Fast forward 20 years down the line, with a move to Durban in between. It’s not as though I had been counting down the days but soon after Ilze had turned 21 I walked into Tommy Johns Motors in Pinetown. There beckoning me like a shameless ‘flerrie’ (hussy) was a beautiful silver BMW LT 1200, with a pedigree that rivaled the royal family. With ABS brakes, reverse gear, heated seats, heated handlebars, a six-shuttle front loader cd player, adjustable visor and much, much more as Makhatini from Maritzborough could attest to. This must surely have gone down as the easiest sale in the history of Tommy Johns Motors. All the salesman had to do was to take the money. Of course he gave a little ‘spiel’ how everything worked, sorted out the paperwork and with that I headed home.
What a feeling! Fleetingly I thought of the last time I had pulled the same stunt but knew somehow that this time it would be different. After all, Marina had left the door open and I just nudged it a little wider. Just wide enough to fit this baby through. It was such a grand occasion that a cavalcade of cars leading the way would not have seemed out of place.
As I got to the gate I hooted, not too loudly, not too brashly either just a kind of ‘honey I’m home’ kind of hoot. Music to my ears, hearing that hoot for the first time.
The look on Marina’s face was priceless as she greeted me with âAnd this?â I could not contain myself; my smile could have spread no further for fear of escaping my face as I reminded her about our conversation all those years ago. Of course she remembered. And then I saw that little smile escape her lips and the crinkle at her eyes and knew that this is a new day, another wonderful day on this journey of our lives. I remember this day, as though it was yesterday.
The rest is history. The choice of the BMW Cruiser with all its mod cons and Marina and I dressed to kill in true Britz style, in matching biker kits. Saw us hit the road, conquering the dust, the grit and the traffic. The years of waiting, the anticipation, and with Marina not only as my partner for life but my biker partner as well, how much better could life be?
Before long we were churning up the km’s gaining experience and confidence and friends along the way. It was not unusual in this new found freedom of ours to leave Durban early on a Sunday morning and head off to Johannesburg to share in Sunday morning worship and lunch with our family before heading back home. All on the same day. A mere 1200km. Of course these days were long but the joy of being with family and being witness to the most beautiful African sunrises and sunsets that we so often take for granted was well worth while.
There’s a certain freedom that comes with a bike, a freedom that only another biker can identify with. It’s not just the cherry on the cake. It’s the whole cake with layers and layers of cream, topped with chocolate and it’s not just a slice it’s the whole big ‘gedoente.’
For years the Cape Argus (a cycling event in South Africa) has been a major sporting event on my calendar, and now just because I had a bigger bike that I did not have to pedal did not mean that I would let my trusty ‘old’ bicycle be relegated to the dump. This time ‘she’ would still travel in the style she was accustomed to, but unaccompanied. Having only taken one long trip on the bike to Botswana with a group of male friends, Marina and I decided to take the plunge and ride to Cape Town and back.
March 2003 we set off at 3 in the morning. It was dark and rather cold. The excitement was almost electrical as we set off. The bright lights in the darkness were quite spectacular and instead of casting an eerie feel on the black tar and black skies, it instead created a great feeling of comfort because visibility was so good. The odd owl let us know its discontent as it reached high into the night sky at our arrival. Our plans to overnight in Colesberg were thrown to the wind.
In high spirits and with Marina taking to the saddle like a lady to the manor or should that be manner born ? we pressed on and headed for Cape Town.
At Drie Susters we stopped to refuel not only the bike but ourselves as well. Not much time for rest and relaxation as we made our way through the beautiful Hexriver valley with the towering mountains for company and then Du Toits Kloof Tunnel roaring back at us as I opened the throttle. What a journey and what a welcome as we arrived in Cape Town 1650kms later. On hindsight the thought of being with our dear friends Eben and Linda (Thiart) spurred us onto literally going the extra mile.
Our friendship goes way back and with it brings memories of wonderful holidays. Of ‘racing’ against each other, of cheering each other across the finish line, of being there for each other during the good times, the fun times, and for the ‘other’ times when we needed a brother at our side. It’s a friendship which brings Linda and Marina together beside us or behind us often to remind us that our bikes have not only accelerators but brakes as well.
Very pleased with my time of just less than 4 hours for the grueling 109km Argus we waved goodbye to the Thiarts rather reluctantly and set off with the Garden Route stretching ahead in all its beauty. This time we would break the journey stopping first with my mom and dad in Jeffrey’s Bay. Oh Boy! Do I wish I could surf? Here in this once upon a ‘little hamlet’ some of the best waves in the world, gather the best surfers in the world. What a beautiful country we live in.
There’s nothing like coming ‘home’ when Ma and Pa always make us feel like the prodigal son and daughter. So again it’s with a little ache in our hearts as we say goodbye with just another ‘drukkie and soentjie’. Next stop not ‘Makou Vlei’ but Umtata in the Transkei. Every where we go the bike attracts attention. It is big and it’s beautiful and there are not many LT’s on the road. You have to be ‘wakker’ (awake) on these roads. Everyday of the week sees goats, cattle, donkeys, dogs and kids taking a Sunday stroll totally oblivious to any kind of traffic that might just be making use of the road.
Here in the final stages I can feel the tiredness starting to take hold. Nothing to write home about. Just a strange sensation, a burning in my hands. Something I put down to extended periods of gripping the handlebars. As we pull up at our gate with the last rays of the sun creeping in behind the horizon we give thanks to the good Lord for smiling upon us in his graciousness and for the many blessings he has bestowed upon us. With almost 5000km under our belts its home sweet home and sleeping in our very own bed, what better way to end another journey, another day.