1. When did you first start cycling regularly, and why?
I was first attracted to the sport in Nov 2010 where I was stuck for over 3 hours due to road closures and forced to watch the 94,7 Cycle Challenge. What started off as frustration, resulted in 3 hours of imagining and vowing to one day be on a road bike. The bug had bitten.
August 2012, I bought myself a road bike, and started cycling for fitness and recreational purposes, then I joined a club that had a beginners level. Two months later, I had finished my first 94,7km Cycle Challenge, my first and most painful endurance test, after child-birth.
What I soon but embarrassingly discovered thereafter, was that you could cycle without the lycra, and after my first Critical Mass where I stuck out like a sore thumb on Halloween night dressed in my best lycra, my cycling evolved from just being about racing against time, to being a lifestyle with regular commuting around my suburb as well as a tool to contributing meaningfully to my communities.
2. How do your family/friends feel about you cycling?
My biggest cycling fans from the start up until now have been my children, who are very involved in my cycling, from the racing to socials.
As I am one to do things outside of the crowd, with no need for consultation from friends, many were not surprised when I posted a picture of myself in full cycling gear on my bike, after my first 20km ride. However, as I started spending more time on my bike and meeting new friends, and having a completely far less superficial and expensive form of entertainment, my gradual absence from the regular party and gossip scene was not met with such enthusiasm, to the point I was told I had ‘joined the elitist’ by my female friends. No skin off my back, I’m still riding my bike, and have met the most amazing people who have now become close friends and the cherry on the top is I get to experience this city in a way that I would never have, had I not been cycling.
3. Do you feel cycling is dangerous? Why or why not?
Yes, it is dangerous, however, the responsibility also rests on the cyclist to make their cycling as safe as possible, and always remain vigilant. It would be fantastic to see a cycle-friendly city. The attitude of motorists and the state of our infrastructure and the rules governing the usage (for example not being able to take a bicycle onto buses or Gautrain) thereof currently make cycling in the city near impossible for those who wish to be car-free or regularly commute. Thus the dangerous aspect will always remain until these issues are addressed with haste.
4. How do you feel about cycling? Why?
I love cycling! Period. From the major big races in lycra to the social all women Full Moon rides in dresses to collecting money at street intersections dressed in full gear including helmet for underprivileged children in Diepsloot ……..it’s my way of life and I can’t imagine anything outside of it.
5. How do you interact with other traffic on the road?
It took a while to get used to not feeling like a moron when using hand signals, but the more I went out on the road on my own, the more it became more comfy. When all else failed, a hearty and proudly South African “sharp sharp” thumb up with a smile always works like a charm.
6. What is the thing you like least about commuting by bicycle, and what is it you like best about it?
I love how I get to connect and experience the sounds and smells as I ride, to be able to stop and take pictures of the beauty that I may have missed all the while as a motorist.
The best is always the interactions with curious or surprised motorists and pedestrians when it slowly dawns on them that it is a female on the saddle. More often than not, it has been met with remarks of admiration, ranging from a woman motorist at a traffic light who rolled down her window to give me a “girl power” remark whilst sucking on her morning fag; to the delivery truck driver who proposes marriage and promises to drive me me to work every morning.
I just wish I could ride more and further, in a safer environment. I don’t like that I am so limited as to where I can ride, how far, and what times work best.
7. Do you feel that being a cyclist has changed your life? If so, how?
Without a doubt! My life is in general so much more healthier, body, mind and spirit since I took up cycling. I have met and made good friends with an eclectic and cross-cultural group of individuals, whom I may not have ordinarily have met.
8. Does your employer encourage cycling? If so, how?
I am employed in my own company, and certainly encourage, advocate and promote a culture of cycling to all I engage with, especially women. I am proud that I have been a catalyst to 7 women who have now started cycling, for health and recreation reasons and am certain that more are coming.
9. Do you think your city can become a bicycle friendly city? How?
Yes, absolutely, this city, and in fact all our cities can be bicycle friendly. Look at Cape Town. We need to mobilize the cycling community to speak from one voice and join arms in lobbying for this.