After a long wait and intense training, Damian and I finally achieved our goal of cycling in the Cape Argus Cycle Tour together on Sunday 10th March. We are extremely grateful to the organisers for the extra lengths they went to in order to ensure safety and inclusion for the four special teams participating for the first time in the history of the Cycle Tour. We are also deeply appreciative for the unselfish kindness of our super-human support rider – Peter Wray – for giving up his own ride to ‘look after us’ and ensure we crossed the finish line safely.
We were up at 4am to make sure we arrived in good time to meet the representative from Tracker to receive a tracking device. In the rush of the week leading up to the event and a few obstacles thrown our way, I forgot to make contact with Peter to arrange our meeting point – typically scattered Deirdré, but fortunately he found us in good time. Through all the setting up we also missed the signal from our traffic escort who left without us. We quickly took to the road to find our way through thousands of cyclists to our starting point – nothing like a little panic and chaos to start the morning! Soon we were in the start chutes and the excitement began to build – and the butterflies began to flutter.
It wasn’t too long a wait, and soon we were off and peddling against the wind up the first hill of the M3. This was rather challenging as the first 10 to 15 kilometres of every ride are the hardest for me with my muscles still being cold. I remembered from last year that this is the first point where I would doubt my ability to complete the tour, so with Peter’s support I pushed through. It was really tough going all the way to the top of Wynberg hill, but from there we had a lovely stretch of downhill and I reached our top speed of 55kmph which was a lovely breather and little rest for my legs. From there it was a relatively easy ride until Fish Hoek where the wind picked up significantly, adding a lot more resistance and weight to the buggy. I zipped Damian’s protective cover over after giving him a quick snack, to protect him from the wind and help channel the wind past the buggy and not into it. I struggled all the way through Fish Hoek, Simon’s Town and up Smitswinkel, although going a little slower ensures a longer opportunity to appreciate the magnificent views. I had a good giggle at some spectators, in full suits running to get ahead of us for a picture.
At Cape Point the wind turned and suddenly we had the breeze at our backs which was an enormous relief and so refreshing. I removed Damian’s cover again and we whizzed down the long stretch of easy road, enjoying a momentary fast moving pace before the next climb. The ride along Scarborough is breath-taking and one of my favourite parts of the Argus, although it was a little terrifying at one point coming down at a speed and hearing a three-bike pile up happen just behind us.
The crowd- and other cyclist support were phenomenal and the spirit and music along the way were uplifting. We had another giggle at a supporter singing “Suikerbossie wil jou hê” at a point leading up to the infamous last big climb of the tour. I must say that Peter Wray was definitely the best man for the job of support rider and not only has energy in abundance – giving us a push up the hills, while still peddling up himself – but he also has patience and good nature in excess as well. Not to mention very broad shoulders – after the thousandth cyclist passing by with the same comments and Peter not exploding into an explanation, I salute him. The comments varied from “Now that is what family time is supposed to be” and “Why is mom pulling the trailer and not dad?” to “Dude, when you get home she is going to say ‘go make me a sandwich!'” Once or twice I tried to explain that he was my support rider doing me a favour not the lazy husband they assumed – but gave it up as futile. So to anyone reading this who may have passed us on the road – now you know! We also heard “What – you couldn’t find a babysitter this morning?” and “Next time I’ll babysit.”
Damian was a star passenger and the ultimate warrior on wheels. He ended up sleeping a lot of the way because it was ‘too windy’ he told me. He coped really well and I am so proud of him and thrilled to have shared this event with him.
We crossed the finish line at around 14:12, which meant a 7:18 ride time – missing the 7 hour time limit by 18 minutes. Personally I am not too disappointed as we managed to finish, resulting in double the distance we have ever cycled together as a team. I know now the areas I need to improve on for a better ride time in future – definitely more training on hills and in wind. There were a number of points where I didn’t think I could finish, but every kilometre after 55km was a victory for us over our longest training ride and so I used those moments to keep pushing forward.
It was one of those events in life that will be etched in our memories always and a reminder that the only limitations we have in life are the ones we put on ourselves. We have many more adventures on our agenda and we plan to continue pushing ourselves to live and love life to the furthest extent of possibility.