I’m not an avid biker. Nor do I have any sort of bike tech knowledge. I’ve been procrastinating giving my own bike a spring tune-up for about 6 years (and I’ve only owned the bike for 5 years). Although I don’t even own a helmet (much to the distress of my family and friends) or any fancy cycling gear, when I found out about the Moonlight Mass in Cape Town, I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
The Moonlight Mass originated as a social experiment but quickly gained popularity and has transformed into a movement for raising awareness for urban biking and cyclist safety. Each month, at night under the full African moon, bikers gather at the Green Point Circle and casually cycle as a group to Green Market Square. The ride lasts about an hour (depending on your pace) and anyone is welcome. There’s something to be said about cycling in a giant mass. If the social solidarity doesn’t get you, having the police hold traffic for you while you take back the streets, with the wind in your hair, is a kind of exhilaration you won’t find anywhere else.
The best part of the event is that you don’t have to be a pro. Sure there will bike aficionados and others with top notch gear but there are also families, skateboarders, rollerbladers and of course first timers like me—out for a good ride, and secretly praying to the cycle gods that they don’t crash.
Just visiting Cape Town and don’t have a bike? Don’t worry, there are tons of shops to rent from during the day, keyword being day as the shops close at night. When I was there, a local brought a bunch of rentals from his shop to the starting point of the ride and rented them on the spot for 100 rand (about 10 dollars). The catch? He won’t meet you at the finish, so once it’s over, you’re left to navigate the streets back to the shop yourself. But it’s easier than you think and kind of adds to the adventure.
Word of advice, get wild. Capetonians have spirit and boy do I mean it. Expect to see bikes decked out in anything you can think of and riders in full costume. If you don’t think you have what it takes to get to the finish, some cyclists will hang up their sneakers mid ride at one of the local bars on route.
Victoria used to walk to work everyday, but she’s thinking seriously of turning a leaf and switching to cycling. If ever you’re looking for a firsthand account of fun things to do in Cape Town, she’s your go-to girl.