Frans de Wit visits South Africa
"This has been a most excellent riding year for me. First I went on a group trip to Kazachstan and Kyrgistan, riding a Ural sidecar, then a CJ in Beijing and last week I had to go for work to Cape Town in South Africa. I would have a day off so a bike ride would be in place. As there is a Dutch guy with a Harley-Davidson store in town I thought at first to rent a bike there but then I remembered a link to a South African CJ shop on CJU, and lo and behold, they were in Cape Town!"
"It's Cape Sidecar Adventures, not too far from my hotel. They have a fleet of sidecars for rent, with or without driver. Of course I wanted to drive myself!"
"They also do their own repairs in-house."
Look at all the CJs!
"For the unlucky ones that have to be driven, there is a choice of leathers and helmets to wear."
"Every sidecar has a girl's name. At first I was to be set up with Candy, but it turned out to be Fanny. This is Trixie, named after our queen, Beatrix (or so I like to think).
"When Fanny was brought to me by owner Tim Clarke...
...we first went to a parking lot to practice a bit between the parked cars. I know how to drive a sidecar of course, but this one is on the wrong side as they drive on the left in this country! This was the first time I flew the chair on a left curve! After a short test drive I set out along the coastal road to Cape Point, the most southern piece of Africa."
"When I stopped for a little break, the familiar CJ-invoked curiosity arose. Two guys stopped to ask for a business card, and the son of a family that had also stopped came over to ask if he could make a picture, so I asked him to make a pic of me as well."
"Driving on the left went pretty well, apart from one time when I hit a curb that sent me off flying across the road into the other lane, but there was no traffic there at that moment, thank God. I had to get used to having the bulk of the bike on the other side, and cars going past my right hand very close, whilst driving a sidecar. I reached Cape Point unharmed and had lunch with two fellow workers who were on the same trip, but the other way round, in a rented BMW. Yes, IN a BMW, so no match for me. In the background the lighthouse that marks the southern peak of Africa."
"Actually it's not really the most southern part, but everybody thinks it is, so they keep it that way. Also, it's not the same as Cape Good Hope that lies just around the corner. Doesn't look like much but try to sail around it in a storm and you'll think differently."
"My colleagues warned me of the baboons. They have a spot where they hang out and everybody stops to take pictures... from their cars! I was a bit weary ending up in a queue without protection. These baboons are very strong and can get aggressive. I had put everything from my coat pockets into my trouser pockets to make it harder to steal anything from me. When I passed them some seemed impressed by the sound of the CJ or were happy to sit on somebody's bonnet. They are attracted to food so I had put my bag with my ration of 'biltong' (dried meat) in the trunk. I escaped unscathed."
"One of the people of the South African crew I worked with was riding this XGJAO, 175cc, (I think) two-stroke that just recently has been started to be imported in Holland, but this was the first one I saw 'in the flesh'. I never found out who the rider was. Too many people there so no Rider's Report on this one..."
"Of course I went up on Table Mountain, visited Stellenbosch and the wine country, etc, but that's a different story... I had a great time riding the African country. The CJ performed well. I was warned that it might not get enough gas when the filter got clogged and to put it on 'reserve' if that happened. It did and it worked. If it hadn't there was a handbook on board with a picture by picture explanation how to blow through the filters. Started like a charm every time and only on the highway, doing over 75km/h needed something extra once. I then pulled the choke on the 30mm carbs a few times and it went flying again. As it had only done just over 1000 km, I didn't push it too hard."