Joburg’s superb Cycle Challenge

23 November 2010

Nicholas White made it a memorable final race as a professional by racing to victory in the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge in Johannesburg on Sunday, with Cherise Taylor capturing the women’s honours. The real winner, though, was charity, with plenty of riders raising funds for good causes.

White ended his career on a high note by taking the win in two hours, 15 minutes and six seconds, 39 seconds ahead of teammate Arran Brown. White also won the first Cycle Challenge in 1997.

He said he would still be involved in sports, but “the future holds some different challenges”.

Dominated

Team Medscheme dominated the podium, claiming all three places, with Malcolm Lange completing the top three.

Brown accepted his defeat gracefully, saying: “I’m not disappointed at all, though obviously it is nice to win.” Lange jokingly said: “I let these two okes win, hey.

“It is difficult to compare the Cycle Challenge to other races,” he added, “but it is a nice way to end the season.”

It was certainly a good season for Team Medscheme, which notched up 35 victories.

Ladies’ victory

After a tightly contested sprint, USN’s Cherise Taylor scooped the ladies’ elite section win in a time of two hours, 45 minutes and nine seconds. Robyn de Groot and Marissa van der Merwe from the MTN Energade team placed second and third, respectively.

De Groot said: “The race went really well, and it was our plan to make [it] hard.”

Van der Merwe was happy with the result, saying: “It has been a great year for our team”.

For Taylor, victory on Sunday was the cherry on the top as she had also won the ladies’ elite section of the Mountain Bike Challenge on Saturday.

Conditions

The conditions of this year’s race meant that the riders had to deal with what the commentators called “a hurricane of sun and wind”.

The wind kept changing direction, moving from a tailwind to a crosswind, which made cycling difficult, especially coming up the hill towards the finish line at the Waterfall Country Estate.

The slight changes in the route this year, taking riders into central Johannesburg to highlight regenerated areas, also provided a new challenge to participants. The changes were made to give riders the opportunity to appreciate the best of both worlds, with features such as the Nelson Mandela Bridge and Gandhi Square being illustrated.

It also meant the race was 97.4 kilometres this year, longer than the usual 94.7 kilometres. The extra distance and tough conditions presented a big challenge, but as the commentators reminded the contestants and the crowd: “Pain is temporary, glory is forever.”

‘Ride for a purpose’

Glory was particularly evident in this year’s race, with many riders having taken up the invitation to “ride for a purpose”. All around were riders who were literally wearing their charities on their sleeves.

There was an abundance of Choc cows, “pink peddlers” working to bring awareness of breast cancer to townships, and the MAD bunch, to name only a few.

The focus on riding the event for a purpose brings communities together and fosters a spirit of camaraderie, say the organisers, reminding people that it is a personal challenge but with a larger meaning.

All participants received a medal for taking part, although their badges of honour will most likely remain the stiff muscles, cyclists’ tans and knowledge that they did it for a better cause.

Source: City of Johannesburg