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Page last updated at 19:22 GMT, Saturday, 10 July 2010 20:22 UK

Dixon takes to his bike

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Lee Dixon on two wheels in South Africa

Lee Dixon
By Lee Dixon
Former England defender and BBC Sport pundit

Cape Town has not just been about football for me during the World Cup, it's also given me a chance to get on my bike and explore some of the amazing scenery in this part of South Africa.

The longest ride I have been on here is about 85km with a friend of mine all the way down to Cape Point, with some decent climbs through the mountains and some beautiful villages in between.

But my normal route takes me up 350m to the summit of Signal Hill, down to Camps Bay and along the coast before I turn back.

It can be a bit of a shock to the system at 8am but it certainly wakes you up. The terrain here is some of the best I've ever ridden on and the views are terrific.

Former England rugby union captain Lawrence Dallaglio is the man responsible for my cycling addiction. I took part in the 'Dallaglio Cycle Slam' during the Six Nations Championship in February and March of this year, which raised more than £986,000 for his sporting foundation and Sport Relief.

Lee Dixon
When I am not watching Ghana play Uruguay or Paraguay against Japan, I am watching Lance Armstrong against Cadel Evans from many miles away

I took part in three out of the six legs of the 2,800km route - riding from Rome to Nice, Paris to Twickenham and Rosslare to Edinburgh. I covered around 1,400km and spent 14 days in the saddle, and I have been hooked ever since.

Back home in the UK, I go out two or three times a week and I'm actually doing a trip to the Pyrenees in September, going from the west coast on the Mediterranean to the Bay of Biscay on the east coast.

That will involve more than 22,000m of climbing, so Signal Hill will look like a little slope after that!

I'm looking forward to it though. I have got a bad knee from my playing days but, since I retired in 2002, cycling has been the best thing I have done for it. It certainly helps strengthen the muscles in your legs.

It is great for general fitness too, but I have found it results in quite a specific fitness. If you get injured playing football, the first thing you can go on when you resume training is a static bike but, as soon as you can progress, they take you off.

So it is useful for footballers as a sort of fitness transfer, in that you can get completely bike fit but that does not mean you are match-fit in the football sense.

I don't just enjoy getting out on my bike either, because for a long time I have been a big cycling fan when it comes to watching it too.

606: DEBATE

With the Tour de France on at the moment, my wife is probably quite pleased I am away. Luckily, we get the Tour on the television here so when I am not watching Ghana play Uruguay or Paraguay against Japan , I am watching Lance Armstrong against Cadel Evans from many miles away.

I have got big hopes for Britain's Bradley Wiggins this year. He's doing all right at the moment but I have always been a big Armstrong fan.

He is tucked in behind the leading riders at the moment. There is still a long way to go but it looks like two-time winner Alberto Contador is the man to beat again.

The duels the top riders have on the mountain stages are fascinating to watch but I have got no aspirations whatsoever of doing any competitive cycling myself.

I think I have lost my competitive streak so worrying about winning or losing is a thing of the past - apart from maybe at golf anyway.

When I am on a bike I just love the freedom you get and being able to pedal out to places like this is perfect for me.

I've done a bit of off-road biking as well but the one place I haven't tried it yet is on a track - to be honest it scares the life out of me! But that has got to be the next step and no doubt one day I will be brave enough to get on the boards.

Lee Dixon was talking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan.



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see also
Can the Dutch shut down Spain?
10 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Chavanel reclaims yellow with win
10 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Get into cycling in the UK
23 Mar 10 |  Get Involved


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