May Newsletter

May Newsletter

Welcome back to a slightly chillier, a slightly darker, but a no less busy Grahamstown, after the Easter holiday. Looking at the wonderful race report backs in this issue it is obvious that our club athletes used the extra holiday time to put in the extra hours to participate in some amazing events around our beautiful province.

The moon was still up on my run this morning and it’s size and beauty once again reminded me how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful little town where we can really appreciate the simple pleasures life has to offer.

Chairman’s Report

Winter is knocking at our door which means that it’s getting darker much earlier these days.

Please remember to be safe and wear bright clothing when you’re out on the road.

Our time trial will also start 15 minutes earlier from this week (17:15) so please feel free to join us in a safe environment. 

This past weekend myself, David Stoloff and Nadia Czeredrecki-Schmidt ran the 21km route that we want to use for the GBS 1/2 Marathon and it was actually quite enjoyable.marathon_route

I believe that this will be quite a fun race and invite you to join us on the 25th of August for a great event!

The A.S.S. committee will be meeting on Thursday, the 3rd of May to discuss:

– The date for the AGM,

– Our current cycling situation in town,

– Our commitment and vision to our development runners and

– Benefits for our club members for 2019.

Thank you to everyone who assisted and completed our cycling survey.

Some much needed information was received that will hopefully help our committee make some informed decisions towards cycling in the club.

Also worth mentioning – we have been accommodating all our ex members with our e-mail communication.

This will unfortunately be the last e-mail sent out to our ex-members.

If you would like to continue receiving these emails, please consider becoming a member again.

For our runners we have kept the membership the same as last year(R340.00) and R230.00 for our Cyclists/Triathletes/Social club members.

We are slowly but surely chipping away at the historical issues that have plagued the club and we are focusing on value added services to our members.

Unfortunately, as we are a small committee our capacity and time restraints work against us but we are moving forward…slowly but surely.

I do however believe that we have made some great progress in the past 4 months and we will continue to do so.

Race Report Backs

Argus 2018 – Ian Siebörger

In Tandem

In June 2014, my father, Andrew Siebörger, suffered from a stroke while cycling home from work in Cape Town.  The stroke damaged the connection between the language centres in his brain, leaving him with conduction aphasia.  He got back on his bike and rode the Cape Town Cycle Tour in 2015, before retiring from work and cycle races and moving to Jeffreys Bay.  This is the story of how we came to ride the 2018 Cape Town Cycle Tour together on a tandem, as written by my father. – Ian Siebörger 

“I’m tired of doing the Argus. I’ve done it 13 times; that’s enough.” I said to Ian at lunch, after the very disappointing gale-blowing-non-Argus-2017. We had deposited Ian at the start of the race that morning, the howling wind blowing bikes “in horizontal mode”! Within an hour he had phoned us from the CBD to say that the race had been cancelled while he was in the chute, so we had to pick him up again.

I continued, “The only thing that would make me want to ride in another Cape Town Cycle Tour is to ride with you on a tandem. Maybe we could borrow a tandem for that.” That was just a throwaway comment.

In July my wife Sandy and I skyped Ian for one of our weekly chats. “I have tried to borrow a tandem, but I haven’t been successful. I don’t think I can find one in Grahamstown,” Ian said.

Oh rats, Ian,” I thought to myself. “Did he really think that I was being serious? I’m completely unfit anyway and I don’t relish the idea of training for months.” So that was the end of that short conversation.

We went to Cape Town for two Siebörger birthdays in August. One night I was not sleeping well, thinking about all sorts of random things. Suddenly I thought, “I know! Brian and Frances [my parents’ friends who happen to be the parents of Olympic cyclist Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio – Ian] have done many Arguses, including the two of them on a tandem.” Next day I WhatsApped Brian: “Do you know of anybody who has a tandem that I could borrow for the Argus next year?”

In a few minutes Brian replied: “Sure, you can use our one. Today Frances and I have just talked about selling it. You can train on it and ride it in the Argus.” What a generous couple, even though we would have to take it to Jeffreys Bay for the six months of training. We visited their home and we tried to fit the bike into our Polo Vivo(!) because our bike carrier and / or our trailer were back in Jeffreys Bay. Incredibly Brian said, “OK, we do have another bike carrier, so you can borrow this one for the six months.” Wow.

Back home Sandy said to me: “You can’t just practise on it alone. You need to have a training buddy. I’ll try to see if I can ride with you on the tandem.” In the long-lost past we had ridden our homemade heavy tandem in Jeffreys Bay, for about a kilometre or two, especially on the hard sand along the seashore at Kabeljous. Our rusty tandem is now an artwork on the gable of our house.

I changed the pedals on the tandem: I (the Pilot) have cleated shoes; Sandy (the Stoker) wore takkies with the ordinary flat pedals. Next I adjusted the two saddles, the nice padded saddles, according to our heights. Finally we donned our helmets. So we were ready – or were we?

On the verge of the road we hopped on. And that was our first argument – a tandem can make or break a marriage. And we were still stationary! Of course, on a bike, I have always started off with my right pedal high up. Of course, Sandy had always started off with her left pedal high up! Soon we realised that we, perversely, are opposite footed: I am right-footed and Sandy is left-footed. I won: the Pilot always has to win every argument! I cleated into my right pedal and we set off, starting with our right feet high. We wobbled wildly like drunken decrepit pensioners. And we landed, mercifully, on the grass! And with me still cleated into my right pedal.

Immediately I realised that I needed to change my pedals to flat ones. (Over the six months of training I became a master-pedal-exchanger.) A week later we bought gloves, for obvious reasons.

Try #2. We started again, warily, managing to keep our balance and we lurched along the pavement, scattering children, dogs, garbage bins and zimmer-frames. (A little poetic licence.) After navigating the block, victoriously, we disembarked at our front gate. We had strong cups of coffee.

Next day we encountered Granny. In Jeffreys Bay there are many grannies (and we are not in that bracket yet). I am referring to using the granny gear, obviously. We had mapped out a route on which we could train; we were trying to give wide berth to uninsured cars. Turning westwards we would tackle the vicious hills by going inland, rather than riding on the level Da Gama Road, past the Beach Hotel Offsales and Spar Tops.

Once again, the Pilot was in charge – of the gears. After 10 minutes I encountered the brakes with an almighty screech as we came down from Wavecrest. “STOP! You’re going far too fast,” came the shrill voice from the Stoker. Mercifully we came to a halt at the four-way stop sign. Phew!

Turning left we got back onto Da Gama Road, named after the guy who navigated round the Cape of Good Hope. So we were about to circumnavigate Jeffreys Bay. The Pilot started to use the rear-view mirror, and the bicycle bell, some very important pieces of equipment. The only problem was that I, the Pilot, couldn’t look back because I was fixated on our unbalanced-ness and the hallmark J-Bay potholes. [Mere dimples compared to our Grahamstown craters! – Ian] Eventually, when we got back home we moved the mirror to the back handlebars. From then on the Stoker took charge of the mirror.

We turned left onto the old West Way road. First we climbed the little hill; then came the Middle Hill and, in a kilometre or two, the BIG HILL. At the bottom of the valley I fluffed the gear-change, crashing from the middle ring to granny gear. We couldn’t get the bike moving to go uphill. Praise the Lord there were no cars from behind and we managed to get going again using a side road. With a huff and many puffs we made it to the top. Thank the Lord for Granny!

With a few narrow scrapes we went down to the southern side of the town and we passed Dolphin Beach, looking at the beautiful ocean. Once again we came adrift at the one-and-only traffic light in J-Bay because the hill-approach is steep, and we couldn’t start off into the intersection. We were quite chuffed with our first 15km ride.

Over the next few weeks we became professional tandem-cyclists. We communicated with each other continuously.

Pilot: “Hole!”; “Big ring”; “Granny”; “Gearing down” (especially for a stop street); “Going right”; “Rolling” (free-wheeling), and “Getting off left”.

Stoker: “Car 40m / 20m” (looking in the mirror); “Easier / Harder” (Stoker needed a gear-change), and “Clear behind”.

Day by day we got a little fitter. At 5:40am we would start out so that we would have minimal traffic. We settled into our daily 21km rides. At the beginning we clocked in at 60 minutes, and then by the end of our training we did our best time: 50 minutes. Sometimes, on a lovely morning, we did our 33km route around town including Marina Martinique, Aston Bay and the causeway to Paradise Beach. Between December and February we ventured further, first Humansdorp (33km), then on to Hankey (64km) and eventually to St Francis Bay on a very blustery day (74km).

At Christmas, training started in earnest when Ian came here to practise with me. (Ian’s wife Cathy and Sandy were the enthusiastic supporters.)  For our first ride I piloted for a few kilometres, while Ian was stoking. Very soon we were not stoked about those respective roles, so we swapped saddles. For a tandem, the Pilot should be the heavier one, for the steering and the stability. (Ian had overtaken me by a few centimetres in height while I had become thinner over the last three years.) So father and son have changed roles in my retirement days. And Ian has powerful hill-climbing legs.

We had lovely weather for the last few days of 2017. Riding to St Francis Bay and towards Hankey we zoomed down and we got up the hills in record time. At the beginning of February, Sandy and I (with the intrepid steed on the back of the car) went to Grahamstown for the last training ride. It was another wonderful day when over the big hills and dales, Ian and I rode for 90km to Carlisle Bridge (on the road to Cradock) and back. Ian got the gears working well, and he did his personal best time on that route. So we were ready and raring to go to the Herald Continental Cycle Tour in Port Elizabeth.

On Saturday 24 February the weather was threatening and rainy. On the Sunday the gentle rain continued as we drove from J-Bay, then offloaded the bike in PE at the beachfront.  As we went to the start of the race, it stopped raining. The westerly wind was a bit tiresome, but we came back into the city in triumph and with a very good time. Once again Ian and I had cycled very well, in spite of a little glitch near the beginning.

Sandy and I drove to Grace Cottage, our second home in Edgemead, Cape Town at the end of February. “I’d love to show you my old routes, especially cycling up and down Chappies and Suikerbossie. We can suffer together!” I said to Sandy. So a week before the Argus we drove to Three Anchor Bay and parked there. At six o’clock in the morning it was still dark, the full moon was glistening on the ocean, there was no wind and there was not too much traffic either. What a magnificent cycling day.

At Camps Bay the sky was lighter; with orange on the horizon and aquamarine above. We left behind the suburbs and we took in the pleasures of nature, the cool Atlantic air, moonlight over the sea and a nice smooth road. Victoria Drive was not too steep, but going down into Hout Bay we really motored. (The speed is classified.) Going up Chapman’s Peak was not a doddle, but pleasant enough. At the top, looking across the bay, we saw the full moon setting behind the Sentinel. And, of course, going down the other side was quite exhilarating, but also nerve-wracking – especially for the Stoker.

At Noordhoek we popped in on our friends the Fryes, who were having breakfast, before turning back. Then it started: little Chappies, BIG CHAPPIES, little Bossies in Hout Bay Republic, then (%$#@) SUIKERBOSSIE. We did it!! We really did it! We didn’t need to get off the tandem at all. Of course the Stoker did most of the work. From Bakoven to Bantry Bay and Sea Point the traffic, at 8:30am, was a bit scary, but we enjoyed the route very much, 64km of it.

On Tuesday, Sandy and I did our last training ride going into the Tygerberg hills, from the smelly cowsheds at Fair Cape to Nitida up Tiekiedraai, but the Cape traffic has got much worse. On Friday 9 March Ian and Cathy drove westwards from Grahamstown to Grace. We went to register at the Cape Town Cycle Tour Expo: (tick). Tandem clean and working well: (tick). Son and father helmets (tick). Energy food and drinks: (tick). We were ready!

And what an immaculate, breathtaking day dawned on 11 March 2018! Between Ian and me, we have had 24 Arguses, and we have had only about 5 amazing days, weather-wise. Wound-up, we waited to get into our 3D start chute on the Parade.

“Hoopla!” the announcer shouted, and 600 cyclists responded. (In the whole race there were 804 tandems, but all except for the racing tandems at the front were put into the normal open / seeded start groups.)

One by one the Pilot picked off other cyclists as we went up Nelson Mandela Drive; apparently our seeding was not strenuous enough. At Mostert’s Mill Cathy and Sandy were waiting at their customary place beside the road, cheering us on. At Wynberg Hill my sister Helene and daughter Lyn were also trying to spot two blue shirts, a black helmet and a luminous green one. We passed trains and buses of bikes on the Blue Route and the now-Stoker kept yelling to the Pilot: “Don’t overtake; keep our energy for later,” meanwhile the Pilot was shouting to other cyclists: “Tandem passing right!”

The sea looked quite magnificent as we rode at 40km/h from Kalkbaai to Fish Hoek. I have never, ever, heard a poem recited on a Cycle Tour, but the Pilot shouted: “i thank You God for most this amazing day” (by e.e. cummings) to whoever was within earshot, especially the Stoker. What a strange Siebörger tandem-team we are!

Ian loves Smitswinkel hill, on the way to the Cape Point reserve. Meanwhile on the 13 Arguses I have ridden, I have always languished on that deceptive rise. (Here is an excursus, an off-the-point story, from 2014, three months after my stroke:  Sandy and I were hiking in the foothills of the Helderberg and we looked out over False Bay. “See that hill?” I gesticulated into the distance, somewhere between Simon’s Town and Cape Point lighthouse. But, very frustrated, I could not find the name of that hill that I knew from my cycling days. So I had to act out the name, a charade. “Um…um…um a fire” and then “Urr…urr…urr a horse”; “grrr……(gripping my fists)… a hammer”; finally “a shop.” Patient Sandy! For 15 minutes she tried to guess. Eventually: “Smitswinkel”. Victory!)

We whizzed through Scarborough to Sun Valley, even though we were riding into the northwest breeze. And there were Sandy and Cathy, again clapping and photographing, at Noordhoek this time, as we prepared for Chappies! What a champion hill-climber, towing me along! And Suikerbossie was even better than I had hoped. I didn’t have a cycle computer, but I was sure that our time must have been pretty good as we coasted past Llandudno down to the coast.

Camps Bay was very quiet – were the roads blocked off? And Clifton? I can’t even remember much about that. In a minute or two, we crossed the line! What a fast ride. We got off the bike and we still felt fresh – I have never felt that good after any of my previous tours. My medal is now resplendent in our lounge to prove it. Both Ian and I did our best personal time(s): 3hr 38min. (Ian came first, closely followed by me!)

As we offloaded the tandem in Edgemead, casually I said to Ian: “It is OUR tandem now.” “What?” he said flabbergasted.

Brian and Frances had told us the previous day that they wanted to give us the tandem after all the fun that we have had on it. What an amazing gift! Two days later we had dinner with them and we presented them with a tandem also! Fifteen years ago a dear friend had given us a wonderful ornament, a beautiful artwork made of steel: a fully-functioning tandem, about 40cm long. Brian and Frances were very touched, and all four of us left the restaurant with very warm hearts. They had given us a very generous gift, and, by no means of comparison, we had passed a blessing on to them.

Ironman 2018 – Nolan Berriman

Once again, Ironman proved to exceed all my expectations.  I am extremely privileged to have now completed my 5th Ironman.  This year was a particularly special race.  I had a wonderful swim, and while out on the bike I was once again reminded how blessed one is to live this life.  The magnificent views and ocean breeze on one’s face makes all the sacrifice and training to get to this point, worthwhile.  I felt strong and comfortable on the run and soaked up the vibrant atmosphere from the spectators.  Reaching the point of running across the red carpet epitomises why one keeps coming back.  A big thank you to my loved ones, family and friends.  Ironman is a truly humbling experience and you will never feel more alive in that moment.

Sole Sisters 2018 – Megan Hobson

Sole Sisters complete 107km fundraising run from Blanco to Bedford

9 local women, under the banner of the Sole Sisters, have, for the second year in a row, completed a three-day 107km run from Blanco to Bedford – and in the process raised over R100,000 towards empowering and supporting their charity of choice for 2018, Lukhanyiso Village. More than that, they have provided a powerful example of community-building around a purpose, and realised the possibility of stretching personal limits when working as a team.

The Sole Sisters first did this exact same run in April of 2017 and found it was so enjoyable and the awareness efforts so successful that they decided to do it again. This year’s Sole Sister individuals were mostly the same from 2017 with the addition of 3 newbies.

The Sole Sister event is not so much a race as it is a journey. There are no time limits or cut offs and instead it is an opportunity to experience team work, endurance and mutual support. The journey started shortly after sun rise at Blanco Guest Farm near Tarkastad on Friday the 20th of April. The route traverses the Baviaans Conservancy to eventually finish at The Mill Cricket Ground, near Bedford 3 days later. The 107km are broken into 3 legs of each 38, 37 and 32 km segments, each taking around 6 hours to complete.

The 9 women endured three very warm days on the gravel roads, many plasters and running repairs on blistered feet, and sore muscles and joints – but were treated to the spectacular scenery along this isolated and mountainous route, urged on at every step by each other. The local farming community also came out in strong support, with homemade placards and encouragement (and welcome ice-cubes) along the route, as well as providing meals and accommodation each evening. On the final day, the runners were, once again, accompanied by the women of the Siyatinga Craft project – one of the organisations to benefit from the funds raised – singing and dancing encouragement for the last few kilometres from the back of a bakkie.

This community of support, centred in Grahamstown and the Eastern Cape, but drawing in from much further afield through a social media and online donation campaign, has raised a staggering R100,000 in cash. The amount raised has exceeded expectations and is more than R30,000 compared to last year.

The beneficiary organisation chosen for the 2018 Sole Sisters fund raising effort is Lukhanyiso Village. A vision of community support for children held by Lara Kruiskamp (one of the 2018 Sole Sisters).

The Sole Sisters would like to thank each and every person who has bought into their vision and are thankful for all the support and well wishes by friends and family.


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Club News

Anything you want to tell us?  We’d love to know.

Please share your news with us

Weekly Events

•Grahamstown Parkrun

Every Saturday morning at 8:00, starting at the Makana Botanical Gardens, Lucas Avenue.

Contact: Nicola Brown

072 180 1594

•Albany Saints and Sinners Time trial

5:15pm every Tuesday from Albany Sports Club

•Rhodes Athletics Club Time Trial

5:15pm every Wednesday from Rhodes Sport Building next to the field at the end of African Street

•Trail Running

5:20pm every Thursday from Gray’s Dam

•Weekend Long Runs

We will confirm the details.



Upcoming Races and Events

  • Long Club Run

1 May

Albany Sports Club 06h00

20 km

There will be two unmanned water points along the route but please feel free to bring your


  • SPAR Ladies 10km

5 May

Pollok Beach Front, Summerstrand.  Pre-event festivities from 06h00 and race starts at 07h00.

Contact: Loynes Jenkerson 082 644 6422

  • Mazars Diesel Depot Challenge 15km

5 May

Hamilton’s Athletic Club, Pearce and Chamberlain Road, Selborne, East London

Contact: Bronek Urban 082 577 0932

  • Blanco Trail Half Marathon and 10km2018-01-10-PHOTO-00000685

12 May

Old Selbornian Rd Runners


  • Sunridge Village 10km Family Fun Run

12 May

Port Elizabeth Amateur Athletic Club

Contact: Kevin Benade 079 490 0427

  • Grahamstown’s Get Out and Run Series

20 May


  • Aspen Pharmacare Panamor Gel Half Marathon

26 May

Aspen Athletics Club, Maranatha Street Children’s Home, Southdene, PE

Contact: Wendy Denston 076 8348124


Look forward to seeing you all at our time trials every Tuesday

’Til next time

Keep warm and happy running