If you are one of those avid armchair cycling fans who always wished they could get off the couch and do the Cape Town Cycle Tour, it's never too late. But you will probably never catch up to the members of Club 21.
To make it into Club 21, you need to have ridden 21 or more Cape Town Cycle Tours.
And founding member Stephen Stefano has completed far more than that. He even remembers the year before the Argus Tour (as it was called then) began. It was 1977 and the first mass ride was called the “BIG RIDE IN” he recalls.
Stephen even restored the "Old Lady" bike to her former glory!
This month Stephen Stefano is Cyclopedia's guest editor, and with the CTCT coming up on Sunday, who better than someone who has been riding the tour since it began.
This passionate cyclist has been on a bike since the age of nine, but what compelled him to ride his first Argus?
He remembers how one of the parents at his school, who was a member of the then Western Province pedal Power Association (now the PPA) got the wheels turning.
He approached the Principal, the late Mr. Les McEwan, and invited him to partake and bring along all the SACS School Boys who cycled to school daily.— Stephen Stefano, founder 21 Club
Stephen jumped on board!
I was not much of a school sports kid but enjoyed the freedom cycling gave me. Without any hesitations, I joining in the Muizenberg to the Grand Parade leg. 25km in total and it was the longest ride I had ever done in my life. I used my school commuter bike a 24inch single speed with mudguards and a rod breaking system.— Stephen Stefano, founder 21 Club
And it even got better.
On the day WPPPA raffled a Touring Bike as an incentive to get people on bikes. After the Mayor of Cape Town speech, he pulled my name out of the box and I won this bike!— Stephen Stefano, founding member of 21 Club
He says he wanted to ditch school and just ride but knew he had to get back to reality. But he couldn't wait for the next annual Argus race.
The 28 October 1978 finally arrived and I was on the Start Line in Strand Street, next to the Castle which is opposite to the Grand Parade, where this year’s CTCT will start once more.— Stephen Stefano, founding member of 21 Club
And he has not missed a single tour! One year in the late 1990s he was ill, but still got over the finish line.
I was sick with glandular fever. Being fit helped and I made a point to ride slowly, to keep heart rate down.— Stephen Stefano, founding member of 21 Club
Tips for Cycle Tour first time riders?
Relax and be prepared
Make sure your bike is serviced
Clothing: As long as you are comfortable wearing it around the house, you’ll be comfortable wearing it on the bike
Make sure your water bottles are full (store in the fridge and don’t forget them behind!
Once your ride has started, take the first half in your stride and save energy for later (You’ll need it on Chappies and Suikerbossie when your start catching up, over taking and beating rider who went out to fast too soon!)
- Enjoy the scenery and vibe of the day and come back for more next year!
Also read in Cyclopedia: CT Cycle Tour sources 3 million litres of water to keep event off municipal grid
And he has very strong views on cycling safety and believes the brighter the garb the better.
Whoever, changed the fashion to black cycling kit needs to have their heads read! They are obviously, not cyclists. If you own a dark colour cycling jersey, cut it up into rags for cleaning your bike and go and buy a bright colourful jersey/s instead!— Stephen Stefano, founding member of 21 Club
Just make sure you enjoy yourself when you out there!
Have FUN, Greet and Greet back if greeted!— Stephen Stefano, founding member of 21 Club
This article first appeared on 702 : Race tips from Stephen Stefano - who's ridden every Cape Town Cycle Tour!