Why!? Well, it’s a valid question. The participants have so much to lose. They’re mostly middle-class folk with families and colleagues who depend on them. What is it about that irresistible urge, that fascination with surfing the fine line between a thrill and potentially catastrophic misfortune? There can only be a complex answer to this, the essence of which still lies shrouded, deep
bend perfectly positioned in the line of riders. A rider at the front fancies his chances of holding a go-for-broke effort to the finish line. Cobbett knows this is not possible. A second before it’s too late, Cobbett swings out of the bunch’s slipstream and breaks into an all-out sprint – 20 pedal strokes of agony to the line. Another T-shirt to add to his collection. Back to the question ‘Why?’. The world has
‘We started it because we loved biking in an urban environment, interacting with the city and the cars. Plus night-time adds another dimension to the experience.’ in the mysteries of the human psyche. Are our lives today so insulated from any real risk that we’re irresistibly drawn to the raw-edged possibility of injury or death? Why would we rather forget our suburban comforts and seek out danger? It’s not for the cash. The winner earns only a branded cap or T-shirt. Founder Melvin Neale is a successful attorney. Co-founder Greg Gamble (his real name) is a highly regarded furniture designer. The two own Hunter Cycling. Now incarnated as a bike shop in Mellville, it began as just the race’s central meeting point in Braamfontein. ‘We started it because we loved biking in an urban environment, interacting with the city and the cars. Plus night-time adds another dimension to the experience.’ Regular winner Julius Cobbett knows these streets – and this race – well. Cycle racing is all about that – craft and bluff often winning over brute force. Cobbett rounds the penultimate
always been a dangerous place, right from when we became skilled at navigating the risks to garner fresh deer carcasses to feed the clan each fortnight. Today, if we don’t have it in our modern daily lives, we’ll seek it out. We’re pre-programmed for peril, so we simply have to answer the call. We surf in dangerous waters, ski on vertiginous slopes and ride the Jozi Hustle to claim back our verve. Another regular, Floh Thiele, recalls, ‘Every week, at the end of the race, there are riders bragging about how close they came to a devastating crash. It adds an extra camaraderie to it all.’ Our simplistic theory goes a long way to explaining the race’s lore and lure. We crave danger – that small pocket of consciousness where our senses are heightened, our focus narrows to tunnel vision and we feel hyperalive. For proof, search ‘Jozi Hustle GoPro’ on YouTube.★
hustle &flow Journalist Julius Cobbett is the winningest rider in the event’s three-year history.
The rider who comes last takes the DFL floating trophy – a bare rim, to which each holder attaches something new: rubber duck, binoculars, handlebars, compass, sex toy… Amazingly, only two minor traffic accidents have occurred, involving: 1. A photographer’s motorbike. 2. An intoxicated pedestrian. There have, however, been a number of crashes involving just the riders.
Contestants may ride any type of bike they like. Many regulars aim to ride a different one each week.