In September 2012 I received the news that Fayaz from Bridge Cycles had passed away. My brother let me know via a skype IM from Arizona – “Hey. Fayaz passed away”. He passed away from cancer. My dad also passed away from cancer. I hate cancer.
My first Argus with the helmet Fayaz sold my mom and the 200gs groupset!
I started cycling in 1992 after helping my mom crush cans for Bergvliet High recycling at the finish of the 1992 Argus. After that I probably spent more time at Bridge than I did cycling. I would spend hours there looking at the stuff I wanted, the bikes and all the accessories. Fayaz was a legend – I distinctly remember him selling me my first helmet at the back of the shop. Back then Bridge was more of hardware store than a cycle shop. The place was filled with the aroma of samoosas and the airwaves were filled with the sound of an old coke fridge which I think may have run on diesel or something! Fayaz always had time for me and my brother, my mom and dad. He was patient and gentle and generous. He always had time to devote his full attention to us. He always had time to chat and to have a laugh about things – he was always interested in us – he would always ask after my mom and brother. The years flew by. Bridge Cycles has grown into an amazingly successful and professional business, and over the years Fayaz, and Fazal too, were always there – always the same, always dependable. Thank you.
I cried when I found out Fayaz had passed away. Even now as I type this I cry. I cannot adequately express what he meant to me. Death itself is a very unnatural thing. Humans were never created or designed to deal with it. But we do have the ability to remember.
I went round to Bridge one evening in January this year and spent the better part of two hours with Fazal and Aneesa recalling stories from the last 20 years, and remembering Fayaz and who he was as a person. It was probably one of the most meaningful conversations I have had in my life. Fayaz was more than just the owner of my LBS. And apart from being the very special person that he was, he was someone who had shared life with me, my brother and my mom. He is someone who took an interest in me and my cycling before I had even finished one Argus. He was someone who was constantly there, and was constant in “being Fayaz”.
I rode this year’s Argus in memory and honour of Fayaz. I didn’t know how better to honour him and his family. There was a moment of silence before the start. The music stopped and thousands of people stood remembering those in the cycling community that had passed away. I cried again.
I had a good ride. I did my best. Not ideal starting in G – but I posted a respectable 3h07. Fayaz, thank you for everything. Thank you for what you meant to so many people. For being a different kind of person, a unique businessman and cycle shop owner. Thank you for caring and for being genuinely interested in us. Thank you for being a family man and and a friend to the cycling community. I miss you.
A week or two ago I participated in the ninety niner cycle race. I started in E group, which started out far too slowly for a race, so I decided to hammer hard from the start and see how far an all out effort would take me. It was raining and quite windy in sections. The out of season rain had dissolved what I thought to be fertiliser and other chemical which had been spilt on the road by farm trucks and the water that sprayed up from other riders’ wheels left a funny taste in my mouth. I was enjoying the race though.
Towards the end of the ride, after bridging the gap from group to group, and riding among C and D group my legs had given just about all that they could. As I was approaching Vissershok, which has a decent 1.1km stretch at 9% gradient, I had a flashback to one of the last times I can remember riding out in the Northern Suburbs. It was the 1992 Falke Funride, my second ever funride. I was 11 years old and I was inexperienced. You cannot buy experience. I was suffering out somewhere in the farmlands, when I decided it was time for some nutrition. I hauled out the energy supplement of that era, corn syrup! I can remember riding along on my “outeniqua” mountain bike fussing with the sachet and really battling to open it. I decided that I needed two hands and promptly slammed on brakes! No sooner had I done this, a big fat dude slammed into the back of me and we both crashed. I landed on his lap. I remember him being very upset and I also remember that he was riding a very nice bike – and that the seat tore in the incident.
I rode off, a bit shaken, and wondering why such a big guy was drafting an 11 year old!
As I ground up Vissershok in the ninety niner I thought about that crash, and I thought about how long I have been cycling for and how so much has changed in the interim, from sports nutrition, to the bikes we ride these-days and to how much harder it is for me to climb these days because I am so much heavier. I thought about how in those days I would hit the wall hard, often with more than 50km to go in a ride and how I could ride a serious distance in a hypoglycemic state. I thought about how in that state of suffering, quick strong riders doing the “long route”, with massive calf muscles and with A, B, C, D and E numbers on their backs would fly past me as I limped to the finish line. I thought about how I would lie on the couch broken for the rest of the day. They were all good, pleasant thoughts that I look back on with massive fondness now. And I figured that often the key to enduring suffering is the awesome memories that emerge and the experiences that you cherish. Because of the memories of my early cycling days, I have got to say that I enjoyed the ninety niner a whole lot more than I would have otherwise, and Vissershok became a special reminder of awesome memories, and not just an incredibly difficult climb ending an otherwise pretty miserable race.