This is an article written for the February 2018 edition of Traverse Magazine. You can read the full edition and more motorcycle adventure stories in this fantastic online magazine by subscribing via this link: https://goo.gl/n6bCp7
Image by Brad Murphy. A cartoon drawing of a young rider maneuvering his motorbike from the jaws of a sharp fanged hound.
It’s the mid-eighties. Stone wash jeans and girls with big hair are in. Duran Duran can be heard belting out of almost every speaker. I think I am so cool, but the truth is that I am no more than a teenage snot-nosed little punk.
The only thing my school mates and me can talk about is motorbikes. The bigger and faster the better. The louder the roar of the engine, the more exciting.
At the tender age of 12, in 1985, I got to finally trade my BMX in for my first motorbike. Now I had wished for a big scrambler with nobbly tyres and a thumping exhaust, but this was not to be. Like most kids I hung out with, we were limited to a 50cc buzz around. Mine was a Suzuki TS50. It was so ugly that it was beautiful. Bright yellow, blue fake leather seat and a big round headlight embellished with a chrome surround.
My dad bought the bike for me and had the shop deliver it. The problem was that neither he nor I had any idea how to ride a motorbike.
The man who delivered it took all of ten minutes to show me how to kick it into gear and gently ease out the clutch so that it would move.
I spent about two tiresome weeks buzzing up and down our long driveway. My confidence built, but the thought of heading out onto the street made me crap myself. Then one day, I got brave.
I did not have a license and in fact was still a few years too young to get one, but I did not care. I popped on my matching yellow helmet, with its large blue plastic peak, and I idled out of the drive and turned right.
Up the slight incline I motored, getting more confident by the metre. From first to second gear all the time checking the speedo.
Charging up the road with a massive grin on my face, I felt so proud. Then, very suddenly, a dog charged out. It was a brindle coloured staffordshire terrier and it was determined to take me out. Or so it seemed. The vicious beast came running at full speed down a neighbour’s driveway and launched itself with its full might, jaws snapping and drool trailing behind in its slipstream, at my beautiful yellow bike’s front wheel. I had just gotten into fourth gear and was a mere 500 meters from my house.
Shocked, I went down hard. The world seemed to move in slow motion. The brown hound went one way, I went another and the bike slid to a grinding stop some metres ahead of where I lay.
The first thing I remember was feeling very worried about the dog. Had I accidently killed the beast? Then, out of the corner of my eye I saw him strutting down the drive. Tail wagging and head bobbing from side to side, probably feeling very proud of himself after slaying my steed and I. Then the tears started to flow.
I pushed my beloved yellow and blue TS50cc Suzuki home and parked it behind the garage where nobody could see the scratches. I wiped my tears and changed out of my ripped stonewash jeans.
It took me about four months to finally pluck up enough courage to kick start my bike again and almost another four to ride it out the gate. It was a sunny Saturday morning. While humming Duran Duran, wearing my scratched yellow and blue helmet and my ripped stonewash jeans, I steered the bike out of the driveway and turned into the road.
This time, I turned left.
Story by Christopher Venter, The Blind Scooter Guy
Author of ‘How I became the Blind Scooter Guy ‘ The story of my soul searching safari by scooter from the Southern tip of Africa to the shamrock fields of Ireland
This is a true story about my first motorcycling experience. Since then I have owned and ridden almost every type of bike imaginable. From dirt bikes to slick tyred track bikes, from Harleys to Vespa scooters. I have probably ridden over 100,000 km on a Vespa scooter in my life. My last big ride was a 30,000 km ride from Cape Town, South Africa to Dublin, Ireland.
What I can say unmistakably is that once you have travelled around on two wheels, you will never see the world as clearly again when in a car.