It was back in 1997 that the Midrand Country Cyclists and 94.7 Highveld Stereo (as their favourite radio station was known then) decided to establish an event in Joburg to compete with the Argus cycle race in Cape Town. When 4 500 entrants showed up at Megawatt Park, this was already then, the biggest cycling event in Gauteng!
One year later the number of participants doubled to prove that healthy living and physical activities really do appeal to those living in the densely populated province of Gauteng.
Introducing the next generation to the sport of cycling was the next logical step, and the Children’s Cycle Challenge was added to involve a growing number of family members from 1999.
By 2005, through an exciting partnership with the City of Joburg, which enabled full road closure along the route, the cyclists could explore some of the most interesting parts of Joburg – without any interference from vehicles.
The same year saw the introduction of mountain biking, allowing the off-roaders their chance to celebrate offroad cycling in Joburg.
Currently, the Telkom 947 Mountain Bike Challenge is the biggest one-day mountain biking event in Gauteng.
‘Joburg’s Safest Race’ became ‘Everyone’s Race’ by 2009, as carefully organised logistics and safety plans allowed around 30 000 riders to take over the closed roads of Joburg.
The promotion of women’s cycling is also a proud feature of this event. Back in 2008, women made up 25% of the total participants. Having maintained the trend, the UCI granted the Cycle Challenge a prestigious 1.1 status in 2015, allowing international participation from professional teams.
This ranking is the highest international status of any South African road cycling event.
Ride for a Purpose - offering cyclists an opportunity to use the race as a platform to raise funds for a cause or purpose close to their hearts - was added in 2010. A special Blue Jersey is earned every year by the rider who manages to raise the most money for their purpose.
Ride for a purpose participation is hugely popular. By 2015 there were already 127 charities officially registered with the Cycle Challenge!
In 2014, Riversands Commercial Park became the Official Home of the Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge and its sub-events, which brought about some exciting, yet challenging tweaks to the route.
With an altitude gain of 1488m over about 94.7km it’s not for the faint-hearted with several short, sharp climbs near the end where professionals battle for King and Queen of the Mountain prizes - for a good reason!
Pedal your way through this piece of history with other enthusiastic cyclists. As of today there are 99 Days 'til the event... so enter here and then get training!
This article first appeared on CycleChallenge : Celebrating 21 years of Cycle Challenge