03-24-2009, 09:08 PM
Joined: Feb 2006
Location: Close to Cumming (GA that is)
The plan today is to pick up the rental bikes, get vaguely familiar with SA traffic and pack for an early start Saturday morning. First thing though, we go to breakfast with a bunch of fellow riders. Paul and Cindy are part of the Think Bike crowd in South Africa (www.thinkbike.co.za) and they meet every Friday before work for coffee. I was half expecting a bunch of safety weenies, but these guys are pretty cool and South Africans are appearing to be pretty laid back in general. How many of us in the states have a group of guys (and gals) who'll take the time to stop for breakfast before work every week?
Breakfast with the Think Bike (TB) crowd. BMWs are pretty well represented - majority of riders seem pretty serious - commuting is common (for reasons that later become obvious)
After Breakfast Cindy takes us down to MotoBerlin where we pick up the bikes. We'd both arranged to rent BMW's F800GS since we're both eager to compare performance with our current adventure bikes (Gary has a V-Strom, I've got a 950 Adventure, both of us have KLRs). We're a little concerned about the bikes though as there's been a little trouble getting e-mails answered in the past couple of weeks. But on arrival thankfully the bikes are both as promised (my steed is essentially new, with only 700kms on the clock ). Both bikes have top cases (not trunks - in SA, trunks only on elephants ) and come with flat kits, chain lube and chain adjustment tools, in addition to the standard toolkit. Quite a nice Motoberlin polo shirt is thrown in too.
Good guys to deal with: www.motoberlin.co.za
We mount our GPSs on the bikes and Cindy leads us into the Jo'burg traffic. We're on the wrong side of the road to start with, and seriously jet lagged too, but nothing on four wheels is moving that fast, so we make our way gingerly back to Paul's with Cindy leading the way in her Jeep.
Here we meet back up with Ian (who had originally invited us to come over to SA, but unfortunately is not able to come on the trip). Ian's offered to show us 'round Jo'burg for the day and this is where the fun begins. He lane splits through the grid locked Jo'burg traffic at a rate of knots that has to be seen to be believed. Lets see: Jet lagged, wrong side of the road, unfamiliar bike and flying up between lines of traffic with visions of Atlanta lane discipline.
Ian stops and asks us how we feel.
'Scared' I reply.
'I'm the careful one in the group', says Ian.
We make a pit stop across town at the very well appointed BMW dealership (cars and bikes under one roof) to pick up a tank bag for Gary's bike.
After riding 'round for another hour or two, Ian pulls over and takes his helmet off.
'Listen, you guys need to stay close, 'cause now we're going through Soweto'
Ian: 'Yeah, just watch out for the kids throwing rocks. Don't worry about the bullets though, 'cause you won't see those coming anyway'
Needless to see, Ian had a couple of 800GS's pretty much riding on his luggage rack over the next couple of miles. It was pretty intimidating being the only white face around, but the locals didn't appear to be particularly restless, although there was a certain vibrant claustrophobia reflected in the number of people milling around the streets. At one stage we spotted a police cruiser and happily tailgated it out of the district. No photo's though I'm afraid.
Ian later commented: 'That's something most white South Africans will never do'
Ian (dayglo bib) and Paul drinking coffee at the TB breakfast. Gary and I (in the foreground) in retrospect would've been better off with something stronger.
After barely surviving Ian's baptism by fire, we head back to Paul's for a take out dinner. Di, another member of the crew stops by and drops off the cell phone that she's arranged for us to use over there. We pack the bikes and prep for the next day.
Bikes packed and loaded: (Paul's R1100S, Cindy's 1200ST)
Jo'burg is rumored to have 85 murders/day. I'm thankful to have survived my first in one piece.