Think of me on Sunday in 8E ... that might
sound promisingly like a well-front-of-wing, business-class seat on an
aircraft. But I’m in “cattle”, make no mistake, smack at the back of the proverbial
Only I’m referring to my lowly seeding,
quite understandably, for a first-time assault on the iconic Cape Town Cycle
“Ooh, media entry?” one of my mates had
exclaimed optimistically. “Maybe they’ll bump you up a few groups.” (After all,
my profession is supposedly right up there amidst the free-lunch brigade in
And I am far from unhappy about that: a bit
of an “earn your strips” sort of devotee, graft doggedly for them is pretty
much what I plan to do in my maiden sampling of the 35 000-strong event ... even
if I am setting off amidst the possibly less-than-Robbie-Hunter-like last
couple of thousand in the vast field.
“Look at it this way,” said my sage-like,
infinitely higher-seeded friend Spike after learning of the 10:00,
full-sunshine (assuming it’s a nice day) start facing me, “you should overtake
a helluva lot of people, which will make you feel good.”
I so nearly interjected: “And if I don’t?”
The other “advantage”, I guess, is that I
get considerably more of a Sunday lie-in ... albeit that I may be awoken anyway
by the buzz surrounding the elite 06:15 starters flashing past Paradise Motors on
the M3 near my Newlands home only minutes later than that. (Might it be a
mildly demoralising occurrence, coming way before we even heave my bike into
the bakkie and head toward town?)
Still, my faithful long-time training
partner and pal Steph, doing just his own second tour, sets off only 24 minutes
ahead of me from the Foreshore, so my first mini-target on Sunday - don’t tell
him of this extraordinarily ingenious plan -- will simply be to haul him in.
Might it be at Smitswinkel? Suikerbossie? A
dramatic (well, to us anyway) sprint finish? Perhaps more pertinently, will it
be at all?
There are bigger questions for both of us
to address, of course ... like have we done enough training?
Well, how much is enough?
All I know is that we have faithfully
ticked off early-morning Sunday rides together for several months, and
supplemented them individually with a shorter, midweek “top-up” spin or two -
for example, I have developed a penchant for Tuesday night MTB rides on the
Constantia Green Belt, including a few pretty intense bursts of uphill leg-work
on dry, crumbly jeep track.
Initially, we were pretty chuffed with
ourselves if our Sunday industry got us from Mouille Point to the top of
Suikerbossie and back, then we expanded our horizons to take in top of Chappies
as well, then down to Noordhoek to facilitate the return climb up the big hump
By the time we pretty much closed our
training accounts last weekend, we had completed a couple of 70km-plus rides.
(Mandatorily, of course, still sneaking in a coffee stop on the way home at a
notably cyclist-popular establishment in Bakoven.)
I was happy to leave it at that, prepared
to involve an element of mystery to that “final third” of required kilometres my
body and mind will need to muster, come Tour day - they do say pure adrenaline,
the mass bonhomie and spectator cajolement gives you that vital dose of
But I will be relying on an altogether more
poignant and important power, too ... one that I hope will suitably spur me even
through a stiff south-easter in the event that the Cape Doctor rears its
My first Cycle Tour at the relatively
advanced age of almost 53 will also serve as a personal memorial to 13-year-old
Nicholas Lemke, son of my sportswriter colleague and friend Gary Lemke, who
died a few weeks ago.
Nicholas was a spirited, happy and loving
boy - remembered with much affection by my own children - despite grappling
various health-related issues at times, and had enjoyed three seizure-free
years until he succumbed to Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP).
With the approval of Marina Clarke,
national director of Epilepsy South Africa, dad Gary has helped tee up “The
Nicholas Project”, aimed specifically as a legacy initiative promoting
awareness of the condition among the youth.
Strictly non-profit, an account for
donations has been created for The Nicholas Project by Epilepsy SA. It will be
audited, so Gary and family can see exactly where every rand has come from.
Anonymity is naturally fine, though those donors
willing to are asked to include an email address to enable the organisation to
thank them, and provide feedback on the uses of their kind contributions.
These are the bank details: Absa, acc no
4077133143 (branch code 632005), ref: The Nicholas Project.
Your generosity will be my resolve-aiding
pedal-power up those various pesky climbs on Sunday, but so much more than that
our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing