The Cows are Coming (2 of 3)

Part 2

The Street Party
An idea that was seen as low hanging fruit was organising a street party at the Protea Hotel at Gold Reef City. Having the manager as an insider ensured that the charity flywheel would continually be greased and nudged forwards. Several hundred people slid themselves into their wild wild west gear, chaps et al, and headed in droves to the mechanical bull and dance tent to see if Brigitte would actually ride the steer in all her resplendent survivor glory. Tequila and shot glasses were exchanged for drinking tickets with a flurry not unlike JSE traders. And slowly the coffers began to fill up.

This was the catalyst which bonded the cows to the herd and the image of The Cows to the people. The word would spread and soon milk moustaches were adorned on little kids’ lips with pride knowing that one day too, with calcium and nurturing to strengthen the bones, they too would be able to participate in the cow carnival.

Halloween Spinnathon

Debonairs Pizza supplied the bike gear, African drummers provided the music. And the indefatigable Bruce Wallis provided the spirit and fire for the legs of the spinning class. It was 2 hours of gruelling and invigorating spinning in preparation for the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge. Bruce summed it up when he spoke about his numerous world record attempts on spinning endurance, “ When the going gets tough, and when you haven’t slept for a few days, you just think about the CHOC kids and - it gives me goosies - the suffering disappears.”

People came out of the woodwork and spinnathon tickets were sold out in less than 20 minutes. Some had to be turned away. And when they saw Richard taking pictures of the studio in his cow styled cycling gear, orders came in for that kit too. It’s the black and white patches and the gentle affable nature of the cow suit that soothes the soul and passes on invincibility to its wearer. And it is the view of the dazzling udders, swaying to and fro, that hypnotises and reminds of summer days, hay-bales and first frolics.

The Race
Roving reporters were drawn to the ice cream bikes and the core of the herd. They camaraderie of the cows was infectious and people wanted to be a part of it, and wanted to tell the world about the things they saw. And what they saw was breathtaking. Ice cream bike riders grunting with every pedal stroke urging their 70 kilogram carts forward, leaning into each quad like an oil drill going for broke. Supercows completed the first loop of the bike course with comparative ease (someone did a loop in 2.22, less than ten minutes off the leaders), followed by a second loop in their cow gear until they joined the herd. The first loop levelled the playing field for these uber-athletes making them seem almost human and revealing that they too suffer like everyone else.

Calves and Supercows were attaching rubber tubing to their seat posts and taking some of the strain off the ice cream bikers. Pain was shared like a bottle of rum being handed around the camp fire of a firing squad. No-one shirked their responsibility, everyone played a part. Other athletes would either drop in a twenty or fifty Rand note into the ice cream bike and spend a few minutes pushing the ice cream bikes before re-entering the race with a warm heart and mojo a plenty.
There were a few incidents, however. Doc broke his arm at the half way mark just before he saw his wife, Robyn, who thought that he should continue because otherwise people who had donated would feel short changed. He finished the race, changing gears with one hand and a grimace until he reached the finish line, where Robyn escorted him to the closest hospital to have his arm washed of its sweat and inserted into a cast.

And then there was Kit. He had come to the rescue at the last minute and instead of spending the day celebrating his wedding anniversary with his wife, chose to don a cow suit and straddle an ice cream bike for charity. Some said it was the steering column which went awry, some said Kit hit a pocket of speed which was difficult to control. Anyhow, he took his three wheeled beast straight into the side of a bridge railing. Instead of going straight onto the road several blocks below, he chose to use his leg as a lever to prevent his bike flipping and dragging the two leading bike riders over the bridge’s edge. It was instinctive. Some thought he had little choice. But if you know Kit you know he took one for the team. That’s just who he is. Nobility and honour surge deep under that man’s skin. And, it seems, a lot of blood surges there too.

Thirty stitches were used to patch the man’s leg up and no amount of bandaging could mask the smile on the man’s face once informed that he was entering the history books as the first, and hopefully only cow to be stretchered off the race course.

Aside from these minor issues, it was a generally a day of sweat and attrition. People were imploding on their bikes like black mushrooms in a wet forest. Hands placed themselves firmly on people’s backs and scooted tired wheels up insane climbs. The applause turned into underwater whale noises as the senses numbed and focused on the task at hand:- chasing the horizon.

As The Cows made their way to the crowds and the tents, the euphoria began to well up inside. This was more than just a bike race, more than just a group of friends having the time of their lives. This was the start of something inspired, something new and unforgettable. It was on reaching the finish line, that many agreed that it looked a lot like the start line.

tbc.......last piece to follow

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