Cape Argus Cycle Race Start Line

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The race start was located in the centre of Cape Town and depending on what seeding group you are in, this means you could start start as early as 6.15 am if you are a pro rider or as late as 10 am if you are just riding for fun. Pro riders are let out very early to avoid the traffic (slow cyclists), sun, heat and wind! As I was an international rider I ended up somewhere in the middle (group JJ) and my seeded group set off was at approximately 8 am.

I got up early (around 6.30 am) and quickly stuffed my face with a nice selection of carbohydrates (oats, raisins and a banana) and some protein (milk and whey), then prepared everything I was taking with me to the race. I had already set up my Racetec timer, race stickers, pinned my race numbers to my clothing and packed spares/food. All that was left to do was double check my tire pressures and get to the start.

Rather than getting transport to the event, I cycled there at around 7 am which would give me a bit of time to warm up and work out what was going on at the start. The starting line was only around 8km away from the guest house I was staying at for the week, but I couldn’t help but feel I was wasting energy and very slowly exhausting myself before a rather long race.

I managed to find my way to the entrance to the holding gates, which turned out to be organised chaos as thousands of cyclists navigated through the maze of fencing. I quickly noticed that other than the very odd exception, everyone was wearing clip in shoes. I was in the 0.5% of people who weren’t! I also noticed few people carried as much food or parts/tubes as I did in-case of mechanical failure, which was quite honestly my worst fear. (There was support along the way.)

As we set off I held quite a reserved pace and stuck with the majority of other rider for the first 10 minutes, before seeing small groups of riders coming steaming past. I decided to speed up a little and just latched onto and attacked slower riders before finding a faster group I could join.

Cape Argus Cycle Tour Profile

I soon realised how daunting this race would become as I reached Edinburgh Drive, a very steep residential road, the kind that if you weren’t in a hurry and didn’t have the atmosphere you’d be extremely tempted to get off and walk. It seems a few people did get off and walk, whilst others just struggled. Due to the sheer number of cyclists, this meant the speed ground down to a 2-4mph crawl and a few people appeared to fall off up head. At this point I was actually quite glad I wasn’t clipped in as it was a rather steep hill and it can’t be very nice to suddenly stop!

After Edinburgh Drive I decided I should probably nibble some food even though it was very early; I didn’t want to ‘bonk’ later in the race. Due to my lack of preparation, I started the race with only around 250ml water so around an hour or so into the race I stopped for a refill. The race was quite uneventful from here until reaching (the end of Millers Point) Smitswinkel bay and entering a climb. Here I spoke to a few guys who estimated if we kept the current page we would be on for a time of around 4-4.5 hours which turned out to be reasonably accurate. After reaching the top there was a very fast, long straight that I managed to pick up some serious speed as I headed to Red Hill. I soon realised that the sun was starting to heat up and I didn’t have any sun cream on (or with me) so I stopped off at the next station and wasted around 5 minutes sorting myself out.

I then reached the beginning of Chapmans and started the long tiring climb to the peak which seemed to last forever! Fortunately this lead to a series of fast turns down the other side where my weight now became an advantage against much lighter competitors. The sprint down to Hout Bay was quite relaxed and the next thing on my mind was tackling Suikerbossie, which I knew they would be tough. Whilst it really is a brutally steep hill it passed much quicker than Chapmans Peak and from there I would be on the home stretch. After reaching the top it was very much a downhill sprint to Camps Bay and the finishing line. and I felt like I really picked up the pace and it was only now that I really began to exert myself. When I reached the finishing line I thought I had 4 hours 30 minutes dead, but unfortunately it seemed to be a minute out.

Race Time: Position: Gender Position: Start Group: Group Position: Age Group: Age Position: Avg Speed:
04:31:11 13912/31046 12072/24262 JJ 168/649 M Elite 998/2168 24.12

I’ve posted my statistics from the Racetec website above that tracked my race progress and I averaged approximately 15mph over the course. I’m quite happy with my result, although it’s certainly a beginners time. I think if I was to compete again I would aim for around 3 hours 45 minutes and try my best to start the race with a group rather than going solo! Cutting down the toilet, sunscreen and numerous water stops would have given me around 10-15 minutes. Clearly though more practise would help the most! I had a post race shake, post race burger (x2) and a beer before starting the windy cycle back home!


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