My very disappointing Pick n Pay Argus Cycle Tour letter to the team.

Hi Cycle Tour team,

I tried to email this to you but I think it may have too many characters.

As always, I think the organisation of the event and the support was brilliant, but I have concerns around how the seeding is calculated and have a few suggestions that may help put riders that are trying to improve on last years’ time ahead of those cyclists just entering for fun, and avoid accidents.

Constantiaberg Mediclinic said that this year is the busiest year they have had to date. True or not, it definitely made me question the seeding and start groups.

I started in “T” at 7:04 AM and based on that time and last year’s Argus I assumed all the riders in my group would be going for at most 4 hours let alone the previous start groups. Looking around my start group I noticed a few riders who looked serious, and others that looked like they dust off whatever bike they have once a year and jump on it to do the Pick n Pay Argus Cycle Tour. So did the latter get into “T” because it’s their 10th race even though they have no intention of taking it seriously? As the world’s largest timed race I’m not suggesting not allowing him/her to participate but rather put cyclists who have entered, and completed, at least 3 timed races in the year preceding the Argus, in earlier start groups. By doing this you take out the element of riders who are unsure on their wheels and cause accidents or cause congestion by walking up Edinburgh Drive when, with that start time, they should be riding. You have their Racetec number so checking races and times shouldn’t be a problem? Does it matter that it isn’t an official seeding race?

Just before going into Simon’s Town, one of the riders in the group we caught up with, who must have started in an earlier group, and is probably not used to riding in groups (based on their behaviour in the group), and got very lucky with an early start time, took out the rider in front of him, forcing me to go over them as I had nowhere to go. This effectively ended my race as my front tyre burst. I ran my bike over to the technical support stand, but was very disappointed to see a very flustered crew working out of the back of a banged up bakkie with none of the spares I require, and charging a fortune for what they could offer me. Do official bike shops want too much money to set up a proper technical support stand with decent spares? I couldn’t continue and had to reluctantly withdraw.

There was an accident just before my accident after the Simon’s Town train station. In this one a development cyclist, that had been causing trouble in the group by weaving and breaking sharply, and had been spoken to by a number of riders in the group, hooked handle bars with another rider. In an attempt to break free he brought both riders down and nocked another rider off his bike injuring his jaw, shoulder and breaking his saddle. This development rider then got up, grabbed the bottle that had been knocked off the injured rider’s bike and took off on his own bike. I applaud youth development programmes, but the schools and development riders need to be educated on proper group riding etiquette and behaviour towards each other and fellow cyclists. People pay a lot of money and travel from all over the country to participate in the Cycle Tour, and I for one expect a great day out on my bicycle with like-minded people starting in a group with riders of a similar fitness, bike skill level and intent to finish the Argus in a similar time.

I understand that accidents happen but a similar incident happened with my brother-in-law who started at 7:30, unfortunately he broke his left wrist and injured his right elbow. My mother-in-law also had a scholar who raced in and out of the group, and then sat back and let them pass him, only to race around the group again, until another gentleman told him to calm down and behave. It was my mother-in-law’s first Argus at 61 and she is the only one of the three of us who finished.

In conclusion:
I have outlined three issues I’d like to address:

  1. Fun riders starting too early creating congestion and potentially causing accidents along the way as they fatigue early and lose concentration.
  2. Poor technical support at key areas with a poor selection of spares and expensive prices.
  3. Development/scholar cyclists that have not been taught about rider etiquette and group riding skills.

My proposed solutions to the above problems:

  1. Base the seeding on the finishing times of at least three full distance road/mountain bike events (not necessarily only seeding events) in the year preceding and or year of the Argus up to a certain date. The more races the better the seeding depending on the finish time relative to the winner.
  2. Offer proper support from reputable bike shops with mobile workshops and credit card facilities if possible else another way to ensure payment (up to the bike shop).
  3. Proper education of the development/scholar cyclist in etiquette and do’s and don’ts of group riding.

I look forward to your response.

Kind regards

Steve

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One Response to My very disappointing Pick n Pay Argus Cycle Tour letter to the team.

  1. I agree with Steve’s concerns and positive solution proposals. There are 35,000 cyclists riding and the general organisation and safety measures were fantastic, although I did witness many similar incidents that can be corrected.

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