TG Newsletter: LEVUBU
(23 - 25 August 2019)
The 2020’s is an interesting time. According to the movies in the 80’s, we would have at least each owned a hover board by now. Aliens would be our neighbours (in peace or in pieces), and eating would have become a lot less culinary.
But maybe it is like watching a kid grow. Having them around every day you don’t much see the change. Life on this small rock seems to have pretty much stayed the same in the last 40 years. I know the Suzuki DR650 has!
Chikita and myself left for a small town called Levubu. We had to go fetch her mom from a much-needed holiday with family in this serene green dream of a town. Wuntyme bakkie – totyme bikes, and off we set.
One of the stops our family made in the 80’s on our way to the Kruger National Park was at these trees. The memorial is right next to the old road just south of Mokopane (Potgietersrus). I was wondering if they were still there, or if they had been harvested for firewood? Turns out that one of the old camelthorn trees had naturally died, but the community replaced it with another Apiesdoring. The stump of the old tree is still visible.
In September 1854, 28 Voortrekker men, women and children were killed due to a feud between Hendrik Potgieter and chief Makapan. The stories are gruesome, especially the violence against the women and children. Time washed away the blood stains but cannot erode fear. Women in SA weren’t safe then, they are not safe today.
It has been a horrendous month here in SA with daily front-page stories of unspeakable wrongdoings against women. The country is sad. The country is angry.
In history, women have been breaking ground on all fronts of society. Just take Radium as an example…
(20 Dec 1898)
The element of Radium was discovered by Marie Curie and her husband. It is a brilliant white, luminescent, rare and highly radioactive metallic element. Her notebook in which the name first appears is still highly radioactive and dangerous. She was, and is, still the only person that has won both the Nobel prize for chemistry AND physics.
The thing women have got to learn is that nobody gives you power, you just take it.
Women have always been trained to fill the roles of… well… women. The driver seat has never been sculpted to the female buttocks. But yet – here we are!
Today, one in four motorcyclists is a woman; there are nearly seven million female riders worldwide, a 45 percent increase since 2003.
The hills are alive - with the sound of female biker voices… cause they never shut up!
The first carpenter was not a female, but the first person to productively apply a ‘houtlepel’ sure as hell was. Ask many a little children in South Africa!
In every interview, I’ve been asked about my participation in this male dominated activity of motorcycling. It is almost perceived that males have ‘allowed’ us to venture into this sport? But it is no secret that women have been riding motorcycles for a long time. And even though our numbers have never dominated, we have always been present.
Remember this name? No, you would not. Cause it’s over hundred years old (1891 – 1961)! She was the first documented woman motorcyclist AND endurance racer.
Even though we dare to go where all two-wheelers go; we fear! Our fear mostly stems from our distrust in our own physical strength. Will I be able to keep the motorcycle upright? Will I be able to pick the motorcycle up after a spill? I even go as far as asking myself if I will be strong enough to loosen a bolt???
We have this dream of independence which is tempered by our fear of ending up in a vulnerable position due to lack of muscles.
Though, our sense of direction is impeccable! Whenever we are confronted with cross-roads, we know whichever road we choose, we will endure insurmountable obstacles, but we will persevere. It’s part of the adventure.
And sometimes we just feccing lose it!
We might be considered unwashed roughneck tomboys, but helmet-hair can destroy your self-image in a millisecond.
Unlike our mothers, we do not wrestle with the societal pressure of ‘Should I get a job?’, ‘Should I have a career?’, ‘Should I have a family?’
We do not run and hide from these expectations. We do it all, because that is today’s norm.
Females are passionate and brave, and we ruthlessly follow our audacious spirit. We no longer inspire only other women, but we inspire men as well. Breaking boundaries, we become the leaders of today.
Here in SA we have our own pink-lipsticked, ponytailed, sometimes-wearing-a-dress, victresses. We dream of them being unstoppable, indestructible and fearless. In exchange, they put their lives and bodies on the line to prove us right.
Kirsten Landman (…because WedbullWomaniacs)
Taye Perry (…because Dakar rider outta nowhere, she just gets down to business)
Pieterse sussies - Yanke, Onicke, Carika (…because down to earth talent and always having a good time)
Nicole van Aswegen (…because poison comes in one small bottle, she’s blerrie impressive)
Morag Campbell (…because she can pull a GS over a stump and she gives so much back to the community)
Zanda Grey, and for that matter all short girls (…because they ride where even we struggle to ride)
Mercia Jansen (…because she’s a great sport and with the Motul brand she is definitely doing something right)
Barbara Muszynski (…because sometimes determination has boobs)
Hendrik Verwoerd Tunnels
Whistle breaks… standing outside the Hendrik Verwoerd tunnels, our nostrils aflamed with the smell of excessively used Handy-Andy aka weewee. It’s like a slap in the face with a wet dishcloth – and not a clean one!
There are certain muscles we do have that can out squeeze any male muscle. We can knyp!
It is a strip of Afro-temperate mist-belt forest and is one of few remaining forests of this description. It harbours some of the province's most exciting birds. During this late winter season, if you were lucky, you might have even seen two Lesser Spotted Bushtits!
We had no idea what this thing was, but it looked like a fine thing to climb all over. At least Chikita was wearing protection!
I figure, if a girl wants to be a legend, a girl should go ahead and be one.
It is 2020 and we are our own knights in shining armour, but why do we have to fit into livery made for a bulky male form?
Go into any motorcycle shop and you'll be hard pressed to find the ladies section, but eventually you'll find the three jackets, two pairs of gloves, and 57 pink bandanas to choose from. Women can't just buy men's gear in a smaller size; gear is the only buffer we have between us and the road, and it needs to be form fitted with all the protection points lining up correctly. We're serious riders and we need serious gear to protect us.
My dad always said:
Girls can also run. And while they cannot go as fast as boys, they run much more gracefully.
The women on bikes inspire not just those within the realm of motorcycles, but anyone who has ever felt too weak, too small, too fragile, or simply afraid to do something they always wanted to do.
It’s a great time to be a woman riding a motorcycle!
And at the end of a long ride… it’s a great time to drink a beer!
And we fall… And sometimes we get up with a broken nail and we shrug. And sometimes we crawl to our feet and have to check if all our limbs are still in place. And sometimes we have to just lay there for a few minutes till the world stops spinning and others gather around and help us to our feet.
But ride again, we must!
Skinny and Chikita spent the weekend riding in the woods of Levubu. Spending some much-needed saddle time on Brom (the Suzuki DR650) & Melk (the Husqvarna 701). It's green! It's wet! It's fresh! It's fokking magnificent!
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