The Cape Town Cycle Tour 2019 – Arianne Dunne
I purchased my first bike through the bike to work scheme about 5 years ago. The bike may have seen a long distance cycle twice in its life – both of those cycles were with the Naas Cycling Club last year. (2018). The nerves and anxiousness prior to that first cycle almost stopped me from going to the first induction day. I am glad it didn’t. I have gained a great amount of new skills and knowledge because of the members in the club. The courses they provided before heading out on that first cycle went a long way to quashing those worries of ‘I can’t cycle in a group, I’m going to knock everyone over’, ‘how will I keep up?’, and so on. The passion the members have for cycling is infectious, and I have certainly been bitten by the bug!
I first travelled to Cape Town in March 2018 for a holiday, my uncle and cousin were taking part in the Cape Cycle Tour for charity, and had asked if I’d like to join them. I had a good excuse not to take part, but said I would make up for it.
Training was sparse, life was getting in the way of giving it 100%. .
To go out with the club only weeks before the cycle and not be able to pedal the bike out of my way was by no means a confidence booster.I had to turn around in the early stages of the cycle and go home. Frustrating, embarrassing, deflating – I was doubting myself big time. The Cape Argus is not a gentle pedal around the park, its 109km with tough inclines, high temperatures, and this year, strong wind.
The club were great. I got reassurance the day of that frustrating cycle. One of the cycle leaders came back to where I was trailing behind, encouraged me to keep going but my body just wasn’t doing what my brain was screaming at it to do. I pulled up, admitting that I just couldn’t keep going. I was told not to worry and to just get myself over whatever slump I was going through, so I went away and trained as much as I could – altitude training, gym training, Pilates. Yes, it was crammed in, not a training style I would recommend! However, I went out with the club after 3 weeks, I made it around, and I felt great! The feedback and encouragement I received from my fellow NCC members gave me the extra boost I needed to face the next challenge, and I am so grateful for their support.
I decided to bring own bike with me, which was a much easier process than I expected. It also helped keep the nerves to a bearable level – meant that my suitcase wasn’t taken up with cycling gear (room for shopping!). Bikeology rented the bike bag to me and packed up the bike. The bike was then reassembled on the other side by a bike shop close to where I was staying.
The atmosphere around the cycle itself is exhilarating – the preparations start days in advance, the hotels get involved, putting on special carb loading spreads for competitors. The day of the cycle involved a short warm up cycle from the hotel to the start line, which was a very nice experience. My cousin had an earlier start time than the rest of us so I cycled down with her and we joined up with hordes of other cyclists taking the same journey. The whole operation is so seamless, so well organised – roads and motorways are closed off, straw bales are put at difficult turns, there are an uncountable number of stewards and wardens along the route, and photographers placed throughout the route to capture your (my) exhausted looking face… Everything is thought of – even down to the masseurs and physios at the refreshment stops. Locals and tourists alike turn out to cheer you on as you cycle by, some camping there the entire day with picnics, drinks, flags, banners…. I even witnessed a fellow cyclist being offered a drink and a seat by one of the spectators as I cycled past.
I would have to start my cycle race with a fall right before the start line, but to add to the display of heart-warming human spirit, a lady from behind picked me up, dusted me off and patted me on the back saying ‘you’re just getting it out of the way now, better now than later on in the cycle’.
Yes, there were nerves beforehand. Yes, it was much tougher than I expected. Yes, my body hurt. Yes, yes, yes, it was a fantastic experience, from the amazing atmosphere, beautiful scenery, inspirational people and breath-taking views. I cannot wait for Cape Town Cycle Tour 2020 – bring it on!