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Cape Town – Sir Richard Branson will tackle the 109km Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour on March 10.
“Why? Why not?” Branson says. “Life is a helluva lot more fun if you say yes rather than no.”
Branson will be headlining a team that includes his son-in-law, Freddie Andrewes, Virgin Group chief executive Josh Bayliss and Virgin Active SA staff members. Branson’s only request so far is a “comfortable” saddle.
The Cycle Tour has been on Branson’s bucket list for years and as he says, “I am prepared to try anything once.”
Branson answered some questions about the upcoming challenge.
Why did you decide to ride the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour this year?
I’ve got friends who have taken part in the event before and heard all about what a challenge it is, and didn’t want to miss out on all the fun.
What do you know about the 109km route?
I know 109km is a very long way on a bicycle! But I’ve heard the stunning scenery and camaraderie between the cyclists makes it one of the best sporting events in the world.
Have you heard about the legendary Suikerbossie?
I’ve heard our delightful Virgin Active Angels will be on hand to give any exhausted riders a little push. That will more than make up for having to climb the Suikerbossie!
What are you most looking forward to about the Cycle Tour?
I’m looking forward to hearing the roar of the crowd and really giving them something to cheer about. While it is my first time taking part in the Cycle Tour, I have experienced the London Marathon and Triathlon, where the crowds really drag you around the course with their support.
What could be your biggest challenge for the race?
The biggest challenge will be getting used to the course, because I have not been able to train as much as I would have liked out on the roads.
What training are you doing in preparation for the race?
I’ve been doing a lot of cycling in the gym to strengthen my legs, and also taking part in lots of other sports from tennis to kitesurfing to keep my fitness levels up.
Are you following a special diet or do you intend changing your eating plan closer to the race?
Well, my favourite meal is shepherd’s pie, so I wouldn’t exactly call it a strict diet! But a healthy, balanced diet is really important to maintain an active lifestyle, and I will be taking in a few extra carbs before the race.
What tips have you been given about what to eat or drink during the race?
Drinking plenty of water is always crucial for any sporting challenge.
What bike will you be riding?
Most likely a KTM 6000 carbon frame bike. It’s important to have a bike that you are comfortable on and confident with.
Have you ever participated in any other cycle races?
I have taken part in the Virgin London Triathlon, but this is by far and away the longest, most challenging cycle race of my life.
Are you hoping for a specific time for the race?
If I can get around in just over five hours, which is my finishing time for the London Marathon, I will be very pleased. But more than anything I am looking forward to taking on the challenge with the rest of the team. – Cape Argus