Sunday, November 27, 2011

Putting a smile on their faces

If you had to ask me if today was a good day for biking, I probably would've said no. The wind was howling across the Peninsula and with a pillion the trouble of keeping the bike in a straight line makes it even less inviting. Standing still at the traffic light already feels as if you are doing 60 kmp/h. Now add another thousand of bikes riding at around 40-80 kmp/h in the same lane and I am sure biking does not sound like the ideal thing to do. But, today was one of those days when you face the elements because you know that along with all these other bikers you are going to put a smile on a child's face this Christmas. Yes, it was the annual Toy Run, an event like the Buffalo Rally which most bikers do not want to miss out on. The difference between this and the Buff is...well, this is completely different. Thousands of bikers across the world use this day to collect toys for the underprivileged, something we have a lot of in South Africa.

Unlike the previous years, this year's Toy Run in Cape Town started off from a different venue. Because of the constructions going on on the M5, the local traffic department wanted the bikers to use a different route, so the kick-off point was at the Epping Market. I can just imagine that it takes a lot of planning to put this together, so well done to the organisers. What was a bit frustrating though was the speed at which we were riding. The venue was fine and the road too, but at some points there was a clear problem with motor vehicle traffic interfering and at many points one had to actually stop. My feet were more on the tar than on my pegs and I think I was in first or second gear most of the time during the ride. It felt almost like the bikes were in a traffic stand-still and not the cars. I was however still glad that I was on a bike and not in a car, at least we had right-of-way most of the times. The congestion in Wynberg at Maynarville where the toys are being dropped off, is also a bit of a problem. Finding parking for all those bikes is not easy, but I am sure they can move this somewhere else where more bikes can more easily get in and out, and where the roads are not so narrow like in this old part of Cape Town.

So, apart from those few areas in which they can improve on, the rest of the run was awesome. There is just something weird happening in a man...and I am sure in some women too, when thousands of bikes start up at the same time. For sure you will always have your hard-core bikers adding colour to the event by revving up their bikes to way above the allowable noise level any ear drum can withstand. And this was not even the Buff we're talking about, this is a charity event where everyone was sober and calm. Walking through the bikes leaves one amazed at how many different bikes there are on the road, and the way that some bikers customize their bikes is just amazing. I guess they spend their whole month's wages on their bikes and strangely enough still have some bucks left for petrol.

After dropping the toys in the big Nampak Truck, I decided that I still wanted to do a decent ride today, so instead of going straight home I took my pillion for a joy ride over Chapman's Peak. The wind was still hectic and on a few occasions I had to adjust my speed around the corners due to the wind pulling me this way and that way without any warning. I didn't want us to end up in front of oncoming traffic...and definitely NOT on the other side which is down the cliffs towards the sea. I don't know exactly how many kids are going to have a smile on them this Chritsmas, but I for sure know of one who had a smile on his face today. Until next year..... 

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