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February 22, 2013

Richard Branson to ride the Cape Argus

Billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson is looking for tips on riding the 109km Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour – and he may need all the help he can get as, by his own admission, he has not been on a bike in a while.

Thrill-seeker Sir Richard Branson is heading to Cape Town. Photo courtesy of virginoceanic


Which means that you may be in with a chance to beat one of the world's biggest thrill-seekers. He revels in activities like high-altitude hot-air ballooning and did a world record-breaking kite surf across the English Channel. Taking on the Argus, on March 10, is his latest challenge. 

The Argus, as it's affectionately known in Cape Town, is the world's largest individually timed cycle race; it is also one of the most picturesque. Branson will compete against 35 000 cyclists as they tour the Cape Peninsula, taking in both False Bay and the Atlantic Seaboard.

Branson owns Virgin, a leading international investment group and one of the world's most recognised brands. In South Africa some of his business interests include the Virgin Active Gym chain, a private game reserve and his airline, Virgin Atlantic, flies to South Africa.

Virgin Limited, his luxury brand of hotels, includes the Ulusaba Private Game Reserve, set in the Sabi Sand reserve on the border of the Kruger National Park. 

In the run-up to the Argus, Branson is on Necker Island, in the British Virgin Islands. He owns the island and the spectacular resort, which he uses as one of his getaways, and that is where he is training hard. But with no cycle paths on the pristine island, he is doing a lot of indoor training.

Now, any Argus cycle veteran will tell you that you need to ride on roads and practise climbing those steep hills, because, let's face it, the Suikerbossie Hill has been the nemesis of many a brave rider. And how about Chapman's Peak, which is one of the world's most scenic routes, but the steep winding nature of the road takes many by surprise? 

After announcing his intention to take part in the cycle tour, he tweeted: "Looking forward to #CapeArgus cycle. Haven't been on a bike for a while, any tips?" A number of useful hints came rolling in, and avid cyclist and columnist Jonathan Ancer tweeted: "Shave your legs. It may not make you go faster but you'll feel like a pro."

Sir Richard will be feeling the burn on the uphills, just as these cyclists are. Photo courtesy of Craig Strachan

AdamBlythe89 exhorted Branson to just "keep pedalling!" and Shannyn Moore reminded him that, just like the old adage, remembering how to ride a bike is "well, it's just like riding a bike ..."

As far as Hanliprinsloo is concerned, deep breaths will help you go uphill. "Deep breaths on the uphills! Belly breathing has its place in cycling too," she tweeted. 

The race raises money for a large number of charities and Virgin Active SA managing director Ross Faragher-Thomas said: "We are delighted that Richard is riding the race this year, to join a large contingent of our staff and a significant number of entrants who are Virgin Active members. We can't think of a better way to endorse our support of this fantastic race."

Use #RideWithRichard or @richardbranson to send Branson your tips on completing the Argus.

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