The Cycle Challenge is Joburg’s biggest cycle race that everyone should try, at least once. So here’s a guide for first timers or those in need of a refresher!
I wrote a post the day after my very first Cycle Challenge ever… which I was feeling… literally. Thought that maybe a re-share would help others on their first time.
This was one of my bucket list things & I did it. With a really small amount of training, a massive purpose, an unbelievable team… and a stupid smile on my face for most of the way.
5 hours is a long time to spend on a bike & in your own head, so here’s a simple guide for a first timer from me to you…
To train… or not to train!
Train your bum off (literally) or don’t… its that simple.
But just understand that my grandmother was right & you do really reap what you sow. I had done a total of 16km on a bike in the past year. No jokes. And that was 2 weeks before the race.
To say that this race was hard is an understatement but every step I took, I knew that it was my own doing & if I planned earlier, then it might (the focus word here is might) have been a little easier.
No one likes a squeak
I had new slim line, slick tires fitted to my bike the day before the race… so clever. What I failed to do was test the little buggers out & after 3 turns of the pedal after the start, my front wheel started to squeak. A LOT. The blissful, quiet, focused competitors were mostly looking round trying to figure out who the hell the sound belonged to.
Believe me when I say, no one likes a squeak… the solution here would be to test your bike before you ride, it will save you the embarrassment of pulling over after the first 500 meters & having to figure out a solution on the side of the road.
You only need front brakes if you’re planning on slowing down…
I cut my front brakes… literally. The brakes were the route of the squeak but luckily my CliffCentral team mate had a tool kit & was able to remove the squeak & the brakes. You only need working brakes if you’re planning on slowing down, right?
Wrong… you need brakes all the time, how the hell are you gonna get your hands on a Barone while whistling down Jan Smuts at a million kilometers an hour. Luckily my back brakes were in tact & rescued me when I needed it most.
You will meet the most amazing people
Cyclists have a bad rep in Joburg, even 94.7 themselves awarded an artist a lot of money for photo-shopping a picture of a cyclist being run over by a taxi – no jokes. But the truth is, cyclists are some of the most amazing folks out there.
Whenever I stopped, whether it was to fix a little squeak or to wait for some crew to catch up, I was bombarded with cyclists on the route asking me if I was okay or needed any help. That’s the cyclist way. So perhaps, the next time you’re about to say something terrible about a cyclist or anyone else for that matter… remember that judging someone doesn’t define them, it defines you.
They wrote a song about it, the world health organization preaches about it, people are giving it away at the start & yet we still don’t listen. The sun can do some epic damage & can make the recovery even more uncomfortable.
Wear sunscreen; apply more in the middle of the race & then a little more near the end.
You’ll thank me for this later, promise.
Most ups are followed with downs
Enjoy the hills, take them in & fight to get to the top because most of those nasties, are followed by the most amazing down slopes where you score a little wind & a lot of rest #Winning
Walk if you have too
I’m not mentioning any names but Joe Slovo, Witkoppen, Cedar & Steyn may be the ugliest up-hills I have ever faced… and I made it to the top of all of them by throwing in a quick walk. It didn’t bother me (or anyone else) in the slightest, and there were quite a few that took the same route.
Everyone has a different level of fitness & that’s okay which brings me to my next point…
You’ll always be ahead of some & behind others
It’s a race & you’ll be somewhere in the middle with people in front of you & people behind you… thats how races work. Everyone has a different level of fitness & a different goal.
Achieve whats best for you & then next year be a better version of YOU unless you’re a horrible person, no one likes a “better” horrible person.
There are 100 ways to sit on a bike
There really are but unfortunately, there’s only one that actually works & after a couple of hours you’ll realise the perfect position will be both your saving grace & the bane of you bum. The great news is the pain will go away… and you’ll have a shiny medal when it does.
Bananas are really slippery
As well as everything else on the road… people will be drinking “goo”, eating protein bars & chomping on bananas but the peels & wrappers all need to go somewhere so just make sure you avoid anything that isn’t tar.
Don’t get caught with your pants down
Or more importantly don’t get caught with an empty water bottle. The water points are perfectly positioned & filled with more water, coca-cola & energade than some countries have. Keep your bottles full & keep drinking – its important when you’re sweating.
Ride for a purpose
Everyone does & so should you! You’ll see rhinos on bicycles, groups of pink cows & bicycle taxis for leopards. There are a bunch of amazing charities that need the awareness so find one & make it your mission to be their voice & legs.
We rode for Layla & the Ependy Angels… click the link if you want to hear more about her amazing story & the foundation she started.
You’ll see the most beautiful side of Joburg
We ‘ve all driven through the centre of town, or down Jan Smuts or even over the Mandela Bridge but never like this! The Cycle Challenge opened the opportunity to ride through the city at a pace that you can see it, for what it really is… one of the most beautiful cities in the world & on top of that Joburgers come out in droves to support the race.
Lets be honest… its a toughie & there’ll be moments when you’re laughing or crying (a lot) & you may even get a little pee on you, hopefully not yours, but there are puddles & you will be riding through a living, breathing city… just saying.
But at the end of the day, you’ll be ticking a bucket list box & making some amazing memories.
I may not have had the fastest time but I did have the best time, this race was by far one of the most awesome things I’ve done & I’m definitely looking forward to another one next year.
Onwards & Upwards & Only Good Things