Nelson Mandela Bay is gearing up for the 29th edition of its annual weekend festival of cycling, The Herald VW Cycle Tour, which happens on the first weekend in February.
The event starts in Port Elizabeth on the Friday with the two-day registration and expo at The Boardwalk Convention Centre. Riders and their families will descend on the venue to soak up the excitement, collect their goodie bags or sign up for late registration between 9am and 7pm, and again on Saturday from 9am to 3pm. Among the goodie bag items are a comprehensive race guide, various product sachets and vouchers and a Powerade water bottle that participants can have personalised at the Powerade expo stand.
During the expo, some of South Africa’s top cyclists will share personal tips and anecdotes about the race with participants. Aside from more than 30 cycling-related exhibitors, the public can look forward to show-stopping displays of indoor stunt riding by national trials champion Dylan Victor. The 20-minute shows take place on the exhibition level at 10am, 1pm and 4pm on Friday and Saturday, with an additional 7pm display on the Friday evening.
After the registration closes at 3pm on Saturday, Victor’s show moves to the Hobie Beach race village where he and local muso Marc Anthony Kock will entertain the riders and guests who gather for the pasta party from 4pm. Event organiser Linda Harwood said the large race village marquee would also house the Winezani wine and craft beer bar and Coca-Cola share kiosk. Harwood said the first 2 000 visitors to the latter kiosk would receive a free personalised 330ml Coke can, where after the product would be on sale. “Cyclists visiting the race village that evening will be able to enjoy the sea view at one of the best beaches in the country, catch some cycling action and chill with friends, while enjoying a drink, some pasta and good live music.” Harwood encouraged riders to bring their family and friends to enjoy the weekend festivities. “At registration, we’ll also have a coffee and snack bar and a kiddies’ play area to keep families entertained while our riders take advantage of the complimentary physiotherapy massages.”
Harwood said participants would also be able to carbo-load and recover at a number of Boardwalk eateries – including Steers, Spur and Mini Orbits – offering weekend cycle tour specials. “News Café is also joining the fun, giving free beers to the first 500 finishers in Sunday’s road race.”
On the Saturday morning, the Powerade-sponsored kids’ and family road races roll out at the beachfront, while the mountain bikers take to the trails out at Addo. The family road events, which benefit Reach for a Dream, include the 500m Toddlers’ Dash, 2km Kiddies’ Ride, 10km Sprint and 21km Leisure Ride. On the mountain bike side, family-oriented races include the 500m Toddlers’ Dash, 5km Kiddies’ Challenge and 30km Leisure Challenge.
“For the fitter, more experienced riders, there’s the 60km Adventure and 80km Extreme,” said Harwood. She said late entries for the mountain bike events would be accepted at Addo from 4.30am on the morning of the race. Afterwards, she said weary participants would be able to enjoy food and refreshment, as well as a free bike wash at the Addo Polo Club race village.
The following day, Port Elizabeth residents will be able to see the country’s top pro teams do battle on the city’s streets for overall glory in SA’s second oldest national classic. The 106km Classic is preceded by the 55km Pursuit. The weekend festival draws to a close with the official prize giving at 1pm at the convention centre, during which one lucky participant will win the keys to a brand-new VW Polo 1.4 Trendline. Harwood said more than R100 000 worth of additional lucky draw prizes –including GT bikes and household appliances from Tony’s Furniture, Appliances & Beds – would be up for grabs at the attendance draw.