Monday, May 22, 2017

Choices

This morning, as I left for work, not 2 km from home, I was confronted by another car that wanted to push in in front of me in the queue. I had two choices. Let him in, or fly off in a fit of rage 3 minutes into my journey. I chose the former. I was barely on the highway, when a man in a Fiat was doing 80km/h on the highway. A truck came up on him and the man brake-tested the truck. The truck swerved to avoid him and in that moment, I realised that said man made the wrong choice. As the truck recovered the man was hanging out his window wielding a paint-ball marker. How can someone be so constantly angry that he carries a paintball marker with him all the time?

You always have choices. You can wake up and choose to be happy. You can choose not to let the traffic get to you. Choose to live your life today. Make the right choice.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The paradox that is me

A friend posted a piece on Facebook the other day, eloquently describing a little town in the Karoo, and that, he said, is where his heart belongs. As I sat down to think where my heart is, I realized that my heart is quite a complex little bugger. I do not do crowds, yet of all the places I have been to, New York remains the one city I would return to again and again. The sad part about it is exactly what draws me to it. In this massive city, surrounded by people, you can be utterly alone if you want. Or interact, if you want. I sat in a coffee shop there for hours on end, just observing. Me in my own little space where the world sways through its motions as if I am staring at it though a giant screen. Everyone engrossed in their own world, hoping that I would notice them, and that I would think their scarf matches their shoes. In South Africa, I get that aloneness inside my helmet. Yet, when I stop I want to interact. I want to hear your story. I want to laugh. One of my close friends has probably got something close to a solution. To go though life with a travel companion. Someone you can travel with. Laugh with. Or at, for that matter. But at the end of your journey not share the same bed. Just so you can be alone again. Unwind and be at peace. With the advent of social media people are drifting further apart, rather than together, and that seems to be the one aspect of my paradoxical heart. To be surrounded by people, but somehow be alone. I still have not found the place where my heart 'belongs', because I have not been everywhere I hope to find that peace. But first I must probably figure out what it means to belong...

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Never say never

Round about this time, 2003, I used the words "I will never ride again." I actually said it out loud and wrote it down. I was recovering from an accident with my BMW 650 GS. Never in all that time did I ever think that I would own three motorcycles, let alone ride one. As in love, you forget the pain, the sorrow, but you never, ever forget the way you felt on the inside. With riding comes danger, yes. Fear even. But when you look at it, fear cannot hold you back. The machine you climb on cannot hurt you. It can only function as instructed. In you right hand, you hold the throttle. How far you open it is entirely up to you. So the fear is actually a fear of yourself. Maybe your fear is that you might like what are doing, but the though of explaining your purchase to your spouse is the real fear. Danger then. Yes it is dangerous. But so is walking around a shady neighborhood at night. If you know your limits and danger areas, you can reduce risk. You cannot take it away but you can reduce the danger. Again it is in your control. Cautionary note on this one though : The more you overcome you fear of riding, the more you might venture into the danger area. So again, as in love and life, the sweet-spot is balance. Today I ride almost on a daily basis and I hope that I will never have to use the word 'never' again.



Sunday, June 26, 2016

Tears and rain

Jack Miller crossed the line in first place today in Assen. It was the first time in 10 years that a non factory rider won a race in the premier class. In the interviews afterward Jack could not hold back the tears. He publicly silenced his critics. I was also one who believed that the jump from Moto3 to MotoGP was too much for the 21 year-old to handle. I believed he should have done one year in Moto2. At least. Well Jack said it. "I'm no idiot". Well done Jack, you deserved it. I felt truly sorry for Petrucci though, thinking that he was to win his first MotoGP race when the race was read flagged with 12 laps to go. Hernandez and Petrucci  showed the factory Ducatis a thing or two, but when the race restarted from scratch it was to be a 12 lap shootout. Riders were falling all over the place and the biggest loser of the day has to be Rossi. The desperation on his face trying to get his fallen M1 mobile again was painful to see. But, the most mature ride came from Marquez. Two years ago, Marc would have turned his Honda into a barrier ornament on turn 1, but the Spaniard held back, and bagged 20 points more than championship rival Rossi. Lorenzo also claimed a few points but only because there was nobody left on the track to take any points.

In the Moto3 race, local boy Brad Binder took the scenic route over the wet grass while fighting for the lead. That ended his unbroken run of podiums, but his main rival Navaro out, Binder could afford to slip up this once. Again, MotoGP provided a far better spectacle that Formula yawn could ever hope to do. Next round Sachsenring! I cannot wait.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Perks of the job

Being a freelance motorcycle journalist now, there are some parts of the work that are beneficial and others that are not so nice. Take my steed for the week for instance, the Kawasaki Versys 650. I get to ride it for a week and then I have to write a piece. I get to spend time with it, and really getting to know its quirks and joys. If you are in the market for a mid-sized bike, this might be on you radar, but you depend on people like me to tell you if it is worth buying or not. Problem is, as you are spending your own money, somehow we, as humans, tend to err to the side of caution and rather opt for the more established brand. BMW. They have effectively cornered the market and much like Apple have a brand following second to none. Yet, being so brand conscious, you miss out on some truly amazing machines. The Versys is affordable and very capable. I got to experience a smooth power delivery and a sweet ride. All this, wrapped up in a very attractive bike. Already I am feeling a bit of regret that I have to give it back, but on second thoughts, then I get to experience another model.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Mugello

What is it about the Mugello circuit that makes for such intense racing? On Sunday over 100000 fans packed every square centimeter of land to witness some spectacular racing. In Moto3, the South African Brad Binder rode exquisitely to claim his 3rd victory on the trot. At some point the entire Moto3 field was in one shot. The racing was fierce. Riders went from 1st to 7th in the time it takes them to miss a gear. Binder is heading for the championship and the reasons are clear: He has a cool head on his shoulders and he can be mighty aggressive when he needs to be. The highlight of the shortened Moto2 race was Johann Zarco belting out the French anthem on the podium. When the MotoGP race started, all eyes, flags and air-horns were cheering on Valentino Rossi. One loud bang from his Yamaha's engine, and the Mugello crowd fell silent. They also knew that Rossi's championship hopes are fading fast. Maybe I spaek to soon. 2015 will also be remembered as the year Lorenzo was written off mid-season and went on to claim the title. Lorenzo's overly enthusiastic celebrations are becoming a bit much though. Hats of to Marquez though. He vowed this year to be more careful and not to take unnecessary risks. At Mugello he forgot all about that and hunted Lorenzo down with all the aggression and flair of the old Marquez. His Honda just did not have the grunt to keep the Yamaha behind him in the final run to the line. Ianone rounded out the podium with a big fat 'up yours' to the team that will be dropping him in 2017. Mugello dished up some fantastic racing, and I cannot wait till the next round!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

When the music stops.

The old guard in MotoGP grid must be a very worried crowd. When Marquez joined Honda, I predicted that Pedrosa's last chance of clinching a world title was fast disappearing. Turned out I was right. Marc obliterated Danny and broke almost all records in existence in a very small window of time. Well, Danny must know someone at HRC very well, because they keep signing the Spaniard. When news broke of Lorenzo's departure to Ducati, it left a very valuable seat void in the Yamaha garage. Good riddance, I thought. Lorenzo did not endear himself to fans and sponsors alike the last few races. Good luck taming the Desmosedici, Jorge. That is a special machine that not even Rossi could handle. In the WorldSBK they have a few special people that can ride the Panigale fast, but only after some radical changes to the exhaust. Maybe the knowledge gained there can be passed over to GP bike. With Dovizioso now confirmed as Lorenzo's partner I felt a but disappointed. Ianone was a fast rider, but I suppose when you skittle out your partner on the last corner of a race, you make enemies quite fast. So let's see. Honda have signed their riders for 2017, and so have Ducati. Rossi must also start to feel the pinch at the rider that will be joining him next year is a very rare talent. Vinales will be taking up station there and he is quick. Very quick. He has dragged an under performing Suzuki to the podium and he has youth on his side too. That means Ianone will be moving to Suzuki, and with the GSX-RR finding more and more horses to play with, I guess their first victory is not far off. The music is still playing and the seats are filling up, but I predict that Rossi has only got this season to get his 10th World title, because 2017 will be a Vinales year.