Free­wheelin’

LEG­END HAS IT, COM­PLET­ING THIS SA­CRED RITE OF PAS­SAGE MEANS YOU’VE REACHED THE NEXT LEVEL OF CY­CLING…

Bicycling (South Africa) - - INSIDE - BY JONATHAN ANCER

What do you do when you fi­nally get to over­take another rider? What ev­ery cy­clist does, of course!

IIwas about to do it. I braced my­self to trans­form from a Noddee to a Nod­der.

There are a num­ber of cy­cling rites of pas­sage that sig­nal your tran­si­tion from ‘new­bie’ to ‘cy­clist’ – for ex­am­ple, when you fi­nally man­age not to fall as you un­cleat at a red ro­bot, or the first time you cat­a­pult over the han­dle­bars, or when your odome­ter clicks over from 99km and you break your 100-kay vir­gin­ity.

So far, The Nod had been elu­sive. But at last, I was about to give another rider The Nod as I over­took him.

The Nod is a sub­tle move­ment; a small, al­most un­no­tice­able head tweak that lands a pow­er­ful pa­tro­n­is­ing punch. If you could put The Nod into words, the phrase ‘Ag, shame’ would come clos­est.

What The Nod does to the per­son who has just re­ceived it is de­stroy their will to live.

I had been the re­ceiver of The Nod many times. Al­ways the over­ta­kee, never the over­taker. I had come to hate The Nod.

It was time some­one ate my dust. It was time I be­came a Nod­der.

And then it hap­pened. I was on the moun­tain, mak­ing my way up the hill, when I saw a speck on the hori­zon. A few pedal strokes later, the speck be­came a fleck. When I looked up 897 pedal strokes later, the fleck had be­come a dot.

There were two pos­si­bil­i­ties: ei­ther cy­cling is the new car­rots, and my eye­sight was im­prov­ing with ev­ery pedal stroke… or I was Gain­ing On A Cy­clist.

About 10 min­utes later I looked up again, and saw that the speck-fleck- dot was in fact a sil­hou­ette – this was a real

I prac­tised The Nod. Don’t overdo it, I warned my­self. Not too much. Keep it sub­tle.

per­son I was gain­ing on. My time had come! I prac­tised The Nod. Don’t overdo it, I warned my­self. Not too much. Keep it

sub­tle. A minute later, I was within strik­ing dis­tance of my two-wheeled prey, who I no­ticed had grey hair. Ahhh, I thought, a sad­dle-sage Sil­ver Fox, with kilo­me­tres of cy­cling ex­pe­ri­ence un­der his tyres! A few pedal strokes later, I was cy­cling side-by-side with my vic­tim. He looked up; and, hold­ing his gaze, I pre­pared to tran­si­tion from ‘cy­cling zero’ to… well, not quite ‘cy­cling pro’ – per­haps ‘cy­cling zero plus 1’.

“Great day for rid­ing,” I wheezed – al­though what I re­ally meant was: Pre­pare to eat my dust, sucker, as you be­come my Noddee!

I tilted my head, poised to strike with a deadly Nod – but be­fore I could de­liver the bru­tal blow, the Sil­ver Fox replied: “Yes, it’s beau­ti­ful. I’ve re­ally missed it. It’s my first time on the bike since my hip re­place­ment.”

Hip re­place­ment, schmip re­place­ment – I’ll take it.

I gave him The Nod, and rode off into the sun­set.

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