Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dino and the Alaskan Wolf

No, this isn't a New Age Inuit fairy tale.

It's the story of my brief encounter with Dino and his Alaskan Wolf. And No, Dino didn't rescue the wolf from a zoo or some wicked man with a gun or a gin trap. (It is entirely possible though, that the wicked man could have bought his gin trap in Prince Albert, but that's another story http://www.environment.co.za/environmental-issues-news/fair-game-leopards-gin-traps-landmark-foundation-newsletter-3.html  and http://www.landmarkfoundation.org.za/gin-traps.html.

Living how and where I do, I get to see a range of bicycles and to meet a range of cyclists. A wide range.
Out here in the rural areas, bikes are a necessity, as there's not much in the way of public transport. So anything with two wheels, a frame and a drive-train of sorts goes.
Tyres with gaping holes, tubes with 30 patches, brakes? what brakes?, gears? seriously?, cranks welded on,  frames welded together, old Raleighs, Nishikis, Avalanches, even the odd Peugeot. And the odd chip in the paintwork.

At the opposite end of the spectrum I get to see some bikes that cost more than the houses of many people around here. Way more.

The fun part for me is that I get to work on both kinds of bike, deep steel and fragile plastic. And I get to meet their riders. Of course, people riding the Freedom Challenge tend to be in the latter bracket. You don't want to be riding 20kg of steel bike for 2300km across the country. Or do you?

Enter stage from the east.. Dino and the Alaskan Wolf.

The Alaskan Wolf at rest.
The Brooks saddle totally blew his cover.

When I first heard about Dino, I thought my chain was being pulled, but wild stories about the "moerse shifting spanner" "welding" "old steel frame" (God forbid!), army surplus kit, wild maniacal stare (I made that bit up) convinced me that something was happening.

So, to all of the riders who went before Dino, my apologies, but I was focussed on the eastern horizon.

The Day finally dawned, I must be honest and admit that I was mildly apprehensive. What if Dino was some Mossad or Recce type (with a Glock in a chest harness) who would see right through me and not give up his only spare tube as a replacement fan-belt for the old Merc?

What I finally found on the road near Tierberg was a quiet young guy on a bike that could have gone undercover in most rural towns in SA. A neat stainless steel rack on the back with PLENTY of clearance for mud; two dead gorillas (back and front), and 8 missing spokes. Also, none of the modern excesses like two sets of brakes, for example.  The only reason I knew he hadn't nicked the bike in Danie Swanepoel's farmyard was the presence of the Brooks saddle.

I offered to do an overnight "re-build" (rebuild the wheels, replace the 7 speed freewheel, replace the crankset, repair/replace both gorillas, etc, etc) while he slept. Imagine my disappointment when Dino very politely declined and said that he'd do what little work was required himself anyway.

Crestfallen, I headed back to the dorp, with only one chance to save face. Maybe, just maybe, I could find him a few spokes. Lekkerbek Kafee in the main street also sells bike parts, luckily for Dino, they don't deal in "fensie" bike parts. Thirty six spokes, R30. Klaar gelag.

So Dino set about replacing his bottom bracket bearings (adjustable BB, the bearings are available in most small towns, R12 per set). Replacing the spokes was more complicated than it should have been (we spent some time looking for small ball bearings on the Dennehof garage floor ) as the freewheel had to be stripped to get at the drive-side spokes......

Dino posing with "That Shifting Spanner"

Truing the back wheel wasn't too much of an issue. Plus or minus half a brick is a close as you need to get if there are no brakes to complicate matters.

If I have my facts straight, Dino had never run more than a half marathon and had not paddled much when he decided to do the Extreme Triathlon. He set about getting qualified as a paddler and the rest is history.

Dino has been a great leveller and at the same time hugely inspirational by showing just what can be achieved when we apply ourselves

I doubt that any Peugeot Alaskan Wolf has ever run with the jakkalse as this one has.

As I write this, Dino is making his way up Stettynskloof.


  1. I'm so glad you wrote this. It's easy to miss the unsung characters of the trail when caught up with the drama at the head of the race and following friends.
    I think I should volunteer to be your appie one year so I can experience the riders as you do.
    Great job Mr Village Headman (aka Kommandant of the Dikwiel Kommando)

  2. ;) I like it when people address me properly, thank you.
    It just so happens that I might need a locum next year. Duties would include inhabiting bale house, entertaining Cattle Dogs, making coffee, delivering said coffee, washing bikes, fixing bikes, talking to FC riders, repeat daily as required.

  3. Well done Dino we are so proud of you! Vasbyt!

  4. Brilliant stuff Johann and especially well done Dino, I hadn't picked up on any news of your progress or efforts until this article. Now your ride gets its deserved place in the RASA collection of folklore.

  5. Thanks,Peter.
    And to top it all, Dino and Sean have finished the Berg and are now members of a very select group.

  6. bliksem. stuff of legend. the poor oke was broken into 32 little pieces come saturday night, but my word what an achievement worthy of many more celebrations.

  7. Maybe, when the Freedom Challenge Hall of Fame is built on a farm outside Wellington, this Wild Wolf will hang over the entrance?

  8. Hi Johann,

    stickers have arrived today, many thanks.

    One of them will be put on the Pugsley.

    I've Google Earthed Prince Albert, what an awesome place, seriously tugs on the old heart strings.

    As an aside, Auckland has a inner city park called Albert Park, dedicated to Queen Victoria's husband, one of my favorite places, bordered by Auckland University, the Art Gallery, it's apparently one of the few Victorian style parks in the world.

    It's also the site of the Chinese New Year Lantern festival, which is just awesome.

    As a further aside, We've seen many old churches & monuments here, I never knew how many New Zealanders went across for the Boer wars.

  9. Glad you got them. You are now the official Dikwiel Kommando agent for NZ and that other island off your coast..... You may begin recruiting members of suitable stature ;)
    Somewhere there's a story of Kiwi cyclists capturing Boers on horseback at Hammanskraal. That may explain South African's attitude towards the All Blacks ;)(I'll find it and send you the link)
    Put your email address in a comment (I won't post the comment) and I'll send you the membership "certificate".

  10. this is awesome. Nice sticker placement :)

    I am thinking about showing up down your way for SSWC ... do you live anywhere near the event?


    1. Hey Dirty, SSWC is on the other side of the country. Unfortunately I'm not going to be able to get there. But by all accounts they're going all out.