Some people are just different to others.  In fact, there is something about them that just makes the rest of us feel a tad inadequate.

There is Niel Armstrong who was the first person to tippi-toe on the moon.  Martin Luther King had a couple of dreams.  Oscar is running with no legs.  But ya know what?  I only get to see these okes on the TV and they do not impact my daily life.

In my house I have my own hero.

No ………… it is not the dog!

So, of course we are going to get back to the Karoo-to-Coast cycle race ……. ya know the one – the 100 kays of pure hell – between Uniondale and Knysna – not for the faint hearted.

There are literally thousands of cyclists there.  They are primed, they have trained, some have bought new bikes they are all just embracing the atmosphere.

Frans and Jamie are there with their bikes, Jamie who is able to do the race without a doubt – but we are still not sure if he is ALLOWED to cycle.  Frans who is ALLOWED to cycle but we have still to prove his ability to cycle 100 kays of pure hell.

On the morning of the race we get up, along with 3 600 other cyclists Frans and Jamie go to their start pens and at 7.30 the starter gun goes.  I have really looked and looked but as far as I can see Frans has the only bike with absolutely no shocks,  its going to be a bumpy ride.  I also saw a oke with bare feet!  That is just madness!

We have sent Jamie off with his Dad to give moral support – I think Frans is going to need it.  Well off they go !

Rosie and I jump into the car and head off to the Avontuur crossing, one of the few places where you can actually see the cyclists go past.  From there on it is just one big rocky, hilly road to Knysna.

Jamie comes speeding past with two other okes in Pennypinchers gear.  It seems like his Dad hooked up with some tortoises at the beginning of the race and he told Jamie to go on and stay with the Pennypinchers okes.  About ½ an hour later Frans comes past.  He is happy, he looks like he is having fun and we all give him a great big cheer.

Now this is where the Hero bit starts.  If Frans was me, and it was me riding the bike, but he isn’t and I wasn’t – he would have got off the bike at the Avontuur crossover, put his bike in the car and we could have all gone on our merry way to meet Jamie at the finish.  Remember he only started cycling 6 weeks ago, he has a 20 year old bike, with no shocks, cleats, well basically nothing except 2 wheels and a frame – OH and he did wear his old 20 year old helmet.  He received his first cycling shirt the day before.

So off they all cycle down the dirt road towards Knysna – 84 kays before we see them again.

Rosie and I set off to Knysna via the Ousthoorn/George road.  And by the time we hit the George petrol station we hear that the first riders are in ……….. no, it wasn’t Frans.

We get to Knysna and make our way to the top of Simola Hill the next spot where we can see the riders.  As we get there we  see paramedics rushing towards the top of the hill, a cyclist is down.  An ambulance, paramedics,  the NSRI and first aiders rush to him.  We see them doing compressions, they pump and pump,  eventually the Police arrive, eventually the Morgue arrives.  The rider has passed away at the scene.   All I can think about ……. 10 odd Kilometres away, someone is waiting for him at the finish ……. he will not be arriving.

Shortly after the Mortuary  van leaves, Jamie and the two Pennypinchers okes arrive strong and happy at the top of Simola.  They regroup and make their way towards the finish – all downhill and tar from here on.

Immediately I phone Frans ……. “Get off your bike and get into the Meatwagon (the name of the collection truck) and come home”  I say,  I know Frans isn’t cycling fit, we have seen a fit person pass away and all I want is Frans to come to the finish on or off a bike.

“Tan ….” He says …. “At the rate I am going I will be fine – and I am the last person they allowed through the two-o-clock cut-off”,  now this was one of Frans two aims for the race, to a.  Make the two-o-clock cut-off point, and b. (this would be the cherry) to finish the race.  He tells me they literally passed the barrier tape over his back and said the dreaded words “Dis the laaste OKE” .  Frans reckons there were many people behind him.

Rosie and I start waiting.  We know Jamie is safe at the finish.  We wait and wait ….. no Frans.  Eventually I crack, I go to the NSRI guy – no he cant help.  I go to the waterpoint – no they cant tell me where my husband is.  Eventually (now I am really in a tizz),  a guy on a quad-bike stops next to me.  “Whats wrong?”   He asks, before I can answer he looks at me and says “Hey you are Frans Lootss wife”,  thank  goodness!  I explain Frans hasn’t come past, he phones the meatwagon and Frans isn’t on it, he phones the race-organiser and Frans isn’t listed as injured. But he is still missing.  I am worried.

The NSRI guy eventually tells me to get into his bakkie and we will find him.  We get into the bakkie and we ride down, down, down (and it is steep) – now remember the cyclists are riding up, up, up and it is steep.  Right at the bottom we find Frans and a whole lot of other cyclists.  They are happy and now I am happy.  Frans gets to the top and heads off to the finish.

My Hero …….. Frans, you did it.  In your own time, within your capabilities and on the equipment you had available.  The guy who passed away must have been a good cyclist because when the incident happened he would have finished in a 4hour odd time.  I think that it was his time to go – just that.

As for Jamie, well he had his own experience.  For the first time ever he cycled in a race where he enjoyed it for the experience.  He rode with guys who were riding as a team and they constantly regrouped, checked on each other and stuck as a pack.  I wish Jamie and his friends can do this more often instead of going flet-out each time they ride in their events.  Learning to look out for your friends, instead of worrying if your friend is beating you just lends to a more enjoyable experience.

Frans finishing the race didn’t have South Africa glued to their TV’s, its not going to change the planet or how South Africans feel about each other,  but, I really think each and every one of us have a hero living in our homes.  It may be the morning that someone makes you a cup of coffee, or, just greets you at the door with a “Welcome Home”.  It may be the effort your child puts into their school work, or just the respect you all show each other.

Families should be there for each other, stick together as a pack, look out for each other instead of going flet-out all the time on each persons own mission. 

It will all end in a more enjoyable experience that is the ride of life.


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