Time, place and bikes
A few cycling lanes have been constructed with sign boards that tell motorists and pedestrians that cyclists have right of way, but this is not really working in Gauteng.
Political opponents started to shout that this just cuddles privileged people with money that the local government should spend to help the poor. Often cars park and taxis glide past their competitors over the little barriers.
One of the ways in which road cycling clubs now deal with the tar trouble is is to start group rides at four in the morning.
We have to admire their commitment, but even people who have ridden bicycles for years might be discouraged and we will struggle to persuade newbies to arrive on time.
By now some riders who really enjoyed riding their road bikes also rather ride mountain bikes so they can pedal on the verge of the road or jump off the tar onto the pavement if they have to. Many of them really miss some of the unique features of road bikes, which we all have to admire.
Five recommendations to train safely for the Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge:
1. Always ride in groups. Particularly if you are a newbie, it is a good idea to join a cycling club where you can gain valuable experience and find friends to ride with. Several clubs are listed on the Cyclist’s Guide web page.
2. To be safe on the road in anything but bright daylight, you need to fit lights on the front and back of your bike. The rear light just helps for you to be seen, so it can be a small red flashy one. If the road lights are not bright, the front light needs to help you to see as well as be seen, so you need to find a bright white one.
And don’t forget to charge the battery.
3. Wearing visible kit on the road is also a good idea, so rather don’t wear a camouflage shirt! Just kidding, but you know what we mean. Wearing fancy kit in colours you like during the day is fine, but in the dark it is a good idea to find some shirts, shorts, arm warmers and jackets with visibility strips.
These just look pale in the light, but glow in the dark.
4. Investing in an ICE ID bracelet is also a good idea. There are colour and design options to make them easy to live with, and a little metal plate where your blood group, medical aid details and contact details for a family member can be engraved.
ICE ID bracelets are available to purchase on the #CC2017 entry system.
5. Try to ride in areas where less traffic keeps you safe on the road. We recommend Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve and the Cradle of Humankind; see details below.
The Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve can be seen from the N3 to Heidelbergand is within an hour’s drive from Joburg. The roads are not busy (apart from the number of cyclists who appear over weekends) and there are options between 15 and about 70-kilometer loops to ride, but the distance is not the whole story.
There is a spectacular range of wildlife and there are opportunities for serious hill training on the roads over its rather spectacular rock formations.
This is Chris Froome; Team Sky’s top Tour de France contender’s favourite place to train in Joburg!
The Cradle of Humankind to the northwest of Johannesburg is a tourist destination known as a World Heritage site because almost half of the fossils of earlier humans have been discovered here.
This area is said to be about a 90 minute drive out of the city centre, and offers open public roads edged with a network of well maintained cycle lanes.
These routes provide a training option that covers about 50km, which can be ridden in clockwise (most popular) or anti-clockwise laps to offer a different mix of rolling hills and slightly more challenging climbs.
These venues offer not just safe cycling for road bikes, but also a good training environment, where you can pedal to get ready to enjoy participating in the Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge.
Although the roads on the route of this event are very safe – the distance is not short, and those last climbs on the way to the Riversands Commercial Park demand some training.
Hope to see you out there!