Yusuf Abrahams is in reach of achieving the elusive time of under three hours for the Cape Town Cycle Tour simply because he has been riding 40km to and from work for the past 20 years.
Over the past two decades, Abrahams has participated in every Cycle Tour, save for one. But he plans to make 2017 his year and will attempt to beat his personal best time, which is a staggering 3 hours and 10 minutes, to mark the occasion of the Cycle Tour’s 40th anniversary.
Abrahams, 63, of Bonteheuwel, was introduced to cycling in 1993 by a friend and bought a Raleigh bike back then for R199.
“My first ride was from Bonteheuwel to Stellenbosch and I did not enjoy it because my whole body was in pain. We could not even cycle back. We had to get picked up by my friends.”
Suffering fatigue and in excruciating pain for a week, Abrahams decided he would cycle to and from work. The 40km daily cycle has kept Abrahams fit and free of illness for most of the last 20 years.
“After seeking more challenges, I decided to participate in the Pedal Power Association races every Saturday and Sunday.” Abrahams has competed in all the Cycle Tours since 1995, missing out on the 2014 edition due to illness. He says the race has changed throughout the years and he has had to deal with a number of weather challenges.
“The atmosphere and camaraderie drew me to the Cycle Tour. I also wanted to meet different people from across the country.”
Abrahams says participating in the Cycle Tour made him forget about his age. “This year will be different because it is a huge milestone and I am happy to be a part of it. It is a great achievement to have ridden 20 Cycle Tours already. It was never about personal times, but it was just about enjoying my time with other cyclists. But I won’t lie, a sub-3 at my age would be an amazing feat.”
While riding on his bicycle to work back in 2000, Abrahams was attacked by a group of men who robbed him of his bicycle in Hanover Park. Luckily for him, the Cape Argus together with the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust sponsored him with a brand new bicycle.
“I was so happy and appreciative for both the Cycle Tour Trust and the Cape Argus.” Two years after his incident, Abrahams got hit over by a car from behind. His bicycle broke in half and he was left with minor injuries.
“The accident happened three months before the Cycle Tour, while I was practising for it. The guy who hit me paid the value of the bike and I got a new bike.”
In 20 years of riding the Cycle Tour, Abrahams has never had any punctures or breakdowns. He aims to continue cycling until his legs cannot do it anymore. “I always aim to finish the Cycle Tour every year and I always pray when I get to the finish line because I made it.”
Abrahams is excited and proud to have been a part of the 160 th anniversary of the Cape Argus, which was marked on January 3 this year. He has worked at the newspaper for 44 years.
“I always tell these youngsters that they weren’t even born yet,” he says with a chuckle. “I started as a messenger and worked my way up into the retail department.”
Abrahams, a father of six and granddad of five, says he had hoped to cycle with his children but they preferred other sports. “They always ask me when I’m retiring from the sport and I always joke with them, saying: “Never!” I enjoy seeing the views and I’ve met so many friends on my cycling expeditions.”