35 000 cyclists left the starting chutes on Sunday to attempt the 109km Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour. I was one of them; and I did it in 5 hours and 40 minutes, a time that I’m rather pleased with, really. I had a wonderful ride. It was hot, and at times a little windy, but the stunning views and crowds of spectators kept my spirits high.
A highlight is always conquering Chapman’s Peak. As we came around the corner that conceals the daunting climb, cyclists around me let out moans of anguish as they realised the task ahead of them. The road winds up relentlessly ahead of you as you round that corner. Thousands of bicycles glint in the blazing sunlight as they crawl up the mountainside. It’s a beautiful sight, but by no means comforting. And, having done the Argus twice before, I knew the climb continued to rise even higher around the other side of the mountain, a realisation which dashes the hopes of many as the round the last bend at what appears to be the crown of the hill; more moans of anguish as another snaking climb rears its head.
Halfway up Chapman’s I had goosebumps looking around me at the sheer effort and determination. It’s the breathtaking views, and the anticipation of that feeling of victorious accomplishment as you reach the top of the infamous Chapman’s Peak that keeps you going. There is nothing as sweet on the Argus as knowing that you conquered the beast! As I neared the top, and my excitement began to bubble and fizz, I looked over my shoulder at the river of bicycles behind me and shouted “Don’t forget to look at the view!” I had done it!
There were many other heartwarming and entertaining scenes along the way. A man stood 100m in front of a water point in Kommetjie, holding up an aluminum teapot and offering cyclists a free cup of tea instead of water or Coke. Many spectators clanged wooden spoons against frying pans or biscuit tins to cheer us on, and several residents stood spraying riders with their garden hoses as we passed them by. There were signs offering Richard Branson and Helen Zille free sandwiches, and supporters offering to push tired cyclists part of the way up Suikerbossie hill. One particularly interesting man stood holding up a small LED strip which read “Go cyclists go :)”. I wondered how long he had been standing there alone, cheering on the masses as they pushed on up the very last climb in Camps Bay. “It’s all downhill from here”, he was pleased to announce. And I am always humbled by the dedication of the Claremont Rotary Club members who sit for hours in the hot sun, often alone in remote areas, marshaling the race.
I was proud to be part of the Chaeli Campaign team, which was very well represented and supported. This being my first time riding for a charity, I definitely think I’ll do it again. I felt a great sense of determination and pride to be riding for such a worthy organisation, and the support and encouragement that I received from the team and spectators was gratifying. I didn’t get to meet Chaeli, but I feel a strange sense of connectedness to her, and to the Chaeli Campaign. Thank you to all the sponsors who helped me to reach my fundraising goal. You are also connected to the Chaeli Campaign now, and I am sure your contribution will make a big difference in someone’s life very soon.
I can’t wait for my next Argus. Another charity, more ambitious fundraising goals, and a faster time. Watch out 2014, here I come!