Dear Pez – It’s your loyal readers from South Africa again…
The Nelson Mandela bridge looking into Johannesburg.
As your season over there is all but wrapped up for the winter, I thought I’d share with you one of our biggest races of the year. It’s called the 94.7 Cycle Challenge (named for a local radio station) and runs aproximately 94.7km through the streets of Johannesburg. It takes place during the last weeks of November every year and this year enjoyed its 10th anniversary – still quite a puppy in comparison to all those European races I know.
When an event attracts 30,000 riders – you know it’s big time.
But what makes this race a big dog is that there are in the region of 30,000 competitors in the event – and every one of them are timed, making it the second largest timed cycling event in the world – the Largest being the Argus in Cape Town in February with a limited entry of 35 000 cyclists.
I think we all understand what’s going on here….
This year we decided instead of racing through the streets of JHB we would rather kick back and take it easy with some mates at the back end of the race and enjoy some of the sights and festivities of the day. So I have included some pics for you to show what the back end of a MAJOR fun ride looks like – and believe me it looks completely different to the front end of the race.
We could not agree more.
Some of the interesting things about the race include the fact that all the riders have 100% road closure for the ride … this includes a +/- 20 km stretch of highway at the beginning of the race (one of the busiest highways in the country) completely closed to all traffic except those on their bicycles. Everyone gets a time and finishing position at the end of the race – everyone, pros and funriders ride the exact same course. This year we had our local tour de France pro, Robert Hunter (Phonak) take a corporate group around the course for charity.
We first met Bevan and Clyde in Brescia at the 2006 Giro – these guys are full-on PEZ-Fans from South Africa.
The first group of the day leaves at around 5:30 am (these are the racing pro’s) and the last group of the day leaves at around 9:30 am. So by about 7:30 in the morning there are 96 odd km of road completely closed off and filled with cyclists – the last guys come in at around 3:30 pm.
We also had Live TV coverage this year with Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin here to add to the atmosphere.
What morning show host worth his salt isn’t ready to put his arse on the line for a little radio promo?
So if you ever decide to pop over to South Afirca try make it in November in Johannesburg or FAR BETTER in March in Cape Town where you can bring your bike and join in a truly unique type of ride – and in Cape Town a really beautiful one too – not too mention thousands of candidates for your daily distractions!
• See the website here:http://www.highveld.co.za/cyclechallenge_2006/index.asp