Virgin gives you wheels

2013-02-21 12:50
Richard Branson (File)
Cape Town - Twelve years after Nelson Mandela phoned Sir Richard Branson, entrepreneur, author and adventurer, to ask him to save thousands of jobs by taking over a liquidated health club chain, the 62-year old founder of the Virgin Group has again risen to a challenge. 

Branson announced last week he will tackle the 109km Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour, flying Virgin Active SA team colours.

"Why? Why not?" Branson says, “Life is a helluva lot more fun if you say yes rather than no.” 

Branson will be headlining a team that includes his son-in-law, Freddie Andrewes, Virgin Group CEO, Josh Bayliss and a large contingent of Virgin Active SA staff members. Branson’s only request so far is a 'comfortable' saddle. The Cycle Tour has been on Branson’s bucket list for years and as he says, “I am prepared to try anything once.”

Virgin Active has a close association with the Cycle Tour and cycling - a high percentage of the 35 000+ riders are Virgin Active club members, who train nationally at the 104 clubs where a total of 3 643 bicycles are available for indoor cycling. 

Biokineticists and V-Cycling specialists at Virgin Active have compiled some tips about gearing up for the big race but are also inviting cyclists to go onto the Virgin Active South Africa’s (VASA) or Richard Branson’s facebook page to offer words of advice and encouragement ahead of the race day on March 10.

In fact Branson tweeted: Looking forward to the Cape Argus cycle. Haven’t been on a bike for a while, any tips?

Some tips and messages of support received include the fact a helmet is most important - for safety - and a gel or soft saddle for comfort is a must too!

Branson’s busy travel schedule and Necker Island’s lack of cycle paths has confined him to indoor training but he is, according to close sources, “tremendously excited” to be competing the 109km race where he will be one of approximately 35 000 cyclists to brave the route.

Managing Director of Virgin Active SA Ross Faragher-Thomas says, “We are delighted that Richard is riding the race this year to join a large contingent of our staff and the significant number of entrants who are Virgin Active members. We can’t think of a better way to endorse our support of this fantastic race.”

Race Director of the Cycle Tour, Dave Bellairs, said that having Branson on board was a major coup.

“We received confirmation from Virgin Active that Sir Richard Branson will participate in the 2013 edition of the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour. It’s very exciting. We’ve had famous movie stars, sports people and an entrepreneurial icon.”

The Cycle Tour is not for the faint-hearted or unfit, but perhaps for a man who has flown at high-altitudes in a hot air balloon, completed a world record-breaking kite surf across the English Channel and jumped off a two-storey building to promote a new route between Las Vegas and San Francisco - the world’s largest individually timed cycle race is likely to be just another day ‘in the office.’ 

So what should Branson be doing to gear up for the big race? 

Virgin Active’s Regional Product Specialist, Fiddy Gey Van Pittius says, “With just 18 days to go, rest starts to become more of a focus leading up to the race. Even though you are still doing your intensity sessions, it is a good idea to have a longer recovery between interval sets. A good full leg massage is a great way of limbering, relaxing and recovering those hard-worked cycling muscles so be sure to book one. No playing catch-up during your final  week of training, if you have missed any sessions, let it be. Trying to catch up sessions only puts pressure on you both physically and mentally, so, no extra stress needed at this stage.”

General tips from VASA in preparation for the race:

• Stretch for at least 10-20 minutes after each training ride
• If possible, go for a massage at least once a week
• Have your bike serviced, do not leave this to the last minute
• Men over 35, see your doctor for a full check-up at least two weeks before the race
• Vary your riding pace and terrain (eg: hills v flats) whilst training
• Do not change your bike set up before the race as you need to get used to it
• Ensure you know the route by either driving the route or downloading the map from the internet
• Mentally prepare and plan for your race
• Make a checklist at least one week before the race and have everything you need in advance

If anyone would like to leave a tip they are invited to do so on Virgin Active’s Facebook page

Responses to Branson’s tweet: Looking forward to the Cape Argus cycle. Haven’t been on a bike for a while, any tips?

Most people suggested he should avoid falling off, keep peddling and there were many accolades and plenty of good wishes. 

• Wear a helmet and high visibility clothes. Head down. Bum up and pedal like the devils after you. (Scott Myers)
• No drinking before the race. Late afternoon pasta dish would be good for carbo loading before the race. Be prepared as my city has many inclines and declines around the mountain range in Cape Town. Also be prepared for windy conditions on the route finishing the race back to the city (Jeppe Davids)
• Wear padded bike shorts. Your butt will thank you! (Audra Wright)
• My tip: Pasta and good source of magnesium, for when those muscles are hard at work (Shameemah Jahed)
• Do leg warm ups like squats, stretches and even jogging helps. (Simon Lim)
• Attach a mirror for safety and a camera to document your ride - Then share it with us! ... your enthusiastic followers.
• Advice from Lynda Westlake. 1. Wear a helmet 2. Drink lots of water 3. Stretch before you go 4. Watch out for pedestrians and traffic 5. Enjoy yourself (Lynda Westlake)
• It's all about the Lycra (Sara Boss)
• Best tip for the Argus: Soak up the atmosphere, enjoy the scenery and stop periodically for a beer (Clare Appleyard)
• Yes, no updating facebook while riding (Kevin Ryan)
• Yeah, practise riding into STRONG wind, it can howl here in CT. And take time to enjoy the view, good on you Sir (Bryan Milne)
• Cream up down below (Damiane Wright)
• Don't Text and Bike!!! (Steve Gervick)
• Get the cycling gears and make sure to have energy bars and a full bottle of water... Sunscreen would be great along with polarized sunglasses... The rest is in the legs and a positive mind.... Good luck! (Valerie Vittu)

Read more on:    richard branson  |  cycling

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