Aitch MTB Club

On finding out that Aitch belonged to a ladies mountain bike group, a friend said (in Sept 2013) . . “I didn’t realize she was such a keen bean cyclist – seems there were not many things she did not try her hand at?”
Maybe we can fathom why Aitch got so keen on pedalling . .
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“The bicycle is just as good company as most husbands.
And, when it gets old and  shabby, a woman can dispose of it and get a new one without shocking the whole community” – quote attributed to Ann Strong
“Marriage is a wonderful invention.
Then again, so is the bicycle”  (and – the bike comes with a far simpler repair kit)
quote attributed to Jacquie Phelan
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“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving”

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” . . before mountain-biking . . (and electric biking) . . came to the scene, the biking scene was ruled by a small elite cadre of people who seemed allergic to enthusiasm”
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“Work to ride – and ride to work”

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“Four wheels move the body.
Two wheels move the soul”

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“If you don’t ride in the rain, you don’t ride”

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“Don’t ride faster than your guardian angel can fly”

(Quotes written on a blackboard at Aitch’s “Angels Mountain Biking Club” coffee shop)

Here’s their guardian angel – who could ride MUCH faster than all of them . . He led their trail rides and looked after them. I never met him but she told me his name. And she’d kick me for not remembering it!

Aitch's ANGELS MTB club (6)

 

 

Accurate Reporting

In the 2016 rugby season I wrote:

Affies came to Westville this past weekend and SLAUGHTERED us. I don’t think we won a single rugger match. Our firsts lost 65-0.

Today the local free rag arrived and I caught a glimpse of the sport heading and did a double-take:

“Westville slays Pretoria giant”

Turns out only the hockey received any coverage in the paper!

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In true journalistic tradition I sent the headline, and not the rugby news, to my full-of-Elon Pretoria Boys High Old Boy china.

The Flat Paddle Society

I am a paid-up member of the Flat Paddle Society. Owner and boat-maker at Pope’s Canoe Centre, Owen Hemingway was alarmed that I even existed in the year 2016 and earnestly (more of ‘earnest’ later) explained to me how much more efficient a wing paddle is than a flat blade, demonstrating with a teaspoon under a flowing tap. It was remarkable. I could see clearly that the spoon shape exerts much more force on the water with less wasted energy.

The reason he was concerned for my well-being was I had bought a plastic boat from him, a lovely Detox, second-hand but like new. I now wanted him to make me a left feather flat-blade paddle and Owen assumed I wanted it for forward motion. He didn’t let me explain that I rely entirely on the current for forward motion and my paddle is only for balance and – occasionally – to roll back up into the sunlight again if I’ve flopped over.

This is why I never entered any sprint races. They’re held on flat water and if the wind had been against me I’d have drifted backwards at the gun.

** Ernest Hemingway – NOT **

Speaking of Hemingways, famous Ernest could write,

Hemingway On Safari

but Owen didn’t inherit any of his genes. My pleas for Umko stories always elicited an enthusiastic yes! but nothing forthcame. Only when I visited him in person did the excited stories and anecdotes, gossip and insider skinner as only a 30-times Umko paddler could know it, pour forth enthusiastically. But in writing? Not so much.

All of this reminds me I still haven’t fetched my left feather flat paddle from him.

 

I Was Sure It Was Intelligence

Tim Noakes says it’s cowardice!

I have always stopped (way) shy of really pushing my body. My mantra is a firm “No Pain, No Pain”. Intelligence or cowardice? Intelligence, of course, IMNSHO.

But:

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. . . . Noakes tells the central-governor story in a narrative form that’s almost, well … almost readable. I’m not saying the paper is easy-going, certainly not for the faint-of-heart. And I’m sure there are vast parts of it that I don’t understand—it appears to have about 150 references, many of them from the last year or two of research.

Still, the quotes from great athletes are always entertaining. Roger Bannister says: “The great barrier is the mental hurdle.” Former marathon world record holder Derek Clayton says: “The difference between my world record and many world class runners is mental fortitude. I ran believing in mind over matter.”

Apparently Noakes does as well. In the provocative last section of his paper, he writes that the “illusionary” symptoms of fatigue are what separates the marathon winner from the runners-up. The first time I read this section, I couldn’t help but think about the people with illusionary thoughts who are often locked up in mental wards. Of course, Noakes isn’t saying that fast runners are crazy. Only that their thoughts are illusionary in the sense that they “are entirely self-generated by each athlete’s brain and so are unique to each individual.”

Noakes closes by quoting Vince Lombardi, who said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” Noakes believes, however, that Lombardi got things backwards. Noakes writes: “My unproven hypothesis is that in the case of a close finish, physiology does not determine who wins. Rather somewhere in the final section of the race, the brains of the second, and lower placed finishers, accept their respective finishing positions and no longer challenge for a higher finish.” The winner’s brain simply doesn’t give in.

In other words, according to Noakes, cowardice produces fatigue.

Sadly, I believe him. My brain explains to me in firm, no-nonsense terms that it is pointless pushing any harder and in fact it’s time to take a short break. And I always obey.

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http://www.runnersworld.com/sports-psychology/tim-noakes-fatigue-cowardice-winners-and-losers

R.I.P Denis Barker

Denis finally passed away just short of his 88th birthday. The last few years were not good. Glen and Alli came to visit from Mudgee, which is to Australia what Kestell is to the Free State. We went out to supper after they had visited Denis; They were not sure if he had recognised them; The next day Alli phoned to say he had gone.

Despite his wake being held at very short notice and in the middle of a long weekend (the next day was Tuesday Workers Day May 1st) it was well attended. Held in the Umzinto church he and Faye had got married in – which they had bought when the congregation fizzled and the building had been demystified. They moved it lock, stock and pulpit to Selborne. Then they got married in it all over again; Faye was buried from it four years ago; And now Denis. Just like Faye’s the wake was first-class, and we all made sure the bar tab the family picked up was a hefty one.

Denis and Faye had farmed in the Dumisa district – which made Kestell look urban – on Tanhurst and then moved to Selborne on the coast. I had once visited Glen at Tanhurst as a student, and then visited them often at Selborne, golfing at Umdoni, exploring Linton Hall and Botha House, checking out ‘Vernon the Villain’ Crookes’ beautiful manor house at Selborne – now Glen’s home; Denis and Faye were always so very kind to us and interested in our affairs. I saw Glen turn 21 there and get married there. Free beer!

Selborne Park

Denis soon began changing Selborne from sugar cane fields, a dairy and an anthirium nursery to his dream golf course. He had traveled to golf courses all over the world and THIS was how he wanted his golf course to look. With more than a bit of an Augusta National Golf Club look evident!

Selborne golf course.jpg

Denis and Glen were mad keen cricketers. Sometimes their club was really desperate and Glen would ask me – a FreeStater! – to fill in for them. I would happily oblige. About three or four times I traveled down to Umzinto, got a duck, dropped a few catches and did very well at lunch. Later when Denis wrote a book ‘Umzinto Cricket – The First 100 years’ I bought one and read it from cover to cover. I was sorely disappointed. Complete waste of money. I didn’t feature at all.

Umzinto Cricket 100yrs

I believe he wrote another book about a forefather who had survived Isandlwana. I didn’t read that one. I only hope he gave that brave warrior a bit more credit.

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Dave Hill added:
Nice one Pete.
Denis and my dad George were at Kearsney together. So when I arrived there, a fresh-faced Zambian boy in 1968 the only person I “knew” was Glen. He took me under his wing and I spent many weekends at the farm. Denis taught me, sort of, to water ski on Ifafa Lagoon! Hard to imagine nowadays that there was deep water right up to where the highway passes by.
Later on I was called upon by Denis to drill for water at Selborne. We spent many hours talking during the three weeks we were there and I really got to know him rather well.
Those boreholes are still working today and I always bore [sorry!] my mates when playing a round there with war stories about drilling in 1983/4.
He gave me a copy of his Isandlwana book and we kept in contact via email until he sadly was unable to do so.
He hung in tough though and he can now finally rest in peace with his beloved Faye and Jane.
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As an aside, gotta love Dave’s borehole drilling company motto:
Hillson Drilling motto.JPG

 

R.I.P Linda Grewar

Linda Grewar was a Kingfisher paddler from back around 1990. She and Bernie Garcin paddled really well – a number of mixed doubles podium finishes on the Dusi, Fish and Umzimkulu. Then she buzzed off ‘overseas’.

In May 2016 Bernie gave me Linda’s address, so I wrote  to her:

Hey Linda!
LONG time no hear!
Meantime I have freely been using your name in vain in the Umko book we put together for this year’s 50th running of the marathon and for a story on an Umko trip Bernie and I did where you helped us out with driving. MOONS ago!

Last I heard you were out East teaching English, now I hear you’re in England. IMO a lot of them could do with being taught English proper there too!

Me I’m raising kids at my age, they’re 18 and 14 now.

Haven’t paddled for ages, but bought a new boat (no logic involved). Be careful when you look at the pics of me n Bernie with my new boat – you may get a fright!

bernie_detox1.jpg

 

Saw Greg Bennett yesterday. He’s well. Thanks to the book I have seen or spoken to a lot of the old paddling guys in the last year that I hadn’t seen for ages.

Allie Peter, Mike Frizelle, Ernie Alder and various other maniacs are currently walking the whole Wild Coast. Three to four weeks heading South from Natal and ending in East London or Kei River or somewhere near there.

Fill me in on your movements since – when? – about 1990!?

Cheers now – Love to you – Pete Swanie

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On 2016/05/23 01:17 PM, linda grewar wrote:

Hi Pete

So good to hear from you after so long.

Yes, I was out East, in Taiwan. I then also taught English in Slovakia and Czech Republic before ending up here in the UK. I live in Esher, Surrey and was teaching fairly close by, in Surbiton.

As Karen probably told you, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer in January- one hell of a surprise, as you can imagine. So far, I have had a course of radiotherapy and have had four sessions of chemo. Obviously I have not been able to work since I have been ill and things are quite hard financially.

Is it possible to buy hard copies of the Umko book? My brother is keen to get one and he can buy me one at the same time! Those days are but a distant memory now….

All the best – Love – Linda

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Dammit. Dammit! What a bliksem! Bloody cancer!

Good luck with your treatment. Hope it goes well.

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** May 2018 – Bernie contacted me to tell me Linda had passed away. Dammit. Bloody cancer.  **

 

Fishin’

My boy went fishin’ in the harbour with his mate. Buying bait I realised I’d left my wallet at home, but Kevin at Tackle Centre in Old Fort Road said “Pay Me Later” and saved the day.

Tom & Ryan Fishing.jpg

That was Sunday 1st April and I paid him by EFT on Wednesday.

They caught one mullet – “one kilo Dad” (I’d say half) – and a few tiny glassies.