This past weekend, My wife and I traveled to the tip of Africa for the annual Cape Argus Cycle Race. It was my third attempt at the 109 km route which covers some of the most amazing views in the country if not the world.
Arriving in Cape Town on Saturday morning, the weather was fine and warm with very little wind to speak of. There was a huge cloud mass approaching from over Camps Bay thou. We’d heard over the news that is a cold front together with rain that was expected on Sunday, the race day.
After our traditional carbo loading meal at Primi in the V&A waterfront on Saturday night, I was ready and looking forward to the next day’s race. I woke up at about 5am to an overcast Cape Town. Our hotel, the Holiday Inn, was about a block from the start of the race.
My race started at about 7:25 along with the rest of the H bunch. After about 1 or 2 kms our fears were realized when it began to rain lightly. I managed to just avoid a nasty fall on the highway on the way to Simons town after the rider on my left went down after it seemed that his chain broke. It looked like a couple riders behind him also went down pretty hard. With my heart pounding and feeling pretty lucky I stayed with the H bunch leaders till about the 50 km mark when disaster struck.
Yip, I had a flat front tire. In my haste to change the tire and avoid losing too much time, I think I forgot to check the tire for any glass or thorns etc. The replacement tube made the dreaded hissing sound and my heart sank further and further. With a flat spare tube and being on a downhill, I knew I was in trouble. I tried with little hope to flag down a rider begging for a spare tube. To my amazement, some kind soul stopped and gave me his spare tube. I don’t think I would stop in a similar situation for another rider, especially at the biggest race of the year. Thank you!
After about 18 minutes I managed to get back on my bike hoping to make up some time along the way. With the pressure of a good time being lifted somewhat, I began to really enjoy the ride. The crowds along the route were amazing and the views out over the choppy ocean were beautiful.
Just after the toll gate at Chapman’s peak, I felt my bike was less responsive than usual. I tried to ignore it for as long as possible until it become obvious that I’d gotten another flat tire. Thinking that I’d not inflated the tire correctly, I tried to inflate the tire with my hand pump. This attempt to prolong the inevitable only lasted another few kms till I had to stop. This time I only need to run a few hundred meters to a repair station. They had my tire changed and ready to go in about 4 minutes flat. Schumi’s pitt crew would have been proud.
I went on the complete the race in a disappointing 3:52:02 and in about 9000th position. I’ll have to make the return trip for the 2007 race. At least I have an entire year to train for that elusive sub 3. Congrats to the organizers for another amazing event. No wonder it’s the worlds biggest timed cycling event.