Age, bike type, pillion and distance no barrier

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cool Age, bike type, pillion and distance no barrier

Post  SteveCat on Wed Apr 23 2014, 20:01

A 'feel good story', I hope you'll like, of a friend of 30 odd years who passed away last weekend. Last time I saw Des and his dog Boswell was a month over 7 years ago at a biking event known as 'The Day of The Clubs', I arrived at the event riding a mate's Z6R with him pillion and his wife driving my hire car. Two hours later I had to head for the airport and back to the UK, 2 weeks later I bought my first Thundercat.

Hopefully I have caught all the colloquialisms and 'translated' within ellipses, place names I'll leave you look up  Wink Makes the mileage I've done child's play

DES STORY IN MOTORHEADS DIARY 2012.

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Des Pistorius has nothing against cars. In fact, the Durban pensioner bought his first one, a 1934 Chevrolet, for the equivalent of R20 (£1) from his uncle in the ‘50s and then towed it home behind four oxen because it had deteriorated considerably during the many years it served as a chicken hock (coup). Des rebuilt the car and eventually gave it to his father while he shifted his focus to the two wheelers he loves so much.

Des is a legend in South African motorcycling circles because of his never-say-die attitude and the immense mileages he racks up annually. He attends dozens of rallies a year with his best friend, Boswell, surfing the petrol tank of the 1982 Honda Gold Wing he bought with just 1900 km on the clock for R2600 almost 30 years ago (£1 500 30 years ago). It now has something like 1,250 000 km under its belt. In 2002 he rode it up Sani Pass with his dog at the time, Widget, on the tank and a friend on the pillion. A year or so later he took Widget on a 6500 km trip to complete the famous Redline Tour around the borders of South Africa and earn them each a valued limited edition belt buckle. The Redline rules allow entrants a full year to visit and be photographed with their motorcycles next to each of the specified landmarks. Des and Widget did it in a week.

Since then Des has retired from his rigging business, and on 24 March this year (2011) he and his current canine companion, Boswell, set off like Moses into the wilderness to do the Redline Tour once again. This time he was in no rush though, which is just as well because his chosen steed for the adventure was a rebuilt 33-year-old 200cc Vespa scooter with a trailer bobbing along in its wake. One of their most treasured items of luggage was a 2011 Motorheads diary that went on to become what is surely the most travelled and hardest working example of its breed ever seen.

So just what brought this extraordinary man to embark upon such an arduous journey at an age where most other men are sitting in front of the fireplace with a pipe and slippers? “I lost a very good friend, Denise Meyer, who used to travel with me much of the time, in an accident last year, and we’d intended doing this together on my Honda one day,” says the 76-year old adventurer. “Then another friend who also subsequently died gave me the Vespa, so I decided to do the Redline on that with my dog instead.” When he made his intentions known Des found that he had huge support from his many friends; one built him the trailer from scratch, another gave the scooter a really quality custom paint job while a third reupholstered the saddle professionally, Vespa South Africa supplied all the parts he needed for a full rebuild and even the NPA (Natal Provincial Administration - the county authorities) and SAPS (South African Police Services) came to the party by easing him through the roadworthy (MOT) process with relatively little pain. Scooters Pizza gave the pensioner a wad of vouchers so he could treat his hosts in different towns to takeaway meals, and once he hit the road many B&Bs and hotels along the way refused to let him and his dog pay for accommodation. More help came from total strangers who came across to take a look when they saw the long bearded man and his dog filling the scooter with premix at petrol stations around the country, spoke for a while and then paid for the fuel or made spontaneous donations to help them on their way. And he’ll never forget all the ordinary working class people who took what looked like Moses and his mutt into their homes and fed them.

Des’s trip didn’t kick off too well though. Boswell was run over by a bakkie (SUV/pick up/ Ute)  a week or so before their intended departure and the poor hound had a tooth knocked out as well as a serious concussion that left him staring blankly at walls for a couple of weeks, oblivious to his surroundings. Luckily he regained his wits and the pair set off belatedly on 12 March, only to have to abort the trip after 180 km when the gearbox packed up near Port Edward. Back they went to Durban, out came the engine once again and 12 days later they hit the road for the second time, riding through the Transkei, then to East London and Port Elizabeth where the next setback befell them. “Just outside PE on our way to Plettenberg Bay we had a rear-wheel blowout that saw us end up lying in a heap in the ditch,” says Des, who broke a collarbone in the accident. That didn’t deter him much. He put the spare wheel on and, after being convinced to return to PE for the night, set off again the following day. That too nearly brought their adventure to an end because they got just four or five kilometres past the scene of the previous day’s mishap when the replacement tyre also blew, leading to them narrowly missing a lamp pole before hitting the ground again. “I was lying on the ground in the bush next to the Vespa and from my new viewpoint saw that the bolt holding the rear shock on had come lose and backed out, chewing a gouge in the tyre’s sidewall,” Des remembers. “At my age it’s hard to bend down so when you find yourself lying on the ground you look for anything that needs doing while you’re down there. When I eventually got up I saw Boswell stepping out on the road heading back to Durban – he’d had enough. I asked him to stay and he must have seen I was lonely because he decided to give me another chance!”

From there on things went relatively smoothly with only one or two minor hiccoughs. The spline on the Vespa’s kick-start stripped in the first week so Des had to push start it for a while – not the easiest thing when you’re 75 years old and have a trailer hitched on the back – until some members of the Vespa Club in Cape Town sorted it out while the rest spoilt Des with their hospitality for a couple of days. Then, near the end of the trip, the spark plug thread stripped, so Des pinched some strands of copper wire from an indicator earth and wound it around the damaged threads to hold the plug in until he could have the cylinder head repaired with a helicoil. In Ladybrand a Samaritan with an engineering shop did the necessary on a Sunday and would accept no payment. “He said he couldn’t take money from a madman, and told me to enjoy the rest of my trip,” says Desmond.

Everywhere he stopped, people approached Des and Boswell to ask what they were up to, and Des in turn asked them to write in his Motorheads diary. Some of the comments are more colourful than others. The person most impressed by the man and his dog expressed his feelings as follows – suitably censored, of course!
“ I don’t smoke dope, chew rope, dance, prance, romance, fight, fart, f--k, shoot the shit or drive a truck. I’ve been to Maine, Spain, Spokane, around the world three times, two world fairs, and seen goats f—k in the market place, but I ain’t never seen no shit like this!” We gather that Des and Boswell inspired him then.

Although Des set out to complete the Redline Tour in about 6500 km he ended up far exceeding that because he often deviated from his anticipated route to visit friends or attend motorcycle rallies. All in all the man and his dog covered 8469 km in 48 days. “There were about 15 days that we didn’t ride because of people’s hospitality,” he says. “I met hundreds of new people – you don’t realise how many really nice people there are in this country until you do something like this. Even the big truck drivers. When they come from the other direction you just about stop dead from their wind, but they all gave us a big hoot and a wave. And between Springbok and Bloemfontein about eight different journalists stopped me. We chatted away and I think we appeared in numerous newspapers but I was on the road so didn’t see many of them.”

Des travelled at about 60 km/h for most of the way, which attracted the attention of lots of motorists. A friend travelling down the West Coast on business reported seeing a long string of slow-moving cars on the horizon, headed by a little red dot that he eventually made out was Des on his scooter. We asked him about that. “Ja (yes),”he said. “And they were so friendly! When they came past they all hooted and waved at me!”

Goldwing ticking over 1 million kilometers

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cool Re: Age, bike type, pillion and distance no barrier

Post  yamahamad on Wed Apr 23 2014, 20:52

Hey Steve. Brilliant story about a remarkable man. I am sorry for you're loss.

Paul.
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cool Re: Age, bike type, pillion and distance no barrier

Post  stretchie_ on Wed Apr 23 2014, 22:23

Sounds like an awesome fella
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cool Re: Age, bike type, pillion and distance no barrier

Post  Wooster on Wed Apr 23 2014, 22:59

Knotted at the 'concussed dug'.  Laughing 
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