In spite of the Cycle Tour disappointment, Oli Munnik explains the cancellation’s silver lining.
As I sit down to write this column, an email simultaneously launches into my inbox from the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust. The mail’s tone is sombre. One filled with relief that no one was seriously injured, and that role players as well as the thousands of disappointed cyclists have unilaterally stood by the decision to cancel the 2017 Cape Town Cycle Tour.
2018 will be crowned the 40th edition of ‘The Argus’ and this year’s entrants will receive preferential entry into next year’s event. This is the best solution.
We all know the reasons: A ludicrously potent South Easter, an attention grabbing service delivery protest (which aimed to highjack publicity by disrupting the Cycle Tour), as well as a veld fire on the slopes of Karbonkelberg above Hout Bay. This tri-factor posed a potent threat, and drastic action was needed, and duly executed. I mean even the Portaloos were in serious trouble!!
Having been a part of one of the groups that did get the green light to leave, I can unequivocally say that leaving the CBD was putting the safety of riders at risk. Through Newlands and Tokai the wind abated, but if we had rounded the point, passed through Noordhoek, climbed over Chapman’s Peak and pedalled the final stretch along the Twelve Apostles, these sections would simply have been unreasonably windy and dangerous – not just for the ‘main manne’ but especially for the poor souls who depart the Civic centre at 10am and catch the wind at its most severe.
At first, without complete knowledge of the situation and in full race mode along the M3, the Elite bunch was agitated at the race referee for the constant stop-starting of the bunch. However, once the situation had been explained, riders took it on the chin, understanding the seriousness of the conditions and happily turned round and pedalled home up the M3.
Looking back at how Sunday unfolded, the fact that we were unable to complete the Cycle Tour was put into perspective by the catastrophic fire that swept through Imizamo Yethu (IY) the day before, leaving 15 thousand destitute.
In 2008 I completed an honours thesis, which explored the fire vulnerability of those living in shacks, versus back yard dwellings in Imizamo Yethu. It was an eye-opener to say the least. IY, along with every informal settlement for that matter, play a dangerous game of densification, versus allowing open corridors for emergency access. Saturday’s events are a stark reminder that life can change in an instant, and our hearts go out to those affected by the fire.
A silver lining of Sunday’s cancellation was that resources could be diverted from the Cycle Tour to the victims of Saturday’s fire. Looking back, I would gladly not finish the Argus so that the food and water meant for us could be delivered to the affected residents who desperately needed it.
As the saying goes … in life, everything happens for a reason. Next year we’ll back to ride the 40th Cape Town Cycle Tour, in its 41st year of existence. Vive le Touri!