From Pillion to Chapter Director – my Road to Prague 2018


Hi there.

I’m a 63-year-old female from Cape Town South Africa with 2 adult children and while writing this, Granny to 1 and a half grandchildren.

I bought my first Harley [a blue Dyna Wide Glide] on a leisurely Saturday afternoon in 2009 from the then Harley-Davidson Dealership in Somerset Road, Cape Town. A friend and I planned to take a Bentley for a test drive that afternoon, but when we came to the Bentley Dealership, they were closed and the floor and cars covered with dust, and in a moment of total disappointment decided to do the next best thing and visit the Harley-Davidson Dealership that was nearby. [My friend was an experienced biker in the years before her son was born, and had some outdated knowledge of bikes].

Up to then, my conservative Afrikaans insights were the following:

You do NOT mingle with people:

· who ride noisy pata-pata bikes [ I later learned they are called ‘Harleys’], and definitely not people with tattoos

· people using the F word

My only experience of bikes up to then was a 50 cc Yamaha [orange] scooter while at University in the Free State [ the only female student with exquisite wheels on Campus], and a Kawasaki Quad bike used on the beach in Jeffreys Bay while my children were small. The quad bike was excellent for mother/children/nanny fun times and we were a well-known sight in Jeffreys Bay – mother riding with the 2 kids and the nanny as willing and obvious very happy pillions – all 4 simultaneously on the bike: kids sitting between me and the Nanny.

Anyway, that Saturday afternoon in 2009 I became the proud owner of a beautiful shiny blue Harley. I later learned it was called a Dyna Wide Glide. Problem was, I only had a 50cc licence and in any event could not get on the bike as I could not hold it up straight.

I soon got irritated by the fact that I could only go out riding as a pillion [with my yachting rain-roof jacket flapping in the wind], if I could convince my friends to ride so that I could pillion.

Further, the bike overnighted in a study, with me dusting it every night, and often at night just sitting staring [and sipping on a Scotch] at my gorgeous machine and counting my blessings.

A further problem was, that the only way I could get my object of admiration out of its habitat, was if the gardener was around.

Then one Sunday afternoon, after a hearty Sunday Lunch, I decided the time had come not to be dependent on others anymore if I wanted to go riding. By the time the bike was out of its study and ready to ride, I was exhausted and perspiring in anguish. I mounted the bike and switched it on as I saw others do, but then I released the clutch instantly and the powerful bike jerked into the neighbour’s fence, with me still on it in a state of absolute shock.

This was never the less the launch of my riding career. After many, many days/weeks riding around the block, stopping and pulling away, and trading the Dyna for 2 Sportsters, I decided I was ready for the daily commute of the national highways to the Cape Town CBD where my offices were.  Each trip to the office and back was a personal major victory!

I used to park in a parking garage, and I only later realized that the car alarms which were always on in the parking garage in the CBD, were triggered by my pipes. By then I still travelled to the office daily with my flapping plastic yacht jacket and takkies, but with my work high heels in the panier cases. Once I exited the parking garage in high heels with the plastic jacket hid in the panier cases, nobody in their wildest dreams would have thought that the grey-haired properly dressed lady was the culprit setting off all the car alarms – and that was a thrill in its own – meaning I suddenly went to work each day with a bigger grin than usual.

My road to Prague was most interesting and rewarding.

In the early days, Harley’s literally saved my life. When I started riding in 2009, due to earlier open-heart surgery, I could not ride 50 km from my home in Kenilworth to Simons Town, without resting midway in Muizenberg.

I’ve since had several Harleys, and now own my 9th   Harley, a Street Glide.

I believe that due to my regular riding [my only physical sport activity], my health has improved to such an extent that a friend [74 years old then – with a pacemaker] and I, 4 years ago bought Harleys in Johannesburg and then rode them back to Cape Town [approx 1500 odd km with plenty of stops due to prescribed diuretic tablets... ].

My road to Prague is flagged with many interesting events, but it started off with a total lack of any knowledge of the Charter, H.O.G. protocol and general etiquette, etc. I am still embarrassed to remember the day I [as the new Membership Officer] wanted to prescribe to the then Director how he should run his full Committee meeting. Ouch!

Anyway, I since served as Membership Officer, Treasurer, Assistant Director, Director, Rally organizer, and learned a bit [the hard way] about H.O.G. life and the Harley lifestyle, the Charter, Protocol and Ethics, Chapter and Dealership dynamics, and the learning curve is never ending as I still learn every day, and enjoy every minute of it.

My first 36,000 km on a Harley was not registered as H.O.G. Miles due to my ignorance, but I hope to qualify soon for my 60,000 H.O.G. miles patch. 

Bottomline: Harley-Davidson has changed my life from a sickly boring professional to a healthy going places adventurer. The friendships made, and places visited, locally and all over the world, and the extreme pleasures of being in the open air on my Harley are PRICELESS. Being a fully paid up Life Member and Tyger Valley Chapter member is a bargain for all I am getting in return. The benefits of being a H.O.G. member can in any event not be measured in monetary terms. If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, buy a Harley. Just do it. Problem solved. Ask me. Let’s ride.

See you all in Prague in July.