Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Biking round the Cape Peninsula...

This past Sunday I cycled my 20th consecutive Cape Argus Pick 'n Pay Cycle Tour. I rode with my dad and brother and we cycled the whole route together. It was my dad's 19th tour and my brother's 21st tour. Here is a photo of the three of us together at the start.

The sun was shining on race day, but despite the sun there was a strong wind blowing from the south-east. The Cape Doctor, the local name for the south-easterly wind, (because the south-easter blows away all the fog and pollution out of the city) was certainly not going to let cyclists have an easy day! What follows is a general route description with some of my favourite photos from these areas of Cape Town. The photo here is a basic route map (not to scale). The ride starts at the top of the image (the centre of Cape Town) and winds along the route in a more-or-less clockwise direction.

Having heard the starter's gun, cyclists set out from the start under Cape Town's Civic Centre up the first climb of Eastern Boulevard to Hospital Bend. From there the route winds down towards the south peninsula, passing the University of Cape Town nestled on the slopes of Devil's Peak, before coming to Wynberg Hill. This is the start in Hertzog Boulevard.

From the top of Wynberg Hill it's a lovely downhill section along the M3 Freeway, also called the Blue Route, before tackling the climb of Boyes Drive above Muizenberg and Kalk Bay. After nearly 40 kms of cycling you'll reach Simon's Town, the home of South Africa's navy, and a few kilometres later you make the turn up Smitswinkel towards Cape Point. It's always a nice feeling when you reach this point after around 50 kms, because the wind (if it's a south-easter) is now at your back for the second half of the ride. Pictured here is Simon's Town.

The race breezes down past the seaside conservation villages of Scarborough and Misty Cliffs and then heads towards the first of the two major climbs of the day. The breathtaking Chapman's Peak Drive (hereafter Chappies) comes after around 75 kms and winds from sea-level at Noordhoek to some 300 metres above sea-level above Hout Bay. If you still have the strength and energy then be sure to enjoy the views overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It is no surprise that this coastal road is one of the most scenic drives in the world. Photo here of Chapman's Peak.

Having summitted Chappies, you can now free-wheel down to Hout Bay, but remember to conserve energy for the gruelling climb of Suikerbossie (Afrikaans: "little sugar bush") just ahead. Conquer this climb and you're pretty much home, as once over the top of Suikerbossie it is a mere 15 kms to the finish-line in the shadow of Cape Town's 2010 World Cup stadium at Green Point. This is the view towards the Sentinel (the prominent mountain dropping down to the water at left of shot) and Hout Bay from the top of Chappies.

So, after 109 kms of wonderful scenery and cycling amongst God's creation, my Dad, brother and myself all finished together in a time of 4hrs 53 minutes. It was one of my best Argus Cycle Tours simply because I cycled with family the whole way, had no major mechanical or accident issues, was relatively fit and didn't cramp (I managed to get out on the bike for five decent training rides in the past two weeks I was in Cape Town - not to mention the cycling I did in Tenerife), and cycled the tour in Mercy Ships colours to create awareness for the ministry in which I serve. And that is why I am thankful.

Later on today (Tuesday, 16th March) I fly out to Ghana and then make my way to Togo to rejoin my Mercy Ships family. Please pray for safe travels - thanks! Much love, Murray

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