Cycling isn’t something I’m particularly good at. In fact, I suck at it. So why did I cycle about 20km’s through the heart of deepest, darkest Johannesburg on Friday night?
Let’s start right back at the beginning:
My complicated relationship with cycling started when, at the age of 13, I basically destroyed my right arm when I
bliksemed fell off a bicycle. Spectacularly! An impressive amount of skin went missing & I still have a huge scar on my right elbow to show for it.
At University, I once received a complimentary gym membership and thanks to the help of a stationary bicycle managed to nearly rid myself of my left calf muscle! Just imagine this: my foot slipped off the pedal, the pedal crashed into the back of my leg and deposited some serious scrape-marks, a bright purple bruise the size of …a big shoe! Oh, and one very random injury to explain away.
Fast forward a few years & a few thousand kilometers, to my recent travels in Europe and my determination to see Copenhagen the Danish way: on a bicycle.
Richard and I went sightseeing on our last evening in Copenhagen, we picked up a pair of public bicycles along the way and between drinking on the banks of a canal and occasionally stopping to admire the sights and sounds along the way, we managed a 4-hour cycling adventure which covered much more of the city than we ever would’ve been able to see on foot. I have to add though, that it only got dark at about 23:30 – summer days in Scandinavia seem never-ending!
There and then we promised each other that since I managed to recover the ability to safely use two-wheeled vehicles we’d try to maintain this exciting and exhilarating hobby back home, but as with many other travelling daydreams nothing really came of it… Until the friendly people at Felt Bikes SA made the suggestion that we should take two of their cruiser series bicycles for a spin at Friday’s Critical Mass in Jozi.
What is Critical Mass?
Started in San Francisco by disgruntled cyclists who felt their city wasn’t cycling-friendly, they started reclaiming the streets after hours. 30 Seconds to Mars made it famous with this brilliant music video:
The ride is done at a leisurely pace (it is NOT a race) and it’s about seeing your city, smelling it, seeing its’ many different inhabitants up close and most importantly it’s about reclaiming a space that belongs to all of us.
We met in Juta street, Braamfontein (where the Neighbourgoods Market is usually held) at 7pm and more than 500 people cycled through Braamfontein, Brixton, Fordsburg, Newtown, Gandhi square, Main Street Life (where we stopped to take a breather and buy a drink – take cash!) and then onwards through the eastern side of town, passing Coca Cola Park, Hillbrow, Park station, the Nelson Mandela Bridge and back to Juta street.
As far we went there were traffic marshals on stand-by to ensure motorists give cyclists safe passage, you cycle in a big group and slow down every now and again for the slow-pokes to catch up. This means you end up chatting to fellow cyclists along the way, sharing drinks, stories about your bikes and complementing the brave ones on their wacky / wild costumes.
I Instagrammed many awesome pics of this adventure, Richard took some GoPro footage and I even tried my hand at a bit of video editing (perhaps I should have left this to my husband – since he’s a pro!). So here’s my first EVER video editing experiment!
Critical Mass Johannesburg takes place every last Friday night of the month and you really don’t need to be fit to keep up – I wasn’t even stiff at all and I’m terribly unfit. It’s a relaxing way to broaden your horizons and appreciate a lovely summer’s evening outdoors!
Check out the Facebook group for more info and pics.