The weekend neared and Linda and I asked by my daughter to attend the monthly mountain bike outing they normally attend. Nothing else to do, except write, blog or read, “why not” our reply. A family outing to Babba's Lodge, North of Pretoria in South Africa.
Whilst they rode in the bush-veld, it would give me a chance to take photographs. An early start at six o’clock, with three cycles on the back of the vehicle, for my son-in-law, grandson (6) and granddaughter (3).
Babba's Lodge, a privately owned property, a well set up facility to hold a monthly bike ride, is a half hour out-of-town, as the racing only started at eight o'clock, I naturally ask if the traffic on a Sunday would be so heavy. The idea was to get there early to get a good parking spot near the finish line. A good idea as there was no place for a chair in the vehicle.
Forty five minutes later we arrived, the place was already half full, but a good parking spot was still available. There were mountain bikes all over the place, with people dressed for the occasion in tight riding gear, caps and gloves. Being winter I thought they would be better covered, but then they were going to tackle a distance that should build up a sweat. I enjoyed the tight riding gear on the women, the men's, with these funny seat pads that protect the family jewels, makes them look as if they have had a slip and never made it to the toilet in time.
There are four different races, 70km, 35km, 13km and for the very young 1km. My son-in-law was to tackle the 35km as his fitness level is in question, (I've kept him in front of the computer encoding my program) the Grand children, for fun, the 1km. My grand daughters bike is a push model with no pedals. The first off, the long distance, positioning myself for the best photo shot, I could only listen to the announcer as the rules read out. “Beware of the Lion, if you meet them don't stop and pet them, even though they are tame.” What! No way was I allowing anyone to ride in this race.
A second person near me said “don't worry, they're in cages” I think he saw the panic on my face. Count down and off the first race went, followed fifteen minutes later by the middle distance. There were hundreds of entrances and once they were all past I moved up to get shots of the grand children. My daughter was taking a small amount of ribbing from the announcer with her daughter on a bike with no peddles, she would go with her, so she also lined up in the crowd. Count down and the sixes and under took off with as much enthusiasm as the adults, the six-year old went off like a bullet and the three-year old, as fast as the legs would work, with Mom running beside her.
A stroll to the finish line got me there just in time to see the grandson come in third, how they got around that kilometre in such short time astounded me. To the delight of the crowd, along came the three-year old not that far behind the last of those with pedals. To see those faces as they received their medals and certificates, such joy. That over, it gave me time to get closer to the circuits of the others, the camera sang, the look of strain, the pain, suffering accompanied with the thoughts of “Why am I doing this?”
The finishing line rewarded me with some good photos of that last struggle to reach that line, but it was here that I saw the camaraderie of the families. Sons encouraging fathers and mothers, all together on bicycles and others encouraging friends or team mates. The race over, the war stories began, who fell where, who overtook whom, how they handled the climbs and descents, one big happy family. Out came the portable braai (barbecue), beers opened and a chatter taking place all over. Families joined by friends, picnics, no one in a hurry to go home, what a wonderful day, so like those I experienced as a youngster.
This was a great outing, and Babba's Lodge needs congratulating on encouraging the family outing, if you are in the area visit the farm and check the Internet for the following race, it's a great family outing.
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