Wednesday, December 08, 2010
John began life on two wheels racing bicycles. After school in Pietermaritzburg, he moved to Durban where he worked to save enough money to buy a ship's ticket to London. Here he spent three years competing in bicycle races both in the UK and the continent. He found work as a labourer in between races to keep his finances going. He remembers his highlight was the Paris Grand Prix cycle races in the mid 1950's: "but those blokes were too good for us".
His next venture on two wheels was funded by working in the merchant navy. When he had saved enough, John and a friend bought scooters and travelled through Europe. His was a Vespa bought in Italy - "kick-start, smoke and gears".
Then he returned to Durban where he found his next adventure on two wheels as a traffic cop for the Natal Provincial Authority. He began on maroon Triumph 350's, graduating to the Gold 600's, before getting his beloved BMW 750. He wore a white open face helmet and official gloves, and went as fast as he dared.
After this he had employment as a salesman for Barlows, and a caretaker for various buildings - including a ten year stint for Rustenberg Girls junior school where the only wheels he drove were on a lawnmower.
And so it was with great joy that I loaded him onto the back of my bike and headed over a Cape Mountain pass to have coffee in Noordhoek. He sat very well on the bike and was a pleasure as a passenger. It was a bit of a scramble getting on and off the bike - but then again: John is nearly 81 years old.
A great "guys-only" morning.
Sent via my BlackBerry
Posted by Rock in the Grass (Pete Grassow) at 11:08 pm