Sunday, April 15, 2007

Say Africa

'Though I may be walking in the streets of a city called Amsterdam, the dust on my boots and the rhythm of my feet, and my heartbeat say Africa..." (David Goldblum, Say Africa)

It's been a very long time since I've been able to really use my Gomoto for anything other than driving down to Spar to buy bread and milk or to do some business in town.

Today, I decided to change that.

I was not sure where to go. I planned to spend the whole day, but an unexpected appointment in the morning limited my options to either driving somewhere and paying for overnight accommodation or doing a reasonably local trip. I chose to drive from Somerset-West to Rooi-Els and to see where the road leads from there.

Clarens Drive compares very well to the famous Chapman's Peak drive and cyclists and bikers love that road. I stopped just above the Koggelbaai beach to take some pictures.

Today I tried something new. I have recently acquired a new cellphone, and it has the ability to play music. So I loaded 10 songs on the phone. I can only load 10 songs because I currently only have 64mB on the Memory stick in my phone. I got to listen to each song about 4 times. I need to just figure out a way to keep the earphones in their proper place as I put the helmet on.

This picture was taken between Betty's Bay and Kleinmond. Those mountains are in the center of the Koggelberg Biosphere reserve. Soon I would be on top of them.

Approximately 10 kms past Kleinmond, there is a gravel road that that turns up into the mountains on the left. It is marked, Highlands. The first 4 kms is in a terrible condition and I was worried that pieces would soon be falling off my bike. Two big touring bikes came rattling past me at this stage. After 4 kms the road leveled and the most beautiful part of my journey started on beautiful winding roads (The Highlands Road and the Valley Road) with mountains, apple trees, farm dams, and clouds all around me in the Elgin Valley. As I rode past the homesteads children would wave at me and shout remarks.

I was listening to David Goldblum's song, Say Africa from an old Splashy Fen CD. I thought it was the perfect music for the occasion. Definitely much better and more nostalgic than the infamous "De La Rey" song.
The highlands road becomes a tar road after about 11 km's. Far in the background between the clouds (not nicely captured on the picture) is the Helderberg mountain range where my home is.

Being on a Gomoto in the middle of nowhere makes a person's spirits soar.

A dam on the Valley Road in the Elgin Valley. It is one of about 4 spectacular farm dams on the same road. The krom-river, a tributory of the Palmiet river connect these dams. (A map of the area can be found on the wall outside The Orchard farm stall at the entrance to Grabouw.)

I felt so proud when I stopped next to the same three motorbikes that passed me at high speed somewhere between Rooi-Els and Kleinmond. The only thing that I envy about those bikes, are their more comfortable seats as I am still feeling the effects of the ride as I sit here typing this blog.

All in all a most satisfying outing. Care to join me?

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Here's a random list:

Things that I am busy with:

Stretching my mind:
Python is a programming language. The skills that I am confronted with in chapter four is exactly what I learned when I was 13 years old and had an interest in Basic and what I wrote in my matric exam for Computer studies (using Pascal). Who knows perhaps I'll make it to chapter 5.

  • Reading a book about the Geological history of South Africa.
With my primary training in Theology, I am still struggling to bend my mind around time periods of 3000 million years, but it is beginning to make sense to me. I am getting a basic understanding of tectonic movements and cratons, and even exciting stuff like cataclysmic meteorite collisions. I am not yet at the section that explains the origin of Table Mountain.

To Distract Myself:

  • I bought a 1000 piece puzzle and I now have about 300 pieces in place (after a week's fevent work)

New Toys

  • A Sony Ericsson M600i cellphone.

The phone's QWERTY keyboard takes some getting use to. It is also not very easy to operate with one hand. But the touch screen and the little stylus makes communicating very easy. It has a music player, e-mail access, and a useful calendar facility. And I am trying to beat VJ Singh on the Golf Game that is included with the phone.

I took out a new contract as well, with MTN, because where I live Vodacom has terrible signal. One week after signing the new contract, Vodacom contacted the College to request permission to put up a booster antennae on one of the buildings.

  • A Brand New Ubuntu Fiesty Fawn Desktop.

I had some hard drive damage during last week. (I think my daughter kicked the computer box under my desk). So I downloaded the Beta version of Ubuntu 7.04 which is due for release on 19 April. It is definitely the best operating system that I've had on any of my computers ever.

Some people ask why I am interested in Ubuntu, especially because I am in no sense a geek. I think the operating system is solid and functional. It does everything that I need and it gives me lots of opportunity to play. (In fact many people believe that it is much better than VISTA) And it is FREE! I don't have to worry about pirated copies of Windows. Neither do I have any worries about viruses. I have no need for anti-virus or anti-spyware programmes.

But probably most of all, I love the community behind Ubuntu (and most Linux distros). From my theological perspective I think that they have attributes that beat the best ideals of a great many Christian communities. Just have a look at the Ubuntu Code of Conduct (which they hold all members of the community to). So, I think the main reason why I am devoted to Ubuntu is because of the Ethics.

My Biggest Concerns:

I'm getting fat. I can feel my intestines being put under pressure whenever I go to bed. I hate the feeling.

Wild Hogs

I've had one of those overwhelming feelings over the past few days that I am a really confused person :-). Some of the most obvious things do not make sense to me. My values seem to be very messed up. Things that some people become incredibly upset about really does not faze me all that much. Sometimes when I think about life real hard, even the things that I value most become almost meaningless.

It was in this mindset that I watched a truly stupid and superficial movie and completely enjoyed it.

Wild Hogs is a movie about 4 middle aged men (a little bit older than myself) who are all in a state of discontent with their lives. They decide that they need to break away from their everyday lives and go on a road trip on their big Motorbikes.

The problem is that they do not really fit the category of "Real Bikers." And over and above that, they are not very wise about most issues in life. As a result they get themselves into a very wide variety of situations, including a very nasty confrontation with a gang of real "Hell's Angels kind of bikers." (Hehe... I've always wondered if those guys on their Harley's are really as fierce as they seem to be with their black leather and roaring engines. This movie confirms this stereotype. And I think, to be safe, I will only ever pick a fight with a nerdish owner of a Vespa.)

Throughout the movie I was telling myself how stupid and superficial it is, but the actors somehow managed to break down my inhibitions, and I had a thoroughly good laugh.

The movie reminded me of my dreams for my Gomoto. The other day, as I was riding through Bains' Kloof pass a large group of bikers on vintage bikes came riding past me. I felt a bit small and insignificant. Whenever I feel that way I tend to remind myself what I paid for my Gomoto and that I was still able to ride through the mountain pass, even though it was a small bike. If only people on Harley's or Vintage bikes, or Vespa's for that matter were allowed to be on the roads, I would not be able to be there. But still, sometimes, I wish I could classify as a real biker.

This movie moved me beyond these rationalisations and just gave me the attitude of "Who Cares!". There is space in this world for all kinds of people. And I think that I still manage to make the world a richer place by being me. (Mnn... at least I hope.)

Go Watch the movie!

And then keep your eye on this blog. He is sure to have a much more erudite perspective (once he watches it).

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Some Really Great Comments: Ricardo

Ricardo wrote the following comment almost a month ago. I think this is really brilliant and I really agree with him on his thoughts on the thrill of riding a scooter at 60 - 80km/h.

And also. It is not only the Vespa guys who can do it in style. Thanks for the comment Ricardo. Please keep in touch.

Hey there, I really enjoy the blog and your adventures on your Gomoto 125.

Against my better judgment as with all things that help us grow I bought a 125 scooter/bike a few days ago. When I first saw “her”, the her in question being a Sachs MadAss 125. Here is a link to the little devil in question.

Yes people may laugh at it being a BMX on steroids but what could I do, I am sure once you saw your bike you knew that it was the one for you and no amount of logical thinking or priorities around functionality leapt into your mind. She is my very first two wheeled form of transport. I am twenty three years old and felt like I was becoming complacent with life in general.

I needed a new way to interact with my environment. I am by no means a “biker” at heart, that is to say I did not dream of a Harley at age three, but once I saw her (I really will come up with a name soon) I could no longer deny something deep inside my psyche saying “go for it!” And in any case, what are pay checks for!?

I took out a little loan and bought her for around R15.000 with tax. Bought me a decent little lid, Shark 500 Air, and some gloves that make me look more hardcore than I could ever really be (carbon fiber on the knuckles and finger joints real snazzy) I am in the process of trying to find me some boots, pants and jacket that won’t have me taking out another loan, but I do not want to compromise on safety.

Scooter rides of the world, wake up and smell the fried flesh on the tar just because you are not moving at 150km/h plus does not make you exempt from wearing all the gear all the time! ATGATT. Yes its hot yes you bought a scooter because you pictured yourself riding through fields of daisies on your vintage Vespa. But you stand a chance of more than just wind running through your hair, you might just have tarmac running through your hair, face, arms, legs and ass! You get the picture:
I did around 20km on her today, learnt that 60km/h is an exhilarating experience on a bike, in the open air; I can see why the temptation of wanting to go harder and faster is there. It is a wonderful experience.

I stopped off at the petrol station and filled her up for R21.50! She is supposed to get around 120km on her 5 liter tank hehe. The guy at the petrol station laughed at me while filling the tank, I am not sure whether this is a good or bad thing but one thing is true, I love my Madass 125.
Please keep posting ! I rather like your little mongrel, I am currently riding my bike without a learners lisence which I don’t like to do but I am going for my learners as soon as I can find a place to take my booking, what is the fine anyway? R1200? :P don’t want one of those but I doubt they will stop me for a fine but rather stop me to look at my precious little devil.

Saturday, 17 March, 2007

5860km: How to fix a punctured front wheel

I embarked on an adventure of a different kind with my Gomoto this week. When I came back from an appointment at a local church over the week-end I noticed that my front wheel was not quite in its normal state of inflation.

So I stopped at the closest BP and pumped it. The Gomoto took me home, but by the evening the weel was completely deflated, and even when I pushed it to the local maintenance building to pump it up with their compressor, the wheel deflated immediately.

It took a few days to try to solve this problem. I did not really want to suffer the indignity of borrowing a bakkie to load the bike on it so that somebody else could fix it. I thought that perhaps I could do the job myself, but after a visit to the local motor vehicle spares shop I decided that what I had to do was to take the front wheel off myself and take it in to have it fixed.

Many people would do this without thinking twice. I'm still trying to get over the time when I opened my Sony walk-man and I could never put it back together again (circa 1988).

So, I halfheartedly took my toolbox with a shifting spanner and a size 14 out towards the bike. But my half-hearted approach would not work. I realised that I needed the right tools. The front wheel is attached to the fork by a bolt that runs from one end to the other. (I did not know it at that time). This bolt is screwed on incredibly tightly and the shifting spanner was not going to work.

I needed the right tools.

Step 1: Get the right tools. The one side of the bolt is fastened with a size 14 nut. The other side of the bolt responds positively to a size 17 spanner. And then, you need some muscles. I don't have much of that, but I have a 113kg frame and I used it to great effect standing (jumping) on the spanners to unscrew the bolt.

Step 2: I don't think you need to loosen any cables. I did not know it at the beginning, but the hub that contains the break-pads and the speedometer gears actually fits losely into the the center of the wheel. See pictures below. (I wish I knew all the technical descriptions.) So I loosened my breaks.

Step 3: Fix the puncture. Ok, I took a bit of a shortcut. I took the wheel in to Scooter World in the morning, and Danie and his team replaced the tube for me for R100.00 (R60 for the tube, R40 for the labour). I collected the tube at 16:00 that afternoon.

How to put the wheel back:

Step 4: Position it more or less correctly.

Step 5, Insert the insides of the wheel. Be careful not to get grease onto the outside section of the breaks, and don't let the inside speedometer gears (full of grease) fall out.

Step 6: Insert the spacer on the right hand side of the wheel.

Step 7: Fit the wheel into the fork.

Step 8: Look at that long bolt that goes through the wheel. It needs to go through all the right holes, and I somehow think that nothing will work properly if it is not in the right place.

Step 9: Fasten the wheel nuts. Use the correct spanners.

Step 10: Reconnect the Speedometer and break cables

The breaks are amazingly easy to adjust. There is a little nut that needs to be turned and a person can easily feel if the breaks are too tight or too loose.

I need to now take some time off my busy life to take the motorbike on a more interesting adventure. I feel the need to ride over some mountain passes with it. Does anybody want to join me?