Cataracts and Mountain Bikes

Steve Reed sent a query aus Aussie in 2015: Any ophthalmologists on the east / North rand come to mind? My 71year-old brother Doug sounds like he has cataracts. Wants to know who to go see. He does not trust his optometrist anymore who keeps giving him stronger glasses (?what?). So he wants to go and see someone who is not the butcher of Bedfordview.

A reply From deep behind the boerewors curtain – even deeper behind it than Bedfordview came a dodgy reply, shamelessly rigging the tender in favour of family – a distant cousin: Clive Novis good for cats (this was his cousin Brauer speaking).

Five years later (2020) I was clearing out old emails and followed up to Reed and Brauer: Did Doug have his cat tracks whipped out? Surely yes, cos if you see a cataract surgeon . . .

Reed replied – and got the subject onto mountain bikes: Yeah he had ’em done. Some peer pressure from his wealthy cycling mates who were proudly pitching up without their spoogoos but yes he was getting myopic shift. His optom sent him after she could not improve his VA any more. After a lot of pre-op anxiety, his pressures spiked post-op – could not see and had to have a fair bit of treatment before it all settled down.

So wisely, he succumbed to peer pressure for the cataracts but not the $12 000 carbon fibre bikes. He is a wise man and his decisions are measured.

I responded, ignoring Doug’s drama and honing in on what was important: Bikes. Liewe bliksem. I bought my first bike in Westville for R150. Loved it. Then I bought a really nice GIANT hardtail for R2500. Now that bike I really loved and was very happy with.

– dignified cyclist on hardtail GIANT –

But no. A canoeing mate went huge in the MTB industry (he still runs MTB trails) and he and Aitch decided Koos needs a better bike.

Koos did not need a better bike. The reason Koos wasn’t winning races was he was stopping to look at the scenery and pushing up hills. All hills. I still push up hills. All hills. It is undignified to ride up hills. Cyclists only look dignified going downhill.

– fancy KONA – Tom approves –

So a spanking smart KONA arrives, made in Canada, shock absorbers all over the place. High-level Shimano gearset. A computer to tell me what I did. Never switched it on. I know what I did and I’d rather not record it.

Fuckit! Rumour had it at R17500. Not high at the time relative to what some were spending, but fuckit, R2500 spent years ago was my comfort level. Then I still had to buy cleats to click into the pedals. Now I walked like a doos when pushing uphills.

I faked joy and rode it. It was a softer ride, sure, but I was happy with the GIANT’s ride. Anyway, I’m a natural diplomat, Aitch had paid, be polite, thank you, love. It’s marvelous. Yes, it’s MUCH better than my old bike. Yes, I’ll be MUCH faster now.

And then I remembered a bit of empathy for Doug: Oper-fucking-rations. I don’t want none. ‘Pressures spiked post op’ – gives me the jeebies.

~~~oo0oo~~~

boerewors curtain – imaginary line separating normality from antediluvian thought processes; separates KwaZulu Natal from the throat-clearing hinterland, such as Tshwane, Gramadoelas, Boksburg, Benoni, Vanderbijlpark, Gotpietersrus, Bedfordview

spoogoos – glasses; spectacles; eyeglasses; from the isiZulu izibuko

– R190 000 –

$12 000 – R200 000 Souf African Ront so min of meer; R10 000 more than my Ford Ranger

so min of meer – fuckit

fuckit – goodness gracious me

doos – with an odd toe-up gait cos of cycling shoes

oper-fucking-rations – surgery; definition of minor surgery: surgery on someone else

A Muddy Slog

– all clean beforehand –

Dad, says seven-yr-old Tom, I’m tired of the 5km and 10km races with Mom. I wanna go on a longer race with you, please.

So we enter the 18km race starting at the Eston country club and meandering thru Tala game reserve. Days before, it starts raining; and it rains; and there’s mud – A LOT of mud. And mud puddles and pools of water and muddy lakes to cross at every dip in the road.

I pushed, I shoved, I carried, I dragged. I went ahead, dropped my bike, went back and scraped mud off their bikes, then pushed them; When I couldn’t free the brakes from the balls of sticky mud, I carried them.

We watched people bail left and right. Tractors and trailers were available en-route to offer rescue, and the trailers got piled high with bikes abandoning the slog. But we pushed on, stopping every few metres to scrape sticky mud out of the brake calipers.

And they made it! Not many did. On the way home they recuperated like this:

– komfy kombi kipping –

Not one pic of the mudslog! Aitch had the camera; Anyway, my hands would have been way too muddy!

~~~oo0oo~~~

Looking at the pictures I thought, ‘Am I imagining how tough that day was?’ So I went looking and found an actual report on the race – still no pics! It was too wet and muddy to carry cameras, I guess.

August 2009 – Eston Illovo mud bath

Rode the Eston Illovo MTB Challenge last Sunday. A race from hell. 30mm of rain the night before and wet, misty conditions on the day. Temp about 12degC. The mud was so thick it took us 45minutes to ride / push / scrape the first 3 kms. So you imagine.

Seemed to improve a bit after that, but that was just a wish. Slippery and muddy all the way. I fell going into a drop down to some single track. Bit dazed, but OK. Actually, I seemed to have put my bad shoulder back into place. Made our way to the first water table. Many people opting to get a lift home from there. I decided to push on and it took 2 hrs to complete the last 15 kms. I must have pushed about 15 kms overall in the race.

Bikes breaking all around. derailleurs, chains most common. Guys where pushing home with 20 kms to go with no chain. Took me 2 days to clean my bike. Had to renew my disc pads @ R400. Like servicing a car.

Completed in 5hr40 minutes. Only 1000 completed of the 3000 starters. – The Dodge

The same guy did a 20km ride at nearby Hammarsdale, and finished in 1hr 31mins!

So no, I wasn’t imagining it was a tough day out there!

~~~oo0oo~~~


Aitch MTB Club

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 . .
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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)

 

 

Money’s Worth

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.
==========000000=========

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.

They huffed . .
Tom into his stride through the bananas – 2008

The next year we did it again, the kids old hands by now:

GODBiRitoLS

The Great Occasional Downhill Bike Ride to Lilani Spa – GODBiRitoLS.

Named after the fashion of the more famous GABRAN (Great Annual Bike Ride Across Natal), this one is much better! All downhill; Only 17km: Ends at a hot water spring with spa baths! Getting back out is done with kombi power, not pedal power. Easy!

Lilani Bike Ride (1) crop

This time Aitch drove the kombi, stopping frequently to take pictures.

Lilani Sleepover_1.jpg

Lilani Sleepover_1-001.jpg

more about Lilani Spa here

Fietsry in the Karkloof

So we enter the 19km event at Karkloof on our pushbikes. Me n Jessie.
Aitch n Tom are going to do the 10km.

We head off and Jess does well, stays on her bike on some gentle uphills, no pushing.
Riding up one hill after 4 or 5 km we hear a whooshing sound, and a wheezing and a loud shoosh and huh and a muttered curse and I realise its not a train or a wind turbine, it’s an oke saying “Spekkies – howzit?”. Young David Hill, peaking this early. He’s let himself go, as they say, since last season when he did Tuli in Botswana and was a shadow of his former self, and is paying the price. Finds his bike has lost all its former zippiness.

We rode together a while, but then gravity took over and off went Hill downhill at an ever-increasing speed on his high-tech multi-shock softail plenty thousand Rand special just when Jess ran out of steam and decided to chill a bit.

MTB Dave Hill

Hill’s bike

After another few kays I realised I was probably leading my category and was in for a podium finish and a prize: First SLOBO home (Seriously Lazy Old Bald Optometrists division). Jess was OK on the downhills (if rather cautious) and slow on all uphills – including some sections of “Dad, come back and push my bike for me”. Even so, I thought I had the win in the bag and was rehearsing my acceptance speech when, with much creaking and panting, an OLDER, BALDER optometrist pulled up next to me and called out “Swanepoel!”. It was young Graham Lewis, who, although MUCH older than me, was probably competing for my crown! I tried to delay him but he was eager to move on, so – although I could have blown his doors off – I let him go (on his twenty year old, unsprung bottle store delivery fiets, with his knees whizzing past his ears his seat was so low) as I had to wait for Jess. Ah, well, silver medal, I thought.

MTB Graham Lewis

Lewis’ bike

Meantime, back at the 10km, Aitch was waiting for 24yrs of trouble on six legs – Tom and the Bainbridge twins Peter and Philip. And waiting, and waiting. Hordes of cyclists passed her as she looked back in vain. Fifty, sixty of the slowcoaches they had been ahead of went past. “Have you seen three little boys?” she eventually started asking. Someone had: “I saw three little guys lying down in the grass near the drinks table chatting away” said an observant soul. Back went Aitch to roust them out and get them back on their wheels. “We were talking, Ma” was the explanation.

Just before prize-giving I had a thought and scurried over to have a quiet word with the officials. “First SLOBO home: Swanepoel” came the announcement over the tannoy system, and I stepped onto the podium to receive gold – to tremendous applause. Lewis had been disqualified, and quite rightly so. He’s running the Comrades ultra-marathon again this year, which quite clearly ruled him out on the important “SL” part of the category. Justice had prevailed.