The Cape Town Cycle Tour
The Cape Town Cycle Tour (or Cape Argus as it used to be known) is one of the biggest events of the year in Cape Town with over 30 000 cyclists and tens of thousands more supporters descending on the Mother City every March for the largest individually timed bike race in the world.
The 109km Cape Town Cycle Tour route is spectacularly beautiful taking in an entire loop of the Cape Peninsula and with full road closures to traffic, cheering supporters, bands and rest stops along the way, this superbly organized event is a must for cycling enthusiasts – and perfectly manageable with a little training for all but the most die-hard couch potato!
Our properties are always very popular with Cape Town Cycle Tour competitors over the event weekend (always the second Sunday in March) and not only our guests, but also many of our property owners have competed in and thoroughly enjoyed the event over the years. Cape Portfolios Co-Founders Simon and Helena are themselves keen cyclists and have ridden in the race 12 times between them – they both thoroughly recommend what is always an incredibly well organized, beautiful and iconic South African event to take part in.
Here are some of our properties that have been popular with Cape Portfolios guests staying for the Cape Argus in recent years and below that some further information on the event itself -
The Cape Town Cycle Tour to give the race its newly adopted name for 2015 (or “the Cape Argus” or even just “Argus” as it has been known before now) was first held in 1978 when local cycling enthusiasts organized what they called “the Big Ride-In” to draw attention to the need for more cycle paths in South Africa. Little did they know that their inaugural event, which attracted just a few hundred cyclists, would not only continue every year over the next four decades but grow into the largest timed bike race in the world, with over 30,000 participants.
The event has attracted many big name celebrities and sports stars over the years including former cycling stars Miguel Indurain, Jan Ulrich, Eddie Merckx and Lance Armstrong. Each year there is a strong contingent of professional teams challenging for victory, but most of all the event is about the tens of thousands of amateur cycling enthusiasts who travel from all corners of South Africa and around the world to experience this amazing race.
Entries for the Cape Town Cycle tour open in September each year before the race, which is always held on the second Sunday in March and for South African based entrants it is important to sign up quickly as local entries are limited and generally sell out within weeks. International entrants are usually accommodated up until much closer to the race, but it’s worth registering as early as possible, not least to motivate yourself to start training for the big day. Most people like to give themselves a few months to train and prepare for the 109km challenge - which is made more challenging by the four or five big climbs on the route and by the weather which can often be very hot, or windy.
The Cycle Tour is superbly organized both in the lead up to the race and on race day itself, and it certainly needs to be with such a large field, ranging from elite professional cyclists who will complete the 109kms in around 2 and a half hours to those just out to have fun and get to the finish line in 6 or 7 hours before the 5pm cut off time.
Competitors, their bikes and family supporters start arriving in Cape Town up to a few days or longer before race weekend (so it’s worth booking your Cape Portfolios villa or apartment early as there are few spare beds left in Cape Town by the weekend itself!). From the Thursday before the race, competitors converge on the Good Hope Centre in central Cape Town to register and enjoy the extensive Cape Town Cycle Tour Lifestyle Expo, as the roads especially out along the coast past Camps Bay start filling with excited cyclists testing out their bikes ahead of the big challenge.
By race day itself on the Sunday, all 30 000+ competitors have been allocated start times every four minutes from 6.15am through to 10am so the start area in Cape Town CBD becomes a converging mass of cyclists, bikes and supporters, with loud music and performers adding a carnival atmosphere as each start group of 500 or more cyclists sets off with military precision in huge bunches out towards the M3 freeway south from Cape Town.
The route from there is a truly spectacular ride, taking in much of the glorious scenery for which Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula is known, with regular food and drink stops along the way and the roads are closed to traffic all day which makes the whole experience much safer and more enjoyable. The route firstly follows the False Bay coastal road down towards Cape Point, via Muizenberg and Simonstown, before turning back along the Atlantic coast at the entrance to the Cape of Good Hope National Park. From there, the route is half done and it’s an even more dramatic and beautiful ride back to Cape Town passing incredibly scenic stretches such as Misty Cliffs, then the two most famous sections, firstly up over the spectacularly dramatic Chapmans Peak Drive high above the sea and then climbing the iconic Suikerbossie hill from Hout Bay, where the crowds are at their loudest and most supportive as tired legs start to fail before the final 10km stretch mostly downhill through Camps Bay to the Green Point stadium.
At the finish, a well deserved medal and equally well appreciated beer tents and live bands welcome cyclists home after what will for sure have been a day to remember and cherish, regardless of how long it took!