Not a vehicle in sight: And
for that reason, 25 000 cyclists enjoyed the 11th edition of the Pick ‘n Pay
94.7 Cycle Challenge which took place on Sunday, where more than 300 Metro
Police officers and 660 marshals secure the culmination of a four-day cycling
festival which started with the Pick ‘n Pay 94.7 Cycle Challenge Expo on
The Expo attracted more than
60 000 visitors who came to view all the latest equipment and trends on display
at the Sandton Convention Centre, followed by almost 3000 mountain-bikers, who
took part in the Pick ‘n Pay 94.7 Mountain Bike Challenge, and 4000 children
lined up in the Pick ‘n Pay 94.7 Children’s Challenge.
Very few cycling events in South Africa
attract 4000 entrants, let alone 4000 kids! If you add up the figures it brings
the total number of bums on bicycle seats for the weekend to an amazing 32 000!
The backbone of the weekend,
however, remains the Cycle Challenge for which the 25 000 participants put in
many hours of training. At the back of the field there were tired legs and sun-burnt
bodies, and for most of these individuals the completion of the event
represented a major triumph in their lives.
But in the elite women’s
event, there was no stopping Proline stalwart Anriëtte Schoeman, the Port
Elizabeth "Pocket Rocket" stormed to a win in the 2007 Pick ‘n Pay 94.7 Cycle
Challenge, out-sprinting her teammate Marissa van der Merwe and Cherise Taylor
(Konica-Minolta) in a winning time of 2 hours 43 minutes and 47 seconds.
victory was a classic case of taking the racing to the riders, in a day totally
dominated by the talent-packed Proline team. Schoeman, Van der Merwe and Robin
de Groot were very active in the event, and put in one big attack after the
other to try and ride away.
race, 18-year old Taylor
said these moves really sapped the energy of her Konica-Minolta squad, but Schoeman,
as usual, was full of praise for the role her teammates played.
about her year Schoeman said it was full of ups and downs. "A definite low was
being hit by a taxi while out training earlier this year. I broke my wrist, and
it took me longer to recover than I would have liked.
think what counted in my favour today, was the fact that I did not race
internationally this year. It is one thing to race in South Africa, and a total new ball game racing
could see that Marissa, Yolandi du Toit (Konica-Minolta) and Lynnette Burger
(Cyclelab), who represented South Africa
a week ago, were battling towards the end of the race. I think it was the high
altitude catching up with them."
Taylor said the biggest mistake she made
was to start sprinting too early. "I just misjudged it and in the end, when it
mattered, I didn’t have the legs anymore. But hats off to Anriette – she was
the strongest rider today."
Afterwards the hospitality fields were stacked with cyclists and
their families – some of them hobbling around with sore legs – who enjoyed the
day in the company of 94.7 Highveld Stereo and some stunning South African
bands such as Love Jones, Harris Tweed, Louise Carver and Voodoo Child.
a special day which will remain etched in the minds of the participants for
some time, but the Cycle Challenge is not only significant for its sporting
contribution to every cyclist and the city. The impact it makes on image of
Joburg as well as its economy is massive.
And besides the official race
charities in South Africa,
eight Zimbabwean charities also benefited courtesy of a group of 18 smiling
Zimbabweans who completed the race in aid of the beneficiaries of the Miracle