André Maritz (AMZ) on his BMW R1200GS who is still trying to successfully marshal a cow.
Jadd Harding (Jadd) on his BMW R1200RT who successfully marshaled a cow, amongst other things.
Kristine Smuts (Hover Ho’) mostly on a Honda CBF1000FA and also on a Kawasaki Z1000 who successfully marshaled nothing while lying on her side next to her bike, coincidently also lying on its side.
Magda Maritz (Mags) on her BMW R1200GS who stopped a 60 ton petrol browser purely with her stare.
Marius Marais (Phoenix) on his Yamaha YFZR1, the official waker-upper for the CoB while on the road and the marshal who made a frog jump and does a burn-out that could be heard in heaven.
Richard Lewis (Ghosty) on his BMW R1200GSA, for a short while till the clutch packed up, after which he rode whatever the uncles and aunties told him to ride.
The Think Bike Marshals.
The Journey of Hope Riders:
Heleen Scholtz, Helena Nell, Julie Kemp, Kathy Malherbe, Zelda Erasmus and Loubser and Zelda du Plooy. Bikes used were Honda VT750S (Wheezy), Honda CBR600F (Sleepy), Honda NC700X, Honda NT700V (Dopey), BRP CanAm Spyder and a Kawasaki Z1000 (Dozy). All the Hondas were kindly supplied by Honda South Africa, while the Spyder and Kawa belonged to their riders, Helena and Loubser.
There were a few survivors who did not manage to meet the requirements to ride a bike, so they joined the convoy in a microbus. Some chose to ride pillion at times and I bet those who didn’t are still jealous.
Friday 5 October:
All the participants gathered at Amanzingwe Lodge (http://www.amanzingwe.co.za/) in Broederstroom for the final send-off, briefings, loading of support vehicles and a good night of sleep. The Think Bike Marshals appreciate the effort made by the Think Bike Directors, Cindy with hubby in tow and Safron who attended and showed their support on the evening.
This was a truly hectic evening as some participants only arrived late from the airport and as such most were awake until midnight, loading and sorting luggage, branding shirts and so on. It was clear that all were in good spirit and looking forward to the ride that was to come. It was also nice to meet some of the people that we would spend the next week with.
Adolf and Riana, the paramedics who would follow us all the way and who were quickly renamed to our personal Dealers and “deal” they did. Adolf later earned the nickname Drainpipe. Kristine would be in a better position to explain why …..
Our personal and private photographer, Karen who became Kat Burglar during the coming week. She fell in love with Think Bike and bikes. She will even get all excited and tell wild stories of riding pillion and speeds close to 119,99km/h!
Karl, the intrepid Master of Ceremonies, stand-up comic, singer, danger and general doer of dastardly deeds, now known as Heatwave.
Jenny, the event planner/organiser/shoulder to cry on/driver who never got out of trouble. We would meet the rest of her team in Bethlehem.
The trip journo, Annie. What a performer she was. Could wake up a sleeping crowd and with Karl; stir them up to party levels.
Day 1, Saturday 6 October:
The route went from the very beautiful and stylish Amanzingwe Lodge in Broederstroom to Bethlehem. It would be 350km going via Heidelberg, Villiers, Frankfort, Reitz and finally Bethlehem. The procession left at 07:30 and we made our way out of the city, toward the calm of the Freestate. I rode lead and Kristine sweep. Jadd, Richard, Marius and Magda used the leapfrog technique to keep us safe.
At Amanzingwe, getting ready for departure.
The ride was not just a ride. It was the first time that we all rode together, bikes, cars and microbuses. It was a time to get to know each other, our riding capabilities, the method of operation of the Think Bike Marshals, etc. Pretty much a practice run for the rest of the journey.
I was very proud of the Think Bike Marshals as we passed by the Lanseria crossing as we met up with our team of marshals on cycle club duty. They stopped the cycles for our procession! Well done cycle club marshals! You did look great as you waved us through.
Our first stop was at the Caltex Star Stop in Midrand. Only 66km since the start, but we wanted to speak to the ladies to find out how they felt, discuss possible worries, fears, etc. There were none, so it was a quick stop. The next stop was at the Engen One Stop at Villiers where we refueled and had some refreshments. Up to now the ride was slowish, but the group was fast getting to know how to ride together and who slotted where and so on. It was clear that the riders were more relaxed and some excited chatter was heard.
After this break we headed for Frankfort and then Reitz, where we had a lunch stop. Lunch was sandwiches and some fruit, right there next to the road in the middle of the Freestate fields. We had a quick lunch before we departed on the last stretch for Bethlehem. Magda took over as sweep and we were in Bethlehem before we knew it.
In Bethlehem the Journey of Hope survivor team appeared at the Bethlehem Agricultural Show and from where I was standing, their appearance looked like a huge success. It was clear that the interest in the message was there. Even if they did not care, they could not ignore Karl and Annie doing their thing. These two could turn a group if hibernating bears into a riot in no time at all.
We parked the bikes at a guest house in Bethlehem as we made our way to Lions Rock where we stayed over for the night. Lions Rock (http://www.lionsrock.org/) is a well know lion sanctuary and well worth the visit. We had supper and dived for bed. All tired after a long day of riding and then appearing at the show grounds.
The rest of Jenny’s team joined us here. Gavin, Ollie, Tessa and Kaylin joined. These poor okes had the worst job of all. Packers, loaders and organisers of luggage. Keep in mind; these survivors are not bikers by nature. So, they each packed a suitcase that could easily swallow a 1200 BMW on a trailer …. with the tow vehicle attached. These guys had a heck of a job coming! Gavin was, with Jenny, the masters of our universe for the next few days. They directed the program ahead, including breakfast, lunch and supper, so we never gave them any grief or snotty nicknames. Nope! Even we TB Marshals know who not to look for trouble with!
Day 2, Sunday 7 October
This was a short ride of just over 100km. Bethlehem to Ficksburg via Fouriesburg. The survivors had three appearances for the day. Two at churches in Fouriesburg and one in a small community outside Ficksburg on the way to Clocolan. The bike ride was over pretty quickly, but the sun nailed us at the churches in Fouriesburg.
After a nice sit down lunch in Ficksburg at the Imperani Restaurant and Guest House (http://www.imperaniguesthouse.co.za/) a rejuvenated team made their way to the small community on the way to Clocolan. Again the survivors with Karl and Annie did their thing, i.e. spreading the word that cancer, if found early can be beaten.
The Shoprite mobile soup kitchen (http://www.shoprite.co.za/pages/127416071/community-projects/Community/Soup-trucks.asp), which was at all the venues, again dished out soup and bread to all. It was wonderful to see Shoprite, not only sponsor the Journey of Hope, but also provide this mobile soup kitchen to support the Journey of Hope survivors in venues where poverty and hunger is definitely an issue. Hats off to Shoprite and especially the mobile soup kitchen staff. How they manage to feed all those people I have no idea, but feed they did.
After this visit we rode the bikes back to Ficksburg, where they would stay over in town again as our sleepover venue was out on a nasty dirt road. On the way back into town, I saw something that made me realize this would be an epic ride. Coming around a long sweep I saw, with my own eyes, our esteemed Head Marshal, looking stern, having successfully stopped …. not an Elephant Tank, not a 26 wheel fuel tanker, not a convoy of Johannesburg taxis. No! A WHEELBARROW! The poor wheelbarrow pusher stood there, frozen to the spot, eyes as big a saucers, to scared to breathe while our strict Head Marshal, green and red strobes flashing looked on in an evil “better not even think about moving” manner.
The rest of us laughed for a day or so. That is, excluding those who rode back to the overnight venue in a microbus with Kristine as the driver. If you never listen to me, ever, listen to this. Do not ride with Kristine in anything with wheels on a dirt road. We did arrive alive at the venue, which was a surprise of note and even Sarel van der Merwe would have been extremely impressed.
This particular venue provides oxwagons to sleep in. Yep! Oxwagons. No bedding. No towels. A great place to stay over if you like the really rustic type of places. I liked it, but I had a sleeping bag and riding pants to use for a pillow. Those who did not have a sleeping bag did not enjoy it as much. The food was great though. If you are the type who likes to go off the beaten track, you must visit Hoekfontein Oxwagon Camp Nature Reserve (http://www.oxwagon.co.za/) at least once.
Day 3, Monday 8 October
We travelled from Hoekfontein Oxwagon Camp in the cages into Ficksburg. In Ficksburg we collected our bikes, hoping for some time off, to spend some time training our charges. Unfortunately, due to some issues, we spend two hours in an emergency meeting where the decision, “go”, “no go” had to be taken. Thankfully, the issues were resolved and it was “go”!
We left Ficksburg for a short ride to Clarens. It was again incredibly hot and we suffered in the Atgatt when not riding. There were two stops planned for Clarens. The first was at the Clarens Golf Club, where we had lunch as well. It was here that Karen, our photographer earned her new nick, Kat Burglar. She went to the toilet, did what she went there to do and on trying to leave, found that the stall door was comprehensively stuck! She called over the door and through the window to no avail, so she climbed out through said window, ergo … Kat Burglar!
The survivors did their talks and presentation at the golf club, before we departed to the Kgubetswana Community Hall where the survivors again did their thing. The Shoprite Soup Kitchen also joined up with us at this location. Wow! This was a busy stop with lots of people coming to listen to the message and get some soup and bread. Very busy!
We booked into the Protea Hotel in Clarens (http://www.proteahotels.com/protea-hotel-clarens.html) with some time on our hands. After a quick chat we decided to take the biker survivors for some playtime and training on the road to Golden Gate.
We rode to the gate of the Golden Gate National Park where we stopped for a quick break and some training talk. We gave the noob riders some pointers and then Jadd led them back to town, showing the defensive lines. We tried to run at speeds where no braking was required. Karen the Kat Burglar pillioned with me on this ride and she loved it. Jadd led us all back to the gate to the park and after some more pointers we rode back to Clarens again. Kat Burglar Karen pillioned with Marius on the R1 this time round. I have heard that they touched 119,99 on this ride, but I must stress that this is only a rumour.
During the evening we had supper at the hotel and Tekkie Town (http://www.tekkietown.co.za/) presented all the Journey of Hope survivors with a pair of pretty nice tekkies. We had a good time chatting, laughing and in general being full of fun on the stoep of the hotel. All agreed that the ride to Golden Gate and back x 2 was awesome and we were looking forward to some more “playtime” on the route ahead. I am sure I saw some of the noob riders drooling ever so slightly …
Day 4, Tuesday 9 October
Today we rode from Clarens to just inside the gate of the Golden Gate National Park for a strawberry picnic. After the short picnic the videographer and photographer wanted the riders to slowly ride through two lines of trees for some video and pics. Since it had rained earlier, we send Marius to check out the area for traction.
At the end of this Marius decided it was as good a time as any to do a bit of a burn-out, which he promptly did. Meanwhile, what Marius could not know, was that the survivors had started a short prayer meeting, so while they were in prayer, Marius did his, now for sure “heavenly” burn-out a couple of meters away! Five Marshals frantically showed the universal cut your engine sign by pulling our hands across our throats, but alas, to no avail. One can only hope that the Archangel Gabriel and heavenly colleagues all wore their earplugs on the day.
We departed for a nice ride through the Golden Gate twisties. Onward to Phuthaditjhaba, but not before Julie and her bike fell over on the grass. The bike was promptly named Sleepy, for falling asleep on the job. We were met by the traffic police and led into Phuthaditjhaba where we visited two schools and a shopping mall. As we departed the first school, I stood in awe as Hover fell off the Kawasaki Z1000. Not a sight I thought I would ever see, but heck, if Capt Grumpy can keel over, I suppose so could any of us. Today was clearly the turn of Kristine. The Kawa was renamed Dozy, also for falling asleep on the job.
We visited the second school and then departed for the mall. Utter chaos ensued as the traffic policeman directed us into a taxi rank. Only, once into it by some meters, did we realize we were going in the wrong direction, against the flow of one way taxi traffic. How we managed to lead the whole procession of 12 bikes and 6 cars through that rank and survived I do not know, but I do know this. The six TB Marshals who did the leading here are RANK (no chirping about smell will be tolerated) professionals and may well be called “The Elite” some day in the future, by other, awe struck marshals. Boy, oh boy ….
Lesson learnt, huge shopping centers in areas where 99% of the population do not have cars, do not have huge parking areas! They have huge taxi ranks. Never enter such a taxi rank, especially not against the flow of the traffic! Not having parking lots, but taxi ranks instead does make a lot of sense, once you think about it. Anyway, we found a nice spot across from a Spar and we could set up there for the survivors and Shoprite to do their thing.
Once completed, the traffic police led us out of Phuthaditjhaba and we were on our way to Harrismith. It was a nice ride and it had cooled down a bit, so the Atgatt wasn’t that uncomfortable. Coming into Harrismith two cop cars turned across our path and stopped us. They were there to lead us into town, which they did. This time the appearance was directly in front of Shoprite in Harrismith. Again the survivors did their thing, talking to people from the area, carrying their message of hope due to early detection.
Our accommodation was out of town, again on a dirt road, so the bikes were locked away in the garage of a guest house in town. We arrived at the Mount Everest Guest Farm (http://goeverest.co.za/) in the cages just as it was getting dark. We six marshals shared a chalet. This is a beautiful place, far into nature and the mountain. Our chalet was so far up the mountain, that I am sure I saw the barefoot tracks of my forefathers who trekked over there to get away from the dastardly Iengliesh!
Here at Everest, a few strange things happened.
• Jadd told a herd of Blouwildebest to wait at the side of the road as we passed and they did! I kid you not! I clearly have a long way to go in terms of learning marshaling skills.
• Marius indicated to a frog to get off the road and out of our way and it did! Now, I am sure, I have seen it all in terms of marshaling technique and skill.
• We had to walk from the dining hall to our chalet, straight up the side of the mountain!
• Marius and I shared bunk beds. He was on top. This must be the first time in 40 odd years that I slept on a bunk bed. Stories by Ghosty on how Marius and I snored are greatly exaggerated.
We had a nice meal in the dining room. Then we kuiered until very late, found our four wheeled transport had packed up, so we could not drive back to our chalet and our own great trek started. The six marshals trundled up the side of the mountain. Again, I am pretty sure I saw Susanna Maritz and Deborah Retief’s barefoot footprints as we coughed and wheezed our way upward and onward. This was made 10 000 times more difficult by Ghosty insisting on shining his gazillion candle power torch in my eyes every time I had managed to get my night vision back. Just before we reached the chalet the medic arrived offering oxygen. Being hardened bikers, we declined the offer and coughed the last few meters to the chalet. On arrival, even my pack of cigarettes where wheezing with me!
We sat around exchanging stories and jokes till about 01:00 before we made a night of it.
Day 5, Wednesday 10 October
We caged from Mount Everest back into town to get the bikes. We had to hang around Harrismith for a period as one of the cages needed a tire repaired and one of riders had lost her prescription sunglasses, so she needed to see an optometrist. During this wait we ordered some cake from a local Mugg and Bean and man alive! They delivered pieces of cake big enough to fill the right hand side pannier of a GSA! Sheeeez! We ate and ate and ate and gave up! This particular bit of waiting was well worth it.
We departed for Ladysmith on the N3. Kristine would lead and I would sweep. “Take the FIRST Ladysmith turn-off from the N3 Kristine”, I said. “Yes Master CoB” she replied and then promptly rode straight past it! This happened after the awesome twisties of Van Reenens Pass, so after initially blowing my blood pressure beyond what my pills could handle, I calmed down and enjoyed her being ragged to shreds by all and sundry. Wiminns!
We had lunch in the Spur in Ladysmith, after getting there via the SECOND Ladysmith turn-off from the N3. Those of us who know were watching the skies anxiously. It was getting that ominous dark colour which usually means you will get very wet, if you are lucky. If you are unlucky, you will get nailed by hail, while dodging lightning. Dundee was the next stop. The girls would make appearances at the Shoprite and the Spar in Dundee.
We rode on a wet road all the way there. Sort of, just behind the rain if you wish. Then! Just as we entered Dundee we caught up! There was no place to safely stop and don rain suits. It was just a steady drizzle, so with 4 kays to go, no safe place to stop, I decided to go for it. As soon as I went for it, the drizzle turned into a heavy shower of note. We all arrived at the Shoprite stop drenched to the bone. I do mean, drenched to the bone, soaking wet. The bloody heat wave that had us panting for air the past week, also suddenly disappeared, so we were all shaking from the cold as well. Nice.
We were okay, but I did feel very sorry for the Journey of Hope riders. They were pretty new to biking and have had no experience riding on wet roads while being soaked. We did manage to get them out of the second appearance at Spar and we made a beeline for our accommodation, Lalalapha Guest House (http://www.lalalapha.co.za/) in Glencoe, 9 kilometers away. We missed a hail storm by minutes, thanks to this really wise decision. Our speed back to Lalalapha got us in trouble with Kaylin as he tried to follow us and we left him behind. This made him so cross that he scratched a cross over his brand spanking new Think Bike bumper sticker on his bakkie. I have heard, but did not see this myself, that he scratched so hard that it went into the bakkie’s paintwork. Anyway, he eventually forgave us for leaving him behind and all is well that ends well.
Lalalapha put up a great meal for us, a braai in fact, which most of us enjoyed a lot. Due to weird sleeping arrangements I shared a double bed with Mag …. Magd …. Ma …. Marius!!! Mags was somewhere else sharing with Kristine. Eish! I do not want to talk about this anymore, except state that Marius was a true gentleman.
Before this strange sharing of beds, we had a good, long kuier in the bar area of Lalalapha. Some of us would be in dire need of the medic’s needle the next morning. He who did our medical stuff was renamed Drainpipe due to the size of some of his needles!
Day 6, Thursday 11 October
Today would be a long ride. We would go from Glencoe via Dundee to Vryheid for tea with the mayor of Vryheid. The next appearance by the Journey of Hope people would be in Clifdale, a small community about 30 kilos outside Vryheid. So, we had breakfast in Glencoe and off we went. Thankfully we managed to get our kit dry during the night, mainly thanks to liberal use of the air cons in the rooms. We had a good and uneventful ride to Vryheid where we were met by the Vryheid traffic police for an escort to the mayor’s office.
Jadd and I chatted with the traffic policeman in charge and offered our services since they were just two cars. He did not seem keen, so we did not press the point. In town, it was clear they were not managing so our marshals swung into action. At the end of the day, when they left us in Clifdale, the traffic dude said: “I don’t know why you needed us. Your guys are great at this!” Of course we really appreciate such a compliment, especially when it comes from a traffic officer.
After tea and pics with the mayor we went for Clifdale. Almost there I finally saw a cow next to the road. This is important as all our marshals have had the opportunity to stop and sternly show a cow to stay put next to the road. All, but me and I was feeling left out and unqualified. So, I saw the cow, slithered to a halt and proudly lifted my hand indicating to the cow to stop and wait. While I watched the cow carefully to ensure she did not move, I noticed that she had huge horns and that she was now eyeing me. She may well be a he!
Anyway, as I watched her, or him, a cow from the other side of the road decided to come join us on this side and ran across the road, straight in front of the medical vehicle. How he missed her only he and all his guardian angels will know. It was certainly a close shave as we later saw by the marks on his bullbar that he had actually touched her, but worse, I am now known as the only marshal on Journey of Hope who could not stop a bloody cow! This is the material that makes a grown marshal cry! It will take some years before I hear the end of this story.
At Clifdale the crowds came as the ladies did their bit. It was shocking to see the levels of poverty in this area. I watched, almost in horror, as people grabbed slices of dry bread, wolfing it down before they even got their soup. So sad!
It is here where the Honda Deauville got its new name of Dopey as it fell asleep under its rider, lying down in the street! Shame on you Dopey! Shame I say!
We finished and hit the road for Louwsburg, Pongola and then on the N2 for Hluhluwe where we would sleep over in the Hluhluwe Safari Protea (http://www.proteahotels.com/protea-hotel-hluhluwe-safaris.html). We did a quick stop in Louwsburg to get some petrol and basically turned the little village upside down. People actually ran outside to come and watch the procession!
For those who know the area, you will know there are some awesome passes on that road. Playtime galore! At one point Marius, Kristine and I were far behind and we rode to catch up. Kristine was on the little Journey of Hope branded Honda VT750S and my eyes popped to see what she could do with it! Man alive! I am sure she would have impressed even Valentino or Casey as we swept through the mountains.
The N2 is a quick and easy ride, so we made good time to the hotel in Hluhluwe. We booked in and took time to relax a tad before supper. At supper the Journey of Hope people awarded all the marshals a gift for our hard work. It was a T-Shirt each on which they had each written a personal message with a marker and a huge pack of biltong. We all really appreciate the gesture and I will certainly treasure my shirt for many years to come.
Our charges, whom we called ducklings, were now riding so well that we promoted them to full chickens. At the rider briefing we announced that on the ride to Eshowe the next day, they would take turns riding lead and sweep and we would, with the exception of two scouting marshals, ride between them, effectively allowing them to marshal us. A new challenge for them.
Supper was great and the marshals and some riders had a good old kuier while due to a certain amount of partying with the MC, our medic was on thin ice with his wife and under room arrest so he sat on a chair at the door of his room, while the MC sat on a chair in his room and they continued with their party. Neither having left their respective rooms. Clever idea dudes! Clever indeed!
“Time is passing too fast” I thought as I fell asleep.
Day 7, Friday 12 October
This was almost the final day, or so we thought. With all the riding and appearances, we sort of saw the end of this epic journey to be in Durban at Ushaka Marine World, forgetting that Johannesburg was still 600km away.
Today we would go from Hluhluwe to Kwasizabantu (http://www.kwasizabantu.com/) a mission station 50 kilometers inland from Stanger on the Greytown road. We would first stop over in Eshowe at the Eshowe Mall where the Journey of Hope people had an appearance booked. It would be an exciting ride as the Journey of Hope Chickens would be the Marshals between Hluhluwe and Dokodweni where we would leave the N2.
Kathy would lead the first 50km, with Julie sweeping. They swopped bibs with Jadd and Kristine and looked all to cool in the Marshal bibs. So, off we went under the leadership of our newest Marshal Kathy leading the procession. The TB Marshals, with the exception of the two forward scouts, rode in the procession as normal riders. After 50 or so k’s, we swopped Kathy to sweep and Julie to lead, while riding! Remember, these ladies were pretty noob and inexperienced a scant few days ago, so although such a swop on the fly seems like nothing to us, I was very proud to see how well they executed the maneuver.
After 100 kilometers we stopped for a quick leg stretch. At this point Zelda took the Marshal bib and lead while Helena on her Spyder took sweep. All to soon we were at the turn off to Eshowe where we exchanged roles and led the team up the awesome mountain pass to Eshowe. On arrival at the Eshowe Mall a security guard accosted me about parking. Unlike normal shopping malls and normal security guards, this dude excitedly explained he wanted all the bikes to enter the mall and park in the passage in front of some shops! I was still wondering about this when the mall manager arrived and expressed the same wish. We didn’t need a second invitation, so in we went bikes and all.
While the presentations were taking place the dark weather started moving in again and we all donned our sissy suits before we left. Just a word of advice, never try this with Ghosty nearby. That is, unless you have a urgent need to be face down on the floor with your sissy suit pants around your ankles.
As soon as we left, we rode into a slight drizzle. Not bad at all and we were all in sissy suits anyway, so we cruised to Stanger, filled up with fuel and made tracks up the pass to Kwasizabantu Mission. This is a truly awesome pass and I would love to ride it someday when I can actually see the pass. About halfway up the pass, the slight drizzle was joined by his two buddies, going dark and fog! Visibility was down to a few meters. This was a problem as there is no real safe place to stop the convoy and we couldn’t turn around. We just had to keep going at a snail's pace, feeling our way forward. It is not possible to overstress the difficulty level of this piece of the ride and that being said, I cannot sing to many praises to our charges. If we experienced riders were taking serious strain, we can only imagine what they were going through. These are brave girls!
In Eshowe, one of the cage bound survivors asked to pillion with me. I told her it would be cold and wet and unpleasant, but she insisted. She sat through all this on the back of my bike, never a peep. Although I often asked if she was okay, all I got every time was a small hand showing me a thumb up. You did pick your pillion ride badly Lorraine, but lots of respect to you to for handling these unpleasant circumstances.
Unfortunately, on this leg, one of the lady riders, Zelda went down after hitting a patch where the road crews were busy fixing a pothole. You have all seen them. A nice big square cut out of the tar, filled and compacted, waiting for new tar. Thankfully she wasn’t hurt to seriously and two of our marshals and the paramedic were on scene immediately to help her. It did mean that, due to a broken finger, she was out for the rest of the ride.
Then, the bike disappeared! Yep, the Honda NT700V decided to go AWOL. Thankfully, it wasn’t stolen, but put in safe guarding by a local farmer who saw it next to the road with a bakkie and four gents already waiting to load it up. We got it back from the benefactor the next day and although it showed some cosmetic damage, it was rideable.
We stayed over at the Kwasizabantu Mission for the night. This is an incredible place and they do great work, including owning and running a well known bottled water plant and supplying veggies to Woolies. They also run a rehabilitation center for drug and alcohol addicts. This meant, sadly so, no smoking or drinking anywhere on the premises. We smokers had to track half a mile up the road for every smoke break! Eina!
Day 8, Saturday 13 October
We were now heading toward the climax of the Journey of Hope Breast Cancer Ride. In a few hours we would be at Ushaka Marine World (http://www.ushakamarineworld.co.za/) and it would all be over.
Jenny, the organiser cancelled two appearances due to the fact that we had to get to the police, sort the accident report and the bike and so on, so we left later than usual. It was an awesome ride down the pass that we could not see the previous evening. I must go back someday to ride this pass again.
It was a shortish ride to the Gateway Mall in Umhlanga where we would meet up with a group of bikers from the Durban area who would ride into Durban with us. The Metro Police escort would also meet us here. Things went reasonably according to plan, except for one Spyder now refusing to start when required to do so. Fortunately, the BRP dealer was open and into customer care so they quickly send a trailer to lift the lazy Spyder and take it to the workshop where they could weave their magic and get it going again.
In the meantime the patch wearing bikers arrived. The Metro Cops arrived, all three of them and we rolled exactly on time. I enjoyed the relaxed ride into town as we were now being marshaled by the KZN Biker Associations Road Captains and the Metro. I had Karen the Kat Burgling photographer with me, or a barrel of monkeys, I am not sure which, but what I am sure about is, the bouncing around on the back of my bike had me bobbing and weaving like a drunkard. The procession rode into Durban without incident and then we hit, what was the high point for me, the entrance to the shopping mall.
Riding your bike, with 50 or so other bikes, right through the center of a shopping mall, open for business is just downright awesome! Due to the bouncing on the back of my bike as Karen hopped around to get piccies, I almost killed a few shoppers, but with some deft handling, I managed to miss all. Through all this I was watching “our” chickens in my mirror all the way. Those tiles were rather slippery and I was hoping no one would slip and fall with this many spectators. I worried for no reason at all. They were, by now, fully qualified hairy arsed bikers and handled the ride without any hassle at all.
The procession made its way right to the end of the mall, next to the shark tanks where we parked our bikes and the Journey of Hope group swung into motion doing their awareness campaign. They are really good at this and with Karl and Annie on the public address system; they had a nice crowd pretty soon. We marshals ducked into Moyo’s for a bit of shade and a drink. Avoid this if you can, unless you reckon R17 for a glass of Coke is acceptable! Sjoe!
The Journey of Hope group finished their thing and we all had supper at the Upper Deck. Nice place, but a tad scary as you could easily get a little bit intoxicated, trip and fall down the throat of a waiting shark! Fortunately we all avoided this fate and made our way to the Protea Hotel Eduard (http://www.proteahotels.com/protea-hotel-edward-durban.html) on the beachfront to overnight.
A few of us booked in and after delivering our luggage to our rooms, went for a nightcap on the verandah of the hotel. We reminisced about the ride of the last few days for awhile, sipped our drinks and basically looked out to sea in a forlorn manner, realising that our epic Journey of Hope was basically a thing of the past. Yes, we had to ride home, but THE JOURNEY itself was over for 2012.
Day 9, Sunday 14 October
We left the hotel for Ushaka to go fetch the bikes, which stayed at Ushaka for the night. We then had a brêkkie at the Spur at Ushaka before getting ready to roll the rubber for Gauteng. Julie was frantically looking for her luggage as it seems the loading team may have mislaid it. CCTV footage at Ushaka later showed it being stolen from one of the vehicles. All her luggage for the week as well as her laptop went with the criminal.
Loubser and Esme (Kawa Z1000) decided to go ahead without us and so did Helena (Spyder) and her hubby (Honda VFR800) who came down from Johannesburg to ride back with her. As far as bikes went, we were now the six marshals and Kathy and Julie.
Our convoy filled with petrol and energetically made for the N3 back home. Problem! Durban was having its own 94.7 Cycle race, called the Amashova. Road closures galore, including the N3 outgoing side. We did not know this though. I dutyfully stopped, with the whole convoy in tow, at some cops explained about the convoy and asked for directions to the N3. Said cop gave me perfect directions right to the onramp onto the N3. He ommitted to tell me that the N3 was also closed! What a mess, it was. We landed up on a narrow street next to the N3, at least going in the right direction, but slow. Very slow. In fact, I can now confirm that at an ambient temperature of between 32 and 36 Celsius a 1200 Boxer motor will overheat after 1 hour and 15 minutes in first gear!
Thankfully, the overheating of the three boxer Beemers and one water cooled bakkie with a non-functional electric fan happened at a garage, so whe could pull off to wait for the Boxers to cool down and wire the bakkie’s fan to sidestep the thermostat and relay. We eventually left Durban at around 13:00 instead of 10:00!
Knowing we would not make home before dark, we arranged for accommodation in Harrismith. This was a good idea too as it started getting dark just as we arrived at the Bergsig Guesthouse (http://harrismith.co/bergsig-guesthouse) in Harrismith. We got some pizzas from town, had us a pizza party and went to bed. The cage bound survivors from Journey of Hope decided to drive through to Johannesburg, so our convoy would be down to the 8 bikes and two cages the next day.
We still had a long way to go tomorrow, yet the mood was good and a lot of laughs were shared.
Day 10, Monday 15 October
The decision was that we would leave at 07:00, which we did including fixing a puncture on the rear tire of Marius’ R1. Our group, reduced in size made a beeline for a brêkkie spot just outside Harrismith where we had a quick brêkkie before nailing the N3 homeward bound. At the Engen One Stop at Villiers we took a short water break and met up with Colyvon who had decided to come to Villiers and ride in with us. After the short break we went home. Dropped the Hondas at Honda SA in Midrand, said our goodbyes and each went his own direction.
I know I am not alone when I say, I suddenly felt a void. I was at home and that was nice, but I was missing something. For me personally, the trip had two goals. Ride our bikes and spread the word about early detection of breast cancer saving lives. We did both and it was done well. Object achieved.
For 10 days, I had the opportunity to be part of something awesome, something epic, something very special and something I will never forget. It was a Journey of Hope!
(Note: Images not all taken by myself. Most supplied by the photographer, Karen Smit)
Some general pictures from the journey: