It is done !
We arrived in Capetown yesterday to a warm welcome from the city. We stopped for lunch 30Km from the city and were joined by the mayor, the childrens national cycling team and some reporters and TV crew. After some photos and interviews we set off with a police escort for the final 30Km to the Capetown Waterfront.
Capetown is a beautiful city. Everything is surprisingly clean and tidy and layed out nicely. We cycled along a long beach front with golf courses, jet skiers, parascenders and people flying model aeroplanes to the side of the road. It's easy to see why people want to live here.
We were prepared for a slow 15Kph convoy which would have taken two hours to reach the finish line but in practice we made much better time and got to the Waterfront finish in just over an hour. We were all relived and delighted to have made it.
The city gave us a very warm welcome. Our police escort sped us through red lights, a “Huey” helicopter buzzed overhead and a TV crew filmed the final part of our journey. Electronic road signs had been programmed to display “Welcome to Tour d'Afrique riders” as we passed. At the finish line there was a huge crowd cheering as we swept into a secure area to leave our bikes, meet our friends and family, grab coffee and cake and then on to an awards ceremony and presentation by the city mayor.
Having cycled 92Km that day, standing around in the sun for 1.5 hours for the awards ceremony became a bit tedious but both the major and the Tour d'Afrique evidently wanted to use the occaission to generate some good “PR”. Considering all they have done for us, I didn't really mind going along with the plan.
After the ceremony there was champagne and a buffet served in the VIP tent before we collected our bikes, checked into the hotel and unpacked our lockers for the last time. All very surreal having spent such a long time with a fixed and quite simple routine.
In the evening the Tour took over Marcos restaurant in Capetown for dinner and an awards ceremony. The highlight of the evening was a slide show put together by Eric, the TDA communications officer. The slide show was a collection of photographs taken by riders during the tour set to appropriate music. It was a great reminder for the riders and staff of what we've been through and for the 100 or so other guests it was a brief taste of our epic journey.
I am very happy to have completed the Tour d'Afrique but also sad that this is the end. The people I've lived and travelled with for the last 4 months are truly an awesome bunch. All of them will be missed.
It's now Wednesday 13th May and I've had a few fairly hectic days in Capetown. I'm hiring a car today and plan to drive for a few days along the "Garden Route" in South Africa. I'll be back in the UK on the 18th and will write some more about the trip as I get time.