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Each year during the Cape summer months, when the South Easterly winds gust across the Peninsula with increased intensity, 35,000 odd cyclists from all over the world hope for ideal weather conditions on one particular day. This year will be no different, when novice and seasoned riders line up on 10 March 2013 for the largest individually-timed sporting event in the world: The Pick n Pay Cape Argus Cycle Tour.
The cycle tour has attracted participants from all walks of life and will feature entrepreneurial giant Richard Branson in the line-up this year. All have the same ambition in mind – to complete what is arguably one of the most beautiful races in the world, covering a distance of 110km of tarmac, but at the same time to experience the energy and hospitality of fellow participants and Cape residents along the route.
This single day of mass cycling has grabbed the attention and imaginations of many for 35 years, but for two friends the dream had a purpose. It was the vision of Bill Mylrea (Eagles’ Nest Proprietor) and John Stegmann to crusade for a safe cycle path network in Cape Town, that could be enjoyed by hikers, joggers and, of course cyclists. Bill envisioned that cycle paths could be utilised as alternative means of getting about. “I thought it would be a good idea as a cheap transport medium, because in those days there weren’t taxis and other forms of public transport, which was quite a problem.”
In September 1977, after numerous failed attempts to rally support from the authorities, Bill and John opted for a mass demonstration. “We suggested that everybody in favour of cycle paths ride to City Hall. It was a great success. We just about filled the Grand Parade! Hundreds of cyclists took part.” In 1978, after having secured the endorsement and support of the Cape Argus (a regional newspaper), an annual cycle event named the Argus Cycle Tour was launched. The rest, as they say, is history, and today this Rotary-managed event attracts thousands to Cape Town for pure cycling pleasure. The route was also recently named as one of National Geographic’s Top 10 International Cycle Routes.
Today, Bill may be found enjoying a glass of wine with friends at our tastingroom, or carefully tending to his vintage Daimler in his garage on the property. An avid antique car collector and restorer, he meticulously preserves every part of his vehicle – much like he did with Eagles’ Nest, which was destroyed by fire in 2000. Together with his family, Bill has restored the estate’s natural beauty, making it a rich biodiversity site in the Constantia Wineland that also produces consistently world-class wines.
This year will mark the 36th anniversary of the cycle tour. If you’re in the area over the Argus weekend, or you happen to find yourself cycling over Constantia Nek to prepare for the big day, do visit our tasting room and absorb some of the magical history of the race and the stomping grounds of its founder.