Monday, May 22, 2006

2187km: I need gloves

One of the reasons I cite for buying my Gomoto is that it can easily take me to interesting places to exercise.

This has not necessarily turned out to be the case. In fact, the Gomoto has made me slightly lazy. My daughter's Montesorri creche' is a few hundred metres down the road. I always used to walk to school with her. Now, I put her on the back of the Gomoto. Usually when I arrive, I have about 20 kids run to the gate screaming: "Look there is Jeandre's dad." The admiration with wich they look at me, my daughter, and my red 125cc is very remarkable; and the pride with wich my daughter gets off the motorbike is very good for my ego.

This morning, however, was a different story. I am sure I could see scowls on the faces of the people driving their kids to school in their Volvos and Jeep Grand Cherokees. I had somehow lost track of atmospheric conditions in the snug second floor flat that I live in. When I got out of the garage, with my daughter on the Gomoto, I realised that it was raining. In fact, the temperature was about 11 degrees Celsius. My daughter was a little bit under-dressed, and I was wearing a pair of shorts, some running shoes, and a track-suit top over my T-Shirt. My plan was to drop my daughter at school and then drive the 14km's to the beach for a much needed jog.

My daughter survived the few hundred metres to school with just a thin layer of water gathering on her clothes, and I continued down to the beach. It was cold, but I still had a warm core temperature due to spending most of my time in a warm flat. In fact, the only parts of my body that suffered greatly were my fingers. They became very cold and I really had to fumble to get them to press the correct button on my remote control starter to switch the bike off, after I arrived at the beach.

The weather at the beach was actually quite pleasant. The sun had appeared and the peaks behind Simon's Town and Fishoek had a beautiful bright glare. There was only a slight drizzle at the start of my 4km run. The beach was deserted (apart from two "out of their mind" surfers, and another young couple that seemed to be celebrating some marital bliss). For once there were no "ou tannies" or 3 year old kids walking with their mommies and dogs. The beach also showed signs of a rather stormy night at sea with pieces of driftwood and sea weed scattered around. A sea-gull was pecking at a washed up starfish (I wish my daughter was there to see that) and there were shells that I usually only see on more deserted beaches (like Rooi-Els). Perhaps they do wash out every day, but there are more people to pick them up.

Anyway, the run was invigorating and I worked up a bit of a sweat. Then I returned to my motorbike and noticed what had happened to the weather. It had settled itself right on the mountain where I live. By the time that I reached the first traffic light out of the Strand, the rain was creating all kinds of accoustic affects on my helmet and my visor turned into a blur. It did not really matter, because the only body parts that really suffered were my fingers.

Just past Somerset-Mall, I rode next to one of those trucks that are ferrying toxic waste from the old AECI-chemical plant to a dumpsite in Malmesbury. I was a bit concerned when I noticed that the water running from my visor had actually taken on a distinctly brown coloration. When the truck turned onto the N2, I was relieved, but by this time, the tracksuit top that I had on had stopped providing any resistance to the rain. In stead it served as a conduit to allow litres of icy rain water to run down my chest and arms.

All of this was very exilirating. When I got home I walked into my house and struggled for a good 30 seconds to undo the latches of my helmet. In the shower it seemed as though the steam preferred to condensate against my body, in stead of on the cold glass around the shower.

But it was exhilirating and I felt really alive. I just wish I had a pair of gloves.

Disclaimer: My helmet visor was blurred by the rain. I might be a few kilometres out on the odometer reading in the heading.

This blog entry could also be titled: Why I need a wetsuit.
(or perhaps the commentators could suggest something more apt :-) ).

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Google found me

Today I'm excited because it would seem that somewhere during the night one of the Google Spiders crawled over my blog and I am immediately placed right with the Gomoto Website in terms of relevance when a search is done for Gomoto.

I did a search for Weiers Coetser, and it is quite disconcerting to see how much information it churns up about my hobbies and interests. Although if you are a computer geek, it also shows my ignorance about things.

The next challenge will be to get into the rankings for anybody who does a search for "125cc motorbike blog"! I suppose that is asking a lot!

But anyway, that is not my reason for being around. What does rankings on Google really have to do with my personal dreams of travel and exploration on a 125cc motorbike, and not just any 125cc motorbike! A Gomoto!

Yesterday and today it has been raining heavily in Cape Town. I've used the bike to drive down to a local school where I teach Afrikaans to a single class of second language learners. Not much to write about.

Perhaps I can spend some time today telling about my experience of the Gomoto itself, the people that I bought it from, how it rides, and possibly where it has taken me allready.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Somewhere Out There

I know they have to be somewhere out there:

A few crazy individuals who see their Gomoto as more than a delivery vehicle (carrying huge delivery boxes, swearing at it for being so slow, driving without enjoyment) or merely as an easy means of transit to and from work.

I know in my soul that there are a few "alternative travellers" who believe or dream that the Gomoto can take them places and enhance their life journey.

And I can't wait to meet them.

My driver's manual, Warranty & Service Book has a number printed on it: 0693.

I wonder if that is an accurate reflection of how many Gomoto's had been sold at the time that I bought mine. Surely a few of those customers have felt like taking their bikes on long imaginative trips.

One of my (numerous) problems is that I'm an inherently shy person. I was riding my Gomoto in Cape Point Nature reserve a few weeks ago when I saw two motorbikes coming in the opposite direction. I must have been 200 metres from them when I realised that these are brothers/sisters to my motorbike. Foolishly, I just kept riding. I should have waved at them, turned around, flagged them down! But I just kept going, already embarrassed at the thought of intruding on their journey, wondering what I would ask them anyway.

There has to be someone somewhere out there, a soul partner, on an alternative, but imaginative journey. Preferrably on a Gomoto :-). (And one day I will find them.)

Saturday, May 13, 2006


My Gomoto is going nowhere today. In stead I will be using my wife's car in the next hour to drive to the airport to collect my Mother-in-Law, who is coming to visit us for a week.

I am tempted to say that this is the reason why the topic of "Insanity" is on my mind, but truth be told, we tend to call on her when we actually need to establish sanity in the household!

"Insanity" is a major theme in Robert M. Pirsig's "Zen, and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance." In the book the narrator, who is on a motorcycle road trip through America, tells about his alter-ego, Phaedrus, who challenged some of the basic values and tenets of the modern university. An interesting tension is developed throughout the book between the narrator, (who has a history of mental illness) and Phaedrus. The narrator's son, Chris, who is accompanying him on this road trip, is also showing worrying symptoms of latent mental illness.

Though I think Pirsig's development of the theme of insanity is very subtle and complex, I sense that he would have it that insanity is something that becomes very relevant as a person questions and rejects the major values that society is built on. Within these situations there simply are not enough resources to create stability and provide affirmative feedback. This isolation, along with society's need to instill fear against, and shower shame upon such individuals could easily be the catalysts of mental instability.

(In later posts I might want to expand these notions of sanity and insanity as springing from a very specific bourgouis context. I have read some studies that try to describe insanity as a defense mechanism against absurd and depersonalising power relations in society.)

Today, however, I don't know if I'm capable of doing that. I myself feel like I am on the fringe, and I'm busy unravelling.

I'll try to hold on, however, and hope that the final unravelling takes place far away from anywhere where it could cause any damage or leave a big mess. I'll trust my Gomoto to take me there.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Trip up Helderberg Mountain

I live in a beautiful part of the country. This week a friend entrusted her camera to me for a few hours. I headed up Helderberg mountain (West Peak). The sticker on the Gomoto Fuel Tank says, for "on-road" use only. I decided to choose the broadest possible definition of "on-road".
I live and work in one of the buildings down there.

Sections of the mountain still have dense Pine forests.

A view over Gordon's bay from halfway up the mountain.

I found these brightly coloured trees in one of the valleys on the way up.
I parked my Gomoto on the top contour and hiked a bit higher up the mountain.

It was a beautiful day after a very cold week-end.

2083 km: Space (or "Why I'm not a psychologist")

A phonecall this morning to inform me that a meeting was cancelled saw me get onto my Gomoto for a quick jog on the Strand beach. It was surprisingly hot for a Winter's day, and my pace was not much faster than that of the "ou tannies" who walk on the beach at that time (Reminds me of a song by Koos Kombuis on that topic).

So I was able to think once again. I remembered the time when I was in grade 6. Then I was a great runner! I used to beat any opposition, even the ones in grade 7 (Need to scan in a photo from that time one day). It was the day of our annual road-race, and yes, I won. I obliterated everybody who had any ideals of achieving the first place. I was proud. Ecstatic. I am usually a shy person, but on that day I walked up to one of the teachers, and asked her: "Did you see me win?".

I remember her response up until today. Actually, it cannot really be described as a response. It was just an inconsequential "Yes." Not a congratulations, not a smile or a hug or great enthusiasm. Just a "yes".

I realised a bit later that her son had come second.

I have a friend who has gone through a hard time recently. I had a conversation with her this morning about some advances I've made in my emotional life. She was very positive and affirming. But somehow I was left with the feeling that I was in the wrong space at that time. It is frightening to realise that there are times when a person's presence in a particular situation can actually accentuate hurt and doubts, even if it is meant positively.

That is probably why it is good that I am not a psychologist.

One more reason why I am greatful that I have a Gomoto. This morning it created space for me to realise that there are some spaces that, even though they are beautiful, are holy, and tender and is best left unentered.

How do they get there?

I've not had the priviledge to travel extensively through Africa. But from the little that I've seen during my trips to Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and Kenya, there are motorbikes everywhere.

My observation can be confirmed by these pictures of transport in Lagos or this street photograph from Timbuktu, Mali.

My reasoning is that if they were able to get their motorbikes there, I see no reason why I cannot take mine there either.

Expect to see much more about a dreamed about trip through Africa on my red Gomoto!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

2063km : Perspective

The odometer was on 2063km when the thought came to me that perspective is more fundamental than opinion. Now most philosophers will wonder what I'm going on about, but to me it was quite a meaningful thought.

I was busy driving back from the provincial traffic authority where I had to pay R160,00 penance for allowing 5 students to use my Green Mamba (Ford Tracer) to go to a religious meeting sometime last November (See previous blog entry).

I was in a rather unpleasant and depressed mood; not really because I had to kiss some hard earned (that is what I would like my boss to believe) money goodbye; but mainly due to one of those major relationship problems that tend to happen to marriages. Despite this unpleasant mood, I had to lift my helmet visor once or twice at the traffic lights because I was struggling to control my laughter.

When I handed over the cheque to the cashier my eye had caught one of those letters that are written by people who feel the fines they received were unfair or too harsh. It was one short paragraph, which I will do my best to quote here:

I refer to the fines mentioned above. I would like to apologise for my shortsighted and reckless driving. I had not considdered [sic] the possible consequences of these misdemeanors and assure you that I have now learned that I need to drive more carefully in the future. I kindly request you to cancel these fines as they amount to quite a lot of money and my budget is quite small and cannot accomodate them.
I decided to look at the name, and, amazingly(!), there I saw the name of somebody who lives on the same campus as me. I even memorised his ID-number so that I could prove to him that I've seen it, should it be necessary :-).

I found that submission very humerous. I can imagine the irritation of the prosecuting authority who needs to consider this appeal. I wonder what his/her opinion would be of the submission. And then I thought of the submission that I had written explaining why R300 was too much for me to pay for a student's offense, and felt quite grateful that it was reduced to R160. As the traffic light turned green, I dropped my visor and thought: "It's all a matter of perspective." And in a moment it solved my issues about my relationship problems.

Conflict result from strongly held opinions. These opinions are not always right. The reason why they are not always right is because they are based on some less specific and more general perspectives. If I can develop the ability to critically sort through perspectives, I would not need to hold on to strong opinions which hurt the relationship.

I have an idea that the best way to ensure that perspectives do not prematurely lead to strong opinions is to develop a sense of humour. I really need to laugh a little bit more at the "serious" situations that I find myself in. I really should not take things too seriously. Play with perspectives. It will make me a happier person.

I sincerely hope that the prosecuting authority will have the same opinion when he reads the above submission.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Gomoto is a lifestyle

The following article from shares some of the ideology behind the Gomoto lifestyle.

Requiem Eternam Ford Tracer

I sold my 1996, 1600 Ford Tracer with 300 000km on the odometer (actually the odometer stopped working at 289 321km) to a student for R3600.

I've been told that I could have sold the car for more. I don't care. I was protesting.

Protesting the fact that I had to put in a pint of oil every time I filled the tank.

Protesting the fact that I got 400km of driving on a 45 litre tank.

Protesting the fact that I spent on average R6000 a year on maintenance to just keep the car on the road. (The last quote I got to recondition the engine amounted to R12 000).

Protesting the fact that my numberplate: CFM28508 had become one of the most well known numberplates amongst law enforcement officials. I work in a student dormitory and students were forever borrowing my car for very good and undeniably important and urgent purposes. But when the speeding fines came, they had either left the institution of learning, or claimed poverty or blamed it on everybody in the car who put pressure on them to drive fast. (The last fine is lying on my desk. It was issued on 22 November 2005 at bluedowns. The prosecuting authority has now informed me that I no longer need to pay R300 for the student's offence, but only R160.00.)

The final straw was when a student called me from Worcester (120 km from my home) to let me know that the back wheel had burst. When I enquired from him why he was so far away he explained that somebody had missed the Greyhoud bus in Belville and they had to chase/follow the bus all the way to the stop in Worcester. Asked why it was necessary for him to call me he explained that he had borrowed the jack and wheel spanner to a foreign student who needed it to register an imported car in Botswana. The car had remained in Botswana with my jack.

I decided to ask the student for all the money that he had earned transporting students. My agreement with him was that he was to share it with me, but I hardly ever saw anything. He gave me R1800. At an impulse I told him that if he could give me just R1800 more, I would give him the car, with all its papers.

I got the money in a matter of hours and the car is still driving students around. It is probably still running on the same set of sparkplugs, and it often runs low on oil (as evidenced by huge black patches on the tarmac where it is parked).

And the student has probably recouped the money he invested in the car four or five times.

But as far as I am concerned the car is dead to me. I have no part in it. I do not miss it. I have not shed a single tear over the car.

Because, now I am driving a Gomoto.

I Wish

I wish Gomoto's could come with these pretty attachments by default. That would be value for money.

(Picture from the gomoto website. See link in side-bar.)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Dream (1)

I can picture it vividly in my mind's eye.

A small two-man tent pitched in a quiet forgotten campsite in the foothills of one of South Africa's mountain ranges. A small, but lively fire burning in a braai area. Not a soul in sight. Just me, a can of bully beef stewing in a dixi-pan, and my Gomoto parked next to me.

Solitude. Peace.

Away from tortured thoughts and worries about my future. Away from agonising urges to indulge in yet another addiction (eating cheese from the fridge, checking e-mail for the 345th time in the day). At peace
with the myself, with the universe, for a moment.

That is one of the major themes that I will building this blog around. I plan to share the peaceful serene moments that I envision and experience as I travel through South Africa with my small 125cc motorbike.

I'd like to tell you how I plan for it, and the experiences that I have
as I do it.

It is my journey and I hope you will enjoy it.

Saturday, May 06, 2006