On 8th January I landed back in London after a 12 hour flight from Cape Town. That night, I bought an entry to the Cape Town Cycle Tour, in just two months’ time.
Why did I decide to travel half way across the world for a bike ride? To many people, the Cape Town Cycle Tour is just that, a bike ride. To others, it’s a chance to say, “I have completed the world’s largest timed cycle race”. For most, it’s all about the incredible views along the way.
First and foremost, I decided to enter for the Cycle Tour because it was the perfect excuse to return to my favourite city in the world, Cape Town. As a keen cyclist, I had heard so much about the scale and excitement that surrounds the tour.
I had never raced before. Cycling was always just an escape from the hustle and bustle of London life; the day to day routine of working and studying. In fact, I only started road biking in May of 2014. Heading out into the Surrey Hills, descending down the windy roads only to climb up the other side. That sense of freedom is very hard to match.
But cycling is addictive. The more you ride, the more you want to ride. The more you want to ride, the fitter you get and the faster you go. The faster you go the more fun it is! Hence, a cycle of enjoyment was created and riding became a crucial part of my every day life.
Cycling in Cape Town has a whole other dimension. The roads are smooth, the climbs are great and the views are out of this world. To cycle along a coastline so beautiful and vast is a complete privilege. So, it is no surprise we often forget just how precious and temperamental nature can be. The fires that raged across the peninsula last week were a stark reminder of nature’s brutal force. With parts of the traditional Cycle Tour route, engulfed in flames, organizers were forced to shorten the race to ensure the safety of cyclists.
So with the route changed and drastically shortened, you might expect me to be somewhat bleak about this year’s tour. This was definitely not the case. You see, I have ridden along the coastline on numerous occasions, and Chapman’s Peak really is as incredible as it sounds, but the Cape Town Cycle Tour is about far more. It’s a remarkable opportunity to witness a community unite together with a passion for sport. This was only amplified by the mutual respect for the firefighters who battled to protects homes this very week.
The atmosphere created by the crowds totally blew me away. Capetonians, you stole the show. The energy and excitement that was created by spectators was sure to drag each and every competitor up hospital bend. Few events are supported so well by locals. I had never experienced such support. This ‘solidarity’ we have heard so much about in the media this week was on full display.
When I was asked if I’d like to help raise funds for a local charity, it was a no-brainer. What better way to raise awareness for such an incredible cause than to be sponsored by family and friends to do something you love. The Sunflower Fund saves lives. Raising money for them was just a minute way of engaging in this solidarity, and making a small difference.
The Cycle Tour taught me just that. Together, we are capable of great things.
So, that’s why I chose to participate and that’s why it was the best decision I could have made. To be part of an event so epic, so grand, surrounded by people with such passion. It was a total privilege.
The Cape Town Cycle Tour was a truly incredible and uplifting experience and one I am eager to experience again when I return for the full tour in 2016!
This month we asked UK-based photographer and blogger Dan Carter to share his experience of the 2015 Cape Town Cycle Tour – a race that would fuel his passion for South Africa and demonstrate the power of solidarity to overcome all odds.