Cycle Tour: OK, enough of these false starts

2018-03-08 11:38
Cape Town - Hopefully, after the spiteful south-easterly tempest that scuppered last year’s Cape Town Cycle Tour - which was to have been my ridiculously belated first - the only breeze you will feel on Sunday is that of Hurricane Houwing burning up the course in the most benign of conditions.

Well, me and around another 34 999 purposefully-shifting specimens of humanity, of course.

Don’t shout it too loudly - no, NEVER do that on the preceding Wednesday or Thursday, it has been sagely whispered to me - but as this was penned we seemed in for a vastly contrasting corker of a day in 2018.

Manageable temperatures, a wind so lethargic that it can’t quite seem to settle on a firm direction … oh, how I wish we could just stop the meteorological clock right here, right now.

Veteran and even not so veteran locals, however, know not to crow too soon; the Mother City has a mood all of its own, changeable at violently short notice.

But look, I am pretty amped now for whatever table is set for us, figuring that at very least lightning ought not to strike twice - how could this year possibly be the equal of, never mind be worse than, the abandoned last?

I even opted to defiantly round off my training on Wednesday with a short, intense little spin on Tafelberg Road, where at certain angles the south-easter was whistling down gullies with great gusto.

Get your fury out of the way now, I taunted it, with some force of conviction.

Look, for your Average Joe cyclist (my friends are even saying I may have inched a notch above average, so call me a 50.5-percenter) my training has been reasonably dedicated and consistent when I have been able to find the time … a little like last year before the famously cancelled event, really.

I have become comfortably enough used to Sunday sparrow-chirp rides of anything between 50-65km duration, and occasionally even matching that distance on my midweek day off. (I know every bump, every stain, every pile of glass splinters and abandoned bit of vehicle fender on the road from Mouille Point to Noordhoek and back.)

That’s roughly two “half-Tours” a week, for about the last three weeks. So now, I keep telling myself, I simply have to join the parts together on Sunday … though have you ever watched me, not the original handyman, try to put two parts together?

I am also not making things too easy for myself: I’ll be riding my mountain bike (though its light carbon frame is an ally) and haven’t even got around to the recommended conversion to slick tyres, to the puzzlement and near-disgust of my training pals Spike (riding, from a pen well ahead of me) and Steph (er, a wee bit more lethargic and disinclined this year).

But I am also indebted to the latter for effectively donating me, with the help of the kind Tour media people, his seeding that isn’t - well, at least not quite -- on the back row of the grid.

Personal time goal? Look, I have a very, very secret figure in the back of my mind, but I also don’t want to get too cocky considering that I remain a Tour rookie and, after the 65km mark, I will be operating in unknown territory (yup, with Chappies and Suikers still to follow …).

Besides, I’m the type who, if creaking a touch at Misty Cliffs and snacking lustily on fatty, moist biltong and wine gums, might even take a spontaneous 10-minute break from the saddle to absent-mindedly revel in the aesthetic and culinary bliss.

But there’s also just an outside chance I will be unusually fired-up and in fine physical fettle, considering a novel invitation that has come my way for Saturday.

It is a free pass to the Cryozone Waterless Tech Recovery Area at the Tour Expo, for a supposedly invigorating pre-session of cryotherapy.

In a nutshell, it’s a dry process where you spend a few minutes in a chamber cooled - I should really have used inverted commas - to minus 120 degrees Celsius.

I am told it is suitable for cyclists of all levels (sessions start at R300) and stimulates a number of natural responses in the body, the benefits including reduced muscle pain and inflammation and increased energy levels.

Sounds good to me, though my wife had some thoughtful advice: “Just make sure you are fully defrosted by Sunday.”

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


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