Start on Hertzog Boulevard to Nelson Mandela Boulevard
Standing in the starting chutes as wave after wave of cyclists’ set off gets the competitive juices flowing. There’s a buzz and you’re determined to fly from the moment the start gun cracks. But immediately at the start there is a climb onto Nelson Mandela Boulevard, which itself is a gradual bump almost all the way to Hospital Bend. Take it easy here and ease into your 109km ride. If you’re planning a PB you’ll still have time to crank it up on the rest of the course.
M3 Blue route
Depending on the Race Day conditions this is a love-it-or-hate-it section. If the famous Cape south-easter is howling you’ll want to find a bunch and stick with it. If you’re hammering out a solo attack, don’t. On a wind-free day you can work up a nice head of steam here, knowing that there are no major challenges until you reach the party atmosphere of Jubilee Square or the imposing climb of Smitswinkel.
St James, with its famous colourful bathing boxes, is squeezed between the rocky shore and a steep mountain, and measures about 200m by 2 km. Its name derives from the early St James Catholic Church, built circa 1880. Most of the suburb was built between 1910 and 1950, after the railway line was built connecting Cape Town to False Bay.
Simon’s Town Jubilee Square
The Simon’s Town water station is Pick n Pay country. This attractive coastal town is South Africa’s main naval base and consists of Victorian buildings, quaint streets and walkways and a fascinating history. Experts all agree that if you’re doing the Cycle Tour for fun, don’t listen to any expert advice. Just enjoy it. If you start late in the morning there is usually quite a party going on in Simon’s Town by the time you reach Jubilee Square. Stop. Take it in. Savour the moment (but remember that you’re not even halfway. Don’t savour it for too long). If you’re a sub-four (or thereabouts, or quicker) rider, you won’t necessarily be tempted to pause for thought here.
Smitswinkel to Cape Point Nature Reserve
From Jubilee Square to the climb up Smitswinkel there are a few minor bumps in the road (little hills, not potholes – though there could be some of those too). If you’ve stopped in Simon’s Town just remember that there is a teeny lung-buster, nothing too serious, as you head out of town. On this section you’ll enjoy one of the best views in the country. Have a look at the trees on the Simon’s Town Golf Course. Look at them. Just look at them. That’s some serious wind those poor guys have to put up with. Smits is a fair effort if you’re a fun rider or anywhere around the four-hour mark. Keep your cadence smooth and your eyes open for weary cyclists swerving from side-to-side. The climb goes on for longer than you think (especially as you near the crest), but the reward is a speedy section past the Cape Point Nature Reserve that reminds you why cycling can be such a blast.
Chapman’s Peak Drive, affectionately known as “Chappies”, winds its way between Noordhoek and Hout Bay on the Atlantic Coast. Count the 114 curves on the 9km route as you skirt the rocky coastline of Chapman’s Peak (593m), which is the southerly extension of Constantiaberg and is a great hike for the energetically inclined.
There’s a cracking atmosphere as you whizz through Noordhoek, with fans and supporters well-greased from a morning at The Toad or Café Roux in the Noordhoek Farm Village. Soak it up and then hit Little Chappies (for you first-timers, that’s the little bump before Chappies proper starts) with renewed vigour. Chapman’s Peak can feel like a slog at times, but keep your legs spinning and you’ll be rewarded with a jolly downhill into Hout Bay. Sometimes the crowds on Chappies can be overwhelming. Fret not. Stay focused and keep your eyes peeled for riders with the wobblies in front of you. Nip around them if you can.
It’s probably hot. You could be tired. You’re almost home. So let this section’s playful spectators cheer you to the top, with the knowledge that most of, but not all, your major work is done for the day. If you’re a middle-to-back-of-the-pack rider, Suikerbossie will always be a schlep. But it’s your schlep. Embrace the leg tremors and near cramp seizures, and sway uphill with dignity. Keep an eye out for the helping hands of the Virgin Active Angels who are there to give you little push up the hill.
“The home stretch”
Don’t be fooled, the last 15km requires some leg work. The Llandudno descent just after conquering Suikerbossie will put a smile back on your dial, but save some gas in the tank for a few short climbing bursts into and then out of Camps Bay. After that, it’s pretty smooth all the way home.