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27 Oct, 2015

Racing with lights on

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The 50 Shades team just before the sixth race of the Over the Moon MTB Series. Marie-Anne Meijers (extreme left) crashed near the finish line, breaking her collar bone.

My brother-in-law, the Colonel, has done a few night rides at Modderfontein over the last few months and encouraged us to join him.

The Boss decided he wasn’t going to take part because he was off to ride the Tour de Thuli a week later and didn’t need any injuries. So it would be the Godfather and I on this new adventure.

The traffic from Fourways to Modders that August evening was horrendous and it took us two hours to get there. The race organisers delayed the race start time by 10 minutes - thank goodness - and we arrived at the start just as the race started.

Luckily the Godfather had got our numbers and had waited for us. There was no time for me to use the facilities before we set off …

We turned on our lights and set off riding a lot of the single track that we were used to riding regularly, in reverse. It was quite disconcerting in the dark and you couldn’t really judge distance and incline but we really had fun.

The men were very kind and didn’t let me get left behind too much so I had no chance to relieve myself when we stopped. I was busting!

About 18 kilometres into the 23 kilometre race, the Colonel’s light gave trouble and I took the opportunity to find a bush. I walked a little way from the men and found somewhere to squat … it was dark and who knew what lurked in the bushes so I suppose I was a bit exposed!

I turned off my light and sat down. Suddenly I was spotlighted, 50 shades of bare ass! Thanks guys … The men were very apologetic and proceeded a few seconds later to spotlight me again! Thank goodness I can laugh at myself and I hope I didn’t frighten too many of the locals!

We finished off our ride not being able to feel our feet and hands we were so cold! The fires at the finish were very welcome. We had had a lovely ride in the dark and I think the Godfather and I are hooked!

The following Saturday, the Boss and I joined Hannes, the “Medic” and his lovely wife Hermien, the “Roadie”, at Buffelsdrift, north of Pretoria, for a ride. The Roadie was doing a skills course at the facility and we had an awesome ride while she was busy.

This was 28 kilometres of good solid riding with no time to rest except for the last three kilometres of hectic, twisty, catch-me-if-you-can single track back to base. Wow, what a rush! I so enjoyed giving my bike its head and hurtling down the track. I think this will be an excellent place for Sani training.

One month later after a bit of persuasion and finding of lights, the 50 Shaders, guys and dolls, lined up on the start line of the September GalileoRisk Over the Moon night race. The Medic had been racking his brains and had come up with a “catherddle”. A cross between a saddle and a catheter in case I got caught short again (patent and blueprints pending!).

Amid much hilarity, we set off on what turned out to be a lovely ride. Heidi had a light problem and we pulled together and shone our lights so she could see the way. This brought on much “gees” and it was decided that some of us would cross the line together.

I was already over the line and turned to see the others finishing when I saw “Crash Me if I Can” (Marie-Anne Meijers) hitting the dirt! Her timing, as always, was perfect. She seems to have dramatic high impact falls close to the finish line!

The result was a slow tortuous painful drive out of Modderfontein reserve, a long night in the emergency room, X-rays and an appointment the following day with the surgeon to have a plate placed to hold together her shattered collar bone!

No half measures – if you going to do it, do it right! Our first broken bone! At the admissions department, the sweet young man behind the counter thanked Marie-Anne for injuring herself and bringing in new business so his year-end bonus was assured! Such humour under difficult circumstances kept us entertained.

The 50 Shaders are coming of age. A year later and a bit longer in the tooth, but never the less, we are game for anything.

Jean Reynolds

Jean Reynolds

50 Shades Contributor |

One of the original 50 Shades of ... Mud riders, Jean has taken to cycling like fishes take to water and regularly rides her road and mountain bike all over the place.