In all my near 40 years of bike riding, Sunday ranks as one of the most demanding days I’ve ever sent in the saddle.
My fourth outing in the Cape Argus Cycle Tour in South Africa was another epic, this time courtesy of the soaring heat.
The temperature peaked at a ridiculous 42.3°C on the Chapman’s Peak climb making the 35th running of the world’s biggest ever bike race the hottest ever.
I thought I was coping pretty well until the beginnings of heatstroke set in with an hour to go. That’s when my motivation changed from trying to conserve energy and stay cool to blasting away at full pelt to reach the finish before I fainted! It’s certainly a novel excuse for leaving your riding mates.
Despite this final push I was still considerably slower than six hours and embarrassingly my worst ever time was beaten by a 92-year-old, the ride’s oldest finisher.
At least I made it, as a little over an hour after I crossed the line the organisers decided to enforce their time cut offs and with the course closed some 6,000 rides were brought home in coaches. The air ambulances were also pretty full with 1,000 of the 32,500 starters needing medical assistance.
What a day, what a ride. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly