Most of my training for joBerg2c last year consisted of riding my singlespeed to and from work. At that stage my office was still in Northcliff and the journey was only about 14 kilometres. To make it a proper training ride I had to add some distance near home in the morning and a few extra wiggles at the office end in the afternoon.
You’d think the Northcliff leg would be the hardest (hundreds of us have gone there to ride hill repeats), but home was in the Eagle Canyon Golf Estate, once known as the Lafarge Quarry. We rode Cross Country Nationals in that quarry before the gravel pits and slime dams gave way to Tuscan and Bali-style mansions and greens, but the gradients are still there. The road goes straight up almost from the front door!
Many residents took advantage of the quiet roads in the estate to run and ride their bikes, and it was very jovial with smiles and hand waves all round, except when I encountered the two skinnies.
With my limited gearing and ability, I laboured on some of the hills, but I was not going that slowly, was I? Catching and overtaking everyone was hardly the point of the exercise, but they became my nemeses. Sometimes there was only one skinny, and then I stood even less of a chance. I am not making excuses, but this girl could run. Really run. Even on the downhills, she stubbornly managed to stay ahead, and I must admit it eventually became a bit of an obsession to keep the gap constant because that was about all I could do.
Imagine my relief, when The Eagle (a monthly publication) fell open on the page where René Kalmer was talking about her ambitions for the marathon at the London Olympic Games. The other skinny is her sister Christine, who has mercifully gone to study in Arkansas, but I’ll be rooting for René. She has worked hard for this one, just ask me.