How To Survive The Cape Town Cycle Tour On No Training

Barely picked up your bike since last year’s Cycle Tour? You won’t win it, but you can get to the finish line smiling.


Kirsten Curtis |

You were super amped when entries opened last September. The aim was to get ample training in, and a potential sub-3 hour  was the goal. In reality, The Cape Town Cycle Tour this Sunday is just a few days away and your rear end has yet to see the saddle. Your time goal might be out the window, but it is possible to still have a great day out on the bike.

Related: The Exact Training You Should Do To Ace The Cape Town Cycle Tour

Here are our Cape Town Cycle Tour tips to survive race-day if you’re undertrained:

  • Don’t crash train the few days before. Rather hit the start line with fresh legs than with legs heavier than a rhinoceros after a week of panic training. But having said that, go for a short spin (no longer than an hour) the Saturday before to loosen up the legs.
  • Re-evaluate your expectations in terms of that sub-3, or any time goal for that matter. Go out with the intention of enjoying the ride, taking in the sights and just soaking up the vibe. You will get everyone (and we mean everyone – even non-riders), asking “what was your time?” afterwards. Just smile and respond with something along the lines of “Damn, I forgot to look at my watch when I crossed the finish line, but I had a great ride. You?”
  • Don’t skimp on the shorts. Make sure you’re wearing comfortable cycling shorts, with a decent chamois. Your butt will thank you.
Cape Town Cycle Tour
Photo: Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust
  • Keep calm and pedal on. Don’t get overwhelmed in the beginning where everyone else is going great guns. Take it easy in the first half. The hard work starts in the second half and you’ll need some gas in the tank.
  • Spin it out. Don’t push the big gears. Keep it comfortable in an easy gear and spin the legs.
  • Think happy on the hills. We’re not saying think rainbows and unicorns, but rather than cursing and swearing the whole way up, keep things positive and you’ll be at the top in no time.
  • Pedal on the downs. Enjoy the reward (and the thrill) of the downhills, but don’t coast. Keep pedalling and you’ll make up some decent time.

Related: From Poverty To Pro: 2016 Cape Town Cycle Tour Winner Is Ready To Defend His Title

  • Suck wheels. Did you know when you ride behind someone or a group of cyclists (in their draft) you can save up to 30 percent of your energy and go faster to boot? The rider in front essentially blocks the wind, which creates an air pocket that virtually sucks you along. If you haven’t practiced the art of drafting, be warned, you need to have your wits about you, because if the rider in front brakes suddenly, you could find yourself face down on the tar, before you can say Suikerbossie. Hint, the bigger the rider, the more wind he’ll block.
Cape Town Cycle Tour
Photo: Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust
  • Plan your stops. Check out the route beforehand and plan when you are going to stop to eat, stretch (see below) or replenish your water bottles. This not only breaks up the race, but ensures there are no nasty surprises.
  • Pack food. Make sure you’ve got something substantial to munch on, and not just a few gels. We’re talking proper food. If you’re going to be out there a while, your body needs the fuel. Bananas, energy bars, nuts, even a hot cross bun will go down a treat.
  • Stretch it out. Don’t be afraid to get off and stretch the legs a bit. Stretch the hamstring muscles and lower back by bending over to touch your toes. It is not recommended to stretch the quads mid-race though as this can lead to cramping in the hamstrings. Also a short walk uses different muscle groups getting the blood flowing.
  • Enjoy the beers afterwards. You’ve earned them.

Related: Is Your Bike Killing Your Boner?

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