Robert Dempster

Resident in Pietermaritzburg (PMB)!
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COVID-19 Stay Home South Africa

*** Welcome to my PMB blog, the umpteenth! ***

The Corona Diaries
Page 8
Bicycle - two wheels attached to a frame
I have only ever needed one of them

3 May 2020

COVID-19 Stay Home South Africa

I received my first bicycle for my 7th bithday, probably not so much as a gift as a means of getting myself to school. I then had one throughout my school days. Memorable moments during my primary school years involved converting bikes by adding side-cars to them, using bikes to drag a gocart substituting for a chariot or fire tender. Also as a mode of transport, even while attending Grey College for my senior school years as a boarder. The latter era was however punctuated by me riding into the back of Morris Minor parked in front of the Bloemfontein Central Police Station. It happened as I was preoccupied with a crocodile of Eunice High School girls walking along the opposite pavement in the opposite direction. Fortunately the only other witness was a lone police constable on duty outside the police station. The only real damage was to my ego and he had a good chuckle.

The next time I rode a bicycle was a couple of years after we had arrived in Pietermaritzburg, and our second car became a scrap car. I purchased the bicycle from a student and then used it to commute to work. Two memorable moments. One was thinking I could give my daughetr a lift to pre-school on the bike. That kinda worked to start with as it mostly involved going down the Blackburrow Road down hill. Coming home, well I can't recall, except to say we went to plan B the next day. The next moment involved me building some sort of nesting arrangement for rodents that Edith was working with in Zoology. When the first babies arrived, I received a call and thought I should at least go and have a look. Only to ride into a road-side tree in Carbis Road as I fiddled with the rear brake. Again the only real injury was to my ego. That was it, I was done with bikes.

Of course there would be more bikes around as all our children rode to school, and also around the neigbourhood. Looking back now they were wonderful years and more is the pity, as by all accounts and barring extremely rare exceptions, no one rides to school in Pietermaritzburg these days. In fact you hardly ever see a bicycle beign used for commuting. There are of course some cyclists around, and they are invariably recreational cyclists, out training in the early morning or late afternoon as part of their preparation for cycling events.

However we all know that what goes around, comes around, and when our son Bruce returned from the United Kingdom and came to live with Edith and I, he came with a mountain bike (MTB). However it was not long and there was a second bike, an electric bike (ebike). Given that we live near the top of Town Bush Road, and that Bruce cannot drive, acquiring an ebike was a no-brainer. But it did not stop there because when I retired I thought I would try the MTB, and given the extra time on my hands, was smitten in no time at all and had to have my own MTB. Bruce then acquired a third bike, a road bike, and Edith bought a shed to which the bikes were supposed to be banned.

The years that followed saw lots of tar being covered, and numerous events being ridden all over the couintry. It took a while, but eventually Edith decided she was not going to be left out, and also bought an MTB. The net result, well almost, was that we have had great fun riding various routes in the, "wonderful for cycling", KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. We have also travelled to all the other major centers in South Africa to participate in cycling events. And we have also visited 1) Edith's brother in Germany and completed two cycling holidays with him and his wife, and 2) family in Edinburgh (UK) and Perth (Western Australia). Perth deserves a special mention as it is a city with wonderful cycling facilities and cycling opportunities.

Moving along, Edith and I recently both acquired ebikes, and these I am sure are going to prove to be real blessings, especially while the COVID-19 lockdown restricts us to riding the HILLY surronds of our home.

As I said, I only ever needed one bike.

A luta continua; a vitória é certa

Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy a bicycle.

If you have any comments, corrections, suggestions or plain criticism, I would appreciate it if you would communicate the same to me.

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