“Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I have hope for the human race.” H.G. Wells
The riders crested the hill and drew to a much needed halt. They drew out their water bottles and gulped the moisture greedily. They surveyed the valley beneath them.
“This view never fails to move me.”
“Yeah, it makes your heart gasp,” said her friend.
They mounted their bikes and set off down the Montagu Pass.
How often over the past year had these friends done expeditions like this? About three or four times a week. And they love it. Try and stop them at your peril!
B had an angiogram. The specialist looked at the results and said: “This goes against everything that my machine was telling me in my rooms. This angiogram tells me that you have a 14 year old heart beating inside your 54 year old body!”
B was so delighted with the result that she went out and bought herself a 27 speed mountain bike! In the afternoons she would disappear for hours exploring George. Then she heard of a woman who was looking for someone to ride with her. B phoned and they agreed to meet. B was told to look out for an “old crone riding a great bike!”
B laughed and replied: “Fine. You look out for a midget on a bicycle!” She is only 4 feet and 11 inches tall. Needless to say, they both recognised each other instantly.
And so began the bicycle exploits of B and Jan.
And so began the friendship of Jan and B.
They would disappear in the afternoons for three hours at a time. They explored the mountains, forests, farm roads and the dam of George. They rode down to Great Brak and back. They did a 100 km race in Swellendam and somehow, by mutual assent, they agreed that the 2016 Cape Town Cycle Tour was definitely on their agenda. They were going to ride what was formerly known as the Argus!
This is the largest, timed cycling event in the world. This year it celebrated its 38th year when, on the morning of Sunday, 6 March, 35,000 cyclists lined up to ride the 109km route through some of the world’s most spectacular scenery that included the iconic Table Mountain as a backdrop.
Jan had already done the Argus fourteen times and this fifteenth time was to be her last. But for B, it was her first. Beforehand, I asked her how she felt?
“I am a little nervous. Not of the distance. No, that doesn’t daunt me. I am a bit frightened of that incredible crowd of cyclists. You are so vulnerable to people suddenly swerving in front of you or just stopping without thinking. I guess because I am deaf, I am feeling a little insecure.”
I could well understand that. Jan had the incredibly useful idea of putting a sign on B’s back saying: DEAF!
B wouldn’t hear people shouting at her from behind. This sign would serve as a warning to everyone. Jan later told me that apparently during the ride a woman had shouted out at B: “Move over, move over. For goodness sakes, MOVE OVER!”
Jan had shouted back: “Read her back! She can’t hear you!!!”
The woman opened her mouth to berate Jan and saw B’s back in the same instant. The mouth closed and the woman rode on….silently.
I said goodbye to them at six o’clock in the morning when they left for their “Argus”! They were riding for the charity, The MAD Foundation – (Make A Difference) This had guaranteed them an entry and they agreed to ride together. I thanked the Pope for that. I was nervous for B but I knew that Jan would keep an eye on her. Their race began at 9.16 and they arrived in typical B fashion at 6.45!
A thousand cyclists were finally herded into a holding pen and moved gradually towards the start. B and Jan’s hearts were pounding loudly, their mouths a little dry from nerves and their muscles quivering. They heard the starter’s voice clearly ringing out: “Five, four, three, two, one….And we all say: Hoopla!”
Simultaneously two flares lit up the sky, and they were off! Their “Argus” had started. The first of many pedals was begun! Jan and B grinned at each other as together they began their ride around the Cape Peninsula.
I have never seen so many cyclists all at the same time. They were different shapes, ages and sizes, going at different speeds. Big smiles greeted the shouts of encouragement. There was an amazing bike that seated four men . A father towed his child in a little buggy fixed to the back of his bike. A couple were dressed as Friesian cows wearing pink tutu’s! A group of women in purple shirts pulled over to the side for a drink. An incredible uni-cyclist grinned as he passed. Two women on a tandem with a radio in a basket blaring out upbeat music. The aerial was attached to the rear saddle in a plastic tube reaching high up into the air. It seemed to bob and twist in time to the tunes. A man used his arms and hands to cycle as his legs were paralysed.
All were going in the same direction. All headed towards the finish at the Cape Town Stadium.
My sister, Liz and I stood in Hout Bay, waiting to see B and Jan pass. I would like to have had a lovely South African flag to catch their attention.That was not to be. Instead, Jan had suggested I wave this ridiculous pinker than pink, large, fluffy towel! That would definitely stop them in their tracks. It worked! Their faces creased into wide smiles as they cruised to a halt beside us. We gave them a bottle of water which they instantly shared while devouring bananas. I looked at B in astonishment. Her face was red and glowing. In all the years that I had gone to gym with B, I had never seen her face hot and sweaty. I saw many amazing and memorable sights at the Cape Cycle Tour. That was one of them!
Over the past year, I have seen two individuals that recognised their limits and then proceeded to push themselves one step further. By doing so, their boundaries were stretched even wider. Through their cycling, they have shown me something incredibly valuable. They have shown me, that you should never limit your boundaries. By doing so, you limit yourself. Allow yourself to stretch – always. Also what has delighted me is the friendship that has grown between these two cycling partners. They are now close friends.
And it all started because of two bicycles!
It is strange how there is this ‘connection’ between cyclists. Neil Pasricha says it so succinctly:
“Gliding down the bike path on a Saturday morning, you whip by somebody peddling in the opposite direction and give each other a nod. For a moment it’s like ‘hey, we’re both doing the same thing. Lets’s be friends for a second.'”
I smile at that.
The riders reached the bottom of the Montagu Pass.
“I might be faster going uphill, but you are a kamikaze coming down,” her friend laughed.
“Stop off and have a glass of wine on your way home?”
“Now you’re talking!”
The riders pace increased.