Cycling

Tour d’Afrique reaches SA

2011-05-09 12:02
Tour d’Afrique riders (File)
Cape Town - On Monday, May 9, the world’s longest bicycle tour/expedition will cross the Namibian border into South Africa. 

Nearly 100 riders from all around the globe will overnight in Springbok before cycling through Garies, Strandfontein, Elands Bay and Yzerfontein. 

When the Tour d’Afrique riders cycle from Blouberg to Cape Town, on the final leg of their four-month journey from Cairo to Cape Town on Saturday, May 14, it will be the first time an international bicycle tour will make use of the City of Cape Town’s new cycle paths. Tour d’Afrique riders will join local cyclists from all over Cape Town in an event called The Big Ride In – a celebratory community ride along Cape Town’s new cycle paths.

Capetonians are invited to participate by using the new cycle routes to get to the Plaza, Civic Centre. From here the local community will join the Tour d’Afrique cyclists as they ride to the finish line at the EcoPark in Green Point. The ride starts at 13:00 and is 6km long.  Cyclists with a bit more stamina are invited to join the Tour d’Afrique riders from Kreefte Bay, as they ride along the new cycle route, via the Civic Centre, to the official finish line at the EcoPark. The ride starts at 12:00 sharp and is about 30km.

The Minister of Transport, Robert Carlisle, and the Executive Deputy Mayor of Cape Town, Alderman Ian Neilson will be among the dignitaries welcoming the cyclists at the EcoPark. An awards ceremony to congratulate the Tour d’Afrique riders will be hosted by the enigmatic TV and Radio presenter JP Naude.

Capetonians are invited to bring picnics and blankets to enjoy a day of family-friendly music and live entertainment on the beautiful lawns of the EcoPark which will be open to the public from 10:00. Organisations and individuals that support eco-friendly transport alternatives, the ideals of re-cycling, investing, developing, and cycling empowerment will be sharing their ideas and products in the EcoTent.

During the first few days in May, Namibia has experienced some of its largest rainfall recorded in its history. Flash floods and outbreaks of Malaria followed. Previously, the worst recorded floods were in 2009, affecting an estimated 350 000 people. Water levels are reported at 30 to 40 centimeters higher than they were in 2009. In response, the Government of the Republic of Namibia has declared a state of emergency.

Several times throughout its journey through Namibia the Tour d’Afrique’s lunch truck had to be dug out of roads that had become rivers of mud.  The cyclists had their own problems with the roads, “It’s been an unusually challenging 48 hours in the normally dry desert lands of southern Namibia,” says Brian Hoeniger, Tour d'Afrique rider.

“After a crystal clear day of riding from Betta, a front started rolling in at Konkiep Lapa camp. By dinner it was starting to rain. The night was filled with thunder and lightning and a steady downpour meant many would've rather stayed hunkered down in their tents.  It didn't stop pouring until afternoon. And so after breakfast the riders dealt with 30km of gumbo like mud in the rain, some of whom were exhausted after four hours of grinding through this stretch. More than half the riders completed this epic day into the rustic Seeheim Hotel. When the lunch truck arrived at the normally straightforward Lowen River crossing, it was greeted by a torrent due to the dam upstream having been opened. Fortunately there was a railroad bridge a mere 300m upstream and the riders dragged their bicycles through the bush to the bridge while the vehicles doubled back 60km to cross over at the Naute Dam. Now the 1st riders are arriving at the unique and bizarre Canon Roadhouse where a museum of ancient cars, Amarula cheesecake and Windhoek draught are fine rewards for having completed ‘just another adventure on the Tour d'Afrique’. This afternoon it’s off to the Fish River Canyon and then it’s time for early bed.”

The Tour d’Afrique Race and Expedition traverses 10 countries including Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Namibia and finally South Africa. The entire journey south is just shy of 12 000km long. 

There are currently four South Africans on the tour.

For more info, including race and route details, please visit http://www.tourdafrique.com
 

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