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February 19, 2013

The Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour 2013: preparing for a ride less ordinary

Brave Deirdré and wheelchair-bound Damian Gower will participate in the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour on Sunday 10 March, 2013

It is that time of year again – the clock is winding down to the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour on Sunday 10 March, 2013, and the kilometres are adding up on our bike and trailer.

The event that has filled Cape Town’s streets with bikes and crowds for the past 35 years just got more exciting in 2013. After negotiations with the organisers, the rules were altered and Damian Gower, my 14-year-old son who is quadriplegic, will be able to participate – towed in a trailer attached to my bike. We will be riding in support of the Chaeli Campaign, to raise funds and awareness. 

Living in Cape Town, we are privileged in our training. We kicked off the season with our first Moonlight Mass in December 2012 and loved being part of the full-moon cycling event. After a long day, there is nothing like a ride along the beachfront in Melkbosstrand, with Table Mountain standing guard in the distance and a flaming sun sinking into a turquoise sea. This forms part of our route during the week, ending with a circuit or two around Duynefontein and passing the Koeberg Nature Reserve.

The blazing sunset along the Melkbosstrand is one of the dynamic duo's favourite sights along their training route

On weekends we head out along the coastal road towards Bloubergstrand. From there a cycle lane runs all the way to the R27, meeting up with the designated two-lane cycling track. For an extended ride we go as far as Woodbridge Island – a 43km return trip, often with the infamous south-easter providing effective resistance training along this flat route and at times threatening to turn the trailer into a kite!

The Gowers' training route follows the Melkbos cycle lane all the way to the R27

Training long distances regularly can get a little monotonous on the same routes, and it becomes an experiment in ways to keep it interesting for Damian. After a rainy Saturday, for example, dashing out at the first gap in the weather to go for a chilly 30km ride deserved a reward. Stopping off at Die Damhuis for a nibble and hot chocolate before pedalling the last few kilometres home, was a treat for being out on the road while everyone else was cuddled up indoors.

Climbing hills like Suikerbossie in Hout Bay is an intregal part of the Gowers' training, too

I aim to get sufficient climbing in before race day. Suikerbossie was our recent hill of choice. Beginning at Mariner’s Wharf in Hout Bay, we worked our way up what will be the last big climb of the tour. Other cyclists are very encouraging; we often hear things like “Hurry up, there’s a baby behind you!” or “I thought you should know the guy behind you isn’t pedalling!”

Damian Gower, the 14-year-old quadriplegic who is set to participate in the 2013 Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour

I found it helpful last year to participate in at least one of the events leading up to the Argus Cycle Tour, so we will be doing the PPA Scenic South 50km fun ride in Fish Hoek on Sunday 24 February, 2013. I realise we may never be in the league of competitive cyclists, but this is where we embrace the Argus as a tour instead of a race. We look forward to exploring Cape Town by bike, and being part of the spirit and celebration that is the Cycle Tour.

Deidre Gower is single mother to  14-year-old quadriplegic Damian, a full-time administrator, a second year B.A. English & Psychology student, and an avid writer and adventurer who is passionate about Cape Town. Follow her and Damian's adventures at http://warrioronwheelsadventures.wordpress.com.

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