From the Winelands of Franschhoek to the townships of the Cape Flats, the HotChillee Cape Rouleur has some of the best South Africa has to offer.
Hotchillee have organised ‘bucket list’ events since 2004. A series of exceptional cycling experiences in iconic locations, their unique format of seeded group rides that incorporate timed sections ensure riders are grouped with others of similar ability. They skillfully blend a diverse mix of participants who are bound together by a common love of cycling.
The Cape Rouleur is one of Hotchillee’s most well established events and involves five days cycling through South Africa’s Western Cape. With 200 riders, 70 support crew, rolling road closures, lead cars, motorbike outriders, mechanic vans and medical support, it’s the closest to feeling like a pro that us mere mortals will ever get.
The format ensures you will enjoy this event regardless of ability. Day one started with a 7 KM Time Trial, which sees riders seeded into speed groups for the following three 130+ KM stages. Those seeded in Groups 1 and 2 could then compete for Leaders Jerseys, whereas Group 3 were generally content with completing the event, enjoying all the benefits of the “rider bubble” as HotChillee call it. With closed roads and support cars there was no stopping at junctions, or worrying about getting a flat. I found myself riding alongside current pro-cyclists, business leaders and even celebrities. It was refreshing to see so many women taking part, as well as young riders marked as “rising stars” from the leafy London suburbs as well as the local townships.
A vital aspect of the event sees Hotchillee working with partners Kenya Airways, the Western Cape Government, Wattbike, Rainmaker and local cycling clubs. Together they identify young talent and create a pathway for that talent to ultimately race in Europe. One of the Hotchillee success stories is Nicholas Dlamini, the up and coming star now riding for UCI World Tour team Dimension Data.
The highlight of my week was the final day Festival Ride, incorporating a visit to the Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy, whose motto is ‘growing champions on and off the bike”. Inside the township of Khayelitsha lies a state-of-the-art facility that would not look out of place in London. After a warm welcome and refreshments lovingly prepared by the ‘Soup Mamas’ we enjoyed a guided tour by former rider, now General Manager Sipho Mona. He passionately explained the importance of giving kids a focus that brings life-changing opportunities. Riding through a township and witnessing this amazing project was both humbling and inspiring.
And if that’s not enough, participants of Cape Rouleur are automatically guaranteed a seeded entry into the Cape Town Cycle Tour, the world’s largest timed cycle race, which takes place three days later. Many participants extended their stay in Cape Town, taking advantage of additional free training rides and joined the 30,000 strong peloton that took on the 40th edition of this famous 109 KM race.
Trevor Gornall is Editor of Conquista, a global cycling journal which celebrates the beauty of cycling. For his full account of his Cape Rouleur experience be sure to catch Issue 19 of conquista.cc.
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