There is a time for everything. And when it comes to my life, the time for a motorcycle was definitely not in my 20s. I was a bit of a speed freak and I probably would not be writing these words, if I had explored bikes then. Three years ago, as I drifted into my 40s, I decided that it was time to try life on two wheels. My clichéd line was “I reckon I’m at the age where I can ride somewhere on a Sunday for pancakes, especially because I love pancakes.”
At that point, my only previous experience with riding a bike was attempting to ride in a friend’s yard at 16, dropping it on my thigh and two friends having to lift the bike and I.
Life On Two Wheels
I signed up for the Novice Course at BMW Rider Academy based out at Zwartkops Raceway and was well on my way. I walked in totally uncomfortable with a bike and walked out relatively competent at keeping a bike on the road. I started the session on a 250cc and ended it on a 650 GS.
Some months later, I did Harley Davidson’s Beginners Course, which ran over a weekend, out at their Academy near Hartebeespoort. This was when I was working for Destiny Man magazine and wrote an article on the experience in the mag. For this course, I had to get my learner’s license because we were going to be taken out on the road. It blows my mind that, to be allowed to ride, all you have to do is pass the theoretical learner’s test. But, with my Learner’s in hand, we went through the basics on the first day on a 250cc, learning how to take off, stop, do figure 8s, pulling off a slope, etc. We ended the day with a ride on the backroads. Day two, we did the same drills, this time on the Harley Davidson Sportster Iron 883, ending the training on the same backroads. I absolutely loved the bike and, at that stage, decided that would be my future bike.
The thing about riding is that you need to ride, regularly. You need to spend ‘time in the saddle’. I had none, other than five months on a Vespa, which is dope and, in way, helps with comfort on the roads, but…no gear changes required.
My First Bike
With the expiry date for my learner’s fast approaching I decided to go on a Refresher course at BMW Rider Academy following which I bought my first bike, a BMW R1200R, from Bavarian Motorcycles in Centurion. I stalled at every traffic light on the 30 kilometre ride home. And every light in the city as I navigated my way to and from meetings. I got this down to once a day and, now, 7 months later, have only stalled once in the last three months – it’s intimidating as hell sitting in between Joburg traffic (in my defence).
I have since acquired my license and gone through two more courses: Proficient Safety Skills and Advanced Cornering Techniques. I spend my days gingerly dipping between traffic, saving petrol and living life happily in two wheels.
I’m going to be sharing journey into the biking world, including bike reviews, gear and stuff, in future. Hope it will be of interest to some.