i have cycled the Argus Cycle tour 19 times.
The Argus Cycle tour [now allegedly called something else due to new sponsorship, but it will always be the Argus] is a 109km cycling race [mostly, except when it isn’t!] that is the largest timed cycling race in the world with over 35000 people crazily taking it on every year.
i have finished it 16 and a half times. [technically 17 but this year’s ridiculously shortened race should not count as a real race although it was my saving grace having not finished it for at least 5 years – one of my non finishes was the ridiculously crazy wind year where after 100 meters of cycling we had to get off our bikes and walk across an intersection with a crosswind that was so bad and where material banners were being ripped to shreds etc – made it to St James and then thought, “I am not enjoying this at all and i have finished this race 15 times so i don’t have anything to prove and so phoned my mom and she picked me up.” The other time i didn’t finish was literally the day after a full-on ten-day food fast where i had taken in nothing but liquids for ten straight days which unfortunately coincided with the day before the Argus and WHAT WAS I THINKING INDEED?]
But the majority of those finishes have an unexpected chief contributor in my finishing of the races. Not a great or regular training program [at my peak i was using one year’s race as the only training i did for the next year’s race as in didn’t touch a bike the whole year til the next race] or any particular supplement [the official pink liquidy ones always made me queasy so i tended to stick to Bar Ones and Tempos!] and certainly not the most expensive bike [usually borrowed someone’s last minute] or cycling equipment
THE SECRET INGREDIENT
Pink tights. That’s right – woman’s pink tights. Well actually these were men’s Solomon the Salamander pink tights from a Christian youth drama i had been part of in 1994 when i was on the Baptist Youth music and drama team called W.O.W. [Win Our World – flip, now that probably won’t make this list, although…] which i had kept [you know, just in case there’s a race with 35000 people coming up…].
But i’m convinced they were the key to me finishing a bunch of my Arguses. And when they died i got fish net stockings which i used a couple of times [and somehow managed to convince not my friend, but my friend’s friend, to wear with me – altho we’re friends now! How could we not be?] for the same reason.
Being this: when you are riding up one of the most killer hills on the Argus known as Suikerbossie and the very much drunk Afrikaans rugby supporter guys are singing, “suikerbossie wil jou hê” there is NO WAY IN THE WORLD you are going to pull over and stop cycling if you are wearing pink tights or fish nets [or you will die!] and so it was a really great motivator. Add to that the fact that you stand out and so 30 thousand plus random people cycling by – supporters get bored – and sooner or later they only start really cheering for people who stand out – and believe me, pink tights or fish nets? You are that guy! And so instant ongoing cheerleading team the entire race [along with a whole lot of inappropriate unwanted whistles, which also do the trick]
So yes, dressing up in general for the Argus was a life highlight for me. Biggest fail was the year i decided to wear my full face gorilla mask [lack of vision and intense overdose of sweat within first kilometer made me lose that quickly], middle of the road was the year i dressed up in my Spur steak-ranch waiter’s kit and had people ordering food from me THE WHOLE FLIPPIN RACE, and the winner was the tights cos who ever gets tired of people calling out, “Hey sexy legs!” Not. This. Guy.
Also the year i convinced Warren to cycle in fish nets with me, it was also a ‘highlight’ for the way my bicycle was stolen out of my car before the race when i picked up Warren in town as he was putting on his fish nets and my buddy Dunc swooped to the rescue by letting me use his bike for the race and having to adjust the saddle height and stuff. Another highlight was me sitting up all night writing anti Eskom satirical slogans on our shirts because we were in the midst of a different bout of load-shedding and all the comment they received.
But the main highlight of that particular year was probably the fact that we did not listen to the ‘Wear Sunscreen’ song or do that in any way, shape or form and so for six of the worst sun hours of the day we were out in the sun, wearing no sun block. Did i mention the fish nets? That’s right – number 78 is THE BEST EVER FISH NET STOCKING TAN to be found on two guys.