At the age of, Andrew Penney started riding his Chopper bicycle around the Sunnyside neighbourhood where he lived, and before he turned 10 was riding a bike across town to school with his brother.
There was the natural progression from Choppers, BMXs and road bikes to multi-geared racing bikes and mountain bikes, and Penney started repairing and servicing the different cycles from a young age.
Today he owns and runs MechAndrew Cycle Services which repairs and services a wide range of two-wheelers from kiddies’ runabouts and BMXs to sleek road racing cycles, mountain bikes, triathlon cycles and even those wide-tyred dune cycles known as ‘fat bikes’.
But Penney has not confined his many thousands of kilometres of cycle riding to traversing the streets of Grahamstown. In his late teenage years he acquired a Peugeot 12-speed racing cycle, which he still owns to this day, and occasionally rides.
He immediately set about racing in cycle tours, his first being The Herald Cycle Tour in Port Elizabeth, followed by many more Herald, Makro, Oosterlig and Burger tours.
Penney’s attention then turned to mountain bike races in the Grahamstown and Bathurst districts where he has completed upwards of 15, mainly those in the pineapple-rich Shaw Park area. He has also completed all the Grahamstown To Sea (G2C) 60-kilometre mountain bike races to date.
But the highlight of the riding career of Andrew Penney, now in his forties, came in April 2015 when he and a small group of other cyclists rode their mountain bikes all the way from Grahamstown to Windhoek in northern Namibia.
Not only did he ride every metre of the 2 000-kilometre, 17-day journey with the other three riders, he serviced and repaired four bikes along the entire route.
Towns that the group rode through included Somerset East, Graaff-Reinet, Richmond, Prieska and Upington.
“At times it was quite a job, what with all the sand we encountered in the vast areas of desert we rode through,” Penney remarked. “That desert sand got in everywhere,” he recalled with a smile.
He was a participant and tour technician for a group of Grahamstown Round Tablers who decided to ride to the service organisation’s annual convention in Namibia at that time.
“It was an incredible journey for the riders and support crew, something we’ll never forget. We had many interesting stories to tell once we arrived back in Grahamstown,” Penney said.
These days he spends time over weekends riding with friends out on the road towards Carlisle Bridge, and then occasionally heading into the hills south of Grahamstown for some mountain biking in the Grey Dam, Mountain Drive and Featherstone Kloof areas. Another favourite route is the tar road to Table Farm on the Cradock road aboard a mountain bike, then a back road to Riebeeck East.
MechAndrew has carried out repairs and servicing to a wide range of cycles. “I have even been called on to service and repair a vintage bicycle, prams with tyres and tubes, and wheelchairs!”
Penney concluded by saying: “With over 35 years of riding cycles, and over 25 years of repairing and servicing cycles, I reckon I know my bikes!”
Contact Andrew to take care of your bicycle on 076 875 8020.