This past weekend, I had the opportunity to ride with Otty and Roland. Otty is a man of many talents, one of them is running his own business at Northern Farm. He rents out bicycles to people wanting to get into the sport, to people that bring their friends along for a ride and everything in between.
During the week, Northern Farm, is an active farm. The land is owned by the government which has allowed farmers in the surrounding area to cultivate the land and make a living for themselves. However, during the weekend, the farm is opened up to the public to ride and enjoy the beauty of the farm, Johannesburg and the awesome single track.
What Otty does which I thought was super impressive, for those people not quite sure on the routes at the farm or wanting to get into the sport but don’t know how to ride a bicycle, he offers guided rides. I decided to take Otty up on this offer so I could chat to him about how the rentals are going at Northern Farm, what he was doing to get more people involved from the Diepsloot Mountain Bike Academy, how far the sport has taken him and where he wants to go with his business.
On the ride, we met up with a fellow DMA rider, Roland, who we welcomed to join us on the ride full of laughs. Roland unfortunately was on a single speed, which put him at a slight disadvantaged on the hills. However, I soon found out he is one of the strongest riders I know around and so wasn’t showing the disadvantage on any of the climbs.
The awesomeness of riding with guys who know the trails and ride it most weeks, they know all the best single tracks. And what awesome single tracks they have, riding through forest sections, open quarries, rock gardens plus jeep tracks for days. Basically anything and everything that you could want with more. What I realised on the route, this is a place where one could easily spend many many MANY hours training for an upcoming race and never get tired of it. The different sections all link up to the main jeep tracks, allowing you to tailor make a route which will best suit what kind of training you currently need to do.
During the ride, Otty went on to explain to me a little bit about the DMA and how that and Northern Farm has changed the lives of so many people growing up in poverty. Its unbelievable how one organisation has changed so many people’s lives in such a short time. What I took away from my ride with the two guys is quite a simple message, be so thankful for what you have.
That, and to keep going back to get some rad riding in.
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of riding with Leo, a visitor from Europe.
After a few emails going back and forth, he decided he wanted to take the option of me picking him up from Sandton and then going out to The Big Red Barn for a mountain bike ride together. When the morning finally arrived, I remember looking out of my window to see how warmly I would need to get dressed. Very warm, as it was one of the coldest days we had to experience this year.
When Leo walked out of the hotel, I thought I am either very overdressed or he was completely underdressed. During the car ride to Red Barn, he told me how his last ride, two weeks before coming to SA, the weather was a fantastic 5 degrees. Looking down at my temperature gauge, I felt I was the overdressed one when it showed 13 degrees.
He continued to say how happy he was to be able to ride in Johannesburg and get to see the trails we have on offer with a rental bike as it didn’t make sense for him to bring his bike all the way for a few rides. After arriving on site, he was able to give his bike for the day a good once over and was very impressed with what he saw. His pedals were on in no time and soon after that we were on the trails loving life.
We ended up stopping halfway through for any cyclists’ motion lotion, a cup of good coffee. We headed back onto the trail to redo some of the parts he thoroughly enjoyed for some more smiles and laughter.
Unfortunately, the day did have to end but on the drive home, he was smiling ear to ear, commentating on how great the trails were and how much fun he had on the bike.
I guess being South Africans we can sometimes take for granted how good we do have it, the weather, the friendly people, and the fantastic cycling trails.