It’s been quite a whirlwind of a week. CT Cycle Tour MTB Challenge, the raging fires around the Cape Peninsula, which eventually subsided by the weekend, and then finally the CTCT Expo at the Goodhope centre.
While the Cape fires which led to a route change disappointment many, the shortened distance seemed like a fitting response to manage the safety of the riders firstly, and secondly as a memorial to those that lost their homes and the destruction that occurred in one of the most devastating fires in the Cape of Good Hope’s history. Personally, living in the Tokai area it was a sad sight to see the trails that I grew up riding over the last 15 years go up in smoke, so it seemed fitting that I join in the action for once to remember all that has been lost.
Being my first time in the Elite bunch at the Cycle Tour, and first Tour in about 5 years, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Were we going to race? or stand in solidarity and call it neutral over the 47km shortened ride.
It didn’t take long to find out. After the “WHOOPLA’S!” were shouted, it was pretty obvious that it was a flat out race! Thinking about it, I was silly not to think otherwise, we had the likes of one of the Tour de Frances’s great sprinters Mark Cavendish and Mark Renshaw of team Ettix/Quickstep in the bunch, 2x mountain bike World Champion Nino Shurter, team MTN Qhuebeka, as well as the countries whole road racing contingent. With the prize money still up for grabs, it was an all out dash!
Riding in the bunch makes me incredibly nervous, especially having not participated in a road race in over 2 years. Luckily it all seemed to come back to me after a few KM’s, in fact it was just like riding a bicycle. The aim was to stay out of trouble and keep my skin in tact ahead of this week’s ABSA Cape Epic. I’m glad to say that I managed to do just that, and even gave the roadies a go or two up Wynberg hill on the way home, before being shut down by a raging peleton. We all knew it was going to be a bunch sprint anyways.
Before we knew it we had reached the turn around point, taken in the crowds out in their 1000’s, all out to support, dashed though Newlands, up Hospital Bend, and were charging down Nelson Mandela Boulevard towards the line in Sea Point. A select group of riders got away down here, and the rest of us were happy to ride tempo towards the finish line. Crossing the line in 69th place, 40s behind the winners was an accomplishing feeling even despite the short route. Simply being a part of an event like this was a special moment as we remembered all those who suffered and fought through difficulty in the week leading up to the race. And hey, Cavendish didn’t even win!
Up next is the ABSA Cape Epic, with team PSG lightie Jurgens Uys, riding as the Paarl Media Pro team.
Until next time, keep it rubber side down!