Branson and his 'A-team'
Cape Town - A group of South African celebs will be riding with Sir Richard Branson, the 62-year-old founder of the Virgin Group, in the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour on Sunday.
Flying Virgin Active SA team colours and keeping him company on the 109km tour will be Melinda Bam and Adriaan Bergh (Miss and Mr SA 2011) as well as Virgin Active Finance Manager Greg Sara, former Sport24 Editor and rugby player Tank Lanning and 5fm DJs, Milkshake and Fikile 'Fix' Moeti.
Not only is 'Fix' doing the Cycle Tour, but he competed in the half Ironman 70.3 earlier this year and, like Branson, is passionate about providing opportunities for aspiring social entrepreneurs.
“It is going to be my first Cycle Tour,” says Fix, “but I am looking forward to taking it fairly easy, enjoying the scenery of the Cape and, of course, riding with someone who I have always admired for his incredible leadership programmes. I was fortunate to meet him last week and feel very privileged to be part of Sir Richard Branson’s A-team.”
Branson says, “I’m looking forward to hearing the roar of the crowd and really giving them something to cheer about. While it is my first time taking part in the Cycle Tour, I have experienced the London Marathon and Triathlon, where the crowds really drag you around the course with their support. I’m sure we can help put a smile on their faces.”
It’s been a whirlwind week for the founder of the Virgin Group. Branson attended his son’s wedding at Ulusaba, addressed entrepreneurs at The Branson Centre in Braamfontein and took a tour of the building site of Virgin Active’s newest Classic Club, Alice Lane, which is set to open in August this year. He’s also managed to keep up a steady training schedule.
He says, “It’s not about the time - although I am hoping to get around in just over five hours, but more than anything I am looking forward to taking on the challenge with the rest of the team.”
So what should our celebs and all the other cyclists be doing over the few days before the race?
Virgin Active’s Regional Product Specialist, Fiddy Gey Van Pittius says, “Use this time to fine-tune skills training and focus on your mental preparation. It’s the final countdown!’
• A really easy, chilled, light 20-30min spin on your bike on the road or on an indoor cycle in the Club on Friday and Saturday will gently loosen up your legs and settle the butterflies before the race
• Make sure you have done your final mechanical checks on your bike - include the chain, gear changes, wheels (pump tyres the day before)and check that the handlebar and saddle adjustments are secure
• No changes to eating patterns, racing clothing or bike set-up should be done in this last week. Keep yourself well hydrated with your chosen fluid intake and put your legs up on your rest days
• Don’t forget those carbs!Tips on ‘carbing up’:
• You have to follow a high carbohydrate nutritional plan – remember to eat nutrient rich carbs like rice, pasta, bread, cereals, fruits and vegetables (e.g. potato, sweet potato, pumpkin and butternut).
• Tempting as they are, cakes and chips are ‘more fat than carbs’ and if you eat too much fat you will find it difficult to eat the carbs you need as well. So high carbohydrate and low fat foods are the answer
• You need plenty of fluids so your body can store the carbohydrate - if you find it difficult to eat the required amount of carbs use a supplement to increase the intake
• Drink plenty of fluids; your body needs water to store with the extra carbohydrate.
• Eat all the things you normally would resist especially those with high concentrations of sugar. The night before:
• Pin your number on your shirt. Pack pockets/hydration pack with all your food needs for the ride. Don’t forget your start card!
• Put your transponder on your bike the night before so you don’t forget it
• Fill your bottles with water or energy drinks – it is advisable to weaken the mixture a little for the race
• Set two alarms for 15 minutes earlier than you think you need to wake up;
• Go through your checklist to ensure you have everything you need for the race: shoes, puncture kit etc;
• Now rest, rest, rest. Try to get around 10 hours sleep the night before so you are well rested for the route.The big day:
• Try to eat a healthy breakfast about three hours before you are due to start
• Apply adequate sunscreen
• Drink about 500ml of slow energy release drink and if possible go for a short warm up ride to get your muscles up and about
• Don’t rush to the race! Get to the venue on time. Rushing there will make you stress, which will sap your energy. Get someone to drop you at the start!
• Start on an easy pace and do not rush out of the start line. Pace yourself. The second half of the race is the hardest part.
All that is left to say is to hope the weather gods are feeling benevolent, to wish all cyclists a safe and happy ride and to steal a line from the old Irish blessing: 'May the wind always be at your back...’After the race…
Van Pittius says, “After the race it is essential that you take a one week break from cycling, drink lots of water and eat healthily to ensure your body recovers properly. An ideal way to help your body recover would be a swim every couple of days. Swimming a couple of lengths will help loosen your muscles and keep up your fitness levels.”