TG Newsletter: DUCATI 959
(9 April 2016)
Sooooo… having Kraai work for Ducati has been quite a schlep! We are often asked to ride the motorcycles in, test ride new models and show off the latest ware.
Where does a busy girl fit in all these time consuming activities? How many bum-in-a-seat hours constitute a health risk? Could the Ducati’s become contagious spending too much time bonding with these machines?
Blagh… so our arms got twisted. YeahYeahYeah, we’ll ride these Ducs the whole weekend again.
*An evil grin*
*A most evil grin*
And so we went to the Lowveld!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It was a short weekend (only 2 days – that’s NOT normal in SA). We could only get the bikes at 12pm on Saturday and we had a lengthy highway to devour before we could get to the good stuff.
Kraai got to ride the first DUCATI SCRAMBLER FLAT TRACK PRO in SA. It is the latest addition to the Scrambler family, the cousin that likes to race (or at least look the part). It is basically the same as the standard Scrambler, but with a few cosmetic make-me-look-faster changes: It’s got the exhaust from the Full Throttle, a new seat, number plate, grips, mirrors, bars, flyscreen, footpegs, and front mudguard, and it lost the rear fender.
Listen… I do not have to convince you about the total awesomeness of this bike. I fell in love with the Scrambler the first wheelie I popped and if it was in my arm-gat budget – there would be one standing in my garage (…kitchen …standing in my kitchen – I wouldn’t leave it outside).
We pulled over at the first garage to have a quick ice-cream and within seconds we had people drooling over these bikes. We normally draw a bit of attention (we are hooligans that way), but this was freaky. There were cameras, and flashes, and drool, and sparkling eyes, EVERYWHERE! Having the combination of these two bikes, we pleased the superbike speed lovers, AND the classic stylish old school bikers.
A young 20-ish boy could not stop touching the ‘red one’, and ceremoniously announced that he would buy one in six years’ time. SIX YEARS?!?
That was how long he would have to save for one. I was wondering if his interest in this bike (or in his school-girl crush standing next to him) would still be the same in six years’ time?
Long Tom Pass
By the time we hit Long Tom pass it was getting frisky. The mist was setting in and turning a corner through thick spookasem wasn’t on our list of things to do this weekend. The last time I came riding the ‘22’ was in 2008 and I went home without wrists. Let’s see if I could stay whole this time and return the bike with all the important pieces still attached?
The original pass was built in the 1800’s as a fast access to the Mozambican coast. It sped up the travelling time to a mere 10 days via ox-wagon; that is if you didn’t moer over the edge…
We loved giving throttle around tight corners, sharp climbs and breathless descents. It was 55km of bliss!
We stopped at the old Long Tom canon and Kraai confirmed that the acceleration of the Tom was enjoyable but not ecstatic.
In 2006 I did a quick day run to Graskop with my friend Tifosi. We nearly froze our nanas off that day. Has my butt changed much???
The Long Tom was a canon that could reach its impact destination over 10km. I’m sure the Panigale could beat it to it.
We stayed over at the Woodsman in Sabie. The next morning we decided to go test the tar on the 22 before breakfast. The 22 is the road between Sabie and Hazyview that has 66 tight corners in the 22km stretch of road. I was a bit scared to tread on this road again, as it didn’t end so well 8 years ago. But the moment the sun burnt my visor flying around the first corner, my throttle was turned to full taps and my knee automatically popped out, scraping the tar.
My ride for the weekend was the DUCATI 959 PANIGALE.
I’m so glad I had a trusty stead to hold my hand on my post-traumatic first ride of the 22. He had all the grunt I needed at lower revs, was smooth, gripped like snot to a toddlers sleeve and he was so balanced that even with my light weight frame, I could flip him easily through the corners.
I was however a bit disappointed in the top speed. On the Witbank highway I pulled up next to a ski-blue Opel Kadett. The guy flashed me a smile and whipped his fingers signalling the start of a dice. But at 245 I still didn’t have much of a gap between me and the cage. You now those Opel guys… their exhausts have a grid over it to ensure kids don’t crawl in and get stuck. He never did catch up to me, but I would have liked him to disappear in my rear view mirror at a faster pace.
Being a mathematician, my calculation brings me to 959cc being a litre bike. But a motomatician will inform you that this one is considered a Big-Mid, it falls in the class with the other 800cc bikes.
On board with Skinny & Panni (yes, that was taken with one hand)!
Check out the ‘I love the 22’ smile on Kraai’s face!
After we had breakfast, we headed North up with the escarpment.
We stopped at the biker bar in Graskop where there were already a few Black Labels that found themselves a date early on this Sunday morning. So then… two more lucky Black Labels got hitched.
We slukked, zipped and blipped away. God’s Window was coming up, but we first had to make our way through the living room.
It’s quite a climb to the top of the escarpment for the best view. We had full racing kit on in sweltering heat, but the security guard refused letting us use the bikes to get to the first floor. The bikes did attract a lot of attention (especially from the Chinese tour bus that pulled into the garage behind us).
Kraai!!! DID YOU BRING THE WINDOLENE???
A few years back, my brother escorted an American family through the Lowveld. Wherever he took them the dad kept on saying that in America they had something bigger, better and more magnificent. By the time they got to God’s Window, my brother mumbled that he knew this is NOT the Grand Canyon, but that this is God’s Window. The little 6 year old peeped through the bannister and exclaimed, “If this is God’s window, then I can’t wait to see the rest of the house!”
The crime in SA is getting out of control! I hope God has BBR security?!?
Riding on the edge of the escarpment is not for sussies. You want to look at the beautiful views but if you take your eyes off the road… there’s a cow, a goat or a pothole that jumps out in front of you. And those potholes are Olympic long jumpers!!! Just wait till you see the ones we discovered next…
Bourke’s Luck Potholes
SEE!!! I told you in South Africa we have the biggest potholes.
The Bourke’s Luck potholes were formed over millions of years with water and pebbles grinding away the underlying sandstone.
We waddled to the first bridge, took some kiekies, and then sat our sweaty bums down under the nearest shade.
These boots AIN’T made for walking…
…so we took them back to where they felt safest – the pegs of a Ducati.
We had lunch at the Blyde river resort, where a French tourist came to chat to us about the bikes. There was not a word of English flowing between us, only the language of motorcycle passion. With hand gestures and sound effects we had a very deep conversation about the different bikes, the adventure of riding bikes off-road and the happiness that motorcycles bring.
Ron van Zyl built this shoe house (it is a guest house near Ohrigstad) in 1990. The misunderstanding came in when his wife said she wanted new shoes. His wife must have been furious when he ‘unveiled’ the new shoe to her. She obviously wanted stilettos, so he had to start praying for forgiveness and therefor converted the caves under the shoe to an artistic spirit scene. It’s almost like the kinderbybel in 3D!
We received the boot and had to start making our way home.
The Panorama route has so much to see. In a short stretch you can see the amazing wonders of geology that formed this part of the continent. There is the third biggest canyon in the world, the million year old potholes, hundreds of waterfalls and all the interesting people in between. Unfortunately the roads are disintegrating. And you have to pay entry to each of these beautiful sites, where most of them don’t even sell refreshments? If only the money was applied to God’s house keeping, gardening at the Three Rondawels or filling up the potholes. But the Guptas are rich and Zuma has a nice house…
…AND WE GOT TO RIDE DUCATI’s FOR A WEEKEND!
Life is good!
I promise! I am NOT an undercover Gupta agent. Not yet…
If you're familiar with the rural concept of the honesty bar, this honesty newsletter ain't much different... I'm a completely un-paid journalist, relying instead on readers using the honour system. You read the newsletter and then leave an amount you see fit for the entertainment you've received.
If you don't find it particularly amusing, then you fork out NO dosh. I won't stop sending you the letter – it is still mahala to those that count their coins and... I love sharing my stories.
As requested by my overseas readers, you can donate to this newsletter on my PayPal account:
You can do an EFT transfer to the account below