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Katleho Paballo Makupu, now living in Cape Town, began cycling in Joburg in 2022. Two short years later she will be taking on the 109 km Cape Town Cycle Tour on 10 March.
She was encouraged into cycling by her husband: “He is one of those people who has been cycling for years,” she says.
“One day he said, ‘we should actually get you into the sport’. So he borrowed his sister’s bike and we went up and down the driveway. Then we went to Cycle Lab Bike Park. We had a bet that if I actually do this consistently, then I deserve a bike, but I reaslied that did not make sense – how am I supposed to do this consistently if I have to borrow a bike? So I bought the bike!”
Makupu joined the Matsimela Ladies Clinics in Joburg and learnt cycling skills while joining their group rides. MLC is an organisation started by Caroline Matsimela in Gauteng in 2020 that aims to ‘make the circle wider’ by helping women acquire cycling skills, confidence and provide group rides.
Makupu graduated from MLC in September 2022 and in March 2023 – when the Cape Town Cycle Tour introduced the shorter 42 km route – she signed up and had a really good experience. So much so that her entry is in for the full 109 km Cape Town Cycle Tour experience.
“I think when the Matsimela Ladies said they were coming for Cycle Tour – the first thing that came to mind was that I could never complete 109 km. I had just moved to Cape Town and I hadn’t trained for it, so I did not think I could complete the full race. So when they introduced this shorter route I thought “42 kilometers, it shouldn’t be too bad” – as I’d done a few 50 kms and 60 kms. So I signed up.”
She recommends the ‘short route’ to anyone who would love to do the 109 kms but does not yet feel ready, where you can experience the vibe of the event and gain the confidence to do the full tour of the Peninsula.
She says: “People shouldn’t just take it lightly, that it is ‘only 42 kms’ – especially coming from other areas in SA where it’s a bit flatter, because there are some tough hills. But the people and the scenery get you through – it’s very beautiful and so nice to be riding on closed roads like the M3.”
And now Makupu plans to add the 109 km medal to her 42 km one. “I think the main difference from last year to this year for me, is having the cycling knowledge and insight, and having a training programme. Getting a mix of intervals, hills, rolling hills, climbing, and more long-distance training. And I now understand nutrition as well, and know what I need and what works for me.”
“I think the 42 kilometers is not too long and daunting – but it’s also not so short that you don’t really get to appreciate this whole art of cycling. The cherry on top is the hospitality and the people that you get to meet along the route.”
Makupu is now a group leader at the Matsimela Ladies Clinics, and will be supporting new riders when the Cape Town branch of the Matsimela Ladies Clinics launches in March.
The 46th Cape Town Cycle Tour takes place on 10 March 2024. Entries close on 31 January, so visit https://www.capetowncycletour.com/ to enter either the 42 km or 109 km races.