Cyclist gran, 87, still riding strong


Cape Town - A Kenilworth grandmother has proven that you’re never too old to put pedal to the metal. Clare Graaff, 87, is entering her 23rd Cape Town Cycle Tour this year to encourage the elderly to keep fit and active.

Graaff, a former art historian, will officially be the oldest female cyclist to take part in the event on March 6.

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Cape Town - 160223 - At 87 years old, Clare Graaff, will be the oldest female rider taking part in this years Cape Town Cycle Tour. Reporter: Robin Henney Picture: David Ritchie

She said that she will be “cycling this year to inspire individuals my age to keep active”.

“It’s not about winning or even making good time.

“The secret is that I don’t have anyone in my age group.

“It’s not about the time or whether I finish but I’m doing it to keep fit.

“I’ve always been an active person, my husband and I used to do a lot of mountain climbing together,” she added.

Together with her late husband, Johannes de Villiers Graaff, the couple’s preferred hobbies included mountain climbing and skiing.

Graaff has been active for most of her life, starting with lacrosse, which quickly culminated into cycling and mountain climbing when she married.

“My husband really was more of the mountain climber than I was, but together we climbed quite a bit,” she said.

Her sporting achievements include climbing the Himalayas and the Matterhorn in Switzerland decades ago while she was in her 20s.

Despite taking part in the Cycle Tour for two decades, the young-at-heart Graaff prefers skiing in the French Alps.

“I prefer skiing as it’s downhill all the way. It’s lovely,” she said.

She cycles three times a week with the Recyclers Cycling Club – a group of about 60 to 70 individuals of different ages.

On why she thinks sport is so important, especially to the elderly, she said that older people often tend to “give up”.

“They think they’re not expected to do a lot of exercise at this age.”

However, she has admitted to not feeling that she is adequately prepared for the Cape Town Cycle Tour due to a recent illness.

“I’m still going to take part but normally this time I would be more prepared.”

Don’t expect the dynamic grandmother to be resting on her laurels anytime soon.

Graaff has plans on visiting the French Alps for another ski session in April.

* The Cape Town Cycle Tour takes place on Sunday, March 6. A total of 35 000 cyclists will participate in the 109km route across the Peninsula.

Registration for those that have entered is next week at the Cape Town Cycle Tour Expo, now located at the Cape Town Stadium.

Registration times are 9.30am to 7pm on March 3; 9am to 7pm on March 4, and 9am to 4pm on March 5.

The expo is expected to draw some 70 000 people and will feature 400 exhibitors.

Its purpose is to “incorporate registration” and host “healthy lifestyle events”.

A walk through all the exhibitions totals 1.5km.

Bicycles are also welcome and can be parked in a secure spot at the Green Point Athletic Stadium.

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Cape Argus

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