Pedaling has been natural to me since the tender age of three. Cycling is practical, fun, it gets you to the corner café, across countries, continents, keeps you fit and is by far the most efficient and environmentally friendly transport option around, being virtually carbon neutral.
I live in Howick, KwaZulu-Natal which is great cycling country, within 10 minutes I can be bouncing along some of the finest single tracks in the province.
I have 3 bikes. In truth I only need one. I have noticed how the whole industry has veered away from keeping bikes simple, strong, practical and affordable and has in fact taken the path of becoming another rampant form of consumerism and elitism, well certainly that is the case in South Africa. Its eye-opening to be at Mt bike race where the average price of a bicycle is around R17 000 –R20 000, and this is simply for pleasure, not purpose! I have dreams of South Africa’s transport system reverting to pedal power…
Ruby: My first ‘real’ bike is a simple steel framed Ridgeback that I bought in the UK for my first long distance bike trip through India, SE Asia and Tibet. I have used it extensively as a mountain bike too. For the moment Ruby is in Johannesburg, where I use it for simply getting out and about Orange Grove when I visit.
The Grey Goose (from the North): My second bike, a steel framed Bear valley Marin was bought while I was studying in Sweden, for my South American bike trip. I bought this second bike due to my rather poor understanding of bikes and thought that my Ridgeback wouldn’t survive a continental ride with all the hammering I had given it while out mt-biking. The goose is my main touring bike, its smaller frame and geometry mean a slightly more comfortable ride than the Ridgeback. It has covered close on 27 000km in the past 5 years, a combination of my South American and Moroccan trips and simply cycling in my back yard.
My 3rd bike is a symptom of bike consumerism and the need to have a faster and ‘better’ bike, yes I succumbed (partially) to the pressure at the races. Last year (2008) I decided that as I loved cycling so much, having a lighter frame, disc brakes, a pair of good front shocks would make my Mt-biking even more enjoyable. And it certainly does. Here is my Specialised Rockhopper (hardtail) which I am still to name.
Why I love riding: it’s a meditation and an immersion in nature and the immediate environment. Tasting the sweat on my face, feeling the wind on my back and the challenging my mind and body to get over the next horizon to discover what’s there is reason enough for me to keep loving the bicycle and what it has to offer.
When I am not riding I am working with the WESSA/WWF Eco-Schools Programme, which helps schools to improve environmental learning and management at a local level www.wessa.org.za This programme deserves it own website and blogspot
And what else….
Loving and walking homeless unwanted hounds at the SPCA, pottering about in the garden, reading, writing and taking action around local environmental sins!