128 shopping days to Christmas and counting. Clarens, currently bathed in the balmy warmth of an Indian spring, is bracing itself for the arrival of 2,500 mountain bike riders, their loved ones and possibly their families. That, as the actress said to the Bishop, is an awful lot of people, beers, Boerewors rolls and toilet paper, to be compressed into our little village in a single, frenetic weekend. So what should we be doing about it?
First, in keeping with the national imperative to move money offshore, we obviously need to erect toll gates within the next 24 hours. Mountain bikes do an immense amount of damage to tar roads, as several never to be published studies will show, and so must be protected from this annual onslaught. Teams of municipal workers should therefore be tasked with building boom gates and camera systems at 100 metre intervals around the square, down the Main Road and up to the Nek, with immediate effect. There is, of course, the small matter of planning, materials acquisition, deployment, wages, overtime and leave. However, on past form these issues take about 12.6 months to resolve, if ever, so that probably negates the municipality as a role player in our bid to increase the nation’s offshore account holdings. Second (there is always a Plan B), we could levy a voluntary tax on the use of the road. Since a fuel levy is probably out of the question, maybe a Rubber Tax (no, not that kind of rubber, silly). Perhaps we could ask every rider to put R1,000 into a large tin, marked National Retirement Fund, on the square? But perhaps not, as there are no municipal staff available over the weekend to guard it. Whatever happens, we have finally got an explanation for the little red light on top of the very large MTN toilet brush next to the Public Toilets (to be commissioned in June 2029) on the square: It is required to guide home the lame and lazy after dark, to ensure they can slumber in the collective warmth of their family bosom and have the odd drink or nine at the village’s fine hostelries.
In fact, what we really need to do, is make these athletes (and their extended families, handlers and pets) very, very welcome. With a little effort, we can turn 2,500 cyclists this year into 25,000 next. Where they will all sleep is anyone’s guess, but then what better reason for keeping the pubs open all night. Making this race a success means avoiding running any of them over and helping wherever possible; see the Stop Press below for starters. So, in addition to everything else you were planning to do this weekend, let’s make the MTN Race a winner in every sense.