I have always loved 2 wheels, and I’m really in my element on anything from a scooter, to a recent debut aboard a 1200 cc ‘Adventure bike’, but recently, the team at Lynn Schroeder BMW in George entrusted me with their customised missle. I was given the opportunity to experience the  bike that BMW developed for an assault on the World Superbike Championship, the S 1000 RR.

I had literally just come off 2 days on the beautiful  BMW GS 1200 ‘Triple Black’, and with all my recent rides having been on ‘Adventure bikes’, I have been very comfortable aboard the well mannered dualsport machine, but just laying eyes on the S 1000 RR had my heart rate rising. It’s compact exterior, clear ergonomics, and aesthetically appealing lines across every aspect melted my senses. The fairing was a thing of beauty, as was the tail section, and the tail-high appearance and handle bar position felt fairly standard on a bike designed as an out and out race machine.

The ‘extra’s’ in the package include ABS braking and traction control, and I’m not sure what I was expecting from BMW, but as I flicked the start-button,  the in-line 4 cylinder engine produced a beautiful, crisp ‘banshee howl’ that one expects from the Japanese bikes.

The engine tips the scales at under 60KG as a matter of interest, thats the lightest in its class. The most noticable thing in the first few moments on an open road is the smoothness of the power band on the bike. There is a reassuring and smooth increase through the throttle into the back wheel,  no spikes or surges that one expects from a machine of this power. After using the clutch to drop to first gear, you then have a ‘clutchless’ quick-shift up through the gears, a feature which really makes you feel like BMW’s team rider Marco Melandri!

From the brutal low end acceleration, up through the mid range, and right on to top end power at about 14200 RPM, the engine torque is beautifully smooth and carries no surprises. Fairing design has been tweaked from the 2009 debut model, and subtle changes give spectacular results, you could almost be in a car! The airflow is super comfortable, with absolutely no buffeting, even flat in 6th gear in ‘missle-mode’.

A toggle switch allows the rider to switch between 4 modes, either ‘Sport’, ‘race’, ‘rain’, or ‘Slick’, but to be perfectly honest, the average man in the street will be just fine coping with the handfulls of power in the standard ‘Sport’ mode.

The most impressive feature however, is the balance. The S 1000 RR corners with such ease, that it actually makes you feel like you’ve been riding super bikes all your life. I consider myself fortunate that I have been, and I understand the consequences. It’s great in one aspect if you have, because you understand the nature of the animal, but if you have not, my concern is that it will lull the low experience rider into a false sense of ‘ability’. So thats my primary warning to newbies~ treat this bike with respect. It’s wonderful design makes it deceptively easy to ride, but go over your limit at your peril.

As far as braking goes, leaving the highway and approaching a stop at speed, and gentle dab of pressure on the front and rear brakes was amazing! The calipers bit hard, actually throwing me forward, all whilst the bike heaved to a stop in a perfectly balanced and dead straight trajectory. Thats great to know that even on this beast, just a smooth touch is sufficient.

All in all, for me, it’s the perfect package in terms of performance, and to top it all off, it is, in my opinion by far the sexiest looking bike on the market.

Thanks to the boys at Lynn Schroeder, go and check the missle out at 3 Glaze Street in George, or give them a call on 044 801 7900.

Jordy made different..

Posted: January 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

I’ve been sitting in the office working on the final week leading up to the J&B Met, and my job of trying to formulate ideas to market the Jet lounge and Fire, Steam and Ice venues. My mind fell on the theme of this year’s Met, ‘Made different’, and immediately I think back to Saturday’s Rolling Retro Surf day at Llandudno.

‘Made different’. It hits me that there was something ‘made different’ about the 2012 version of the Jordy Smith surfing phenomenon. It was the first time I’d seen Jords in the new year, and although he’s been leaning out for a while now, there was just a different look and feel to the way that he carried himself. He’s obviously been training well, and looking fitter and leaner than he did in 2011, but the real change is something that you can’t easily put a finger on.

Maybe Jordy is just projecting more confidence, because the most important aspect of being a winner is learning to win. And he’s doing that. He said that he’s learning more and more about what his body needs to perform at peak with a surfboard, and he’s no longer a tour rookie. For many years as a sports presenter, I have been most fascinated by what makes a champion tick, and I have seen a common thread that runs in many that I’ve had the honour of meeting, individuals who have lit up their world with inspiring performances. Ayrton Senna, Kelly Slater, Shane Warne, Dan Carter, Wayne Rainey, David Beckham and Gary Player to name a few. They all have an unwavering mental strength and self-belief, an air surrounding them that borders on arrogance, but is not. Just a calm self-assured knowledge that they are very, very good at what they do.

His low point at Chopes, when a heaving Teahuppo’o day and a titanic battle with Travis Logie ended with Jordy breaking his ribs, ironically may have been a key moment. Jordy was forced out into a sabbatical, and came back stronger. In a wonderful quote to EWN’s Aletta Gardiner, Jordy said “When bad stuff happens like that..that’s when the good stuff happens inside..”

I think I saw something in the ‘made different’ Jordy Smith of 2012 at Llandudno. He’s in better shape, and looks more relaxed, but more importantly..that calm, self-assured knowledge that he is very, very good at what he does. Probably the best. I have a very, very strong feeling that 2012 is the year that Jordy Smith becomes king.

Wings, wires and why’s?

Posted: May 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

I deal virtually on a daily basis with good friends who are involved with marine conservation. Shark populations worldwide are being desimated at an alarming rate, abalone poaching is rife, and certain fish species are being hunted beyond the point at which their numbers are critical. I am very aware of the problems, and yes, they do concern me at a very deep level. For the sake of my son’s children, I have a need to play a role to ensure that they too will enjoy the privilege of diving with sharks, dolphins, and other species,  and that they too will be able to appreciate active marine eco-systems.

There is something that touches me even more deeply though. The sight of birds, and especially birds of prey..the big raptors..being held in by wire cages and fences disturbs me to my very core. Perhaps its a natural response  from the fact that I have been a ‘child of the sky’ from the age of 10, as opposed to the ocean, but I seem to feel an immediate connection to them, and today, I was moved.

I was visiting a popular tourist attraction on the South Coast of KZN, and I came face to face with an adult Lanner Falcon in a cage. She looked healthy, but I have no idea as to her condition. The rusted meshing reflected the sunlight, and adding to the scene,  the early morning light bounced off the abandoned spider-webs that linked a few strands of wire here and there.

The bird looked at me, and I felt sadness wash over me. The Falcon is a majestic creature. Not the biggest raptors, but the fastest..they are designed by the creator for speed, and wide, wide open spaces of blue sky.  She’s a bird of open country and savanna, and unlike the Peregrine Falcon, who hunts vertically from height with a stoop, she normally hunts on a horizontal plane.

I whistled softly in greeting, and immediately, the unmistakable and beautiful, beautiful cry of the Fish Eagle answered back. I walked around a corner, and there she was, an adult Fish Eagle, also in a cage, and sitting in the sun just meters from me.

My mind pictured this magnificent bird, not accelerating across the open savanna, but climbing skyward in thermals. The tertiary, or wing-tip, feathers make small and precise corrections, in perfect synergy with the tail, as these supreme ‘pilots’ stay effortlessly in the thermals core. That is where she belonged.

But here, she sat, looking at me, and almost in desperation, she turned her head upwards..and gazed through the wire at the blue sky. I pushed my shutter, and captured a picture that will always remind me of that second, that almost brought me to tears. As I write this, I can feel the emotion welling up. I do not have the answers, but both these birds appeared to look at me with those eyes that raptors have..those eyes that burn into your head..and both appeared to be asking “why”? I don’t have the answer.

Footnote – Both the birds mentioned above have got damaged wings, making them unable to fly in the wild and hunt for themselves.


From our cruising altitude of 35 000 feet, the landscape slipped by, a picturesque canvas painted by a mixture of colours and strokes, and from my window seat, I kept myself occupied easily. I was happy in the sky, a familiar place, despite having been away from competitive skydiving for so long. I tracked the speed over ground of the aircraft by watching the sun glint and light up the patches of water for a millisecond, before streaking to the next and the next. And when the green rolling vegetation started to become rocky and barren, and the Northern Cape slipped into my field of vision, I started to feel a sense of expectation. I was coming home.

I felt, and heard, the change in engine note alongside my seat, and checked my watch, and moments later the captain confirmed that we had started the descent into Cape Town International. I was filled with the same sense of awe as the mighty peaks of the Franschoek and Du Toits Peaks ranges passed below, and my mind slipped as always to my friends who play out here. Great climbers and great pilots who have hung from those walls.

Table Mountain and Lions Head slipped past on our final approach, and I knew that within a couple of hours of landing, I would be standing on the summit of Lions. At the airport, there were already familiar faces, and as I turned my mobile on, I had messages from friends to welcome me home. Despite having only been gone for 2 months, I felt strangely emotional being back. A lot had happened in Durban, and I have been faced with some hard decisions. But for now, mountains and oceans of the Cape are waiting, and I must revisit them quickly, before I need to fly again.

Every young child is owed a childhood. And by a childhood, I refer to happiness, security, comfort, warmth, food and love. They are in this world through no deed of their own, and although even young adults are called upon in modern times to learn about stress and how to deal with it..a child needs to be exempt.

I can give a meal, a kind word, and a smile, which may last an hour or a day..but we need to do more. There are adults who have no concept of the most basic of rights of a young child, and by turning away and saying they need to learn, to rectify and to change, will not change the fact that a 7 year old sleeps in fear, experiencing stress, hunger,  cold and uncertainty at a time in their lives that they should just be feeling warmth and wonder. And it saddens me.

The weather matched my mood on the 40 minute drive from Scottsburgh to the King Albert Luthuli hospital. Raining, damp and cold. And it matched the responses of the ground staff as I asked directions to ICU. Cold. Once inside, and having put on the mandatory surgical boots and apron, I was allowed to the bed of my friend, Bruce McClunan.

Alonside Bruce, his son Daemon, a doctor,  sat quietly talking to his dad, keeping an eye on the variety of machines that were hooked up to Bruce’s bedside.

Daemon greeted me, and what a rock he is. A young doctor, he was facing what no young son should ever be called on to face, and yet his strength was shining like a light..and so radiant that even I felt comforted as I faced Bruce in this condition.

Bruce looked at me, and in his eyes, I saw the greeting, and the recognition. I read him a few messages from friends, and he blinked in acknowledgment. I was not ready to say anything close to goodbye, whatever the next days would bring. With no hand that I could hold to wish him well, all I could do was silently wish this strong man all the very best..I muttered something about “hanging in” amidst a swirl of things that I needed to, and possibly should have said..but Bruce was tired, and Daemon didn’t want too much attention. And just like that, my time with Bruce was gone. I left ICU, and felt sure that I would see him again.

At about 7 pm, Bruce and his family considered the opinion of the neuro specialist, and took  a decision, and Bruce was allowed to pass peacefully. Hamba Kahle my friend. Until we meet again.

Tonight, I will lie awake and think about many things in my own life. And I will think about the final conversation we shared just weeks ago when we flew together, when Bruce made me promise to come and visit Bulwer, and one of his favourite Hang Gliding spots. I am thankful for todays final contact, albeit brief.

I was sitting here at my PC, and still wondering what the life lesson about today was, when Ingrids mail popped into my inbox –

(Ingrid and Brandon have been skydiving friends from the 80’s at the Pietermaritzburg Parachute Club)

“On this day of your life, I believe God wants you to know……that “Why is this happening?” is the most useless
question in the Universe.

The only really profitable question is, “What?” As in, “What do I choose now?” This question empowers.

The “why” question simply perplexes, and rarely satisfies even when it gets a good answer.

So don’t try to “figure it out.” Stop it. Just focus on what you now wish to create. Keep moving forward.

There’s nothing behind you that can possibly serve you better than your highest thoughts about tomorrow.”

I’m constantly working on everything. I never take the approach that I’m doing as well as I possibly can… I always think there’s more and I think if you don’t have that, you are not driven to be better.” Kelly Slater
Image Right  by Jeff Ayliffe

In 2010, Robert Kelly Slater brought the world of surfing to it’s feet as one. On an overcast day in Puerto-Rico, Slater defeated Adriano Da Souza in the quarter final heat, and the resulting points meant that title 10 was in the bag. Kelly fired from the off  by backdooring a barrel for a 9 and then followed that up with a longer double barrel for a 9.87 , followed by a clean, no-grab 360 air reverse. Five minutes into the heat Kelly had 18.87 points, and Adriano had yet to catch a wave. It had been clinical and ruthless, the heat was done and dusted after 2 waves.

In a wonderful moment, Jordy Smith, his only challenger, was waiting at back line for his heat to resume, and as Slater surfed past Jordy on his way to the beach, the two exchanged a hi-5. Their battle, for the time being, was done.

Moments later,  the air heavy with emotion following the death of Andy Irons just days earlier, Kelly allowed, for the first time in ages, a tear to flow.  He pointed at the sky to acknowledge someone, possibly his late father..possibly Andy Irons.

Then,  in a moment that clearly threw the normally unflappable champion, as he was being interviewed at water’s edge on completion of the heat and dedicating his title to Andy, a rainbow appeared over the contest site..and the sun started to shine.

Pipeline closed the year out, and kelly Slater was starting to be accepted by sporting institutions around the world as one of the greatest athletes in the history of sport. Not surfers, but athletes. And no one questions those claims. The only question being asked, was “Are you coming back in 2011″.

The off-season past, there were Slater interviews everywhere, on major television networks across the USA, Europe and virtually every surfing publication, but no one could answer the question. Just weeks before the season opener, the Quiksilver Pro at Snappers, Kelly’s name was confirmed on the entry list, and the advertising bosses of the ASP World tour breathed a collective sigh of relief. ” Bring Kelly, and the world media will follow..”

The 2011 opener is over, and Kelly Slater has found more, beating favourite Taj Burrow to take the title and an immediate lead in the new series.

As I write this, surf fans are locking out  every vantage point to get a glimpse of the sporting legend as he surfs the Telstra Drug Aware Pro at Margaret River in Western Australia. Bells is the next round of the ASP tour, and more than one person has ventured the view that with the monkey of a 10th title now off his back, Kelly will be more relaxed, and harder than ever to beat.

He admits that the closer ‘ten’ got, the more difficult if was to  follow raw instinct and just meet nature on her terms. The number 10 took on a life of it’s own, but that has now been shed. Kelly once said – -” Not to sound too deep or weird, but I think that the times when you really appreciate surfing are the times you’re really sort of becoming one with nature. Surfing’s as raw of a sport as it gets.”

Kelly has always desired more from himself. He clearly hasn’t stopped looking, and I remember clearly the day I sat on the side of Kyalami circuit watching Ayrton Senna on a qualifying lap, in the knowledge that I was watching something that was one of sports  truly special experiences. I only ever felt that again when I saw Kelly Slater in action at ‘Supers’ in J bay. Just a knowledge that you’re watching something special. And for now, it seems there’s more to come.

The Sharks returned to Durban from a taxing schedule of travel and long hours in the air and found themselves returning the Mr Price Kings Park on a drizzley, damp Saturday evening to face the DHL Stormers. The Shark Tank just seemed eerily quiet on the night, almost as if they sensed that this may be a bridge to far for John Plumtree’s men. Schalk Burger was back to lead the Stormers, and from the outset, the Cape side never looked like letting it slip.

This Saturday brings the Lions to the Shark Tank, and it’s desperate times for the Sharks, lose this one, and they are facing a long road to get back. Lock Alistair Hargreaves is the only player who remains doubtful, an X-Ray showed a tear to his AC Ligament, and he will play no part in the game.  This will give Steven Sykes an opportunity to prove his worth, the news on Jean Deysel, is that he will stay with the Vodacom Cup side as he continues to return to full fitness from a knee injury.

Plumtree has called for a huge effort against the Lions, who hammered the Sharks  in a pre-season Neo Africa game in Cape Town, but admittedly Plum says the Sharks lack the frenzied mental desire of the Lions for that particular occasion.

Apart from the rivalry between Plumtree and his fellow Kiwi coach John Mitchell, also adding extra needle to the game will be the number of former Sharks players, such as Rory Kockott,  returning to Durban for the first time since moving north. Kick off is at 7:05pm.


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