Saturday, June 6, 2009

never too old to learn

A breakfast run with a lesson.
by Pierre Martins

Picture 082 Some years ago when I was still young and dumb and full of cum I woke up early one Sunday morning to the sound of breakfast runners winding it up at a nearby intersection. Noisy bastards, but the sound of them pulling off and whacking it through the gears made up my mind – To hell with it, I’m going for a ride!

So I got outta bed, offloaded my race bike from the trailer and headed in the general direction of the the breakfast runner’s hangouts, taking things easy at around 240 to 260km/h along the satellite station road to Magalliesburg. With track gearing I was having a no-pressure relaxed ride, got a nice clean run through the tight twisties just before Magallies and actually managed to get my knee down a few times before I tapped off for a cruise at idle as I got close to the town.

Pulled in at Wickers and found a wall to lean the bike against as it had no side-stand being a race bike and all on full slicks. Strolled into the tea garden like any respectable regular breakfast runner would, but old man Stan Stander saw me and called me over to his table. Ole Stan, he kinda liked me for some odd reason I could never really figure out. The first guy to import a Dodge Viper to South Africa way back when those things first came out. A real petrol-head and character millionaire who kicked the bucket some years later, heart attack whilst on the way to the Lowfeld during a biking weekend on his Gold Wing. I kinda miss the old bugger.

Anyway, he invited me to join his table and I got introduced to everyone, large group of about twenty people or so of all shapes and sizes and walks of life. I think most of them worked for him. After breakfast we decided to head for another popular Sunday morning joint - Cosmos. Just like the group, the bikes were also a mixed bag. Everything from Harleys, Gold Wings, BMs, Ducs, Gixxers, et all.

As soon as we hit the open road I started riding at my own pace and left most of them behind. You know, got into one of those early morning fast and smooth rides when you get into the zone after a fat breakfast with your metabolism pumping and your head topped up by a couple of beers for courage.

FJ1100_1 About 50 metres ahead of me was a dude on an old-school Yammie FJ1100 wearing a kidney belt and riding typical old school style, sitting upright and letting the bike do all the work. I got into things, got my head down and gave it stick, but at some point I realized – Hey wait a minute, at the pace I was going I should have been past that dude on the FJ looong ago, but there he was, still 50 metres ahead of me. Huh?

Gotta reel him in, can’t have an old bike like that show me up, no sir. So I pushed harder, but he maintained the gap. At one stage I was balls to the wall but I couldn’t catch the bastard. When I eased off he did too. When I upped the pace again he did the same. I could actually see him checking on me in his mirrors every time we tipped into a corner. The fucker could ride. Played cat and mouse with me all the way to Cosmos. We got there long before the rest of the group. I parked my bike, walked over, shook his hand and told him expletively that he was one of the best riders I’ve ever encountered on the open road. I was suitably impressed.

And then he took his helmet off. I couldn’t believe my eyes – Turned out to be the old guy “Sandy” hitting sixty with no front teeth that I was introduced to back a Wickers!

The rest of the group trickled in one by one and had a good chuckle about the whole thing. Turns out Sandy raced Isle of Man TT for seventeen years or something like that. Him, very experienced rider. Me, prize asshole!

About a year later I bumped into Sandy again and we had breakfast at the Wimpy when it was still across the road from the zoo at Harties. We talked about racing and shit. I told him how stupid I felt that day he made a fool of me on his FJ1100. He said that was nothing compared to the day he entered a veteran’s race in the UK thinking we was gonna clean up, only to be whipped thoroughly by the likes of Agostini, Sheen and a few other big names from yesteryear…

Yup, old tappet or not, Sandy taught me a lesson in life. He made me realize that you are never too old to learn.


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