David Moseley

You’re never too old

2015-03-13 09:04

David Moseley

After school I went to a university that was far away enough from home that my parents didn’t bother me about what I was having for lunch every day, and that forced me to leave behind high school cliques.

Coming from clan-like Cape Town, where neighbours sneer if you move in and you have the “wrong” number plate, it was the best I could have done at the time. Even better, the move opened my eyes to the wonders of the Eastern Cape, a province I’d barely heard mentioned during my childhood let alone visited.

In my first year at university my residence room was across the passage from Martin, a smooth-talking Zimbabwean fella who had an impressive collection of rakish hats and a variety of girlfriends to match.

We all thought it very amusing until 15 angry women stormed through our game of garden cricket on the res lawn demanding to know where Martin was. I looked up towards Martin’s bedroom and noticed him stepping back into the shadows, gliding away like a vampire avoiding daybreak. It’s a scene I’ll never forget.

There were unique personalities aplenty, and friends for life were made with some very special guys and girls - Gary, who is in the habit of sending me updates on Liverpool’s season, even though we have 24-hour rolling Premier League coverage in Cape Town too; or Gavin, who disappears for five years at a time, surfacing briefly to remind me that he’s getting married in the Bahamas; or Jon, who still likes to party like it’s 1999 and who still can’t hold his cider.  

These guys eventually ended up halfway around the world - some even as far as Joburg - after our studies, but they and many others all make the effort to stay in touch, even if it is just a 02:00 text that says nothing more than a cryptic “Dave!”. And so I believed I was at an age when I’d made all the friends I’d ever need. But then I started cycling.

Wheel friends

In the beginning there was Greg, who showed me the way. He took me on rocky, gnarly Grabouw singletrack and forced me out of my mountain biking comfort zone. He also taught me that the best adventures are the ones you haven’t prepared for.

On a manly weekend away in the mountains of the Cedaberg we set off for a mellow ride with only an apple and two bottles of water between us.

As we turned for “home” – a campsite on the river – so did the weather. What was originally an idyllic Cape morning turned into a raging storm. The wind battered us until we could ride no more.

With no jackets or food we dragged ourselves back to the camp, morosely pushing our bikes into the teeth of the weather. I climbed into the back of his van and stayed there until he agreed to drive us home. A vital lesson learned; don’t leave home without your essentials.

Then along came Mike, who introduced me to the wonderful world of road cycling. He convinced me to stop borrowing road bikes and get my own.

He taught me the benefits of a proper set-up and why the double-dip is the greatest sin when sharing a tub of chamois cream. We shared a room at the Coronation Double Century and I learnt you should always enquire politely before an event of your roommate’s snoring habits. He also showed me that I had been riding with my handlebars the wrong way round for about a year.

Mike introduced me to some of his cycling gang, and now I have so many WhatsApp cycling groups running on my phone that I have more would-be cycling companions than days to cycle.

With Luvuyo it’s the traditional tour from the suburbs to Simon’s Town, sometimes beyond. We plot our attack on the Cycle Tour each year over coffee and dream of an elusive sub-four. As we glide along the coast we target the “Christmas Pudding Challenge”, a short hill that we freewheel down early in the ride to see who’s eaten more rubbish over the Christmas holidays. Luv is always the winner.

Later in the ride, usually some 60km in when the wider frames of Luv and I have been sheltering my wife from the wind, we’re left for dead on the first serious climb as her little legs and tiny frame soar uphill. Panting and wheezing we eventually reach the top, only to be met with a cheeky “what took you guys so long?”.

With Chris, Jonno, Richard, Carlo and Andrew, it’s the Blockhouse circuit on Table Mountain where dissect the latest excuse from Mike  - was it really his alarm clock that failed, does he really have the flu, did he – rather improbably – decide to spend some QT with his missus instead of riding with the self-proclaimed Legends of Plum Pudding.

It’s always something different, entertaining or testing with these different cycling chums and for that I’ll always be glad that I picked up a bike. I highly recommend it.

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

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