This octogenarian is better than you on a mountain bike

Business Insider SA
Arthur Duncan. Picture: KAP Sani2c
  • A KZN farmer, 83, substituting for his grandson, finished one of South Africa’s iconic mountain bike races. 
  • Living proof that the organic lifestyle has value beyond its hippie image. 
  • An example that retirement is increasingly a myth.

At the age of 83 most grandfathers have a delicate relationship with their grandsons. Perhaps they’re allowed out of the old-age home, under supervision and accompanied by a walking-aid, to watch grandchildren play sport over the weekend. 

Arthur Duncan is not your regulation octogenarian.

The 83-year old Howick farmer substituted for his grandson, who was occupied by a punishing chartered financial analyst (CFA) exam schedule, to complete one of the most challenging mountain bike events on offer.

“I never though of doing a Sani because of my age, but I keep up a reasonable level of fitness throughout the year and when my son-in-law asked me to substitute for my grandson, I couldn’t say no.”

The presence of Duncan in the 2018 Sani2C start chute immediately relieved all other competitors of any recourse to excuse: here was an 83-year old, who should be sleeping in and on medication, with a racing number cable tied to his mountain bike, intent on finishing the three-day, 260km event.

Duncan eventually teamed with his son-in-law, Stuart Watson, finishing 594th, to complete his seventh Sani2C. 

You’d excuse an 83-year old mountain biker for being exceedingly cautious on the technical single track portions of Sani2C, but Duncan is as raw and skilled a rider as they come. “I’ve seen the event evolve and the quality of its single track offering is superb. I’m from the Karkloof, which is a mountain biking mecca, and this route impressed me greatly.”

More impressive was that Duncan keeps it totally local with his mountain biking lifestyle; he rides a Pyga 110 dual suspension bike, a product of the Howick-based South African bike brand. 

A late convert to mountain-biking, at the age of 65, Duncan’s achievements are legendary among the South African cycling community. At the age of mandatory South African retirement, he rode from Durban to the top of Thabana Ntlenyana, at 3,482m above sea level, in only three days – solo.

Just after turning 80 he represented South Africa at the UCI World Tour Road finals in Aalborg, Denmark, racing in both the 115km group event and individual time trial. Duncan considers himself much more of a mountain biker than road rider. 

For good measure he’s done two Dusi canoe marathons, at age 72 and 77, while still working, growing organic produce on his farm in the Karkloof.

Duncan credits his athleticism to an informed dietary plan, which leverages perfectly off his occupation as a supplier of organic produce. Living in Karkloof, one of Africa’s most esteemed mountain bike trail networks, enables Arthur to keep up his 30km a day, five-days a week, training schedule. 

The Duncan family mountain biking legacy is sure to continue as one of Arthur’s grandchildren is Keira Duncan, a teenager who has proven virtually unbeatable in South African Enduro mountain bike racing over the last two years. 

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