Next Sunday will see 35 000 cyclists setting off from Nelson Mandela Boulevard in Cape Town to complete the 109-kilometre Cape Argus Pick n Pay Momentum Cycle Tour.
Dr Ivan Meyer, Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, has extended a warm welcome to all competitors and visitors: “I am confident that you, like many other visitors before you, will be charmed by our generous display of hospitality, and be awed by the majesty of South Africa’s natural World Heritage site, Table Mountain.”
The city supports the global trend of cycling increasingly becoming a choice of sport, recreational activity and mode of transport, says Western Cape Minister of Tourism, Alan Winde. In moving toward international trends, the city has introduced and adopted a range of safety initiatives. These include the rolling out of a network of dedicated bicycle lanes in 2010, followed by a recently-implemented provincial road by-law to promote the safety of all road users. The new rule requires motorists on Mother City roads to keep a minimum distance of one metre away from cyclists.
When looking at the Cape Argus Pick and Pay Cycle Tour map, the historic road-planning events of the Nelson Mandela Boulevard springs to mind. Formerly known as the Eastern Boulevard, the story of the reclamation of the Foreshore unfolded during the Great War in 1940. This was when the Cape Town City engineer and town planner at the time requested the Chief Architect to the Government of France to bestow valuable road planning advice to the city. After making the onerous sea journey from Paris to Table Bay, his plans on how best to use the 480 acres of land between the existing city and the sea never came to fruition. Construction along the boulevard, however, did take place but only twenty years later.
Today, visiting cyclists along this route enjoy views of a city that has become a global tourist destination with a rating as one of the world’s top 10 top cities. Also overlooking this route, are property owners and tenants who reside in the central suburbs of Gardens, down toward Zonnebloem and the Bo-Kaap. Moving further along in a southerly direction, visitors will witness a masterpiece of road engineering, famously known as Hospital Bend, which joins the Blue Route M3 toward the southern suburbs.
The lush sport grounds and ivy covered buildings of the University of Cape Town, located in and around the leafy surroundings of Rondebosch and Newlands, are clearly visible against the foothills of Table Mountain.
The relatively flat road from here is the reason that seasoned cyclists thoroughly enjoy the scenic views along the False Bay coastal route, between Muizenberg and Simonstown. Both permanent and holiday abodes adorn these mountainsides, most which were developed after the railway line was built between 1910 and 1950 to connect the city with False Bay.
The second challenging hill ride of the race moves toward the top of Smitswinkel Bay, before descending into Scarborough and Misty Cliffs. This section may pose more than one challenge to newcomer riders who may be easily distracted by the views of the quaint seaside cottages. Those not familiar with the antics of wild baboons, who are famous for enjoying discarded cycling debris around Cape Point Nature Reserve, are wise to make a wide birth while heeding the advice of baboon monitors.
The downhill route and flat stretch from here, provides a welcome breather before ascending Chapmans Peak which overlooks the Noordhoek valley. Once cyclists have reached Hout Bay, the realisation should set in that only Suikerbossie Hill sits between them completing the race with a push and a shove from a local resident, or transportation back to Green Point Stadium.
Nolan Wood of Seeff Properties Hout Bay and Llundudno, says that when Hout Bay comes to a standstill during Argus road closures, those searching for properties to buy soon realise the value of digital house searching: “Agents arrange immediate follow- up appointments on the Monday and Tuesday after the race to facilitate viewings of a cross-section of properties to visiting buyers and their families.”
Although it’s pretty safe to say that the tired cyclists are not on this list!