Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour
For one Sunday every March, Cape Town is taken over by cyclists of all ages, and levels of fitness. One of the city’s great sporting spectacles, The Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour attracts thousands of cyclists who come to compete in what is billed as the “largest individually timed cycle race in the world”. Open to all cyclists over the age of 12, participants follow a 109km (68 miles) route that is broken into 18 stages and takes in some of Cape Town’s finest scenery. The race begins in the heart of the city and loops round to end at Green Point taking in the scenic coastline. The seeds of the event date back to 1977 when a Big Ride-In took place as a way of highlighting the need for cycle paths in the city.
More than 35, 000 cyclists from around the world tackle this scenic but gruelling route round the Cape Peninsula. Staggered starts take place throughout the morning with the super-fit fierce competitors out in front and the fun-seeking amateurs setting off several hours later. Thousands of spectators line the route adding to the festive atmosphere. Early registration is highly recommended – although entries are closed for this year’s event. There is no fee to watch.
This race is the first event outside Europe to be included in the International Cycling Union’s Golden Bike series. Cyclists arrive from all corners of the earth to join in. Traditionally staged on the second Sunday of March, the country’s biggest one-day sporting event is fast becoming a big international drawcard – and increasingly a boon for tourism and business in the region. In 2003 the Tour was marketed for the first time internationally, even though it has already begun to draw a considerable number of entries from foreign climes.
Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour History
The idea for the Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour can be tracked back to 1978, when Bill Myrlea and John Stegmann organised the Big Ride-In to draw attention to the need for cycle paths. The Ride-In, held under the auspices of the Western Province Pedal Power Association, was well received and drew hundreds of cyclists, including the Mayor of Cape Town. From this event was planted that a long-distance race should take place and be known as the Peninsula Marathon. Before the race was run for the first time, the name was changed: the Cape Argus newspaper stepped in to sponsor the race, and thus the Argus Cycle Tour was born.
After its inception in 1978, the Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour has grown swiftly in popularity! In 2007 (the 30th tour) the route uses the Chapman's Peak course and ends in Beach Road, near the Mouille Point lighthouse.
Over 20 different countries take part each year, in a variety of categories ranging from conventional cycles to tandems. The race is mainly on the highway and anyone over the age of 12 can participate, regardless of ability.
The length of the race probably precludes taking part without undertaking some training beforehand, but the reward of fantastic scenery and a sense of cycling community with so many others, plus a variety of events around Cape Town in the week running up to the Tour, must put this high on any serious cyclist's wish list. All those taking part are issued with a personal electronic timer and a certificate for finishing the course. Then there's the prize money - well over R100, 000 is divided among the top 20 male and top five women cyclists.