Most people, even South African bicycle enthusiasts, don’t know that we used to have a burgeoning local frame building movement in this country. Le JeuneAlpinaHansomDu Toit - to name a few - are very commonly seen vintage brands on South Africa’s roads, and all share a proud locally-built heritage. There are even a few obscure and very collectable high-end frames out there. But this local frame-building movement slowly dissolved in the 1980’s, and it’s only now, with the pervasive popularity of bicycling and the new enthusiasm for old steel frames, that these classics are being rediscovered. 

The Tour of Ara celebrate these classic local steel frames, and if you're South African, you have to ride a pre-1999 South African built steel frame, with period correct components. There is a trove of these great old bikes available all over the country - from dusty second hand shops to online marketplaces like Gumtree and OLX, sometimes for ridiculously cheap, with their authentic and valuable paint and decals still intact. So start hunting. If you're unsure of the heritage of a frame you own, or thinking of buying something, please contact me and I'll try and guide you as best I can.

NEW RULE FOR INTERNATIONAL ENTRANTS : If you’re an international entrant, you have to ride a pre-1999 steel racing frame built in the country where you were born or where you live. If no frames were ever built where you are from, you have to ride a South African-built frame. All the other rules remain the same.


The bicycle...

Racing-style steel frames only. All bikes must have drop bars and either downtube or bar end shifters. Except for saddles and pedals, no modern components produced post-1999 are allowed. While both 700c and 26" wheel sizes are welcome, the maximum tyre size permitted is 32c/125. It is recommended to fit the largest volume tyres your frame can accommodate for comfort on the rough roads, but mainly to prevent pinch flats. The lowest gear combination allowed is 39/32, or 33 gear inches and above - use Sheldon Brown's guide to calculate your gear inches. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding your equipment.

The rider...

Please try and understand the aesthetic of the Tour of Ara. Let's celebrate the wild racing style of the of the 1980's. Think of the iconic racing kits from the 1970's and into the 1990's - from Merckx's Molteni jerseys to LeMond's Look years. Do not wear modern branded lycra please. Do not wear a Camelbak or ugly Oakleys, and no GoPros please. Respect the environment we'll be passing through, and the communities we'll encounter along the way. This is not a race for energy gels and blueberry flavoured sports drink. In the spirit of how the great Italians did it, let's drink water and red wine, and eat bread and beautiful cheese.

The race...

You are on your own. All supplies for each day's stage will have to be carried by the racers. There will be no support vehicle through the day. This means all tools, puncture repair kits, tubes and tyres, must be carried by the racers. Riders can share any resource amongst themselves if they choose, and can rely on each other for mechanical assistance, general support and food or water. Riders may also collect water along the way, and rely on farms and local communities for food and repairs etc., but no pre-arranged outside assistance is allowed. There will be a sweeper truck collecting any racers that could not complete any stage at the end of each day. While this will lead to disqualification from the race, riders will still be able to ride the rest of the stages, and receive an honourable finishers mention.

The route...

Racers may not deviate from the predetermined route, and may not use any other means than their bicycle to reach the finish line. Failing this will lead to instant disqualification from the race altogether, and the rider will not be permitted to continue participating in the race, or ride along the route. No cheating. 

Again, there is no indemnity. The Tour of Ara is ridden entirely at your own risk. Know your abilities and limitations.

“What would an ocean be without a monster lurking in the dark? It would be like sleep without dreams.” 
- Werner Herzog