[WATCH] Local cyclists return home sad after cancelled Cape Tour

Captain Paula Terblanche, just before she lined up for the Cape Town Cycle Tour. Photo: Submitted

Cyclists across the country were absolutely heartbroken by the news that the Cape Town Cycle Tour 2017 had to be cancelled due to gale force winds of up to 100km/h.

Captain Paula Terblanche, a member of Krugersdorp’s police force, was just as sad, since she has been training for this race for since last year.

She is an avid cyclist who even went as far as riding long distances in the Cradle of Humankind to prepare herself for the challenges that lay ahead. She was physically and mentally prepared to take on the tour.

Since participating in the 2016 cycle tour, she had competed in 13 other cycle challenges. Her last race was the Berge and Dale race at Cradlestone Mall, which was 108km long.

This would have been Paula’s second Cape tour. She said the weather last year was perfect. “The sun was shining and there was absolutely no wind.”

“I was so excited,” said Paula. “With thousands of cyclists all around me, all of them full of energy, it was truly a unique experience.”

Her excitement was destroyed by the announcement she heard as she was moving to the starting block – the race had been cancelled.

“Although we were all excited, I could barely hold onto my 8kg bicycle because of the strong winds. Strangely enough, no one wanted to turn back or give up. I couldn’t even get onto my bicycle because the wind blew me over. Everyone around me was floundering to get on their bicycles.

“The announcement made me burst into tears. I refused to turn around. I stood there and waited and waited,” said Paula.

Hundreds of sad and disappointed cyclists turned around and pushed their bicycles back to their cars.

“I thought the wind would stop, but it just got worse. At first I wasn’t afraid, but when I got on my bicycle and couldn’t even steer straight, I knew we were all in danger.”

Captain Paula Terblanche, lining up for the Cape Town Cycle Tour 2017, just before it was announced that the race had been cancelled.
Photo: Submitted

But the most random and fearful moment was when one of the mobile toilets was blow across the street onto another pavement.

“I have never experienced such wind before. I’ve seen it on TV, but it is far worse in real life.”

Paula said the wind was quite unexpected. The weather during the previous few days had been absolutely divine. The sun was shining and there was no wind.

“I couldn’t believe the weather forecast. The cycle tour management sends out frequent weather reports to warn cyclists of possible changes in the weather. I heard the wind pick up during the night. It was awful. When I got up at 4am, I could hardly believe what the wind was doing to the trees. But I still wanted to cycle.

“We first got an SMS to say that the route would be shortened from 108 km to 78km because of the protests at Smitswinkel, and the veld fires that had broken out that day.”

She said the drive home from Cape Town felt as if there had been a death in the family. “I was speechless. I comforted myself with the thought that I too have experienced the wind myself.”

However, Paula has decided to push on and train for the next event, the Gauteng Police Cycling trials. She will put all her efforts into qualifying for the National Cycling Championships, which takes place between 22 and 27 May.

She said there’s one thing she’ll never forget: “That I saw 35 000 cyclists, full of energy, happy to be there, suddenly lose all hope and be overcome with disappointment. It broke all our hearts at once.”

Although most of the cyclists were very disappointed by the cancellation; everyone on social media agreed that it was the right call to cancel the race.

Here are some of the comments on Cape Town Cycle Tour 2017 Facebook page:

Watch some of the videos uploaded to social media here:



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Bianca Pindral

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