Cyclists: can’t live with them, can’t get the post delivered to your house without them…
Now if you just stood up and exhaled like you have a puncture in your face, then perhaps you should stop reading. If not, then you’re probably just as perplexed how anyone dressed up as a prawn could take themself so seriously. In fact, it makes about as much sense as intentionally pulverizing your privates – another bicycling favourite.
But this #MHTeamFit thing has a funny way of making you go to the extreme, and so on Friday morning – after announcing my good intentions to all and sundry – I decided that I’d ride the Cape Argus Cycle Tour.
It was too late to ride the race legitimately, and so I asked a colleague who cycles to work where the best place to join the race would be. An eavesdropping Bicycling Magazine staffer interrupted with: “You make me so angry.” So I shifted her gears even further saying that not only would I ride the Argus without an entry, but I was going to skip the ridiculous cycling gear, too. She was apoplectic with rage. “I actually can’t even listen to you! You just can’t, okay! Please go away!”
Now it’s one thing having cyclists riding four abreast along Victoria Drive, or showing off their camel hooves while you brunch, but to make it virtually impossible for me to get anything done on a Sunday, and then want to stop me from riding my bicycle just because I don’t subscribe to spandex? Ho-ho!
It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that Australian researchers found more than 70% of cyclists had reported being harassed last year. This had nothing to do with their age, weight, race, religion, or even being Australian. No, it was cycling’s image that was the problem. In fact, cycling in wealthy areas, for recreation, or for competition, were associated with an even higher likelihood of harassment. Which pretty much has the average Argus entrant covered then.
Now look, my parents are cyclists (Sunday was their 18th Argus and they both finished in just over 3 hrs – nice work, folks!), so I don’t even “Like” those videos posted on Facebook that feature cars plowing into pelotons, let alone harass cyclists. And because I’m so against beating them, I decided that the only thing to do was to join them.
But Sunday was hot, like really hot, Ryan Gosling hot, and having worked up a sweat just pushing my bike to the garage to put air in the tyres, I questioned my good intentions. Then some friends who had camped over at Llandudno the night before started sending me text messages saying things like “sorry for you”, and “haha, you’re going to miss it.”
That settled it. Instead of cycling 110 kilometres I convinced myself that riding from Observatory to Llandudno was just as good a workout, especially when factoring in all the waves I’d get, what with Llandudno being on lockdown and everything…
Slipping onto the freeway near hospital bend I made my way past UCT where skottling students cheered me on. My civilian gear – Grasshoppers, corduroy cutoffs, no T-shirt and a cap – didn’t throw them, and they enthusiastically offered me party-pack sized Bar Ones and water.
However, after the initial fanfare everything went quiet, and was about as exciting as idling in gridlock. By now my bum was really sore and I had to pump my right thigh with my right hand on the uphills as I pedaled past Kirstenbosch Gardens and then snaked around the mountain, finally making it over into Hout Bay.
After two hours of what can only be described as a horrible time I was at the bottom of Suikerbossie, where I met up with another surfer walking to the beach. Together we made our way up the hill and once we’d summited it I offered him a lift on my handlebars. Crossing over from the right hand side of the road to the left proved a bit of a challenge, but after we’d done this we coasted all the way down to the beach, victorious.
Unfortunately the wave needed a bit more wind on it, and because I was absolutely broken I spent my first session stretching out cramps. That wind did finally come through, at around five, when the roads opened, and brought with it hordes of frothing surfers. Our peaceful idyll was broken and the lineup became even more tense than usual.
But the gods decided to smile upon me, and I got one wave that made everything worthwhile.
So I didn’t ride the Argus. Big deal. I play real sports. Who cares how good you are at exercising?
* Sadly I don’t have any pics of me on a bike, so you’ll just have to make do with this pic of me on a horse, which left my arse in a similar state.