The Cape Argus Cycle Tour (now officially called the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Momentum Cycle Tour) is undoubtedly one of the most scenic cycle routes in the whole world, but don’t let the beauty of the Western Cape fool you into believing this is an easy race!
Don’t get me wrong, the Cape Argus is suitable for anyone with a good level of physical fitness, but there are a few surprises along the way, as I will try to explain below with Route Markers…
Route Marker 1. Start Line Nelson Mandela Boulevard – 0km into the race
Finding the start line for the Cape Argus Cycle Tour is easy – believe me! Just follow the other 35,000 cyclists from wherever you are based in Cape Town and they will guide you to the starting pens. From here, you will join your group and start your 109km journey along Nelson Mandela Boulevard – a flat and easy road leading away from the city.
Route Marker 2. M3 Blue Route – 14km into the race
If the ‘Cape Doctor’ winds are blowing on race day (as they were this year), you can expect a tough ride along the M3, so take your time and prepare for the short climb to come.
Route Marker 3. St James – 25km into the race
From the top of the M3 you will enjoy a relatively flat ride all the way into St James. This is where the scenery gets really interesting, so don’t forget to take a moment to enjoy the view!
Route Marker 4. Simon’s Town – 40km into the race
By the time you reach Simon’s Town, the party will be in full swing and you will find the streets lined with cheering Cape Argus fans! One of my favourite parts of the route, this is where the fun really begins – but whatever you do, don’t be tempted to stop too long at Jubilee Square…you’re not even half way yet!
Route Marker 5. Smitswinkel to Cape Point Reserve – 60km into the race
Smitswinkel is the first ‘real’ climb on the Cape Argus route, and while it is not particularly steep or long, your legs will start to realise that you are competing in the world’s largest timed cycle race by the time you reach the top!
Your reward will be a nice speedy downhill section past the Cape Point Nature Reserve, and onto the most beautiful section of the Cape Argus Tour – Misty Cliffs where you must stop for at least one race-day ‘selfie’!
Route Marker 6. Chapman’s Peak – 84km into the race
If you have read up on the Cape Argus Cycle Tour, you will probably have heard a lot about Chapman’s Peak or ‘Chappies’. Winding its way between Noordhoek and Hout Bay on the Atlantic Coast, this 9km climb claims more than its fair share of cyclists, so the only advice I can give is – grit your teeth, stay focused and Don’t Stop!
Route Marker 7. Suikerbossie – 95km into the race
On my first Cape Argus Tour I assumed it was all downhill after Chapman’s Peak… How wrong I was! After a leisurely ride through the pretty seaside town of Hout Bay, the mighty Suikerbossie seems to appear from nowhere – and it’s not a pretty sight!
If you are a hobby cyclist like me, by this stage you are hot, you are tired, and your legs feel like they belong to someone else, but Suikerbossie is standing between you and the finish line, and the only way is up!
Suikerbossie is not terribly steep, but it is long… so let the fantastic crowds lift your spirits, embrace the pain, and conquer the last challenge of the Cape Argus Cycle Tour.
Route Marker 8. The Home Stretch – 100km into the race
Fortunately, there is a long descent after Suikerbossie that will give your legs a moment to rest and put a smile back on your face. From here you will head downhill pretty much into Camps Bay, and from there you just have a few very short climbing bursts before you hit the home stretch.
Route Marker 9. The Finish Line – 109km into the race
There are no words to describe the feeling of elation when you cross the Cape Argus finish line! The crowds are fantastic, the music is loud, and you know that in just a few short seconds you will be off your bike… amazing!
After collecting your well-deserved medal and complimentary drink, you can make your way into the rider zone and celebrate your Cape Argus adventure.