For the first time in many years, it would appear that fewer out-of-town cyclists will be participating in the 35th Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour, if the accommodation bookings in Camps Bay are a benchmark. Relative to past years, when the Cycle Tour weekend was fully booked weeks in advance, this coming weekend is well but not yet fully booked. Fewer of the bookings already taken for the weekend are related to the Cycle Tour, compared to previous years.
The 35000 participant 110 km Cycle Tour next Sunday is the largest individually timed cycle race in the world. Fewer than 10 % of the cyclists are from overseas. It is organised by the Pedal Power Association and the Rotary Club of Claremont, and monies raised from the entry fees are shared with community upliftment and cycling development projects, R3 million having been raised in 2011. It is estimated that the Cycle Tour will contribute at least R500 million to the economy of the Western Cape, based on 2011 information.
Running alongside the Lifecycle Week, which consists of an Expo related to cycling and also is the Cycle Tour registration venue, are two further cycle events. This weekend the 208 km Columbia Grape Escape is taking place over three days, from the Durbanville Racecourse to the Boland Agricultural High School on Friday, from the school to Diemersfontein in Wellington yesterday, and from Diemersfontein to Boschendal today. It is the second time that the Grape Escape has been organised. In addition, the 11th Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay MTB Challenge is being held at Boschendal. Yesterday it challenged novice and casual mountain bike riders, and today it is more experienced riders who have chosen to ride 32, 52, or 65 km. Some of the cyclists participating in one of these ancillary races are also riding the Cycle Tour next week, such as our Whale Cottage Franschhoek guest Anton Mellet.
Concern for the environment is a characteristic of the Cycle Tour, with clean-up crews at every refreshment station, and waste sorted thereafter. Last year 98% of the waste was recycled, say the organisers. Recycled products are used where possible, such as cardboard bins, bin liners, and cups. Airspace above the Cycle Tour route is restricted to helicopters with permission, to reduce potential harm to any animals affected by the noise. The MyCiTi shuttle bus service will be free of charge between the Thibault Square and Stadium stations, and will run from 6h00 to 18h00 on Sunday. The Table View MyCiTi service will commence an hour earlier than normal, at 5h40, on Sunday. Trains can also be used to get to the start, running to normal Sunday schedules. Cyclists are encouraged by the organisers to use public transport on Sunday.
A number of major roads in the city and Cape Peninsula will be closed for most of the day, including Hertzog Boulevard, Heerengracht, De Waal Drive, Nelson Mandela Boulevard (eastward), M3 (southbound), M4 between Muizenberg along the coastal road, Chapman’s Peak, Victoria Road from Hout Bay to Bantry Bay, and Beach Road from Sea Point to the Stadium.
The Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour is the ultimate New Year’s resolution for many Capetonians and South Africans. The cycle race is an excellent means of showing off our beautiful city, with its backdrop of Table Mountain, the Twelve Apostles, Chapman’s Peak, Table Bay, False Bay, and the Atlantic Seaboard. We encourage motorists and cyclists to drive and ride safely in the week ahead.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage