Living in Johannesburg certainly has its benefits, one of them is the short winters we have to endure. However, we still do like to complain during winter as to how cold it is. Almost like it surprises us every year. We are quite lucky in the fact that our winters are roughly three months long and normally during the day, it still hits temperatures that some countries count as a summer’s day.
This past weekend, it was the winter solstice, the shortest day and the longest night. To mark such an occasion, a weekend ride was in order. Obviously this time, setting off at the crack of dawn wasn’t going to happen but a more leisurely time of 9am. It does help going off so late when the “winter” gear is more for autumn but there was no stopping me.
As I am busy trying to train a little for a ride coming up in a month that has a few hills, I thought it best to do just that, hill repeats. The one downside of living in Joburg, we don’t have the biggest climbs around and most of them can be done within 15 minutes. Which means having to do repeats of the same hill to get in a good training ride. Joburg does sit at an elevation of 1,700m (5,750ft) above sea level so we are already quite high, yet it can only offer rolling hills as some people say.
On the particular ride I did this weekend, it was awesome to see so many other riders out doing the same thing as myself but it was also great to see runners, walkers, people taking their dogs for walks, everything. That made the session a lot easier to bare with everyone greeting each other, no matter how deep into their training session they were.
Stopping at the top after the last repeat and taking the view in made all the pain worthwhile. Sitting at the top looking over Jozi while eating an energy bar to get some strength to get me home made the day for me. Being a little too far removed to see the cars properly made it all a little surreal that this was Johannesburg, the hustle and bustle capital of South Africa. The ride home might have been a little slower than expected with the legs not listening to the Jens Voight in me telling them to “Shut up” but that didn’t matter. The ride was over, the goals were achieved, the pleasure was well worth the few hours of pain.
A few things I have taken away from this years winter solstice ride are; get a new jacket, never give up, no matter how old you are still keep pedalling and Johannesburg is world class – its people, the culture, the weather, everything. And that’s why it will always be home to me.