While my mum was in the hairdressers I used to sneak out to stare at the window of the bike shop next door, too terrified to actually go in. A red and black bike of the local pro stood prominent, etching itself into my heart forever as the bike of my dreams. They didn’t make the team replicas small enough for me, but my mum surprised me that year with a kids-size TI Raleigh McGregor jersey for Christmas – I endlessly skid raced around the block from then on.
My earliest and fondest memory of riding my bicycle was racing my brother (who was older and much faster) around the cul-de-sac ‘island’ we had outside our childhood home. He invariably got well ahead of me, so much so, that when I came around the bend he had come off on some gravel. There wasn’t time to correct and so I rode straight over him. We laugh and laugh today about it, but I’m quite sure he wasn’t thrilled then. These days my bicycle (a crappy but trustworthy old mountain bike) gets used on our farm to ride up to the letterbox or up to the shops.
Growing up in a family that rode bikes for everyday transport set me on the path of a bicycle being a part of normal daily life. Then the jump from athletics to bike racing led to my fascination with the construction of quality racing and touring bicycles. I now enjoy a potter on my Randonneur machine, be it a stroll, or a more spirited ride through the nearby hills during the early-morning transition from darkness to first light as the bird song starts up. That is magic.
Growing up in Johannesburg, cycling in the cul-de-sac of our street was about as far as a young girl dared venture. Now, in New Zealand I’m experiencing the flipside using a bike to discover places I’d never visit otherwise. Horeke is just such a place – a tiny settlement at the end (or start) of the Twin Coast Cycle Trail. Meander 87 kilometres over two days between harbours in the winterless north and finish up in a town of firsts (pub, post office, murder trial). The beers at the tavern tasted all the better for the effort.