The view from the balcony of my place of abode has been made all the more prettier by the strategic placing of my new precious. It’s a new bicycle, a mountain bike, and I think I’m in love with it. I know I’m in love with it. Perhaps it’s the name of the bike, the KTM. It looks like someone wrote my initials on the side of the bike.
I’ve always wanted “KM” on a bike, but, unless you are a professional, sticking your name on a bike is considerably naff. It’s a bit like putting “McCallum” on the back of a Liverpool shirt, although that dream will still come true. Oh yes.
So, on the balcony, shining in the sun, is a deadly new KTM Lycan. It is an |interim bike until the bike I will actually ride in the Absa Cape Epic, arrives in the next month or so.
It’s a bit like having a Miss South African while you wait for Miss Universe, except that there is a lot more intellectually nous in the workings of just one of the shocks of the Lycan than most Miss Anythings.
The Lycan does not want world peace, nor does it want to work with children and have us love one another. The Lycan wants me to get down and dirty with it. It wants me to treat it bad and have it begging for more. The Lycan is asking me to change my way of thinking when it comes to dealing with things beautiful, and, yes, female, for bicycles are female.
Let there be no mistake. They are wonderful, stunning, sometimes temperamental, sometimes reflective of your own weaknesses and strengths, but always a siren singing at you from the shore.
The Lycan has been given on loan to me by Willie du Plooy and Hans de Ridder of KTM for the race. The two are on a mission to get sports men and women on to bikes and have sponsored some of the South African cricket team, as well as Vanessa Haywood, the actress and model, and also David Bellairs of the Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour Trust. And now they have entrusted me with their bikes. I feel all like a pro rider. A bit. Apart from the body fat, the whitest legs in cycling (it’s hard to get a tan inside a bar) and the massive levels of fitness.
The Lycan is just my second new mountain bike. My bicycle history stretches back to the Chopper I had as a kid growing up in Northern Ireland. When I started riding again in 2000, I bought a Sunn, a French make, for the princely sum of R2 000.
In our first race, the Cycle Tour of 2000, I crashed before the line, broke my pedal in the start chute (after getting into the wrong starting group), then had a puncture on the Eastern Boulevard, five kilometres in to the race.
My second bike was a second-hand yellow Trek, which I rode several races on before buying a Specialized Tarmac. The Specialized had belonged to Jamie Ball, who had finished third in the Cycle Tour on it. Then I discovered eBay and spent a fair amount of money putting together bikes from drunk purchases.
At home I have a Cervelo Soloist, permanently clamped to a Tacx indoor trainer, and a Specialized Tarmac SL, which has been repaired after the frame was cracked following a prang on the finish line of the 2010 Cycle Tour.
In my house is an old Cannondale with wonky gears and a confused front fork.
I once had a Team Barloworld Bianchi 928 SL that had been ridden by Enrico Gasparotto, the Italian who had worn pink in the Giro d’Italia. It had his name on it. It was nicked from my house, along with the Bafana jersey that had “McCallum” on the back of it. I loved that bike, but, now, I love the KTM more. I shall write love songs to my bicycle; I shall hug it early in the morning before it is decent and the rest of the world is awake.
The KTM and I will spend long hours together as we train for the Absa Cape Epic. I shall promise to honour and obey ... well, honour, anyway ...