'Those old"ballies" on bikes'

2009-04-09 00:00

JULIA DENNY-DIMITRIOU

They go by the rather smart name of The Senior Cyclists of Hilton, but if you ask any motorists who have encountered them they are “those old ballies on mountain bikes”.

This pelaton of about eight can be seen three times a week meandering, sometimes uncertainly, along the back roads of Hilton. According to Frank Dyson, one of the longest-standing members, “it’s all about the exercise, the camaraderie and the fun we have”. Another member, who wishes to remain anonymous for his own safety, said it was also “a chance to get away from our wives”. The group tries to avoid main roads and cycles between 20 kilometrers and 25 kilometres They have a weekly tradition of stopping for coffee and scones on the way back from Cedara.

“The baby of the group” and one of the two women, Lorna McCullough, said she had been cycling for about a year, had lost 20 kilograms and her bike had “filled a huge gap in my life left when I gave up keeping a horse”. Another of the younger, more talkative members said: “They often tell me to keep quiet, because most of them are challenged in the hearing department and say they can’t hear with the wind in their ears. In reality, I think it’s because they can’t do two things at once: ride a straight course and keep a conversation going at the same time.”

* * *

Mike Landisman is living proof that you are never too old to ride a bike. Landisman (78) is a familiar sight around the city on his red mountain bike, donated to him by another well-known cycling figure: world champion Greg Minnaar and his Two Wheel Inn store.

Landisman, a car guard at the Hilton KwikSpar, has been cycling for 23 of the 27 years he has lived in the midlands. His bike is equipped with hooks to hold his walking stick. He used to ride a yellow bike and wear a top hat, but both were damaged when his brakes failed and he crashed into a gate.

He cycles into the city regularly, which takes him 20 minutes on the Old Howick Road. However, the return journey takes longer as he walks and pushes his bike some of the way up the hill.

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