Showing posts from October, 2013


Also known as All Hallows' Eve celebrated annually on or about 31 October – 1 November. Most of what I have seen regarding this celebration has been on the television or in movies originating in Hollywood - shucks, I first spelled that wrong and had to Google it even though I have been to the place many years ago.

What I have seen is that kids normally go from house to house all dressed up in costumes trick or treating getting sweets. It looks like a huge thing states-wise, but here where I live it hasn't taken off at all. Maybe people feel safer all locked up in their houses cut off and isolated from each other. What a shame. I know they are capable of more friendly interaction in this country, but alas, it's not to be.

I have been to America and noticed how open-minded they are. My first impressions were that the people I met there were very loud, but noticed that beyond that many were very open to communicate with visitors from other countries - me! When I was in New Yor…

Our Cycling History

On 31 st December 2009 we collected our brand new shiny mountain bikes from a dealer in Boksburg called Cajees. I had a Scott Aspect and Maggie a Schwinn Frontier. Maggie had never owned a bike before, but she managed to ride it around the block. On her following rides she often fell but always got up and tried again. For the first month her legs were always covered with blue marks.

We cycled regularly, sometimes twice a day, and I decided to keep a logbook just for the fun of it. Sean, my son-in-law, wanted us to compete in the Southern Skies 24 Hour Race. On 1 st May 2010 we arrived at Parys totally unprepared for the event. The whole setup looked very intimidating and we soon discovered that we were totally useless on the course. It had rained heavily leaving water puddles everywhere. The conditions were treacherous for us beginners and in some places we had to battle through deep mud. Needless to say we only completed a single lap and left for home early the following day.

A lot …

Race Photos

Maggie and Janine a few metres form the finish line.

Two competitors coming up the finish line ramp.

This is night riding. Contestants coming over the steel bridge before the end.

Sean and Janine posing with the hall in the background.

Janine and Joshua, my grandson at the start of the OFM mountain bike race.

Janine, Joshua and Sean at the OFM finish line.
Thanks for looking at the blog post. The family are all involved in mountain bike races.

About The Race

The riders in our team of 2012. Four men and three women made up our mixed team. We were just posing without our riding shorts. Each contestant gets a number after paying to participate.

The start of the Southern Skies 24 Hour Race in 2012. Here the riders have to run an collect their bikes and then exit the hall and come racing down the track on the other side of the fence (where the man with the green shirt is running on the right).

Conditions on the track early on Sunday morning.

Riders waiting in the hall for their team mate to arrive so that they can ride next.
I hope this has shed some more light on the subject of mountain bike competition riding.

The Eiffel Tower at Parys

I have been asked to write about mountain bike riding by a reader. In one of my previous posts I mentioned the Eiffel Tower at Parys. Well, there it is! To really enjoy your cycling it is a good idea to do some training so that when you participate you will be able to at least do a few rounds. Just managing one lap won't cut it.

We trained on a daily basis for months so that we could contribute towards our team's score. Some days you really enjoy the cycling and other days you have to motivate yourself to ride. If you keep this up you eventually get fitter and can handle quite a bit of riding. Without training you won't last.

Some races, such as the Dunblane March Hare, give you a pretty medal like these for participating. The medals from the Southern Skies 24 Hour Race at Parys are not quite as nice, but are still good for your collection.

There are races all over the place every month. It's a good idea to select an event and distance that you are comfortable with.


Life's Opposites

There are opposing circumstances in life. You get poor and rich, depressed and ecstatic, naïve and clever, failure and success, fear and faith, sick and healthy, ignorance and knowledge, loneliness and friendship, death and life. What do we make of them? You can hardly go through life without being touched by these contrasting experiences.
I grew up in a poor family, yet experienced the comforting love of a wonderful mother who always saw the best in me. Her words of praise laid a valuable foundation for my life. I believe that her exceptional example has overflowed into my life.
As a result I also excelled in the classroom and on the athletics field. In the ways of the world I was naïve and wasn’t prepared for the disappointments from people bent on manipulation and self-interest. As a young boy I was sickly, being hospitalized at the age of four. The doctors eventually discovered a rare blood disorder called hereditary spherocytosis that left me weak and anaemic. My family moved fr…

Sunday Morning Mahem

It was another lap we were engaging as Maggie and I made our way up the hill – I accompanied her for support. Having reached the top we carefully cycled down the other side as the sun tried to mop up the wet patches from the previous night’s rain.

In our team, the Spider Riders, we believed in safety and provided assistance and guidance where necessary. Teamwork and camaraderie was our motto.

Going downhill I lagged behind so that Maggie could find her own rhythm on this very technical section, encouraging her all the way. Zoom! An airborne hotshot flashed past me only touching ground here and there as he literally flew downhill. He miscalculated and, with an agonizing clunk of metal, hit Maggie’s bike from behind, both riders and bikes flew in opposite directions.

Stunned, an awkward moment of silence ensued as they tried to recover from the unexpected collision. Slowly both riders got up and looked around in disbelief, having survived the massive impact. The hotshot apologized and …

Horses In The Mist

Having made it back to our tent it wasn’t long before I retired to my bed and sank into a deep sleep with not a worry in the world – at least I felt safe again amongst my kin. The previous time we raced at Parys we set up camp right next to the hall where the competition was being run and they had the music so loud that those needing a bit of shut-eye before their next turn on the course found it almost impossible to sleep. Realising that this would be a factor again we pitched our tents far away enough to avoid the booming sound.

Competing in a 24-hour race means that you have to endure whatever conditions prevail at the time not succumbing to any desire to quit. The sooner you can get into your groove and master your share of the cycling the better because you are part of a team that depends on you. This is also where the weaker links soon come to the forefront due to the pressure because it ain’t easy. Total commitment is paramount. Anyway, back to my next lap.

Before “the crack o…

There Be A Bad Moon Out Tonight Part 2

What happened next? The weak headlamp mounted on my helmet would have to do as I entered the dark, wet forest as I felt lost and alone. The silence hung in the air like the whole world had stopped to watch my next move with baited breath – only being broken by the wheels beneath me crunching on the damp earth.

As I piloted my bike along the winding track through the undergrowth I was confronted by an awesome spectacle which cannot be described by mere words. Maybe the invisible beings lurking in the darkness had pity on me for I was treated to the most unusual sight I have ever seen. A night-time garden scene like the movie Avatar seemed to play itself out before my eyes. The light on my helmet burst in all directions off the wet leaves in that forest in a surreal way, glowing with fluorescent brilliance – a virtual magical spectacle. My spirit lifted immediately giving me new strength to get the hell out of there. It felt as if I had been given a head start before those imaginary cr…

Cycle and Recycle

As we mounted our mountain bikes early this morning to set a positive tone for the day I spied a man with a makeshift trolley down one road to my right. A few seconds later I decided to make a u-turn and head in his direction. I stopped next to him and saw the worried look on his face – he probably thought I was going to complain about what he was doing. Setting his mind at rest I boldly said that I wanted to photograph him and then I asked him about his work.
Stoney is a collector of plastics and other recyclable waste materials and hails from the other side of Esselen Park near Tembisa. From this I deduced that he dwells in a squatter village next to the railway line. I enquired how much he earns for his load of plastic materials and he told me that it usually is twenty rand. Can you imagine trying to live off R 20.00 a day? That’s like $2. What a humbling experience it was talking to this man. Here is someone doing an excellent job of helping recycle the world, scraping together a…

There Be A Bad Moon Out Tonight!

With all the excitement of yesterday we were really looking forward to another wonderful, sunny day, but it never happened because a chill came along carried by the wings of the wind turning our efforts into a struggle against the elements. We took the good with the bad and accepted the challenge. After all that's what cycling is all about.

We've experienced a lot worse during our 24 hour race in Parys where I endured a power failure on the LED headlight I had borrowed from Sean, my son-in-law whilst riding in a thick forest of trees in the pitch dark with the pale moon hidden behind clouds of rain - sounds scary, hey? I could just about visualize the gremlins ready to pounce on this lonesome rider and almost saw their beady little eyes sizing me up from those dark corners. That was after I made my way past the gloomy graveyard where the lights played tricks with my mind and I almost landed in an open tomb. Most of the time you ride alone in the wet, dark night all shivering …

Spring Ride

I reset my saddle, rinsed off my bike, pumped the rear tyre a bit harder and away we went on a glorious Spring afternoon into a feast of scents from the neighbourhood gardens, smiling all the way. We enjoyed a leisurely ride winding under arching trees on our familiar course - not too far for a first ride, but enough to get some freshness into our our long dormant limbs.

A majestic sunset greeted us as we returned in the fading light, the tiny LED's alerting oncoming traffic of our presence. Four courteous drivers slowed down to make way for us. As we parked our bikes in the shed we determined to repeat this enjoyable process early tomorrow morning again, so we added some extra LED's to Maggie's bike.

Everyone has their passion. Some lift weights to mould their bodies into glorious sculptures while others dance over swords for enjoyment - the list goes on. We cycle to de-stress and unwind with the added benefit of healthier bodies that won't end up developing into cou…