Easy as Riding A Bike

Whoever coined the phrase "Easy as Riding A Bike" must have been talking about a vintage bike with one speed, a banana seat, basket and a bell.. Friday we registered for The Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour--109 kilometers along the South African Cape--the largest individually timed cycle race in the world-the race. Pretending more than 6 years hasn't passed since our last bike ride, Curtis and I sauntered up to the registration counter to claim our race numbers: I'm in the AA Group: start time 7:47 am; Curtis is in the BB group, starting at 7:52.

After collecting our race packets, we toured the Cycling Expo where, along with thousands of other entrants, we bought bike pants, gloves, socks, energy drinks, gels & candies. (Charles made us.) Just touring the exhibits was so exhausting we had to stop for snacks...

Today, we took our bikes for a test spin….in my case a wobble. I tried to ride my bike out of the B&B courtyard, swerved, freaked and ran into a drain pipe. “Walk it out,” Curtis called. As if I hadn’t figured it out.

Riding a strange bike is hard enough…after so many years, I’d forgotten how to switch gears (not that I have ever been very good at it.) Do I push in the little lever on the left to switch to the big wheels? Or the big lever on the left? Is left back and right front gear—or the other way around? And which lever controls which break?

The hand signals are easy enough to remember (nice to know some lessons stick.) But one thing I didn’t reckon on is the roads. In the midst of all that shifting and gearing and signaling and turning, I have to keep to the right side of the road—which in South Africa is actually the left side…I think?

Our test drive was 4.52 kilometers long and lasted 27 minutes—which gave me an average speed of 10.3 kilometers an hour. Considering the Argus is 109 kilometers long, if all goes well, I can expect to finish in…about 10 hours. They start scooping people up and ferrying them in support vans after 7 hours…I’d better do something to improve.

Less than 12 hours to start time and I am as ready for the race as I’ll ever be…

Filling My Well in S. A. so call me “Joe Friday”

Whenever someone learns I’m a writer living in Indonesia, they inevitably remark about the fabulous stories I must be writing about my adventures, or how inspiration it must be. To which I usually respond, “Someday,” which in Bahasa Indonesia would be the catch all word for “not yet, belum. For me fiction is reflective. Fiction comes with time: from the past, memories, from what remains. Non-fiction is immediate. Although good non-fiction, too, takes time, time to reflect, draw conclusions and get a distance away so as to see larger pictures.

When I was not writing because life interrupted, my friend Dick called it “filling my writer’s well.” Hearing that always made me feel better, and more importantly, gave me hope that the writing would come.

Presently, I’m filling my writer’s well in South Africa….

Never in a zillion “what ifs” did I ever imagine I’d be writing that—In South Africa—let alone living it! And because I’m loving filling my well and don’t want to stop for a moment. I’m going to pull a Joe Friday and “stick to the facts, Ma’am.”

Fact: Curtis and I flew from Jakarta to Johannesburg Thursday, arrived Friday afternoon.

Fact: We are here visiting our friends Shona and Charles Mason, South Africans living in Jakarta. Good friends, who enticed us to come for holiday.

Fact: Charles, his 2 cousins, and a group of 8 others have been, for the past 14 days cycling through South Africa on a charity ride—when they finish they will have cycled 1700 km and raised thousands for charities. Each day they ride to a designated spot—most days well over 100 km— and present a check to a local charity. The amount they raise is matched by ENGEN Petrol Company. Today is the last day of that challenging (to say the least) ride. Charles has been blogging his ride. Check it out: Charles Big Ride SA Ride:

Fact: The main reason we are in South Africa at this particular time is that we have signed up to Ride THE ARGUS, a 109 km bike ride along the wild, spectacular coastline of the Cape of South Africa.

Fact: 35,000-40,000 people will ride THE ARGUS, the largest individually timed race/ride in the world!

Fact: I have not even been on the seat of a bike in at least five, (5) years.

Fact: It is very very windy today and I have heard stories of what the wind does....blows bikes off the road...blows bikers into each other.

Fact: The delivered our rented bikes and helmets today and I am very very nervous.