Playing Fair at the Cape Town Cycle Tour
The Cape Town Cycle Tour has been a bucket list item of mine since I was just a wee lad. I remember seeing photographs of my older cousins in their cycling gear all proud and posing with their finishers’ medals. One day when I am big I thought 🙂
So when I was contacted to be a team member of the ‘I Play Fair – Say No! To Doping’ campaign at this year’s event, I was beyond excited!
What is the ‘I Play Fair – Say No! To Doping’ campaign?
Initiated by the SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS), the ‘I Play Fair – Say NO! To Doping’ campaign is a valuable contribution to keeping sport clean with the objective of fostering a culture of anti-doping in sport. The initiative is about making a commitment to drug-free sport whether you’re a race organiser, athlete, supporter or coach.
The Institute, with the support of several stakeholders namely the Department of Sport & Recreation and National Lottery, has successfully implemented the campaign to the South African audience by entering ‘I Play Fair – Say NO! To Doping’ teams into mass based sport events. Past teams have been led by political heavyweights such as the honourable Sport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille. These campaigns have received much praise from the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Department of Sport & Recreation, as well as being highly profiled in the media.
To be a part of the team at the Cape Town Cycle Tour was an opportunity for me to participate as an ambassador to further raise awareness of the values of Drug-Free Sport and the promotion of healthy living through exercise.
The Training Program
There was no training program.
I didn’t even have a road bike!
Luckily, my buddy Grant hooked me up with his trusty steed – the Trek 1000 – a couple of weeks before the race.
Honestly, I literally had zero time to dedicate to cycling specific training with the Bat Run, 1 mile swims and injuries that I’ve been dealing with. My combined training for the event included two 1-hour spinning classes and about an hour long ride the Wednesday before the event with my coach Luqman. Luqman was selected as my coach purely because he owns a Specialized Mountain Bike – clearly his qualifications speak for themselves
One piece of advice Luqman gave me was to invest in a pair of cycling cleats. The problem was that I didn’t really practise clipping in and out of them while riding – so before I even set off for that Wednesday ride, I was already toppled over embarrassingly in our complex parking lot with my feet still clipped in. Not a good start…lol
I survived that ride (which was through traffic at 5:30pm!), but it wasn’t without its near-misses and almost falling over at intersections…lol. Luqman really knows how to break any nervousness before an event.
The last bit of preparation for the Cape Town Cycle Tour was apparently the most critical – I had to shave my legs.
According to coach Luqman, if I fell (which given my limited experience, had a high probability of happening), it would be easier to clean the wounds. Plus, you also would look much slicker in your cycling kit – Luqman’s style advice is world renowned 🙂
Riding for a Cause
Not only would this race be special for me, the 38th edition of the Cape Town Cycle Tour was announced as the “Show You Care Solidarity Ride”. This was to show support to those fire fighters, emergency teams and families that battled and were affected by the fires that devastated the Cape Southern Peninsula during the week preceding the event.
The usual 109km route was reduced to 47km to cater for this special edition of the Cape Town Cycle Tour and, believe me, Cape Town was there in full support of the heroes who had risked so much.
Hitting the road
The I Play Fair team met up early on the morning of the race at the Cullinan Hotel. I was fortunate enough to meet Springbok Rugby Legends Marius Hurter, Stefan Terblanche, Dale Santon and World Cup Winning Springbok Captain John Smit before the event – and for a rugby nut like me, was lots of fun 🙂
After some healthy banter and a few chirps shared between all, the team set off for our start at 7:20am.
Even with a shortened route, I was a bit nervous at the start. My main fear was being that guy who fell over and caused a huge crash at the start of the race. What didn’t help was seeing a couple people fixing punctures – the event didn’t even start and these okes had punctures! Let’s hope I could remember that YouTube video on how to fix a puncture…
The atmosphere at the start was great. Crowds of people had turned out in support all along the route. With the music playing and fireworks to kick us off, we were off feeling like pro cyclists 🙂
The start was quite tricky with some heavy crosswinds on Nelson Mandela Boulevard. The short climb up to the top of Hospital Bend was a great way to warm up for the rest of the race. Among the crowds, I managed to spot my family who had come out to support. I highly recommend this – it’s like having a personal cheerleading squad to back you up…lol
I felt the race really started once I hit Hospital Bend. The rate at which I picked up speed got the adrenaline pumping and I finally started to understand why cycling can be addictive.
All along the route, spectators lined up and were waving and shouting words of encouragement. I can’t tell you how many you’re almost there’s I heard. They were especially helpful on the tough climb to the top of Edinburgh Drive, when quads were burning and encouragement was low.
But, after Edinburgh Drive it was all downhill fun until the turnaround point at the end of the M3 close to Ou Kaapse Weg. I took a quick break to take in the atmosphere, a BarOne and snap some pics of the riders.
The spirit of the ride was fantastic with all the cyclists sharing in the ethos of the “Show You Care Solidarity Ride”. I even decided to take a short drinks break along the way back – I mean people woke up early to get Powerade to us, the least I can do is drink some 🙂
On the return leg, once I made it to the top of Edinburgh Drive again, I decided to pump the legs and see how fast the steed would go. The speed coming down Edinburgh Drive was insane and with that momentum I felt like I whizzed past UCT and only slowed when I hit the climb of Hospital Bend.
The remainder of the ride was smooth into the CBD and onto the finish at the Cape Town Stadium in Green Point.
My finishing time was 01:57:44 which wasn’t bad considering my lack of training. Actually, it didn’t even matter because the point of the day was to celebrate our fire fighters and emergency personnel who were the real heroes.
After collecting my finisher’s medal, I parked my bike and headed to the Super Cycling Club hospitality tent for some pampering and a nice massage – just some benefits of being part of the I Play Fair team 🙂
As each member of the team would finish, we all joined up at the hospitality tent and shared tales from the ride which all added to a fantastic morning out!
A massive thanks has to go out to SAIDS CEO Khalid Galant, the rest of the I Play Fair team and a special mention to Fehraad De Nicker from Mode PR for all the efforts in organising a superb experience.
It was an honour being a part of the campaign and helping raise awareness against drug abuse in sport and to promote healthier living through exercise. There are definitely no magic bullets to success – only hard work.
If you took part in the 2015 edition of the Cape Town Cycle Tour please feel free to share any memorable moments in the comments section below.
For more information about the SA Institute of Drug Free Sport check their website out here
Also, go ahead and like the I Play Fair initiative’s Facebook page and pledge your support to this worthy cause