What to do now? I was all dressed up with nowhere to go. I was also full of pent up energy (and porridge) and had to expend it somehow. So after a few minutes back at the hotel with some friends, I decided to ride the route alone. I did not fly over 11 hrs and spend thousands of pounds on flights, accommodation and new super-duper cycling shoes to sit in a hotel twiddling my thumbs. I even bought some nice new pink socks to wear for the race! So I cautiously started riding. I was going to ride the route backwards, starting at the finish line and finishing at the start line.
The wind was strong but not dangerous nor too uncomfortable to start, but as soon as I got to the coastal stretch between the city and Camps Bay, BOOM! I felt the full force of the wind. It hit me from ahead and to the side and cut my speed to nearly walking pace. I struggled on, fighting the wind, the bike and myself. I took some comfort from seeing other equally foolhardy cyclists on the route. ‘At least I wont be the only one to die today’ I thought to myself. The nearer I got to the famous Suikerbossie climb, the fiercer the wind became. As I approached it, I could see in the distance the wildfires. Evidence, if any more evidence were needed, that the organizers had made the right call to cancel the race.
I pressed on, passing quite a few less powerful cyclists and was also passed by a train of super strong guys. I latched on to their train to take shelter from the wind. Together we made our way up and down Suikerbossie and headed towards Chapman’s Peak. This is where I felt the full force of 100kph winds. Everything I had encountered before was child’s play. There was a group of women, huddled together behind a rock, hanging on to the rock and their bikes for dear life. Should I join them? I decided to press on. Head down, leaning against the wind, correcting the bike many times a minute as the wind blew you first this way, then that way. It was frightening and exhilarating at the same time. There is a certain technique to riding in very strong winds and you need a lot of upper body and core strength to be able to withstand the battering from the wind and control the bike at the same time. The most dangerous parts were the descents, where you can be blown 2-3 meters sideways. A lot of skill and bravery is needed to cope with such rapid changes in trajectory.
I finally managed to get to the top of Chapman’s Peak where I discovered the road had been closed due to the danger of falling rocks. The wind was so strong, it was blowing loose rocks on to the road below and causing mini rock slides!
At this point, I thought ‘discretion was the better part of valor’ and decided to turn round and head home. The ride home was was just as hairy as the ride out, that is until I passed Camps Bay heading into the city where the wind had died down.
I had made it, I was elated and relieved to have made it back in one piece. I doubt i’d have had as much (scary) fun as I did in a normal race. It was a wild ride. Would I do it again? Of course!
Plans are already being made for the 2018 Cycle Tour.