A blog for those that are crazy about Mountain Biking and particularly for those wanting to, some day, do the Absa Cape Epic
Friday, September 21, 2007
94.7 Cycle Challenge
A world-class African race - Wynand de Villiers << Back Wednesday, September 19, 2007
“I would have to be seriously ill in a hospital, or rather to be treated in intensive care, for me not to race the Pick ‘n Pay 94.7 Cycle Challenge. It is the best race in South Africa and it is no exaggeration that it is ‘Joburg’s safest race’.”
These sentiments from Lynette Burger, one of South Africa’s top professional cyclists for the past four years, perfectly sum up where the Cycle Challenge has positioned itself after 10 editions of the race.
The brief history of Gauteng’s biggest cycle race, which takes place on 18 November this year, is a story of unequalled cycling growth and phenomenal individual participation and it has showcased the immense organisational and hosting abilities of the City of Joburg like very few events have been able to do.
From its very recent beginnings in 1997 when 4 000 cyclists decided to take on the challenge of ‘Joburg’s toughest race’ (back then), the event has mushroomed into a race which, in 2006, attracted 28 000 entries.
And it’s a team effort all the way from every one of these individuals who take part and in particular the hard-working members of all the departments of the City of Joburg who, together with the event organisers, Harford Sports Promotions, make sure the Cycle Challenge is a total success.
In its history the race has always promoted the ideal of positioning Johannesburg as the continent’s major sports and business destination. The City of Johannesburg’s slogan is that of a World-Class African City and the Cycle Challenge fits in very nicely with the ideals of this slogan.
Throughout its history – this year will see the 11th running of the event – the cyclist has come first and the race will go all out again to do itself justice as ‘Joburg’s Safest Race’.
Burger goes further to say that the Cycle Challenge is organised better than the Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour.
“What makes the event special for me as a cyclist is the fact that the race is organised by people who will go out of their way to ensure that the day is an utterly enjoyable experience for every cyclist that enters.”
The one thing that bothers Burger, however, is the fact that she has not managed to win the race yet. Finishing 7th last year is her best performance to date.
Clint Curtis, a thought leader in cycling who has shaped the careers of most of South Africa’s current top professionals, says he loves his day out in the streets of Joburg on Cycle Challenge Sunday. “You do get to see parts of Johannesburg from the saddle in a way you would never be able to. It’s also a little tougher than most fun rides, and I love the challenge in the safe environment that’s created for the day.”
According to Andre Taylor, a veteran who races nearly every weekend, he wouldn’t miss the event for the world.
“It’s just one of the most amazing races because of the full road closure. It is definitely the safest race in Gauteng. Apart from the cat eyes in the road, it is the most perfect hassle free race,” Taylor joked.
“I raced and still enjoyed every moment. Things really got better with the road closure and what I really appreciate as a veteran is the fact they split the veteran’s classes in 30-34. 35-39, 40-44.
“It makes for more exciting racing because it then boils down to strength versus strength.
“The atmosphere during and after the race is just amazing. It is like one big cycling carnival,” he said.