Wednesday, 09 March 2022 09:59 AM
The Cape Town Cycle Tour 2022 promises twice the excitement: grunt and adrenalin from the riders, and cheering and celebration from the bystanders. Gerard Genis, a veteran of 36 Cape Town cycle tours and the previous owner of Astra Pro-Cycles in Sunningdale, says that what makes the Cape Town cycle tour so uniquely enjoyable is the vibe and the encouragement of the large numbers of enthusiastic spectators along the route. Here he gives some tips for the best race-day viewing.
The waterpoints are the best places for spectators to gather, says Gerard. “These are usually situated at strategic spots in the race, and there are all sorts of facilities here for parking, and to get snacks and refreshments,” he says. “This is where the cyclists sometimes will stop, to get water. They might need some help from the on-site physiotherapists if they are stiffening up. So these points are where everything is happening: there are marshalls to supervise the crowds and the atmosphere is festive. Some of the climbs along the route are also good, with long stretches that have good views for spectators.”
“The spectators, in my view, are what makes this race,” he says. “It is quite something to cycle along the road, or up or down a hill, and there are lines of people yelling and encouraging and waving. It creates the most amazing vibe. The race takes anything up to seven hours, and that is a long time to be on your bike! So just having that applause and inspiration is fantastic.”
There are three parts of the course that – after 36 years – are still the most special to Gerard: the beginning of the race, Suikerbossie hill, and Misty Cliffs.
“That starting point!” he exclaims. “There you all are, 35 000 people, all waiting to pull off. The music is playing, there is a buzz of excitement, people talking over loudspeakers, a sense of excitement that is electric. That half hour, while we are all waiting to pull off, that is a very special time.”
“And then Suikerbossie. The roadside is lined with people, all cheering you on. By this time you have been in the saddle for hours, and your legs are complaining. But you tell yourself that all you need to do, is get up to the top, that little rise. That’s what you concentrate on.”
“The most beautiful part of the race has to be Misty Cliffs. Usually, by the time you get there, a light mist is coming in off the sea, and it makes the place look mysterious and magical, with the smell of salt and the light sea breeze. Very special.”
What does Gerard regard as his biggest achievement? “Getting to the end of the race within seven hours, without a crash or a flat tyre. That is the real victory!”