Cycling Stories

Magical Memories of the Eastern Cape

December 21, 2019

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Magical Memories of the Eastern Cape


My father was an active man who loved jogging and hiking.

I, on the other hand – like many kids born near the video game industry’s first peak – was an introverted, indoorsy computer nerd. As a result, while he was an undeniably great dad, we didn’t share many mutual interests.

That is, until I discovered cycling.

Well, maybe not at first. When I was four, even with the extra wheels, I remember sitting on that thing felt risky. And since we only had a small yard, I didn’t get a taste of the rush that real cycling can give you.

Once I transitioned to a proper bike—with my dad’s encouragement—and took it out on the road, though, I found the one form of exercise I genuinely enjoy.

Street-Wise

It’s difficult to say what it was. Perhaps the effort felt natural, simply enjoyable.

With only a few pumps of the pedals, I was rewarded with the sensation of soaring over the road.

And after putting in the time and effort to reach the top of a steep slope, I could let go, surge my way down, and experience the sort of head-rush that an inactive kid like me seldom encountered.

And thankfully, the wide streets of Cape Town offered plenty of room such things.  Although my favorite spot was a lengthy promenade at Sea Point, where I could wind my way along the shore, merrily flying to the end of the trail.

I always felt guilty that, despite owning a mountain bike, I never really took it off the city streets – mainly since we lived a short drive away from Table Mountain, home of some genuinely breath-taking trails.

But honestly, I’m not sure I’d enjoy it quite as much. After all, my neighborhood streets helped me develop that love of riding—and it’s never been easy to convince me to try new things. Plus, many of the local trails are challenging.

“After putting in the time and effort to reach the top of a steep slope, I could let go, surge my way down, and experience the sort of head-rush that an inactive kid like me seldom encountered.”

Simon Hyslop

Seaside Speeding

It’s not like my bike never saw any changes of scenery, though, since at least once a year, we’d take a holiday in a small seaside town in the Eastern Cape.

There, we’d spend hours cycling along the shoreline, breathing in the sea air, and absorb the sights of the sprawling Indian Ocean. I’d revisit one steep, hillside street over and over again, pedaling my way to the top and feeling the exhilaration of speeding back down.

The road ended in a rough, rocky patch left neglected by the municipality for years. It’s a wonder I was never seriously injured.

It was dangerous, yes. But it was also one of the most enthralling things my indoorsy younger self ever worked up the nerve to experience.

Adulting

As adult responsibilities have taken over in recent years, I have increasingly less time to ride my bike, strongly associating with my childhood years.

As such, these memories have an almost magical quality to them. When I find time to get back on the saddle, though, I’m quite confident it’ll be as wonderful as I remember.

First, I’ll have to take some time to learn the ins and outs of proper bike maintenance.

I never really wrapped my head around that stuff!

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Simon Hyslop is a freelance copywriter who resides in Cape Town, South Africa. In addition to cycling, he has an affinity for geeky pursuits like video games, horror fiction, and film critique.

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