I’ve visited Cape Town four times now and ridden the Cape Town Cycle Tour (CTCT), formerly theCape Argus, on three of those occasions, 2009, 2010 and now 2018. It’s fair tosay I’ve not always felt like I’m visiting Africa. No safaris or encounters with lions, tigers orbears to report. Generally surrounded by white, European males speaking English and staying in well-appointed hotels or apartments. I did see a monkey in a vineyard once, but I’m not sure that really counts as a safari. Our tour guide said the monkey was “security”. This trip would be much, much different.
Prologue – Into Africa, again . . .
I had a pretty solid excuse to return to Cape Town this spring. Toby, my old ‘gaffer’ at T-Mobile, now a good mate, invited me and our third musketeer, Theo, to join him at this year’s event. It was kind of a big deal. Toby has always been someone who lives life to the full. He recently decided to settle down, get married, start a family. Eventually, along came little Annabelle, and life was just about complete. Within weeks Toby was diagnosed with lung cancer and his life was turned upside down.
Once the initial shock had worn off he set about playing the hand fate had dealt him with his usual determination. If cancer wanted a fight, ithad one. Fortunately, Toby’s good mate Jan had been fundraising for cancer charities for years and was able to put Toby in contact with a specialist at the Christie in Manchester and then later at the Royal Marsden in London, closer to home. The treatment started well and the short-term prognosis was not too terrifying. Despite fears that his condition and treatment would mean he would never be able to ride again, Toby was advised to not give up the bike completely, but just to be careful not to overdo things.
In typical Toby fashion his interpretation of “not overdoing it” meant flying to Cape Town with his mates and doing the 120 km CTCT one more time. Flights were booked, training plans were honed and we were all set.
I’d also let it be known among my good friends at HotChillee that I would be in Cape Town, so they invited me to tag along on the final stage of their Cape Rouleur event. The last day is dubbed the Festival Ride and takes in a stunning coastal tour, ending at the waterfront in Cape Town. It really would be rude notto join them for this leg-loosener ahead of the CTCT.
Earlier in the year I blogged on conquista.cc about my epic ride in Australia. Loosely inspired by the Morton brothers’‘Thereabouts’– strongly recommended – and seeking to reconnect with my brother since his emigration to Australia several years ago, we cycled from Sydney to Brisbane in February 2018. 1,100 km in eight days, and we didn't come to blows once. What I didn’t blog about at the time was the family events that were unravelling back home.
I’d only just arrived at Sydney airport and got a taxi to an old school friend's house. With my hosts out for dinner, the babysitter let me in. The kids were in bed so I’d have to wait until morning to see my goddaughter. The babysitter handed me a beer and disappeared to meet her friends. Tired from 24 hours travelling I sat on the sofa, beginning to relax. It felt good simply not tobein motion. My phone buzzed. It was an SMS from my mother. Words no one ever wants to see or hear: “It’s bad news, very bad...”
My mother is 80, she’d got confused and had thought I was still in the UK and was about to depart for Oz. When she realised I was in Australia she refused to speak on the phone –it could keep until I got back, “Don’t spoil your holiday”. That’s typical of my mother, always thinking of others first. She knew it was important for me to spend time with my brother. Her husband, Alan, my stepfather, had been unwell for a while and had recently visited a consultant. He had been awaiting test results when I left. I suspected I knew what the “very bad news” might be. But nothing really could have prepared me for what happened next.
"Probably the toughest decision of my life – who do I let down, my grieving mother or my mate suffering from a life-threatening illness? One of those ‘Do you wanna lose your left or right nut?’ questions."
Communication back to my mother in the UK was fairly limited until the ride was done and I was on the plane home again. I landed in Manchester and switched on my phone. Alan had a stroke while I was on the flight home. Typically resilient, he’d discharged himself against doctor’s advice and gone home that night, after having been rushed to hospital by ambulance just a few hours earlier. He had an appointment for another scan the next day and he was determined not to miss it. He simply needed to know how bad it was, and something as insignificant as a stroke wasn’t going to stop him.
As things turned out, it was very bad. My mother has spent a lifetime as a nurse. She knew. The cancer was everywhere and it was simply a matter of time. Alan had a second stroke a couple days later and was rushed back to hospital. After three days in the acute stroke unit he was moved to a hospice, where he died two days later. Brutal.
So my trip to Cape Town was off. I needed and wanted, to care for my elderly mother, in her eighth decade and now widowed. I put off calling Toby to tell him, I knew it would be disappointing for him to hear I would not be there to celebrate him sticking his middle finger up to cancer. But cancer had won a different battle elsewhere. When I eventually composed myself enough to explain things to him he was totally understanding. Of course he was.
Turns out a lot of people die in February. The funeral was delayed and delayed again. Finally the date was fixed. The funeral would take place two weeks after the Cape Town Ride. In the end it was my mother’s idea. “Go,” she said. “You should be with Toby. He’s important to you.” Bless her.
Probably the toughest decision of my life – who do I let down, my grieving mother or my mate suffering from a life-threatening illness? One of those ‘Do you wanna lose your left or right nut?’ questions. Fortunately my mum’s sister (and best friend) was now staying with her. I knew she was in capable hands and it was only for a long weekend. I called Toby to confirm it was all back on and with a head full of mixed emotions I packed for Cape Town.
Stage 1 – The HotChillee Cape Rouleur Festival Ride
“And one final warning –be respectful. This is not a tourist attraction, this is people’s homes, so no selfies in the township.”
I’ve not done a HotChillee event since the Alpine Challenge back in 2011. And yes, I’ve still got the T-shirt. In those days I was hovering around the 80 kilogram mark and could actually get over the cols without too much distress. That event was a ton of fun, on and off the bike. Great riding in a group during the day, a few little timed sections for those that wanted to push on and test themselves and, of course, the evening social that is as much the trademark of a HotChillee event as the professionalism with which the rides are planned and executed.
The Cape Rouleur was no different. My bike and I were collected from the airport and delivered by taxi to the Lord Charles Hotel, Somerset West. I ordered a late lunch and was able to recover a little from the flight as the riders emerged from day four of the Cape Rouleur. After setting up the bike, I joined 160 or so fellow rouleurs for dinner that evening as the competition prizes were awarded for groups one and two before beers and a braai. There was a bit of an end-of-term atmosphere among the gang. Although I’d just arrived, the others had just completed four days of back-to-back riding. Day five is always the Festival Ride, a procession from Somerset West to Cape Town, with no timed sections. It’s fair to say hair was let down a little as everyone was pretty relaxed about the next day’s ride.
My group one allocation meant I would be among the last to depart, the groups who ride at a slower average speed heading off first, before we would all rendezvous later to ride as one huge peloton into Cape Town. A relatively lazy breakfast was enjoyed before I went in search of a track pump for my tyres. The car park at the back of the Lord Charles was a hive of activity in the fresh morning air, as the sun continued its ascent. Several groups had already departed, ably chaperoned by their ride captains, support vehicles and police motos. I filled my bidons with water as tinkermen tinkered with minute adjustments to saddle heights and the like. I add some factor 30. I always love the smell of suncream on a bike ride. Living in the UK it’s not a luxury we are often afforded, so the slightest whiff always makes me smile. Although subdued with thoughts of how things were going back home I allowed myself to relax and enjoy the day.
Group two gather at the start and slowly move off as I’m introduced to our ride captain for group one. The riders all listen carefully to our briefing. “Today’s ride will be steady, no racing today, but the pace will be good. As ever, anyone with a mechanical, stop and raise your hand, the van will stop behind you and you will get a wheel, or whatever else you need. Today we will visit the Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy for our lunch stop. Velokhaya is located at the heart of the township of Khayelitsha. Be careful, the road surface of the township might not be as good as the roads we have enjoyed so far. And one final warning –be respectful. This isnot a tourist attraction, this is people’s homes, so no selfies in the township.” Fair enough.
Khayelitsha means ‘Our New Home’ in the Xhosa language. The township is reported tobethe largest and fastest-growing in South Africa. Over 40% of its 2.4 million residents are under 19 years of age. All are housed on less than 17 square miles (43.5 km2). The numbers didn’t really compute in my tiny brain cell. My hometown of Liverpool has a population of about half a million, spread out over 43.2 square miles (111.8 km2). Suffice to say, the prospect of our little bunch of30or so skinny white dudes, dressed in Lycra, on expensive carbon machines, pedalling through the centre of this mass of humanity filled me with equal amounts of excitement and trepidation.
We set off at a brisker pace than I anticipated, but I soon found my rhythm. I was enjoying the views and minding my own business when I was accosted by a rider with a soft north-eastern UK accent. Barrie announced himself with the words, “So, where have you been hiding?”
Clearly, from the amount of friendly chatter and banter flying around, the group had already bonded during the rides completed over the previous four days on the road together. They spotted this interloper immediately. I explained I’d only got in the night before and was hanging around for the CTCT at the weekend. Barrie seemed to accept that my story checked out and we had a chat for the next half hour or so. I guess he’s a typical HotChillee customer. He’d cut his teeth racing as a kid on the grippy roads of the North East. Work had taken him south, where he’d drifted away from racing to concentrate on a career. Now, in his forties (I guessed), Barrie has a successful cycling-related business of his own called Pedal Active. We talked about the nature of these HotChillee events. I was keen to know what he, a former racer, got out of these kind of occasions and this style of ride. The closed roads are fantastic of course, but I ventured to suggest that this “group one nonsense” was a bit of a joke, wasn’t it? I mean, if you want to race go and pin a number on and enter an actual race, right?
Barrie laughed. “Don’t underestimate the standard of riders here,” he said. “It’s pretty tough going at the front end. Sure, you can take it easy in the other groups if that’s your thing, and of course it's not full gas all day, only for the timed sections, but when it kicks off, it’s pretty lively at the pointy end.”
Fair enough, I thought – there’s something here for everyone.
By now Khayelitsha had come into sight, being only 20 km or so from our departure point in Somerset West. We swung around in a wide sweeping right handed arc and entered the township. The pack seemed to be taking it all in as we moved silently along the smooth asphalt road that was lined by rows and rows of tin shacks. I was immediately struck by two observations. First, every single shack had a satellite dish. In that regard I thought to myself, no different to our typical British council estate. Poor people all over the world might have next to no money, but they still need their regular fix of English Premier League football. And secondly, the road surface was a damn sight better than what passes for roads back home.
We left the main drag and snaked our way through some smaller roads. A guy stood on a corner turned his head as we filed past and shouted, “Better cover up white boys!”
Eyebrow raised, I turned my head to look back at him, but it was totally fine, he was laughing out loud, just his little joke. Still, I was more than a little reassured that we were not all “white boys.” In our group we have a truly international bunch, including participants from all over Africa. This includes several women as well as some local black youth riders. Linwill Jansen, (18) of Rhadsport CC and Loyiso Fulu, (17) of Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy were guesting on the Bäckstedt-HotChillee development team, which also had six other young riders from the UK riding in group two.
As the name suggests the team is an amalgamation of Magnus Bäckstedt’s UK-based cycling academy and the South African-based HotChillee Development Team. Potential talent can be identified in conjunction with Velokhaya and given the opportunityto test themselves a little in HotChillee events. Famously Nicholas Dlamini impressed when he was invited to ride the HotChillee London-Paris, ultimately earning himself a place on the Dimension Data UCI WorldTour team.
“The visitors from England would be spoiled with something more appropriate, they would have tea and scones.”
Arriving at Velokhaya it’s fair to say I was pretty much blown away. The facility is state of the art and would not look out of place in Monaco, Mallorca or any of the other cycling meccas of Europe. The brick building stands proudly alongside a purpose built BMX pump track. Before a tour of the facility we were first offered some refreshment.
Located to the front of the academy building were a series of temporary trestle tables under a tent. Behind these tables were three smiling ladies serving refreshments. I was later informed these ladies are affectionately known as the ‘Soup Mamas’. Every Friday they volunteer their time and come to the academy to prepare a meal for the children, with ingredients donated by the Pick n Pay supermarket.
The Soup Mamas had been asked to prepare something typically South African for our mid-ride snack, the same as they would normally make for the kids, nothing special. But they were never going todo that were they. If they had ‘important guests’ they were going to push the boat out. The visitors from England would be spoiled with something more appropriate, they would have tea and scones.
Suitably refreshed, we were then given a guided tour of the facility by general manager, Sipho Mona. As we were walked through a room full of Wattbikes, the mechanic’s room, and the modern classroom full of computers, Sipho spoke passionately about the objectives of the academy and the outcomes they all strive for. We learned that the academy goals were not solely focussed on finding talented South African riders in all disciplines from BMX to MTB and road racing, but are more generally about giving disadvantaged kids life opportunities through education. We were all given the opportunity to ask questions about the work of the academy, and after a few minutes we were summoned outside for a group photo in front of the beautifully painted shipping containers that the academy use for storage.
Soon after we were back on bikes and heading towards the coast, and then along Baden Powell Drive with more stunning views across False Bay. The fresh breeze coming in off the ocean kept the temperature comfortable aswe regained our steady pace on the road up to Constantia where we would meet up with the groups that had departed earlier.
The climb is only a couple of hundred metres, but it raised the pulse a little, and for the first and only time that day I felt beads of sweat beginning to form on my forehead underneath the helmet. Our pace had possibly been a little ahead of schedule, with group two coming into sight as we neared the summit of our short ascent. We eased the pace a little so as not to catch them before the next planned stop and tapped steadily up the hill.
The rest of the 160-strong participants had already congregated as we rolled into the car park away from the highway. Plenty of handshakes and backslapping accompanied the first inter-group mingle of the day. I spotted that Nicholas Dlamini had joined one of the groups and was waiting to accompany us all on the final leg of our ride into Cape Town. He was happy to pose for selfies and chatted freely with the riders.
After a few minutes we all set off again, this time as one huge peloton, complete with police escort. It was quite exhilarating to descend together in such a massive group. All too soon the road flattened out as we cashed the cheque we’d all banked on the ascent. But there was no hint of disappointment as the view more than compensated for the additional effort required to press on the pedals. We were now on the final part of the CTCT route and we had a last bit of climbing fun up Suikerbossie before descending with the Atlantic Ocean to our left, and into the beautiful Camps Bay, with the Table Mountain National Park to the right. The group remained together all the way back along the coast until we rolled tothe end of the Cape Rouleur at the Southern Sun Cullinan hotel. Just 88 km completed, and less than 800 m of elevation on this largely flat social ride, but what a memorable day already.
A huge buffet feast was offered to all participants and beers shared among riders and staff alike. It was a beautiful way to spend the morning and the visit to Velokhaya will remain with me for a long time to come.
Saying our farewells to the HotChillee gang, we headed off together to pick-up our rider packs for the CTCT. We lingered a while at the on-site Expo, buying stuff we didn’t really need and also picking up some last-minute essentials that we’d forgotten to bring. Then we headed back to our digs. It felt good tobe reunited with Toby, and of course Theo. Some time ago we set up our informal cycling club, Lucky Saddles, and we’d recently updated our kit. I was so looking forward to hanging out with these guys and riding together as a team once more. Since we all left T-Mobile several years ago we rarely get to ride together, but when wedo make the time we always have a riot. This was the real reason for my being back in Cape Town. Phase two of my trip was about to commence.
Stage 2 – The Cape Town Cycle Tour – Lucky Saddles Ride Again
Although I’d already secured my place in the CTCT, one benefit of HotChillee’s close relationship with CTCT is that all Cape Rouleur participants are guaranteed seeded entry. Another benefit of being with HotChillee is you can join their Saturday morning social ride, which I was keen to do, meeting at 07:00 at Vida e Caffè in Camps Bay, conveniently close to where I was staying.
Perhaps 30 riders congregated for coffee before we soft-tapped out at a very easy pace in the direction of Chapman’s Peak, the stunning coastal views now to our right. Theo and Toby wanted todo some boring tourist crap, so just Polona and I went outon the early ride with the other HotChillee guys. Some opted to roll back to Cape Town when they reached Suikerbossie, but we decided to explore a bit further and pressed on up to the summit of Chapman’s Peak. After enjoying a few photos at the top we rolled steadily back to Camps Bay and enjoyed a little brunch at the Bootlegger Coffee Company located on the edge of the village. The rest of the day was spent making last-minute adjustments to the bikes, relaxing and enjoying the delights of Camps Bay before heading out in search of race fuel.
That evening we made the short walk from our apartment to Primi Restaurant, where we loaded upon pasta. As is always the case, we’d picked up exactly where we left off the last time we met. Tears of laughter all round as we shared a couple of bottles of wine and exchanged observations relating to how none of us were ageing especially well. We called it a night reasonably early as we had a pretty early start the next morning. Back at the apartment kit and food were laid out ready for the next morning and we all tried to get a little rest ahead of our grand day out.
All of our alarms went off in unison. I was already awake as I can never sleep well the night before an event, so I was out of bed immediately. Four half-naked, half Lycra-clad bodies bumbled around the kitchen trying to fix coffee and porridge. It was barely daylight when we emerged from the apartment, trying to work out the optimum clothing combination that would ensure we were warm enough bimbling down to the start and loitering as the sun rose, but didn’t have to carry excess baggage around the 120-kilometre loop. I settled on base layer, short sleeve jersey and arm warmers. Then added a gilet. Then swapped it for a rain cape. Then back to the gilet. Then a long-sleeve top. Then finally back to the gilet. We rode the few kilometres from Camps Bay to Cape Town in near darkness, thankful that the roads were quiet and traffic-free.
We’d agreed the night before to congregate back at the Cullinan where we dropped off some bags for a kit change after the ride and sneaked a cheeky second breakfast. I was amused to see bundles of ‘three small potatoes’ neatly wrapped in tin foil. I didn’t really need the fuel for this ride as the intention was not to charge around, but to take our time and enjoy the time on the bike as a group of mates. I stuffed the spuds into my pocket anyway. We paused for a quick team photo before heading to the start area. Toby was on top form, it was clear he was pumped-up for this. Perhaps even a little apprehensive about what he’d taken on given the state of his health. As we made our way to the start area he seemed to want to chat with every single other rider on the road that morning.
“There was a carnival atmosphere everywhere and every time we entered a little town or village Toby would announce himself with his now familiar chant. Invariably it would get chanted back at him. Riding with him felt like we were riding the Tour de Toby.”
Without warning, and somewhat randomly, he repeatedly burst into song, chanting the tune of the chorus of Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire, “DER, DER-DER, DER-DER, DER-DER-DERRRRRRR!” Invariably whoever was the target of his chant would break into a huge smile and reciprocate, echoing the chant back to him. It didn’t matter if you were a participant on your way to the start, or a volunteer helper at the side of the road – Toby wanted you to know this was his day. His energy and enthusiasm were infectious and I could not prevent myself grinning from ear to ear each time he bellowed out his new favourite tune, often triumphantly punching the air as he yelled. This already felt like it would be a ride to remember.
Despite the early hour the city was absolutely alive and the breaking sunshine suggested we were in for a great day. There was no wind to speak of, which is a blessing in this part of the world. Riders of all shapes and sizes, on all manner of bikes were converging on the start point where the colour and noise of the occasion was gradually building. We were slowly funnelled into our starting wave and shuffled forwards, surrounded by thousands and thousands of fellow participants. What seems like at least once per minute, the announcer repeats his now infamous mantra “Everybody say ‘Hoopla!’”, as he has done for many years before, as we crawl forward to our eventual start.
It feels good to finally get on the bike and roll across the start line. Transponders all beep in unison as we pedal across the timing carpet. I forget to start my Garmin as I’m just so happy to be there, out in the sunshine, on my bike, back with my buddies again, riding in the colours of the Lucky Saddles.
None of us had any real ambitions of posting a rapid time this year. Polona was on a bit of a mission and didn’t want to hang about, but the three of us were determined to ride together as much as possible. We got ourselves into a nice steady rhythm and were able to follow a few wheels and keep our noses out of the wind. This is indeed the life.
The calm weather ensured huge crowds at the side of the road. I guess the nearest comparison I can draw on from the UK would be the spirit of the London Marathon. The roads leading out of Cape Town were lined with thousands of spectators who were there to support every single one of the 30,000 participants of this, the world’s largest timed, mass-participation ride. Kids with homemade signs, many looking out for family members and people of all ages and colours yelling their support. Music blaring, singing and lots and lots of shout-outs for our cool kit, “Go Lucky Saddles!”
My usual approach for long rides, whether events or training, is–‘getit done, then have your fun’. I prefer to smash out the miles as quickly as possible and with as few stops aspossible, then get outofmy smelly kit and hit the bar. Today was never going tobe about that. We took advantage of every drinks station to stop, regroup, take a few photos and chat with the other participants. We’d started so far down the order that we were in among the riders who were all there to have a good time. There were tandems and MTBs, even bikes fitted with sound systems booming out tunes to encourage some of the slower and less experienced riders. There was a carnival atmosphere everywhere and every time weentered a little town or village Toby would announce himself with his now-familiar chant. Invariably it would get chanted back at him. Riding with him felt like we were riding the Tour de Toby.
The first half of the CTCT down to Simon’s Town is relatively flat. We get through it without any concerns at all. Miller’s Point signifies the start of the first draggy climb and we need to regulate our pace to keep together. But it’s only a few kilometres before we are descending through the stunning Table Mountain National Park. Cutting across the peninsular we head through Scarborough and onto Misty Cliffs before turning back inland towards the township of Masiphumelele. Kids line the route looking out for discarded bidons and many riders are handing out sweets and chocolate bars.
It was after the 80 km mark Toby started to flag a little. He wanted to ride the climbs at his own pace and so I went ahead a little then waited at the top before joining up again and riding together to the next one. I rode up Chapman’s Peak with Polona and had a bit of fun weaving my way through some slower riders, pushing myself for the first time during the ride. Given the ease with which I’d tackled the rest of the ride I was able to post my PB for the climb, despite negotiating the traffic. We waited at the top for the boys to join us and were able to enjoy the phenomenal view across Hout Bay once again.
The long sweeping descent from Chappies is always a highlight of the CTCT, but soon enough we are through Hout Bay and heading up towards the final challenge of the day–Suikerbossie. Once again I decide to have a little fun and press on up the climb, posting another PB. I wait at the top and enjoy the massive crowds on the climb who are cheering everyone on. I’m soon joined by the boys and we descend down towards Camps Bay together, taking in my favourite stretch of road in the whole world. No pedal turns are required as we enjoy the beauty of the endless view out across the South Atlantic Ocean.
Coming through Camps Bay we organise ourselves once again for the final handful of kilometres. Polona has pressed on, perhaps sensing these three boys needed to share the final moments of this ride together. Everyone is recovered from their efforts on the final climb and I organise the three of us into formation with myself on the front. I slowly start to wind up the pace, gradually adding a little speed every few hundred metres. We weave through the traffic, yelling “On your right!”as we speed past dozens and dozens of other riders. I look around and the boys are grinning, so I throw a bit more coal on the fire.
The fact we are riding among backmarkers makes it feel much faster than it really was and we have to keep our wits about us as we are travelling so much faster than everyone else on the road at this time. We crank up the pace a little further while we get cheers and encouragement from the roadside. We are motoring along at over 40kmh now and I’m trying to simultaneously manage the boys onmy wheel and the traffic in front.
Entering the final kilometre we back off and just enjoy the last few hundred metres. As the finish line comes into view we instinctively fan out into a line, riding three-abreast. We roll along the finishing straight, me to the right, Theo to the left, Toby in the middle. We link arms and cross the finish line as if we’d just bagged the yellow jersey at the Tour de France. I glance to my left anticipating one final DER, DER-DER, DER-DER, DER-DER-DERRRRRRR! From Toby. But for the first time today he’s silent, tears rolling down his cheeks. I catch Theo’s eye and we exchange a knowing nod. No words are spoken and we roll through to collect our finishers medals.
We retrieve our bags and head to the refreshments tent, where we meet-up once again with the HotChillee guys and a few other familiar faces, not least Guido Eickelbeck, the former Team Telekom domestique who now runs his own business VIP Cycling, based in Mallorca. Guido tells me of a recent trip he organised to Cuba and I make a note to make sure I get myself an invite to that one next year. We all enjoy some food and a couple of beers before lazing in the sun and generally talking shit. Toby holds court once again, telling his bad jokes and then falling asleep. For a couple of hours at least all is well with the world.
My journey back to the UK on Monday was mentally very difficult. The chance to get away and spend a few days with friends riding bikes in the sun had been a very welcome distraction from the cold reality of the family funeral that I was returning to and all that would follow. As much as I was looking forward to seeing my mother, our Irish relatives and mybrother coming home from Australia, I knew I had a challenging few weeks and months ahead. Giving Alan an appropriate send-off and supporting my mother was now the focus.
The emotion of completing the CTCT together with Toby left me more than a little drained. However, in Camps Bay I’d shared a room with Theo and we had reaffirmed to each other how important it was tous both that we’d been given an opportunity to share this treasured time together with him. Without cycling I doubt we would have found something to bring us back together.
Visiting Velokhaya was so uplifting for me. For some reason the Soup Mamas who volunteer their time to feed the academy kids left a deep and lasting impression. Quietly going about their business without fanfare or fuss. Unsung heroes doing their bit to make a difference and stealthily making a positive impact on so many young lives, never seeking recognition nor reward. Perhaps it’s for no more complicated reason than that I’ve recently grown to fully appreciate the love and devotion of my own mother and all she sacrificed in her life to give us the best chance when we were growing up. The commitment of the Soup Mamas resonated so deeply that their simple contribution somehow soothes the soul – not only fuelling the academy kids, but giving me some very welcome additional energy to take on the challenges of the road ahead. Cape Town has never disappointed and this visit only added to the list of special memories from this complex and amazing part of the world.
This trip also delivered a huge slice of hope and optimism for the future, not only bringing anticipation that this won't be the final time the Lucky Saddles ride together, but also clear indications that simply riding bikes can offer brighter futures to the disadvantaged township kids of Khayelitsha too.