Winter has finally got a firm grip on Cape Town … Oli’s not letting it get the better of him.
Last weekend I flew into Cape Town arriving home just after 10pm on Saturday evening. According to habit when travelling internationally, I paused my Casio’s stopwatch as we turned into our road. It lay bare the not-so-glamorous side of attending foreign press-camps … door-to-door, it had taken a numbing 31 hours to get home to the Mother City, one-way!
Having signed an NDA, I will only be able to reveal the spice I saw and rode at the press-camp sometime in July, but what I can say is that my travel time getting there and back was equal to the time I spent on the ground! Rad … written in sarcastic font.
Turning on my phone at Cape Town Airport, there was a ping from Charlie Boy about a GG1 ride (GG1 = code for gravel grinding) planned for Sunday morning. A quick glance at the YR.no app suggested rain all morning and temperatures barely touching 20, and let’s not forget it only gets light in Cape Town at 7:30ish. Needless to say, after getting ripped a new one for 30 hours, the conditions did not exactly move the motivational needle in the right direction.
However, fast forward to Sunday morning and I lay wide-awake at 06:30. Oh the irony! Charlie Boy’s offer was still on the table and after a few WhatsApps, I was suited up in 5 layers of clothing, checking tyre pressures and attaching lights to my Santa Cruz Stigmata.
All I imagined was ‘star fishing’ in bed, passed out cold in a travel-induced coma. And yet, here I was pedalling towards Rondebosch in the pitch dark … another sarcastic RAD!
Connecting with Charlie Boy and M.E, we set off for Rhodes Memorial and a lap that would take us around Table Mountain, over to Camps Bay, Hout Bay and up the gravel towards Constantia Nek. As we hit the Block House climb the heavens opened, dumping much needed rain onto Cape Town and, needless to say, onto us three loonies!
Cats and I generally feel the same way about water … minimal contact suits us perfectly. As we ascended, I couldn’t help but think back to a few years ago to the time I stopped racing and happily said to myself ‘now I’ll never have to ride in the rain, ever again’.
And yet, as we settled into the wintery conditions I found myself absolutely loving it. Importantly my chest was dry, but my cold hands and face felt alive … I couldn’t quite believe it but I actually had a smile on my face as we pedalled into driving rain and freezing temperatures on Tafelberg Road.
What was destined to be an unpleasant ride in shitty conditions, turned into one of my favourite rides of 2017. So, despite saying (and believing!) I’d never willingly ride in the rain again a few years ago, Sunday’s ride was a perfect example of why we should never say never.
Many of our most unforgettable experiences happen when we least expect them to. And that’s reason enough never to say never!
Ciao ciao, Oli
Oliver Munnik is a former professional mountain biker. Pinner by trade, he travels the world testing the latest and greatest cycling products as Bicycling’s Gear Editor.