Defending women’s champion, Anriëtte Schoeman, talks about what makes the Western Cape’s second largest cycling event so special.
1. The Scenery
The Western Cape and Boland are two of the most beautiful places to ride a bike – the spectacular peaks, vineyard-lined slopes and valleys and winding roads make for the most picturesque and interesting places. Stellenbosch is a fitting base venue from which to head out. “If I had to make a list of my favourite places in the whole wide world, Stellenbosch would definitely make my list of top three,” says Stellenbosch Cycle Tour’s 2014 women’s champion, Anriëtte Schoeman. “Plus, racing my bike there makes it an even better reason, as I love living life riding my bike!”
2. The Distance
The race is just under 100-kilometres, which makes it ideal for riders and weekend warriors who want to test their early season form. Says Schoeman, “You don’t have to be in perfect form to enjoy the route.” The scenic route takes riders up Helshoogte Pass, through Pniel, toward the Franschhoek valley. A highlight for me is passing the Drakenstein Correctional Centre (formerly Victor Verster Prison) where Nelson Mandela spent the last three years of his 27-year political incarceration. From there, the route takes in Paarl and Wellington before the rolling hills of the R44 take riders home to the finish in Stellenbosch.
3. The Vibe
“The vibe at the event is fantastic, the venue is also super convenient and parking is never a problem,” says Schoeman. Stellenbosch High School will once again play host to the event. The venue lends itself to great pre-race chatter and post-race festivities, plus there is enough space for the whole family to chill and enjoy the mountain view while waiting for their riders to come home.
4. The Timing
“The tour is normally end November or beginning December,” says Schoeman (this year it takes place on Sunday, 29 November 2015). “This makes it ideal to start training in September and still be properly prepared for the event, especially for those who prefer to skip riding during winter.”
5. The last chance at improving your seeding
Most riders in the lower seeded batches go all-out in this event, whether they’ve put in the hours through winter or not. The reason? “The Stellenbosch Cycle Tour is the last seeding event for the Cape Town Cycle Tour,” Schoeman says. This makes it the last chance for anyone entered into the 2016 Cape Town Cycle Tour to improve their seeding and start time in that event. “The route makes for some pretty fast and enjoyable riding. So you can test your early season fitness and improve your seeding all at the same time,” she says.