Cyclists Christmas is less than a week away and the dust is settling with teams completing their final rosters for the 12 riders to line up at the Swellendam show grounds on Saturday! For the first time in the events history there will be 10 all ladies teams alongside 75 mixed teams, 125 Men’s teams and 60 non-binary teams (Teams that have not entered all their riders by cut off so I could not determine a category for their team).

A quick history lesson for those that think gravel bikes and bike packing are a new concept in the world of cycling, back when there were no picnics along route Double Century route and the Back Street Boys were on the Ericsson High Five at Five. In the first few additions of the race, there was only one ladies team, the Huisgenoot – You – Drum Ladies. They were the only full ladies team to ride from 1997 till 2002 according to our quick stalk on Racetec. The results around ladies teams is a little blurry from 2004 till 2008 when a constant 6 ladies teams started taking part in the event.

In the past ten years the Double Century’s total number of riders has increased by 63% to 2929 in 2018 where as the female finishers have increased 67% to 426. Throughout the past 10 years the ladies make up around 15% of the field. This leads us to the ladies race, only 3 years ago there were only four ladies teams in the race with only two teams racing for the win. There are now ten ladies teams with at least five teams in with a decent shot at the podium.

This year’s race favourites are STS (Last years winners), Tiletoria Train (DC record holders), UCT Ladies (If they are as strong as their men’s team watch out) and our personal favourite, The Pure Savage Ladies (When you end up with 4 men’s DC teams sitting on your wheels for the last 30km of last years race you know how Savage they are!) The Pure Savage Ladies have had some stellar training rides and are looking forward to another epic Double Century!

It is great to see the organizers giving the ladies teams their own race, starting them early so as to not have any interference from other fast teams. We are hoping there will be plenty of coverage of their race and some awesome shots of pace lines drilling it around Swellendam.

We are not sure what has sparked the sudden uptick in the ladies race, but am sure that it is going to be great for ladies cycling in Cape Town. It would be great to see some of these double century teams lining up at the other road races against the Pure Savage Ladies so that the ladies peloton can start growing in Cape Town. A great event for this would be at the Tour of Good Hope where the Pure Savage lads have had some of the best racing in the amateur team competition, seeing four of five ladies teams rolling in their own peloton would be awesome!