Falling asleep last night, my right wrist twitching and my left hand curled around an invisible clutch lever, I marvelled at how wondrous and interesting being incarnate at this time truly is.
On Monday I rode Nehallennia to work for the first time.
Leaving before 5 am, I had the roads very nearly to myself, and the only glitch came when I entered the hitherto unknown terrain of the parking garage. I had no idea where my company parking actually was, so I stopped the girl right next to the lifts and thanked her for the great ride.
That afternoon, the heavens opened over Joburg and we had a rainstorm of note right across the city. I left work around 4pm and rode carefully home in the storm, drenching myself and sustaining lovely bruises on my left shin from the stop-start riding – my left footpeg is positioned in such a way that dragging your leg in traffic is guaranteed to hurt.
Nehallennia behaved beautifully. She was stable and safe in the rain, oil slicks and Jacaranda blossoms scattered across the roads, and didn’t complain at all when I refused to ride the white line past the gridlocked traffic – preferring the route of behaving like a car and sitting in the middle of the lane at this stage.
So I got home an hour after I left – absolutely soaked to the skin, but pleased that my bike can handle those conditions which are quite common in this city at this time of year.
Tuesday morning my girl started cutting out whenever I drew up to a traffic light, which was a bit annoying, but she got me safely to work and into the parking garage before quitting altogether and refusing to start.
She seemed to perk up after a bit of attention and a recharge of her battery, but quit again on Tuesday evening in rush hour traffic.
Those of you who don’t know Joburg drivers- be glad, very glad.
I was stalled in the middle of a busy road, so I drew her up to the pavement while I made frantic cellphone calls. It took about an hour to get through to Warren- who had put his phone on charge and had it turned off- and in the meanwhile a friendly roadside vendor sporting the red, yellow and green beads but not the dreadlocks helped me push her across this insanely dangerous road to the big petrol station on the corner.
As I sat waiting there I though of Joburg drivers.Hundreds had passed me, several had given me annoyed looks for being so incompetent as to break down just there but not one had even paused to ask if I needed help.
My black un-car-ed compatriots were by contrast friendly, pleasant and very helpful.
So, Nehallennia and I finally made it home, although I think she’s going to need a whole new clutch – that seems to be the problem. Another slew of money and some time – but hey, I’m not going anywhere in a hurry, a major advantage of being older and presumably wiser. (Than whom??)
I’ve worked out the major pains in the arse for a biker on our roads are:
a) Peugeot drivers. More style than skill on the roads and insanely impatient. Probably have to rush like that to pay for their cars.
b) VW Golf drivers. Mostly young, male and suffering from the delusion that they could make a good living as a racing driver. Spare me the testosterone.
c) Any black car with heavily tinted windows. Not aware of where they’re going, or even of where they are, probably.Talk about alienation from your surroundings.
As every biker learns, you are really vulnerable on two wheels. I’ve seen very little in the way of the famous Joburg Road Rage from bikers. We don’t think we’re protected from hurt – we know very well otherwise.
Pic: Just to be confusing -my Ostara altar last month, taken from the South East. That’s the circle sword by the yellow hanging candle.