‘I’m just going to take it easy’ ‘I’m just going to enjoy it’ ‘No racing today’ ‘Just a chilled long ride’ I know my friends politely secretly and sometimes not so secretly roll their eyes when I utter these words before a race. I don’t […]
His full name is Bulelani Maxwell Jodo. Facebook knows him as Bulelani Abdul-Rahim Jodo. On Strava, he is Max Jodo. To me he is just Max. Max in a million.
Max was born on 26 May 1981 in Sterkspruit, Herschel. Don’t worry, I also had to Google it. It’s in the Eastern Cape. He now lives in Khayelitsha with his four kids and is proudly Capetonian. So much so that he recently took some tourists on an authentic first hand experience of Khayelitsha which end with them ‘kuiering’ in a local tavern until the early hours of the morning.
In November 2015 Max started working at This Way Out in Buiten Street (Cape Town). Shortly afterwards, fate decided that Max and my paths should cross. At that stage Max was the friendly barista. He didn’t own a bicycle. He didn’t ride. And he didn’t know much about this beautiful two wheeled machine. A few months later, the magic of the bike proved too strong for him to resist any longer. He succumbed to the sight and smell of the surrounding majestic Rocky Mountain beasts. The next thing I knew, Max was inviting me on Thursday shop rides and commuting to and from work everyday (a mere 50km return trip). The early rides were like watching a Greyhound chase down a hare but possibly not as elegant. Nothing could stop him. There were somersaults, backflips and sensational skidding….and not in the Nitro Circus kind of way. Phones went flying. Ribs were bruised. Miraculously no bones were broken. But nothing stopped him. Somehow that tenacious smile remained despite his battered body and bruised ego.
It’s a kind of magic
It’s this smile that gives Max his superpower. It’s a power I don’t even think he knows he possesses. It’s his enchanting unicorn. It’s a kind of magic that’s contagious, rubbing off on anyone around him. It’s the magic that makes even the grumpy Constantia Greenbelt ‘tannies’ turn the corners of their mouth upwards when he greets them. It’s the magic that gives a dog’s tail a will of it’s own and wag furiously when he greets it with a confident, “Hello Sandy!” and when asked how he knows the dog’s name is Sandy, responds with, “I don’t. She just looks like a Sandy.” It’s a magic that makes him take on any challenge presented to him and tackle it wholeheartedly.
Last year, Max got offered an entry for the 36ONE MTB Challenge (https://youtu.be/BzORA-xD_dE). The notoriously tough, single stage race starts in Oudtshoorn and as the name suggests is 361km long. As if that isn’t tough enough, the race starts at 6pm which means that a large portion of it is ridden in the dark. And in Max’s case, to add that extra mental challenge, Max had only been riding for 10 months and this would be his debut race. Talk about aiming high. Of course, he said yes. Of course, he completed it with ample time to spare. And of course he wants to do it again this year. As he said, “Unice, you’re alone, in the dark for large parts of the ride. You have a lot of time to think about your life and work through your problems.”
Not just a bike
I’ve said it before, it’s not just a bike. It’s a tool to change lives. Max is proof of this. He’s not the person he was before. Recently, Max and I were sitting having a coffee and croissants when he asked me, “Unice, tell me how you feel when you haven’t ridden for a few days.” I answered him and then asked him the same question. “It’s become my therapy”, he said. It’s his meditation.
Sadly, the This Way Out store recently closed down. On the morning before they opened their doors for the last time, I was sitting with Max and asking him, ‘What now? Where to now?’. At this stage there is a lot of uncertainty. But one thing he is sure about is that it has to involve bicycles, riding and sharing the life changing experience that two wheels gave him.
The Facts about Max
- He started riding to learn more about bicycles – “I wanted to know more about the bikes and be able to talk bike language with our customers while making them coffee and most of all be able to sell the bikes.”
- That smile wins over the most stubborn heart
- He makes a mean cup of Jo
- He gets as excited about a kid in a candy store about an idea
- You will hear him chattering from a mile away when he’s in his happy place i.e. on a bike
- He can ride his bike for days
- He is always willing to learn something new
- He is burning to help you wherever he can. Even if that means a detour on an already long ride to quickly show another friend how to make proper coffee
- No challenge is too big for him
- There is no stopping him
If you’d like to follow Max’s two wheel adventures:
Follow him on Strava – Max Jodo
Instagram – Bulelani Max Jodo
“I wish you could always see life through your cycling sunglasses”, my boyfriend says to me when I phone him jabbering a jumble of excited words after my first mountain biking skills lesson with Julien Louw (http://www.mtbskillsclinics.co.za/ ). Let’s face it, life just makes sense […]