found myself climbing better than most so that is where I would generally lose my group and then find another one on the flats.
The next section is one of the most beautiful places on earth ?cape point? it was hard to keep with my group of new found riders as the view was so incredible. I?m glad I visited a couple of days earlier as I needed to pay attention as I was riding a wheel only a few cm from mine at 50-60-kph. (40mph). Thankfully, I was getting used to the metric system and riding on the other side of the road after driving there all week.
Leaving the coast the next section was through the trees over a pass on Cape Point. There were some native African tribes lining the streets cheering us as we passed. Entire families were out with lots of spirit, banging drums and dancing. Maybe I?m naive but I found this country to have a lot of sprit. The pride of most Africans is something to experience. You can?t read it in a book. You have to experience it directly.
After the pass we decended a big down hill into the east coast. This is where I could see the difference between the racing cyclists and the regular cyclists. The racers took to pace lines that snaked through the slower riders. This was a bit precarious because we were going very fast and some of the conventional riders were traveling at about 1/3 of the speed. At first this frightened me but eventually I got used to it and expected it. It was kind of like driving in Italy! I?m sure we looked like one of those big dragon snakes you sometimes see in parades, single file in and out of the other riders.
Now that we had made it to the west coast or Atlantic side, the waves from the ocean were putting a spray and fog on the road. It felt great! We rode many rolling hills along the beaches. I took my time and conserved as much energy as I could because there were three big climbs through the mountains coming soon?
The first climb felt great and I backed off thinking I was being a little too aggressive. My experience in life tells me something is not right. I find out this was not a climb at all. The next one is where the climbing starts.
There it was - the first huge climb. Again, I felt good. I picked a pace that worked. The next downhill was fun and helped cool me off as the ocean was spraying water on the riders again. Then it hits me? Crud, we were all the way back to sea level. That means only one thing. There was another huge climb ahead. And so we climbed, and climbed?
Soon I recognized the next climb as Chapman?s peak. I had been warned about this one and I tried to go conservatively as I knew this climb would last 30 minutes or more. I heard many funny comments by riders like, ?I?m in my granny gear and I?m looking for her mother.? The humor amongst the riders ?suffering? was motivating. (Similar to morbid pilot humor.)
Then there was another huge decline at high speed. This was no video game. If you slipped up at 60kph (40mph) it was going to leave a mark. On the road and your body.
Ah, the last climb. This one really hurt. My quads were cramping and there is no easy way to stretch or recuperate cramping quads. They would twitch and then twitch again. I just kept pushing hoping the pain would go away. (Hey, it?s worked in past??) I hope I did not look like I was in to much pain as I passed many people cheering on both sides of the street. It felt like I was on the Alp Huez. At this point in the race, the Susan B. Komen cancer group was in full strength cheering and playing music. They painted an entire town pink with their people and sprit.
The homestretch was through the towns in Camps Bay and Sea Point. I renamed Camps Bay to cRamps Bay. Man, I was hurting.
I finally caught a good train in and it helped get my mind off of my quads. We flew through the small beach towns with blazing speed. When I saw the 600m to go sign I was fully recovered and I sprinted the finish. Not that it matted in any way? it just felt good and did not hurt anymore.
I crossed the line somewhere close to 3:50. Official results are not out yet. What a great ride. I can?t express how well this race is run. South Africa is a wonderful place to be. I will be back! As far as sheer beauty, scenery and events I?m not sure this race can be matched anywhere in the world. The mountains, the beaches, the towns and the support of the spectators and sponsors were awesome. It literally felt like you were in the Tour de France.
Training: I need to figure out how to train for mountains on an indoor trainer. The winters here lately have been too long with too much snow. Also, training should not include riding a mechanical bull while training for a road race. I think I partially dislocated my hip in November. Thanks for talking me into that Joe!
Directions: Cape of good hope, South Africa
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