Lynette Peers

Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa

2010 / 12 / 20 12:21

'I cycle because I enjoy it - as simple as that. I've always been an active outdoor person. When I went to Stellenbosch University everyone rode bicycles, including the professors and the lecturers - where today they drive cars. So I cycled everywhere, without gears. Then when I got married I did without a bicycle for a few years because I thought it would be infra dig. Then in 1973 the petrol prices went up for the first time - we thought it was a shocking price increase but I mean today, it seems not that expensive. So I thought it was a good excuse to get onto my bicycle again. This photograph - below, to the right - was taken in August 1975. That’s me and Henriette. My daughter Henriette was born in April 1973, I acquired this bicycle in November 1973 - and I proceeded to put her into the box, there she was two. You can see her now - she survived quite well. The newspaper people drove past and stopped and said “do you mind if we take a photograph?” I said, “go ahead, perhaps I’ll start a trend.” Well, I didn't have many that followed my example. That was also without gears. The box, please note, shouldn't be called “Cold Power” but “Woman Power”. As I say I was having fun there and I was doing that without gears, this is actually uphill.
So from Pick ‘n Pay to our home was about 3 kilometers - which I guess doesn't sound much, but considering that I had a passenger in the box and it was uphill and I didn't have gears - I guess it makes it more impressive. Well the newspaper people obviously thought so seeing they stopped and asked if I mind having a photograph taken. There were other photographs also in the papers but I didn't have it framed like this - I was definitely a rarity riding a bicycle. That was the Afrikaans newspaper - the Oosterlig. It no longer exists, the Afrikaans paper now is Die Burger. But the popular paper now is the Herald. I was in the Herald as well, because I was definitely considered a freak then - I mean they didn't have child seats like they do on bicycles now. We were living in Sunrigde Park and I got divorced, left Port Elizabeth in 1978 and came back in 1985, and I've been in Port Elizabeth ever since. People say, “aren't you the one who used to ride a bicycle?” That is how unusual it was back then, and I mean now it is still unusual for my age. I'm 68 - but I'm a fairly busy 68 year old. I wouldn't recommend riding along that road now, because the traffic volume has obviously increased considerably. But then, it was okay. You can see the volume of traffic there. I used to have my passenger in the box in the front, and my little bit of shopping in the back - and that was a frequent expedition. I'd been shopping at Pick ‘n Pay and I was cycling on my way home when this impromptu photograph was taken. I was expecting my second child then. My ex-husband is a veterinary surgeon, and I'm a retired pharmacist. He had a Ford Mustang which I detested, I said a Ford Mustang is a bachelors car, not car for a married man with a child. On one occasion he was out of town and I had to take the Mustang in for a service. So I was driving with my window open. It was a left hand drive, and I saw the blacks standing at the robot talking about me, “the one with the bicycle”, ha ha - so I said yes, I am the one with the bicycle! They must have thought this woman is totally mad, she has this car and she rides all over the place with a bicycle. I could also have told them that I prefer riding a bicycle to riding a Mustang. I think I'm considered an oddity riding a bicycle at my age, but I'm not unduly concerned. I ride along this pathway next to the sea. Just now I'll go along to the village and buy some groceries - that is a typical little outing. Not a long distance, Pick ‘n Pay is just over a kilometer from here. There is a nice cycle path, which is quite a pleasure, riding along next to the sea - plenty of fresh air. Plus the expressions on the faces of passers by. The blacks say, “Hey! Bicycle!”. As I say, I'm not unduly perturbed. I haven't tried putting passengers in a box lately and I don't think I'm going to try. My bicycle, I fear, is a bit rusty, but it is frequently used - so it is definitely not a thing of great beauty. My husband used to say “nice legs Mrs. Peers” and I told him it’s 67 years of hard work pushing pedals! I have gears but most of the time I stay in the higher gear. I have lock - oh heavens, this is too valuable, I can't afford to lose it! I ride to the village then I just lock the bicycle to bars at a coffee shop there. There are plenty people there what would see if someone wanted to carry away the box or whatever. This bicycle is worth a lot with me. And I always wear a hat, the minute I put my nose out of doors I wear a hat - so I'll complete the picture and put on my hat. My hat selection is impressive. There is one I wear most frequently because of the brim size - it’s sensible, you see, it is now going to blind me if it flaps down, and also I can flap it back if the breeze is too much. Another is definitely not suitable for the bicycle because the brim is too big, it would obscure my view - but it is fine for beach wear and so on. And there’s one for when I don't need much protection from the sun, if, you know, in the winter months, if I still need something on my head but I don't need to be shaded. Then there is also a nice one for the beach, you see, I like the floppy brims because they don't blow - Port Elizabeth is quite windy and with stiff brims the wind blows them off. It must go with the wind. So that is a bit of my hat philosophy. I can tell you a lot about hats, and the various pros and cons. Oh yes, and off course I can dolly it up by putting around a colored scarf or whatever, and it is well travelled, it’s travelled with me overseas, so I can squash it up.'


Nic Grobler

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