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March 05, 2009

Experience the vibe at the Cape Argus Cycle Tour

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Cape Argus Cycle Tour 2008, photo courtesy Ian Junor

“The Argus is one race that every cyclist should do,” says Dot Hartman, a keen Johannesburg-based cyclist. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful race.”

Hartman has cycled the 109km race 13 times and has been training hard for her 14th attempt this year.

According to www.southafrica.info, the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour began in 1978 when 525 cyclists set out to complete this gruelling but spectacular race. The event has grown enormously over the years and organisers expect more than 35 000 cyclists to take on the challenge this year.

Hartman was a self-described “weekend cyclist” when she did her first Argus, taking on the challenge because “it just seemed like a good idea”. When she and her friends arrived at the Cape Town airport, they picked up their bikes and cycled into town, not realising how far it was or that they wouldn’t be able to get off the highway for many kilometres.

After the success of her first Argus, she joined a club and has become an increasingly keen cyclist over the years.

Hartman has done particularly well cycling tandem, coming fourth at last year’s Argus in the mixed-tandem category with her racing partner, Franz-Joseph Abs.

In preparation for this year’s race, she has been cycling 10 to 12 hours (up to 400km) a week.

“The vibe of the Argus is awesome,” she says. “Over the Argus weekend Cape Town makes millions in accommodation. For every cyclist, apparently, 1.3 people accompany them.

“Capetonians are great, unlike Joburg motorists, who are really impatient with cyclists. It is a scenically beautiful race. If you’ve done the Argus, you’ve arrived as a cyclist,” she continues.

It is not just a race for competitive cyclists, however.

“If you pace yourself, the Argus is doable,” says Hartman. “Lots of people stop at every watering station and chat along the way. People do it for charities and there are all shapes and sizes on the road. A lot of Capetonians just do it because it is a Cape Town race – they dust off their bikes.”

To anyone thinking that they’d like to try it one day, Hartman says: “Just do it!”

Come and experience the exciting vibe at this year’s Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour on Sunday March 8. Visit the official website for more information on road closures and spectator vantage points.

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