My Cycling Journey - The Early Years

Updated: Nov 16, 2020

In my 20th year of cycling I look back at where, how and probably why!

My earliest memories of riding a bike was when I was around 8 years old and riding around our neighbourhood in Randburg Johannesburg already enjoying the delights of freedom and exploring! Nothing excites a child more than the ability to be able to explore and when its by bike your area of exploration widens considerably.

I do know I had an old (probably) steel bike with fixed (one) gears while some of my mates were on 3 speed, or on a fancy bikes like a Chopper.

My first major accident happened on a Chopper when, whilst lifting my first crush we had a crash ,at speed and she of course landed on top of me. I ended up with very bad road rash on toes, knees and hands with a good scrape to my forehead.(no helmets in those days). I was in agony for weeks, it was terrible, but it did not stop me from wanting to get back to cycling and exploring as quickly as I could.

Fast forward a couple of years and still riding the old steel fixed gear, I asked my Dad for a new bike, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE could I have a 3-speed with drop handle bars? It would make me the hero of our neighbourhood! :)

I remember very clearly that my Dad reluctantly said ok and that we should go and look at the bike shop for a suitable bike. The bike shop was in Randburg up a ramp near the cinema.

The excitement of going up that ramp and into the bike shop I fondly remember. After much discussion and pleading I had convinced my Dad to look at the 3 speed with drop handle bars. We picked out a super bike and I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. (Much like buying a new bike today) Ha!

Whilst looking at what was my ideal bike I also looked at some of the brand new Racing bikes with ten speed gears - wow, they looked incredible. If only…

As the shop had to make a few changes like add the drop handle bars to my new bike we couldn’t take it with us. But my Dad assured me he would be back the next day to collect after work and would bring it home in time for my birthday.

Super excited I could not wait to get my new bike and had already told my mates about what bike I was getting.

The big day - my parents told me to wait in my bedroom when my Dad came home from work, I was called to the lounge and there against the wall was the surprise of my life, a brand new GLITTERING METALIC GOLD 10 SPEED race bike!! Think it was a Raleigh. I don’t think I will ever forget that surprise, shock, excitement. The bike was way too big for me but that was never a problem, wow the neighbourhood was in awe of me and my Metalic Gold Racing bike. It was fast and I rode it fast! :)

I used that beautiful bike till I finished high school, mainly using it to get to school and back from boarding school. Although cycling was never more than a way to get to school and back I do remember the hostel kids arranging a bike ride from George to Kynsna, I don’t remember much of the ride, but do remember that I though we were crazy to do 60km in one day…. Little did I know….

After finishing school I seldom rode a bike, opting to get into rugby for a short while, then squash and for 10 years I was obsessed with windsurfing. I do remember being in Cape Town during the Argus and also during the Two Oceans and thinking that these fools that were competing or taking part, were crazy to be doing something so hard/boring/dangerous! Many times I think of what it would have meant if I had taken up the sport of cycling properly and when I was young, but I do know that it would have taken away my ability to spend 10 years of windsurfing which was something so special I can’t even think of never having done it. One doesn’t have the time or energy to do both so obsessively!!!!

Perhaps these experiences I had when young with cycling and knowing what that freedom and the ability to go places, not normally visited, is what helped me into the world of cycling in later years.

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