David Moseley

Carry on Cycling

2013-03-05 09:15

David Moseley

It’s very hard to ignore the Cycle Tour - the name the organisers insist on calling the event even though 97% of future space-time travellers will now and forever more know it as "The Argus" - if you live in Cape Town.

The high voltage electric hum that's generated around race day itself is probably enough to blow whole cows apart should they stray into the amiable current.

In fact, the entire week leading up to the event - billed as Lifecycle Week and now including a three-day (or two-day) mountain bike stage race, the traditional MTB Challenges and numerous kiddies races where aggressively competitive parents can urge their children to future prickness, just like dad - make March a merry month of cycling indeed.

 My week of cycling festivities started with the two-day Nashua Grape Escape (where, at one particularly hilly stage, my wife called out, “I’ll just wait for you at the top of the climb. I can’t cycle uphill as slowly as you do”) and will conclude with my fifth consecutive “Argus” (as I write this, I’m currently slashing the tyres on Robyn’s road bike. Wait for me now, wife).

The beauty, of course, in an event like this (and the upcoming Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon) is the wide variety of South Africans it pulls together.

At Cycle Tour you get a wonderful mix of fatties, fit ous, moms, dads, Sunday cyclists, serious cyclists, happy-go-lucky no-hopers and the odd tonsil with more aerospace technology under his legs than Nasa has in Houston and more race fuel than Captain Cook packed on his Pacific Ocean voyages who still can’t understand why he comes in after five hours even though he did that one training ride in November.

And here’s the problem with the race. It encourages people to get on the bike for that once special day, to soak up the atmosphere, to be part of something special, and then toss the bike in the garage for another 350 days.

(The event doesn’t literally encourage this, for the more simple-minded of you out there, but you know what I mean. There’s a tendency for people to eye the Argus as a one-off, something to train for - once - and build towards.)

But how about this? How about using this Sunday as your cycling starting point? Don’t view the race as the finish. See it rather as the beginning.

Cycling does get a bad rap at this time of year, but that’s mainly due to the palookas who come out of the woodwork for their yearly spin and end up wobbling through rush hour traffic like drunk circus bears on two-wheeled tricycles. Don’t be that person. Don’t be that bear.

Tomorrow petrol goes up by another R7 000. By the end of the year you’ll be selling a kidney, a child into slavery and your gold fillings just to afford half a tank to drive to your desk where you slump over daily, bemoaning the ills of the country and your impending financial ruin thanks to some Sheik Yer Booty in Qatar.

Instead, get on a bike for the first time at the Cycle Tour and use it as a springboard to greater bicycling things. Your real race starts after you’ve finished the Argus, your race to become a better, more consistent cyclist.

Don’t worry about the haters. Don’t be put off by the knob-jockeys who wear their cycling helmets to get coffee and loudly discuss their splits for the last sprint to the Vida e parking lot. Just get out there for more than one day of the year.

Follow the rules of the road, enjoy the scenery wherever you pedal, be careful, be consistent, but whatever you do, just carry on cycling.   

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

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