Monday, August 17, 2009

Birth of a MTB-hooligan

During the 2-odd weeks after Ride2Rhodes, while the RASA-guys were still on their way to Diemersfontein, I got very grumpy when there wasn't fresh news and blogs when I arrived at work. Mountain biking was, therefore, pretty much on the radar at the office when entries for the 94.7 (roadie event) opened. Fueled by Tour de France fever, and with the 94.7 route passing right by our offices, it was easy to convince the marketing people that our company simply have to enter a few cyclists and make a big party out of it.

A few fellow IT nerds agreed to ride with.

The team:
- A regular gym-spinning class-chick, who doesn't own a bike (probably never has) - no worries, i have an extra. I even have a roadie bike, so if she could manage that one, then she could ride on it and I'll ride on the hardtail.
- An ex-teacher ('I taught, nothing scares me') that tries anything at least once - he hasn't been on a bike for about 10 years or maybe longer, but no worries, his brother has a mountain bike and a helmet that he could borrow.
- An expectant dad who played BMX-BMX a long time ago, there might be a rusty old bike somewhere in the garage.

All of them smokers, although the expectant dad did give it up when he found out that his expecting.

K, so I kind of knew what they were in for. They probably didn't.

Groenkloof was going to be the first training ride.

So the soon-to-discover-mountainbiking x-teacher-IT-nerd-dude get on the borrowed bike and oh dear! The bike doesn't want to stay upright, it's wobbly and all over the place. On the first piece of single track he entertain us with a very nicely escaped endo, luckily no blood or broken bones. A few more near-endo's follow. He complains that the track is too narrow, and that there's too many rocks, and the track is too twisty, and why does it go uphill. Oh dear, what have i done, what was i thinking.

At the first (minor) obstacle the dude stopped, investigated, hesitated, and - most impressively - cleared it. With the same silly grin on his face that I see so often on mountain bikers' faces. Somewhere in the middle of the ride I saw a photo-opportunity and stopped to get the camera out. But the IT-nerd-dude ride straight-faced straight over the obstacle. 'What could i do, it was in the way', he said matter-of-factly. Oh dear, what have I done!

By the end of the ride there's a huge grin on the dude's face.

The next week Gadget Boy phoned. He's still nursing a sore knee from RASA, and not allowed to cycle. But he's going to Northern Farms, do I come with. Yes, and I bring the newbies with, to slow down the pace and respect that sore knee.

I had to go to a bike shop to get a tube, so invited the newbies with. The IT nerd dude decides that smoking is cheaper than cycling.

But on Sunday morning, he pitches at the ride with a brand new helmet.

The spinning-chickie gets on the bike. Promptly breaks a nail when trying to figure out the gears. The chickie is way too short for the (small) hardtail, but we lower the saddle, and off we go.

The IT nerd dude has a huge silly grin on his face. Downhill, some gravel to ease into cycling, then hit some single track. Both of them are riding with grins now (the expectant dad had to work - some IT nerds have to look after the machines while the others play)

Gadget Boy entertains us nonstop (and I mean NON STOP) with RASA stories. We ride single track and up and down and more singletrack and twists and turns. The grins get bigger.

Towards the end of the ride we approach that little droppie that goes into the tunnel underneath the highway. I know of a few collarbone-incidents there. There's a chicken run to the left, but it's still a rather scary drop. Especially if it's your second ride in 10 years. The IT nerd dude gets off his bike ... checks out the drop, picks a perfect line, gets on his bike ... and clears the freakin' drop!

With a huge grin on his face we ride that very sweet singletrack after the droppie, and then up through the trees - there he gets off, too tired to ride any more ... but on Monday morning the grin was still there.

A new mountainbiker is born.

ps next week's newbie ride is Saturday morning 9:00, starting probably close to the Botanical Gardens. Newbies (or RASA-riders nursing injuries) - let me know if you need details :)
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