Saturday, 30 April 2011

Riding in South Africa

It was a surprise to find on our recent holiday in South Africa that there seemed to be hardly any cycles in the country! Well, that's not exactly true - there were hardly any cycles on the route we took through the north of the country, but when we finally got to Cape Town we saw a round the Cape of Good Hope sponsored ride underway - too late for me to enter!

The first cycle I came across in the whole of South Africa was at the mining township of Pilgrim's Rest - yes, I tried it out, but this was not exactly a good riding prospect as there was only a spike where the saddle should have been, and it had a basket which was literally made of barbed wire...ouch! It was several days later before there was an opportunity to get my hands on a rideable bike (well rideable if you ignored the fact that the front tyre was as flat as a pancake). The sun was already setting when I set off, without any available lights, for a ride around Mkuze, finishing up bedding down in a rondavel (have you tried fitting yourself and a bike into one of those huts? There's not a lot of room!). Thanks to the poor staff member at the Ghost Mountain Inn for letting me ride off into the sunset (literally) with his bike!

This wasn't the only outing for the Thornton top - although my next ride had a mind of its own (but only a very small brain apparently). A fascinating morning at Highgate Ostrich Farm included the opportunity to ride an ostrich. Things started off fairly straightforwardly with sitting on a female ostrich which was tied into a frame - easy!

It was only after this that I realised this was the preparation for actually riding a male ostrich that was let loose in the paddock - the good news is that I didn't let the club down - I stayed on, although I'm not sure which one of us was actually steering! I think I've got the hang of it now - what about a "Thornton Road Ostrich Challenge" next year?!

Trevor Hall