Cape Town - Cycling changed Abduraghiem Abrahams’s life. Aged 47 and a self-confessed drug addict for 27 years, he was heading to his merchant with R2 500 in his pocket when his brother called him aside.
“He suggested I buy myself a bike instead. So I did. I named it Fuel. I’ve never stopped riding since then and now this is my high.”
Abrahams, 55, a building foreman, will cycle in his second Cape Argus Pick n Pay Momentum Cycle Tour on Sunday.
The Cape Argus talked to some of the 35 000 entrants to find out what motivated them, what they feared and what they hoped for. Wind was the biggest fear, and with good reason – the Cape Doctor has been forecast to blow at up to 60km/h.
Most people are expecting to have fun, see the sights, and at least one cyclist is planning to find a fat cyclist to ride behind.
As for comedian Nik Rabinowitz, he says: “I expect it to be long. And windy. And painful. And… why am I doing this again?”
Here’s what some other riders had to say:
Shaun Thomas, Electrical contractor, Cape Town, 22:
The Cycle Tour is “one of those races you have to do”.
“I do them all the time, this is my 15th year. Just finishing the race and the whole experience doing the biggest timed cycle race in the world is the best for me.”
Zunaid Hoosen, Cabinet-maker, Cape Town, 38
He enjoys the sport and cycles to keep fit.
“Last year was a bad ride for me because I lost power early on. There is no better cycle tour and atmosphere than at this race.”
Shamiel Abrahams, Cabinet-maker, Cape Town, 38
“I enjoy the competition and getting a good time at the end of the race. I would like to improve my time from the previous year. I'm doing this all for the sport.”
Colin Brown, Self-employed, Cape Town, 61
Colin says he’s been riding all his life.
“This is my 32nd cycle tour and I do it to keep in shape. I love the whole atmosphere at the race, just getting together with people from all over the world. It's fantastic for the city and it's a world-renowned race.”
Dirk Muller, Engineer, Cape Town, 54
“I love cycling, and it is good for your health. I've been cycling for 35 years and still love it. The whole route and atmosphere of the cycle tour is my highlight.”
Guy Lanfear, Accountant, Cape Town, 52
“It’s a blessing and a gift to ride on the roads. It is so special just to ride these roads in the most beautiful city. Everyone is in a good mood, chatting and smiling with all the support. You feel so special.”
Colin Donald, Diver, Durban, 53
A friend roped him into cycling this year. This is my first cycle tour and I'm already feeling tired,” he said at the top of Chapman's Peak.
“I love the scenery and have been training for three months.”
Jan Weik, Diver, Holland, 67
This is his first Cycle Tour.
“I normally cycle the French Alps.
“The warmth, ocean, cliffs and mountain are one big pleasure to cycle here.”
David Hromada, From Czech Republic
David came to South Africa specially to participate in the race. This will be his second tour.
“I'm in the country for 12 days and have been training.
“I love cycling and also cycle back at home.”
Frikkie de Villiers, Businessman, Cape Town, 37
“The Cycle Tour is the start of the cycling year for me as it is a precursor to other events that I will be competing in. I am more of a mountain bike rider but the Argus will be a good start.
“It’s exciting as I’m riding for the Children’s Hospital Trust.”
Susan van der Merwe, Accountant, Paarl, 31
“I’m riding because of my dad. It is his 27th tour and between January and March our house becomes a cycling home.
“I am looking forward to the spirit of the tour and hopefully to finish in under five hours.”
Alistair Brown, Auctioneer, Paarl, 64
“I’ve been doing it for 27 years - it’s such a festival and an outing. It’s just wonderful. And my whole family will be competing in this year’s tour.”
Michael Vass, On his gap year, from Perth, Australia, 18
“Doing it with my dad for a bit of fun. Just looking forward to riding and seeing the sights and sounds.”
Peter Niklahus, Petrol station owner, Darling, 41
“I’m participating because of the scenery and the gees… and of course getting boob flashes.
“Looking forward to all the watering holes, views and the finish.”
Sulaiman Brown, Unemployed, Cape Town, 20
“This is my sixth Argus and it is fun and good competition and a chance to better my time every year. Hopefully I’ll finish under three hours with no accidents.”
Peter Denning, Marketing director, Gloucestershire, 52
“My brother-in-law and I cycled from one end of Britain to the other, which was about 68 miles a day, the same distance as the tour. So thought it was a good idea to focus on this tour.
“Just the whole atmosphere of the tour sounds great, with all the cyclists and spectators. Heard a lot of good things about it and I am here to support my wife doing it for charity.”
Alistair Fester, Graphic designer, Cape Town, 30
“The tour is yearly thing for me. It is a nice event to look forward to every year. I’ve got a group of friends I’m cycling with this year, so I’m going to enjoy it with them and just get the general vibe.”
Cezanne Martin, Works for the City of Cape Town, Ottery, 38
“I am doing it for the experience as it’s been something I’ve always wanted to do.
“It will also be the culmination of all the exercise programmes I’ve been doing in preparation.
“I want to experience the fun and the buzz after being a spectator for all these years,
Sarah Westcott, Self-employed, Joburg, 31
“I’m doing it for the love of the sport. I think it’s fantastic. I’m looking forward to finishing it; it is my first Argus. I am also looking forward to the view.”
Leon Poleman, Project manager, Kirstenhof, 46
“This is my third tour. I did a number of mountain bike events and not a lot of road events because of the danger of cars. But because the roads are closed it will be very safe.
“I will be riding with a charity group, the Bumble Bee Club, so I am looking forward to the event because I am doing it for charity.”
Khatja Malherbe, Student, Clarens, Free State, 16
“This will be my first Argus. I really enjoy cycling and I want to do it more seriously in the future. Cycling is very good for your fitness and it also makes your legs look good.
“Looking forward to the finish line but I am also really stressing about the start with all the crowds of people.”
Rayyan Arnold, Supply chain manager, Surrey Estate, 33
“I have been a cyclist since 2007 and never turned backed. I just enjoy the sport.
“I am looking for a good |time. If the weather plays |along, a time under 3:30 is possible, but I haven’t been training well.”
Tshoko Zanele, Riding for the Velokhaya Project, promoting cycling among disadvantaged youth
“Afterwards the Pick n Pay team will be donating all their bicycles to the Velokhaya team.
“I just want to finish the race and do well.”
Melanie Bourn, Graphic designer, Plumstead, 22
“I have been cycling all my life and I always saw other people having fun. I want to experience the energy and excitement and I just want to finish.”
Blaine Bloy, Nephrologist, Gauteng, 49
“Just want to do it once off and see how it is. I am going through a midlife crisis as well so I need to keep fit. Finishing is the most important and to finish within four hours as well.”
Duncan Basford, Marketing manager, Cape Town, 34
“It is my 10th tour and I absolutely enjoy it. It is such a great event. I will be looking forward to the cold beer at the end. And I’m hoping that there will be low wind and good weather.”
Christine Taylor, Human resource consultant, Joburg
“I do it every year. I’m a triathlete so cycling is part of my training. I enjoy the whole day, the vibe, and the people. It is one of the best road races in the world.”
Shannon Marks, Student, Joburg, 27
“I ride with my family and do it every year. Just finishing in one piece will be good.”
Lisa du Plessis, Bookkeeper, Fish Hoek, 42
“I’m doing it for the fun and it will be a challenge as well as it is my first time. I just want to finish - hopefully under the seven hours.”
Mertz Daniel, Accountant, Centurion, 54
“This will be my 16th tour and I am part of a tandem. I do it for fun. Our first attempt started out as bet but we have been doing it ever since.
“We want to do it under three hours and just to keep up with Andrew McLean and those other guys.”
Maaika Kardinaal, Daycare manager, Netherlands, 35
“I am doing it for the experience. Normally when you visit Cape Town you only see these places while driving and now you can experience it while cycling. I am from Holland so bicycles are part of our everyday living. “Meeting new people is one of the goals and just enjoying Cape Town.”
Graeme Rate, Accountant, Cape Town, 44
“The tour is a form of training for me, but I also enjoy the race. For me it is part of my build-up to the ABSA Cape Epic. I am riding with a friend from the UK, so I will be showing him around and keeping him company. I’m also doing it to see the sights.”
Anja Truter, Student, Stellenbosch, 22
“It is something I’ve always wanted to do and I love cycling. I also live close by as well. The atmosphere will be great and just being part of the event will be great as well.”
Ronald Henry, Imports clerk, Ottery, 39
“I have been cycling since 2006 and it is part of my lifestyle. I also commute to work by bicycle everyday as it is environmentally friendly and I just love the sport. A crisis-free ride would be nice and I would like to go under three hours.”
Greg Beavon, Police officer, Durban, 47
“It is fun and my son is at varsity over here so it’s a visit as well. A police officer must keep fit to fight crime so cycling helps with that.
“It will be the first time on a road bike and I am hoping that I have a good time, so I will be racing against myself.”
Dave Steyn, Police officer, Durban, 43
“I have done a couple of races already and it is one of the most picturesque routes. So I will enjoy it and only feel the pain afterwards. I hope to finish within five hours and that it is not hot and windy around Chapman’s Peak.”
Keith Daly, Accountant, Cape Town, 65
“This will be my seventh tour. It keeps me fit and strong. Cycling is a way of life for me, I cycle 140km every weekend. I am looking forward to the challenge and the time. You always set a time you want to do and your goal is to beat it.”
Anthony Makibeni, Teacher, Aliwal North, 47
“This is my 17th tour. I’ve had a passion for it since I started my first one and have not missed any that followed. It is a good race and I am hoping for a time under three hours.”
Tim Jones, Teacher, Cornwall, 58
“The only reason I am doing the race is because my brother-in-law signed me up without telling me. But I agreed to do the race because it will be another challenge on my agenda. I look forward to the excitement of all the crowds and the circus-like atmosphere.”
Vaughn Nortier, Financial manager, Brackenfell, 33
“I was pressured into taking part by my colleagues at work. I am hoping for no wind, which will never happen in Cape Town. I am also hoping for a good time, maybe below five hours.”
Muneeb Allen, Consultant, Port Elizabeth, 38
“It is a hobby for me and so far I am doing it for my health. I am doing it with mates so there is a bit of competition and alpha male syndrome. I am hoping not to fall and I want to have a good day and beat my personal best.”
Lauren Coleman, Sales representative, Port Elizabeth, 30
“This will be my second tour and I have a huge passion for cycling. I like riding all over South Africa and shopping at the Expos. I want to beat the time that I did last year and have fun. If you’re not doing it for fun then you should not be doing it.”
Altaaf Hartley, Project manager, Crawford, 28
“I started cycling roughly five months ago because I wanted to become fit. This is the first year that I will be doing the Argus Tour and it will be the biggest race that I have ever done. I don't know what to expect. I am stressed because I heard it is going to be windy on Sunday.”
Giovann Adonis, Systems engineer, Cape Town, 25
“My love for cycling escalated over the years but this will be my first Argus. I see it as a great challenge. All I want is to be able to finish the damn thing.”
Barbara Denning, IT Technician, Gloucestershire, 55
“During my regular visits to Cape Town one of my friends convinced me to take part this year. I am doing the race with my husband and brother for a British-based charity. I’ll be happy as long as I finish and have a great time.”
Jay Ramdeo, Artisan, Durban, 42
“This will be my third tour. My favourite is Chapman’s Peak and I absolutely love the atmosphere and the support of the crowd. I have done quite a few races and out of all of them this is the best.”