“Sins of the Past”

by Ian “Fast Jan” Mirk


It’s a long story where Fast Jan came from and one that’s been told many times before.  Go dig out an old copy of one of the first 120 issues of Enduro World and you’ll see.  This story however, combines Fast Jan old and current and applies to many of us – today and tomorrow . . . . .


It was in the Year of Our Lord circa 1995, shortly after one Pienaar, F Esquire had lifted the Rugby World Cup that Fast Jan, Ian Couper and Basil “Flatnose” Scramble went racing somewhere in the Northwest.  As they pretty much raced every weekend, being socially inept and 2-stroke fixated.  Nothing unusual in this story except for this day Fast Jan and Couper were locked in a titanic battle (obviously for last place) that endured for several loops of the 200km event.  At one fateful moment Fast looked back over his shoulder, failed to notice a rock the size of a dog-kennel, smacked it and fractured his leg.

Fast crawled back to the pits – i.e. marginally quicker than his race-pace, his race ended. Once safely there the well-known Wolmarans family tended to his well-being.  Pressing one of those peppermint bandage thingies to his leg and a cold beer into his hand, Fast was cared for in fine style.  Meantime Scruffy Scramble inconsiderately went and won the event so a further delay for prize-giving and more beers before the trek home.

All this while, Guy “Dodo” Henley was in Sunninghill Clinic having a shoulder separation repaired.  He’d only just been taught not to call it a shoulder “divorce”. It was widely held that this was possibly Murphy’s retribution for racing a KX500 which was twice as tall as him. (Dodo, now he’s all grown up, is currently better known as the 2015 Off-Road Senior National Champion.  Still a shortie, though!) They clearly used Pratley’s Putty fixing his “shoulder divorce” though ‘cos it’s very lumpy now.


On the way home from the event, Fast’s pain levels grew as the beer wore off and Flatnose, having had quite enough of the whinging, decided Sunninghill Clinic would be the perfect place to obtain X-Rays. They could at least visit Dodo when Fast was pronounced by competent medical staff to be an utter ninny and that there was nothing wrong with him.  So into the Clinic Fast limped, still dirty from the event, whilst Scramble remained in the truck, basking in trophied glory with another beer.

Thirty minutes later, Campbell now inside, the Radiologist pronounced Fast Jan’s leg fractured.  An Orthopod arrived, asked if Fast wanted the “quick fix” with plate and screws or the “slow” version with plaster cast for several weeks.  “Quick fix please” was responded to with “I can’t do it now; you’re too pissed – come back at 07h00 tomorrow”.  Scramble chucked Fast into a wheelchair and wheelied him all the way to Dodo’s ward where much childish laughter resulted in a hostile Matron chucking the pair out and Fast Jan was dropped at his home.


Fast Jan and Fast Jen

Fast Jan and Fast Jen

Now it should be mentioned that Fast Jan’s life had not at this stage, been graced with the presence of Fast Jen. That eternal angel who took pity on Fast Jan and married him as a wonderful, charitable gesture – possibly vaulting her for Nobel Prize nomination. And so, the following morning Fast Jan climbed into his car unaccompanied and with busted leg, and drove himself back to the clinic where he was duly plated and screwed.  Discharging himself around midday, and full of anaesthetic, local and general, off he went to Flatnose’s for a braai.

“Aren’t you supposed to be having an op?” quizzed Flatnose.  “Had it” was the reply, fresh Sunday beer (additional anaesthetic, of course) already in hand.  Subject closed.  Monday dawned and a hectic business meeting involving a bank manager and bended-knee begging, had Fast Jan cramming the broken leg into a suit, complete with socks and shoes to keep appearances normal. Dirtbikes, Bank Managers and credit requests are not great combinations!


The following weekend was a “double-header” at the Carousel.  Northern Regions harescramble on Saturday and the same loop reversed on Sunday for a Northwest Off-Road. Both final events of the series and both run by Oberfeurhers Dinks Pitchford and her Mom, Sue.  Fast had to race, leading one championship and lying 2nd in the other (sheer fluke you understand – probably nobody else in his class!).  Strapping a steel window latch to his boot with duct tape and ensuring no movement in his leg fracture got him through both days – sore and very sorry for himself – but maintaining his championship positions.

A year later and on the advice of the Orthopod, the plate and screws were removed.

Except for one screw. A lurker. In fact a floater. Left behind by the surgical team, perhaps an oversight, perhaps a momento, but a screw loose in one x leg, nonetheless.


Roll on 20 years.  Fast Jan as youthful, dashing and dynamic as ever, still paying Scramble friendship fees annually to keep their relationship going.  Fast Jen, courted and married, the darling of pit-wives of the 2000’s and the designer of the famous woman’s’ “burning thighs” port-a-loo hovering device.  Fast Kids growing up, KX’s swapped for Beta’s and all with a screw loose.

So much so that it has, after all these years, worked its way to the edge of the skin and caused an abscess. And thus Fast Jan finds himself back in a clinic (Greenacres, PE this time) having another operation, this time to remove the forgotten screw.  And writing this story. Another Orthopod, who was probably 10 years old at the time of the original plating cannot fathom the logic of operating on a broken leg and racing a week later.  But then she’s never swung her leg over a dirtbike has she? Readers of this magazine FULLY understand now – don’t you?


And so ends the story.  Sins of the past come back to haunt us. One loose screw, three old dirt-bike (and lifetime) mates and the memories that only riding and racing can bring.