I started cycling as a kid. I think I was about 7 years old when I got my first ‘proper’ bike. I grew up in a block of flats, and used to ride the bike around and around the car park for hours every day. The fact that the scenery never changed was fine – I was on my bike and the magic of that was enough to keep me going back for more.
I then got a racing bike in High School. It was a Peugeot with the gear shifters on the down tube ( I think it was a 7 x 2 speed).
The bike spelt freedom. I rode to school, rode home, went to the shops and visited friends. I sound like a bit of an old fart, but, those where the days when a kid could ride on the roads around Johannesburg safely. I cannot remember one scary event caused by a car, and we didn’t even ride with helmets in those days. I feel sorry for my kids that they never got to know that level of freedom. Now I have to either travel to the Cradle of Mankind for a road ride, or to one of the mountain bike parks to ride safely.
Things that I love about cycling:
- The sense of freedom. I alluded to that earlier. There is nothing quite like being on a bike.
- That’s my bike in the pic on it’s way to Transbaviaans.
- I love the sounds. The wind whistling past your ears, the sound of gear changes, especially when you drop down to a smaller cog, the clicking sound of the freewheel body when you roll down a hill.
- I love the look of bikes – mountain, road, time trial – it doesn’t matter. I love new bikes and I love old bikes. Old bikes seem to have stories of great adventures stored up in them.
- The longest I have been on a bike has been for 14 consecutive hours, and the shortest, just under 3 km to get to the shop.
- I love how your legs get a chance to recover on a bike. Running makes you more and more tired. Cycling can give you a chance to recover.
- I regularly get surprised at just how much pain cycling can cause. I have pushed up hills and been amazed at just how much those hills have hurt my quads. All athletes have a strange relationship with pain. We try our best to avoid it, and then relish it when it hits.
Things I don’t enjoy about cycling:
- It is an expensive sport, and the startup costs with shoes, cleats, clothing, helmet, sun glasses etc. is huge.
- It can feel like a bit of a mission to get to places to cycle. Bike rack on, bike mounted, helmet, gloves, shoes located and packed, the list goes on and on.
- You can fall off your bike. I have needed stitches once and also once managed to put myself in hospital. However, I remind myself that that is a small price to pay for a lifetime of two wheeled fun.
- I love mountain bikers. Stop on a trail somewhere with a technical issue, and it is guaranteed that a few cyclists will stop to offer you a hand. Road cyclists can be a bit ruder.
- I dislike road cyclists when they ride two and three abreast while on the road. They give the rest of us a bad name.
Hope to see you on the road or on a trail now.