Not only is the Cape Argus the world’s largest timed cycle race, but it’s also the only one watched by two species of primate.
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There’s we human beings, for one, and there’s also also our not-too-distant cousins, the chacma baboons, which inhabit nooks and crannies all over the Western Cape, and are endemic to the Cape Peninsula south of Simonstown.
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The baboons enjoy a good cycle tour – and enjoy a good cycle tour snack even more. They’re known for relieving the unwary of anything that looks edible (even in mid-pedal) and are strictly not to be trusted.
- Read about the latest baboon “mugging”, which sets new standards for primate-human acclimatization: Cape Times.
This leads me to the most bizarre bit of cycling advice you’re likely to come across for a while: On race day, keep your snacks out of sight. Baboon monitors work hard to keep the critters off the route, but – wily connivers the lot – you may just come across one or two in the middle of the road (baboons, not monitors). In which case:
- Ignore them.
- Don’t feed them.
- Hide anything you’re munching on.
- Shout “Baboon, huzzah!”
(The last measure is for sowing confusion among fellow riders, who will slow down and glance around nervously, allowing you to pass them.)