Why a Double Century ride matters so much

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The Double Century route, does not lack for scenary (Photo: Chris Hitchcock)
The Double Century route, does not lack for scenary (Photo: Chris Hitchcock)
  • The Old Mutual Wealth Double Century is a celebration of everything great, about South African road cycling.
  • It allows riders, to ride in safety, for more than 200km, along a spectacular route.
  • In the heat of summer, with headwinds, it can be a brutal experience.

In cricket, the double century is a notable achievement. And in South African cycling - much the same. 

What started as a huge day out between mates, in 1993, has evolved into one of South Africa’s most prized road riding experiences.

Using a circular route from Swellendam, the Old Mutual Wealth Double Century (DC) allows riders to ride a touch more than 200km, of South Africa’s best roads. Safely.

Riders during the PPA Double Century 202km cycling
You might be suffering inside, on a DC, but there is always charming scenery, to edge you along (Phot: Old Mutual Double Century)

Linking some of the best mountain routes

Although the race operates as a non-profit, with most riding it for the sheer sense of accomplishment that entails finishing, there are always some esteemed participants. Such as multiple Tour de France champion, Chris Froome, who rode it back in 2008.

The DC starts in Swellendam and routes over the spectacular Tradouw pass, before navigating to Montagu and Robertson. It edges Barrydale and Bonnievale, taking in some of the most inspiring scenery and challenging roads South Africa has on offer.

Double Century
The Double Century is a true pro distance road ride. But everyone can share the experience (Photo: Old Mutual Double Century)

Two hundred clicks in a day

True to its DC status, the route ranges for 202km, with 2100m of climbing. It is a very big day’s riding.

For most weekend warriors, merely finishing, is the goal. But as with all road riding, there will always be some element of competition at the DC.

Riders chasing a specific time at the DC, race at its more competitive edge of opportunity. And they need to optimise their aero. That means working as a team, with each riding doing their bit – by riding at the front, and taking some portion of the aerodynamic drag, while shielding others.

Riders during the PPA Double Century 202km cycling
Organisers and local traffic officials, deliver a race where riders only need to worry about their aero – instead of vehicles (Photo: Chris Hitchcock)

One rider, has done them all

This year’s DC will see former Ironman World Champion and Olympic gold medalist Jan Frodeno, Nicholas Dlamini, Premier of the Western Cape Alan Winde, and, of course, Mr Double Century himself, Johann le Roux.

"I just fell in love with the Double Century right from the start," says Le Roux.

"Love the scenery. Love the ride. Love the team spirit. I am the only rider who has done all of them, so now I must just keep participating until I am no longer able to. As long as I am healthy, I will be at the Double Century start."

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