Getting Down and Things Done in Cape Town

With a population of more than 3 million people, Cape Town is the economic and tourist center of western South Africa, and it serves as the legislative capital of the country. Like most of South Africa there is quite diversity and clearly visible contrasts on every street corner. Standing at the BMW Pavillion near Cape Town’s waterfront and looking across at the spanking new Aston-Martin dealership, I think that it’s been barely ten years since the Republic of South Africa was reborn as a democracy and apartheid abolished, yet it seems that things are slow to change as economic discrimination has replaced racial discrimination.

Wandering the predominantly Muslim neighborhoods of Bo-Kapp and the Sixth District checking out the colorfully painted Cape Dutch architecture and watching kids play cricket in the street, I’m reminded of the barely faded past of pass laws and apartheid. As Cape Town grew and space was needed to meet the needs of the growing white population and economic power, blacks living in these areas were forced to move to Townships located on the fringe of town. Though it existed informally since the turn of the century, Apartheid was established in the wake of World War II in 1948 by the winning National Party creating mandatory classification of individuals by race and a host of laws that legalized racial discrimination. New laws enforced the physical separation of residential areas. Separate public facilities including beaches, buses, toilets, schools and even park benches were mandated and delineated. Pass laws required blacks carry ID documents at all times and were prohibited to visit or stay in white towns without permission. In 1990 these laws were repealed but it wasn’t until early 1994 that the new “multi-racial” Republic of South Africa saw its first democratic elections and with it the country gave birth to a new national anthem and new “rainbow” flag.

Cape Town Da Koop
The Bo-Kapp Neighborhood of Cape Town with colorful Cape Dutch architecture and shades of Table Mountain in the background.

Bo Kaap Woman
Women in Bo-Kapp in front of her cantaloupe colored home.

Bo Kaap Veggie Man
Making a living selling vegetabls in the Sixth District in Cape Townb

I spent my first two nights in Green Point, just south of the city center near the waterfront before connecting with Martin and Gunter, owners of Tom’s Guest House (highly recommended) in the Oranjezicht district of the city center. Impeccably and tastefully decorated, Tom’s became my home base for exploring Cape Town, Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula while Shane and the excellent crew at Atlantic BMW plugged Doc into its computer and performed an overall check-up of the bike before I head deeper into Africa. We also took care of routine maintenance which included finally unloading some of the spare parts I’d been carrying including new front and rear sprockets and D.I.D. gold link chain. We repaired the wobbly headlight with another zip tie and discovered that the PIAA lights were inoperable because of a blown fuse.

End Racism Bo Kaap
There’s a lot going on in this photo taken near Bo-Kapp in Cape Town.

Cape Town Homeless
The apples I bought from the Bo-Kapp vegetable sales guy pictures earlier in this post I gave to these homeless people. The woman suggested the next time I drop by I should bring Kentucky Fried Chicken.

While going through the bike at Atlantic I met the affable and friendly Wes. Recently back from a two-week adventure tour of Lesotho, the island country in the sandwiched between the Eastern Cape, Free State and Kwazulu-Natal states and high in the mountains, Lesotho, Kingdom in the Sky, remains an independent country largely because when the in the the late 1800’s the area was not included in the formation of the Union of South Africa. We swapped stories and planned to connect for some riding before my travels took me away from Cape Town.

While chatting with Shane and others at the BMW dealer I noticed a several GS650’s with a small plastic extension beak on the front upper fender. Another design flaw or simply an open door for aftermarket manufacturers, but riding the bike in rain or on muddy tracks, the front wheel spits water, mud and everything else onto my face-shield of the helmet. Some 650 riders have installed lower fenders offered by Touratech or Wünderlich, but at the beginning of this trip I opted against it. But these “beaks”, originally installed on pre-2001 Funduro 650’s by BMW, it seems that many South African riders have found that simply retrofitting this part on the post-2001 fuel-injected GS’s solved the spitting liquid problem. I ordered one and would have to wait a few days before beginning my journey southward along the Klein Karoo and Garden Route — with my aim on Lesotho and then finally venturing north into Namibia.

One other nagging issue I’ve contended with is the increasing volume of my exhaust. The excellent Adventure Pipe and it’s “stash tube” (which Roger at AME has informed that he has sadly discontinued) is in dire need of repacking. I have no desire to mimic the decibels of a Harley nor a barely dampened two-stoke dirt bike. Thanks to the good folks at Race Tools, I’ve got a repacking kit custom fit to the Adventure Pipe. But the corrosion that infected my bike while it sat outside in Rio for over a month has taken its toll on the fasteners holding the end cap. These will need to be sheered off and somehow I will have to figure away to refasten the cap. You see there is nothing that I can tap into to create new threads as there are lock-washers welded to the inside of the pipe. I will either have to re-weld new fasteners or see if the existing can be tapped and made secure enough to hold the end cap in place. While repacking the pipe with the Race Tools kit is a simple task, but when I tried to loosen those bolts I knew the job would be tougher, so I will need to enlist some help. I will take my tour of South Africa and spin back though Cape Town prior to going to Namibia and handle the task then. At that point I may want to replace my tires as the Avon Gripsters current have about 4,500 miles (7.5k kilometers). I’m sure I can get 10,000 miles on them but it may be prudent to replace them on my way back through Cape Town, depending how many miles I ride over the new few weeks in South Africa. North of Windhoek and until Nairobi, Kenya it will be virtually impossible to find new tires for my bike.

Cape Town Balthazars

But all is good here in Cape Town. I had an opportunity to meet Jonathan, the owner/partner at Balthazer’s Steak House on the Waterfront. With 196 wines by the glass, he was quite happy to sample the couple bottles of Argentinean Malbec I couldn’t resist bringing to Africa. He’s armed me with a few tips of wineries to visit in the Cape region, so I’m beginning to form my South Africa route. I’ll keep you posted.

Look For Penguins Sign-1
You don’t want to run over any little webbed feet now, do you?