Journey of Hope – helmet hair and other challenges…

Journey of Hope  2011 – 6 weeks to go, helmet Hair and other little challenges…

There are some wonderful and strange reactions to my involvement in the Journey of Hope motorcycle ride….Emails and messages of support keep coming in – mostly including the word ‘brave.’  There have been offers of help in training, in securing the correct safety gear and words of encouragement.

Thank you to everyone, Honda, Think Bike, Two Wheels Training, Honda Training Academy in Muizenberg, Bronwyn Durham, Wayne, Regine Le Roux and her team, Eddie Kelsey who will be our ‘sweep’ and who joined the team for a recce of the route (in the pouring rain and icy weather)  and of course the team of volunteers from Journey of Hope.  The spirit of Ubuntu is alive and well in South Africa…

Then there are others who seem to have a pathological need to pass on stories of gruesome motorcycle accidents featuring bizarre mishaps and injuries. At this stage I have enough information to write a book 101 Reasons never to venture onto a motorbike

That said:  There are two issues here. One: I do NOT feel brave despite the generous compliments.  I am extremely nervous about the ride and climbing onto a bike that feels the size of mini cooper, only balanced on two wheels, not four. It is quite, quite intimidating.  Two:  I am going to do it anyway…despite the stories and the fear.   It is by far the biggest challenge I have faced and I’m not about to let it get the better of me.

Rider training for the Journey of Hope sojourn from the 9-16 October  2011, is in full swing…Across the country there are nervous novice riders learning the art of staying upright and alive and of course getting saddle sore.  And gearing up… jackets with re-inforcement, spine guards, boots with metal support for your ankles, jeans with internal padding for sliding, gloves with knuckle dusters  to protect your hands. All designed it appears, for ‘when’ you fall, not ‘if’ you fall.  Which I have done. Twice.

Although I have had a motorcycle licence for years and owned a scrambler it was a small bike and does not prepare you for the bikes we are riding during the Journey of Hope. Which is why I parted company with the Harley 800cc  on which I rather ambitiously had my first lesson.  Ignominiously.  (Much to the delight and hilarity of a group of bergies) With severely bruised pride and a pearler of a bruise on my hip,  I decided to change a gear down and start on something a little smaller…. The Honda Training Academy was the next stop where we spent the day learning safety procedures, stopping suddenly,  doing figure of eight, slalom and more safety procedures.  All on a 250cc – much, much easier to control and keep upright. So stoked was I at a perfectly executed emergency stop (with skid)  that  I sat beaming on the saddle like a kid who has just discarded the training wheels.  Except in the warm glow of satisfaction,  I forgot to put my feet down… Down I went onto the tar.  It was 2-0 to the bikes…. Not a good score for my competitive personality.

Despite this,  I booked for a ride including traffic training with the Honda Training Academy in Fish Hoek  (courtesy of Honda) and a very patient instructor, Peter, took me on the road… I am not sure whether it was the luminous bib with a large L on it that made the cars so courteous (read: giving me an exceptionally wide berth) or that the drivers in Fish Hoek are just more laid back, but  it went surprisingly well. I followed Peter like a duckling behind its mother on its first swimming lesson, mimicking, close, needy and nervous. Apart from one terrifying moment when I found myself  sandwiched between a pantecnicon and a Golden Arrow Bus  like an extremely thinly sliced ham on a large Gatsby,  I am happy to announce that I came away with a slightly better score of: Bike 2 – Kathy 1.

From there it was onto something bigger.  At this point I have to mention Les Stephenson, the editor of Wheels 24…. who has been fantastic in his support. He not only took me on the Elsies’ River Women’s Day Ride, but bravely offered me his Suzuki 600cc to ride a week later (although he said, quite matter of factly, that he would ‘kill me’ if I dropped it). After driving round the golf estate at Atlantic beach he declared me ready for the open road.  Fear factor?  Off the scale…But we did it and I came back ‘almost’ having enjoyed it… Motorbike 2 – Kathy 2.

Another two hour ride a few days later from Fishoek round Scarborough, Misty Cliffs and back through Simonstown then along Chapmans Peak brought the score to 3-2 in my favour but I have decided to stop keeping score…Once ahead, stay ahead.

Tuesday is a ride with Wayne and Bronwyn on a  Honda 750cc (it’s a gorgeous bike) courtesy of Honda again and then  the following Sunday I spend a morning at Killarney practising cornering on the track ….

One of these days I am going to be a Biker Chic, despite the helmet hair and other little challenges…

When the Journey of Hope Breast Cancer Ride was initiated in 2006 it was the first of its kind in South Africa. The purpose of the Journey of Hope Breast Cancer Ride is to spread the message of a positive attitude and of hope regarding breast cancer, in a unique and vibrant way.This is achieved through a volunteer group of breast cancer survivors travelling across South Africa on motorcycles and sharing their stories of Hope particularly in rural communities

This year a new group of 15 breast cancer survivors from all walks of life will once again embark on a Journey of Hope by riding Honda motorcycles from the 9 –15 October. Amongst them will be the first two male breast cancer survivors to participate in a Journey of Hope ride.

For me the Journey of Hope is not just about the celebration of life for the 15 riders.  It is:

  • A tribute to those women who have lost the battle;
  • A campaign to encourage all women to be vigilant;
  • Stressing the importance of early detection to as many women as possible and banishing the stigma and fear around breast cancer.

I want women to trust their gut and instinct – if you think something is wrong, don’t let it go. Early detection can save your life.

For more information go to:  www.journeyofhope.co.za

 

 

 

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