<p style="margin: 0px 0px 15px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 12px; color: #666666; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 16.796875px;"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; background-color: transparent;">GROWING UP, the only part of the Comrades Marathon my family watched was the countdown to the cut-off time. The winners looked too fresh and smiley whereas the last runners were practically crippled from exhaustion. It’s always admirable to see someone put in more than what they can physically and mentally afford and still come out the other side. This month in the fair Cape there are two more excuses to do the same.
The Cape Argus It’s what 35,000 riders from around the world get dressed up in weird spandex and train months for, the 109km Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Race (spandex optional). It’s South Africa’s most prestigious cycling tour and the largest timed cycling event in the world. Now in it’s 33rd year with the finish line on Green Point Stadium’s front lawn and the indestructible Lance Armstrong taking part, it’s more alluring than ever. Come March 14th these sweat addicts on bicycles, tricycles, recumbent and even handcycles will be left breathless by a combination of the unforgiving tar and magnificent coastline.
The Cape EPIC The Absa Cape Epic is to cycling what the Dakar Rally is to motorsports. It is the largest full-service mountain bike stage race in the world and it covers 722km of the Western Cape’s most gruelling, off-road terrain in eight stages, over eight days. That’s 83% of the Argus every day for eight days, off-road. In teams of two! And you can’t ever be more than two minutes apart! And if you finish, you’ll have climbed the equivalent of Mount Everest, twice. The route changes every year and covers the best scenery in the Diemersfontein, Ceres and Worcester districts of the Western Cape, from Protea forests, private vineyards, majestic bergs and wild coastlines on terrain that ranges from technical mountain bike tracks to gravel roads and strenuous stone paths.
1,200 professional and amateur mountain bike masochists from 42 countries around the world buy tickets in a charity lottery a year in advance to win entry, but preparation cannot begin early enough. “You need at least six months to prepare mentally and physically,” recommends amateur Wouter Mare who nearly didn’t finish last year’s race. “We saw people falling off their bicycles due to fatigue. A lot of people had to be airlifted off the course.” The rest of us can catch the daily highlights from 21 March, going out to 183 countries in 22 languages as it’s the most televised mountain bike race of all time.
The Cape Argus When 14 March Race type Single day road race Participants ± 35,000 (Individual) Distance 109km Ascent ±1,550m Price R260 – R290 Atmosphere Electric, excellent crowd support Fitness required A reasonable fitness level to complete it comfortably. With a cut-off of eight hours you could complete it if you’re not well trained but in good health.
The Cape EPIC When 21-28 March Race type 8 day stage race Participants 1,200 (Teams of 2) Distance 722km Ascent ±15,000m Price R25,200 per team Atmosphere Unique, unparalleled camaraderie Fitness required 6 months training minimum. You and your partner must be very fit or you will not even complete the first stage.