Mountain Bike Magazine SANI - Autumn 2018 - Page 54

SUPER SWEEPS Dave Johnson and Derek Whitely have been the sweep and lead for sani2c since the very beginning. They’re experts at ensuring riders’ safety and encouraging bravery in all of us. Dave Johnson – Sweep I have an absolute passion for the reward and emotion I feel getting cyclists, especially the ones who struggle, over the finish line each day – working with them, nurturing them, coaxing them – this it what keeps me coming back. I carry loads of extra things with me that have come in handy over the years. We’ve used old tyre tubes as arm slings for broken collarbones and strip connectors to join snapped cables. I offer honey brittle to those struggling up hills and they always say no at first, but eventually they’re nibbling away, and talking to me, picking up a bit of speed. I always have water and fruit, but I use it as a reward, so I’ll encourage riders to keep pushing and then hand them an orange or an apple at the top of a hill. I also have loads of bum cream, but I always tell riders they need to apply that themselves! I remember when I once came upon a strong looking guy chatting away on his cellphone while riding. He was horrified when he saw me, realising he was right at the back. He’d been hanging back as he was hoping to have an exhilarating downhill ride on his own, but had taken it way too easy. So he finished his call and then took off, leaving a cloud of dust in his wake. I had a clear ride all the way down – bicycles are a lot 54 | MTB | sani2c faster on downhills with all the switchbacks. Then I suddenly saw his bike upside down in a corner, and a bunch of locals standing at the bottom of a bank, scratching their heads. He’d taken a tumble and landed face first, knocking out his front teeth, and the locals were helping him look for them. That night at supper, I saw him again and have never seen such a swollen bottom lip – it looked like a fat bike tyre! One year, at the Penance Home water table, a young volunteer was holding a cup of water in one hand and Coke in the other, along with chocolates and potatoes clutched between fingers. A rider came up and asked for water over his head, and the little volunteer was so keen to help that he dumped both cups (water and Coke) on the rider! A couple that I was helping asked me to hang back while they went on ahead, as she needed to “go”. I could see them in the distance and it looked like a bit of a commotion – first she headed in to the bush, then he went in, then they both came out, and then they both went back in. Turns out the padding on their cycling shorts had attracted every black jack seed possible, so they were sitting picking each one out before they could carry on. I have become known for my vuvuzela. I blow it at the start line every morning to create a bit of gees and get the riders ready. I’ll never blow on the course if I see riders are struggling, but often I’ll be at the top of a hill and see riders down in the valley and when I blow it echoes down and it’s great to see them waving in the distance. When I leave a water table, I’ll blow it as a signifier to riders that they need to get going. And at the end of each day, when we’re about 1km away from the finish, I’ll blow it so that everyone in the race village knows to come and cheer in the last group. We’ve seen some big big snakes over the years. That has been the most magnificent, yet scariest, experience for me. Derek Whitely – Lead Bike I’ve always been a keen off-road motorcyclist. I’ve ridden motorbikes since I was about 12 years old. When Glen started sani2c, I heard that he needed lead bikers and I was more than happy to get involved as my children were also at Lynford school, one of the sani2c beneficiaries. I have considered taking part in sani and giving up my role as lead biker, but I love it too much. Maybe when I’ve done 15 with an engine I’ll consider doing it with pedal power! No promises though. There have been many memorable moments over the years, and one in particular was captured on GoPro. A new bridge had been built in the middle of the section called Steve’s Spruit. It was quite far in, so some lighter planks had been used to build it. I’m not the smallest guy so when I crossed it as lead bike, four or five of the planks broke. I was alone, with no cellphone comms, so on the GoPro footage you see me turning to look ahead, and then back to the bridge. I won’t repeat what I said, and then I rode off to stay ahead and find comms so I could report the damage. By the time someone got there to repair it, more planks had broken and the guys were carrying their bikes over it! I do this every year because I love riding my motorbike and being outdoors, and it’s always fun to see how the route has changed and how much faster the riders get every year. PEOPLE | RIDERS WE LIKE