I’m not sure if I subscribe to the often-asked dualistic question posed about recreational cycling. Road or Mountain? What kind of cyclist are you? The best response I have mustered is a reframing of the question in a way that seeks to draw together our band of pedal turning crazies…
How do you ride now, and how would you like to ride in the future?
If there is a question that connects all of us, surely it is our ambition to be more.
Ambition is wonderful as it appears to have no outer shell and can come in all shapes, ages, skill levels and sizes. It’s my 7-year-old daughter on the sidelines at The Shred admiring a nose manual 360. It’s a retired accountant staring intently at the chasing peloton on stage 5 of the Tour de France. It’s Penny, well into retirement, who I met recently at a sports store attempting to buy her first bike.
Penny’s ambition is to join her husband on his rides out on the trails, and we soon found ourselves in conversation about pedals, pants for women and the pro’s and cons of 29’ers. She was in the early stages of being overwhelmed by options and feeling quite disempowered by it all. Just as the salesman was about to pile on the sale, I suggested that she rather not buy a bike… not yet.
Have you been to the Bike Park at Constantia Uitsig? I asked. She had not. I quickly gave her directions while apologetically smiling at the patient salesman and suggested that she try riding a 29’er, then a duel suspension, then a hardtail. Rent some bikes there and ride, ride, ride before deciding what will most likely have you keen to be on a trail every Saturday. Additional options like a skills training course are indispensible, but first get out on a bike.
I have really appreciated the Bike Park for this and numerous other reasons, including providing the opportunity to try something really difficult in the safe proximity of a congratulatory coffee.
And who knows which bike and style of riding Penny will prefer? Whatever the outcome, after some time at The Bike Park, she will no doubt discover an incredible bicycle community with passion to see people enjoying the sport on whatever machine moves them.
Thanks to the team at Uitsig and all the unsung bicycle legends like Penny, taking on the trails, getting involved, and showing admirable ambition to be a better bicyclist tomorrow.
About the author: Kirsten Wilkins is an Architect, Urban Designer and Bicycle Advocate working in Cape Town on challenging the parameters of mobility and social justice. She’s a pretty determined bicycle rider and her ambition is to turn it all upside down: be paid to ride a bike and to develop better cities for cycling for the sheer joy of it.