Local fans ‘go the whole hump’ for Greg Minnaar

2012-10-24 00:00

THE world’s king of mountain biking arrived home in Pietermaritzburg to heavy partying with friends yesterday.

Greg Minnaar had been away for six months on the world circuit, which included the 2012 UCI Downhill World Champs, which he won in Austria last month. Now his focus will be on the World Champs, in his hometown, next year.

“I have to be ready for that,” he said on board a bus among his close friends, who were the heart and soul of his welcome home party that started at King Shaka International Airport and continued at a city pub.

“It would be a dream come true to win these World Championships at home.” It will also be his third championship, having first won in 2003.

“This crowd don’t take second place,” he said, pointing to his group of Pietermaritzburg friends who call themselves the One Life crowd.

His challenge will be to continue training in between further travelling — to Europe next week and then to South America in January.

Asked how he coped with jet lag, he replied jokingly: “I would be jet lagged were it not for this going on”, referring to the party.

“This is a cure for jet lag.”

Back at the airport Minnaar and friends had ended up in lengthy negotiations with Durban Metro Police concerning the loudest of the One Life crowd. The fan was “arrested” after showing officers where he had been treated for a deep cut on his bottom, having fallen to the ground while partying in an airport restaurant. After the fan had spent some minutes in a cell, he was “released” and informed that his arrest had been a set up. “I went mad inside there. I was kicking the walls and the gate,” he said after being set free.

“Then I went back and said ‘sorry’ to the cops.”

Minnaar’s friends who have nicknames such as Dry Bird, Tutor, Vegas, Fumes, Crank and Bumble Bee, pride themselves in participating in extreme sports as well as social drinking.

“We have among us experts in canoeing, motorcross, downhill cycling, golf and running,” said one. “When any of us do these things, we don’t chicken out after the first hump. We go the whole way. The experts are there to help.”

He added that they enjoy being a little irresponsible but not doing anything illegal. Businessman John Comley, known as “Coach”, who is double the age of most in the group, said: “They take life by the scruff of the neck.

“They’re never negative. I get motivation from them and that helps me motivate more than 2 000 people under me.”

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