On finding out that Aitch had 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 . .
“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
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving”
” . . 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”
“Work to ride – and ride to work”
“Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul”
“If you don’t ride in the rain, you don’t ride”
“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!
Hey, I went haring around on my bike on Sunday – first time in a long time! A friend took the kids on the 10km fun ride, so I had no-one to shepherd and could indulge meself.
This was just like the old days. Single track, through pine forests, up and down rocky paths, across streams and along game trails. Flat-out downhill, bones shaking apart and quite often thinking Oh, sh*t, now I’ve gone a bridge too far and I’m going to see my rear end!”, but I only fell once and then in slow motion down a very steep rocky path when my front wheel jammed against a rock and I slowly went over the handle-bars to land safely in the grass.
On some of the tight turns they had banked corners, so you could hit them leaning right down and squeeze your back brake and skid round and jerk upright just in time for the next corner. Lekk-aah!
The trail started near the Umtamvuna river and the high point was on the cliff-edge overlooking the gorge in the wildlife reserve with the white-water rapids far below – stunning! (see feature pic – not mine)
Uphills, though “r not us”. I get off and push and enjoy the scenery. Everyone granny-gears their way past me, then I whizz past many of them on the downhills.
Gravity likes me.
Gayle, who had accompanied the kids gave this report: At the top of the first long climb, not 2km into their 10km ride Tom turned to her and asked:
Gayle, how much did it cost to enter this?
Twenty Rand Tom, she replied.
Well, I think I’ve had my Twenty Rands’ worth, he puffed.
The next year we did it again, the kids old hands by now:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Tom puffed to Gayle after the first hill: How much did this cost? “R20” Well, I think I’ve had my R20 worth!
One year Aitch and I did the mini-Shova cycle ride. Held on the same day as the tougher, longer “Amashovashova” it’s the easy part: 38km from Hillcrest downhill all the way to the sea. On the way we chatted and decided “Next year we must do it with the kids – they’ll love it”. Sadly Aitch wasn’t up to it the next year, but she rose early to drive the rest of us to the start.
OK, I lied about the downhill-only. In the early days the start was at the bottom of a valley, so the first couple kays were quite a challenging uphill. This reminded me I’d forgotten to give Tom his muti. Loud complaints and long descriptions of just how dumb it was to be pushing your bike (which is the WRONG bike for this anyway) and why should we be in the rain? And who’s idea was this anyway? And there must be more intelligent things to do . . . and and. Which I ignored.
We hit the downhill phase and wheeee! the two kids whizz downhill, feet flying, bikes wobbling, looking around to see if anyone’s impressed. I just close my eyes and think: There are hardly any fatalities on these events, it’ll be fine.
But of course all “only downhill” sections have their little uphills and Tom is really REALLY slow up these. After a while Jess can wait no longer. She shovas off and I now have only one kid to chaperone. The slowest kid on the whole mini-shova.
I wait, I feed, I juice him up. I explain “focus” to him. He says “Dad, I’m having FUN” so what can I do but laugh. He sings me an anti-girl song. Something about: Just Barbies who think they’re fantastic, But their boobs are made of plastic
He fills his pocket with BarOnes at the refreshment stand, then asks for an energy bar. This seems to have an immediate effect. On his tongue. None of it reaches his legs.
I ride ahead for 100m, stop and look back. He’s 99m behind. I park my bike at the top of a hill and walk back to fetch him. When I reach him he’s LITERALLY inching along. TINY little shuffles. But he’s laughing and singing, so so am I.
And talk! He talks only about winning, and fast, and what prizes are there for coming first, and if he had a better bike, etc. Doesn’t acknowledge me when I say, but Tom, your classmate Dan came past and he’s now WAY ahead (he had burnt up the tar for a few metres to catch him to chat, but Dan soon rode off into the sunrise).
Sunrise was magnificent and the rain cleared up and we had a glorious day. A mere 2hrs 35mins later we roared into the Moses MaFIFA stadium (I towed the little bugger for a kay or so towards the end).
Free juice and a medal – COOL!!
Let’s do it again next year, Dad, but about my bike . . .
Dusted off the bikes and threw them on the back of the bakkie and headed off to Albert Falls Dam for our first mountain bike ride in years. Picked up a friend for Tom and a friend for Jess. Two more bikes.
Got there too late for the official start, so no hurry. Took the bikes to be pumped up (about six flat tyres out of ten) and brakes fixed. Off we went on a 10km ride through the nature reserve.
What a bunch of wimps. There was so much whining it sounded like King Shaka airport.
A small herd of bewilderbeasts and zebra thundered past us, spooked by the other riders in the actual race. Also saw nyala, impala and oribi.
Then we saw fresh rhino dung and the panic set in. “What if they charge us, Dad?” Relax! Just pedal on! And hush. Enjoy the day, I say. “We wanna go home”, they say. Eventually they go on strike and say “No further!”, folding their arms.
So I head off into the distance and they’re forced to follow, muttering something about cruelty.
It wasn’t that we were actually, y’know, OLD, but . . . well, we needed a break and a brief flashback to our glory days, when the chicks used to hurl themselves at us. Well, that one. In the harbour, remember? So we piled into a kombi and headed off to the Wild Coast, looking for That Famous Stuff they sell down there, and hoping to rendezvous with the Swedish Hockey team. OK, the Swedish Old Girls Hockey Team, who were rumoured to be doing pre-season training in Lusikisiki (or, as we called it after crawling out of The Shy Stallion shebeen) Lo-squeaky-squeaky.
As we neared the coast there was a lo-ong downhill ahead of us and I stopped the kombi and got onto Abbers’ mountain bike and whizzed down with glee. As I reached terminal velocity I did think Uh-Oh! as I felt the effects of the Black Label kicking in. At the bottom I coasted to a halt. I don’t do uphills.
It was the Black Label by the quart and sweet wine that did it, I suppose, but when we got to the actual coast where the waves break against the rugged shore, we were looking for some action. We needed a break from all the Sixties music we’d been playing, broken only by one awful interlude when Bruce snuck an Amy Winehouse CD into the player! So we lay down and had a snooze.
But Abbers had brought that borrowed mountain bike, and we no longer wondered why. Seems he wanted to get away from the competition and meet up with a longtime connection he had met when salvaging the good ship BBC China which foundered off Grosvenor back when he was but a boy in his forties. Off he went on his own, heading vaguely south, trapping that fiets stukkend.
When he got back much later there was a distinct whiff of some smoky vegetation about him and the Msikaba mosquitoes avoided him like the plague. We pumped him for information, but all we got was a mumbled “Loose-titty-titty” and the fact that he had not found the now-overdue Swedish Old Girls Hockey Team, but that when we did he dabzed wrestling with the goalie. Abbers’ head did clear after a few days and he set off fishing so as to be able to answer spouse Les reasonably honestly, give or take; but the fish were having none of it. You could actually see them giving his bait a wide berth and wrinkling up their nostrils.
wikipedia: MV BBC China was a 5,548 GT general cargo vessel. In October 2003 the ship was diverted to Italy while carrying gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment to Libya. In October 2004 it ran aground near Port Grosvenor, was declared a total loss and subsequently demolished with explosives. BY ABBERS! This is true.
trapping that fiets stukkend – pedaling vigorously
Meanwhile, unbeknown to us . . . a few rivers further north, the Swedish ladies K4 paddling team was training on the Umtamvuna:
This is true. OK, they might not have been there that same weekend but they did go there! And they were Swedish. And gorgeous.