Friday, July 8, 2011

SA bikers feel the heat in ride through Africa

SA bikers feel the heat in ride through Africa - Times LIVE

They were pelted with stones, chased and spat at by villagers in remote areas, scorched by the sun and lashed by gale-force winds. But for three farmers and a businessman who rode 13000km in 46 days from Cape Town to Cairo on their motorbikes, it was all part of the adventure.

Businessman Stelios Georgiou, 42, and Eastern Cape dairy and stock farmers Richard Bennett, 50, Rufus Dreyer, 41, and Norman Emslie, 53, undertook the journey to raise R1.2-million for a water preservation system for Adelaide Hospital in Adelaide.

The trio eventually managed to collect only R200000, but on their blog - Three Farmers and a Greek - they described their trip as "mind-blowing".

Emslie's journey was shortened by a week because his passport was stolen from an official's desk at the Ethiopian-Sudan border. The rest of the severely sunburnt team, having reached Cairo on Sunday, landed in Port Elizabeth on Thursday morning.

On their blog, the men described being attacked as they raced through villages in Ethiopia:

"We sensed a change in the people's attitude towards us in the more isolated villages deep into the mountains. Some were even spitting at us and we were all hit by stones. It is a helpless feeling when you sit, exposed on the bike, with stones flying all around you."

Border officials in Sudan presented another challenge. The men wrote: "In one of the offices, the official was sitting back with his bare feet on the desk while asking questions in limited English."

Emslie's woes weren't confined to the disappearance of his passport: "My motorbike (a Kawasaki KLR650) broke in half ... but we managed to put it back together," he said.

He said that, despite the challenges, the scenery on the trip through eight countries was breathtakingly beautiful.

"The views were spectacular and we must have climbed over four or five huge mountain passes with the road snaking up and down the sides with cliffs."

Motorbike ride for Mandela Day

Motorbike ride for Mandela Day - Times LIVE

Businessmen and celebrities will embark on a motorbike ride across the country to commemorate Mandela Day on July 18, says the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

"I'm very privileged to be part of this wonderful initiative again this year. I can't wait to start my bike in this cold winter and make some hearts warm along the way," said singer Bok Van Blerk.

He will be joined by Isidingo actor Jack Devnarain, businessmen Brendon Neuper, Constant Visser, Bertus Prinsloo and Sean Shipalana, and radio personalities, foundation spokesman Sello Hatang said in a statement.

The 26 bike riders and their 15 support staff would leave Monte Casino in Johannesburg on July 11, and make their way through Gauteng, the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and parts of Swaziland.

They would devote 67 minutes of their time to activities at various community projects along the way, returning to Pretoria on former president Nelson Mandela's birthday on July 18.

"I'm inspired by the notion that we are not so much about charity as we are about empowerment, and again we will demonstrate throughout our journey that we are all responsible for our people, our country, our world," said Devnarain

"Through our actions we will remind people that we all possess the humanity that defines the Mandela legacy."

The riders include Survivor 2011 winner and Binnelanders actor Hykie Berg, Royal Elephant Hotel co-owner Gert van Wyk, Mandela's personal assistant Zelda le Grange, actor and producer Darren Kelfkens, 5fm presenter Anele Mdoda, and businessman Motheo Sekgaphane.

The 200 kilometre ride would take participants into more rural terrain this year, said Hatang.

Mandela Day is recognised as an international day of humanitarian action in celebration of Nelson Mandela's life and legacy during which people are called to devote 67 minutes of their time to serving their communities.

Italy on little wheels: The beginning of a VespaVenture

Italy on little wheels: The beginning of a VespaVenture | The Wanderer

It began, as these things so often do, over a bottle of wine after work.
The political scene looked pretty dismal in the wake of a recent party conference and there seemed to be nothing really special to look forward to for a while.
We fell to reminiscing about holidays we had taken together sailing in Greece, barging in France and camping in Namibia and Botswana.
By the time the pizza platters had been cleared and the second bottle flattened, we had agreed to explore Tuscany on genuine Vespa scooters. And so we shall.
Wyndham is a colleague of mine in the Press Gallery of the South African Parliament, his wife, Lize’t runs a marketing team and my 18-year-old son, Jed, is a soccer fanatic in the first year of a business degree at the University of Cape Town.
Lize’t’s condition for signing on was that we would spend a few days in Rome first. Mine was to add Venice, which I have never seen, to the itinerary.
Jed went ahead, via London, Amsterdam and Barcelona, but the workers wrapped up today and we fly to Rome tomorrow to begin our VespaVenture.
Wyndham and I have owned several Vespas over the years and now bike to work most days on BMWs as old as Jed, but Jed and Lize’t had to get bike licences and did.
The test was tough and would have been impossible without Vespa’s preparatory programme, which tells you what to expect. But the biggest challenge actually was to get a test appointment as more and more people dump cars for the freedom and efficiency of two wheels.
We ended up driving to the farming town of Malmesbury, about an hour north of Cape Town, to book a test, back to do the test and back again to collect the licences. But it’s done and the Malmesbury traffic officials were kind and efficient.
We have been passing a no-name brand scooter around between us these past few months for the newbies to get the hang of it and for the older hands to get used to little wheels again.
Now, after some foot slogging in Rome, we take a train to Pontedera, the Vespa HQ near Pisa, (see picture – complements of Google Earth – with the Vespa test track on the left) on Thursday to collect four shiny scooters from Piaggio and set off on a largely unplanned two weeks of exploring.
Jed and Lize’t will be riding 125s, which means we will not be allowed on the highways and that’s just fine. It also means they did not really need full bike licences because Italy allows you to ride up to 149cc on a car licence, but they’re glad they did.
We’re hoping to test some of the Vespa myths in the Piaggio museum and will report back.
For the rest it will be riding the legend on it’s home turf.
And you can follow us on Twitter at @VespaVenture

Toronto Hells Angels had a ‘no rape’ rule, court hears

Toronto Hells Angels had a ‘no rape’ rule, court hears -
“Criminals don’t have rules — they have a code,” ex-Hells Angel turned police agent David (Shakey) Atwell testified Wednesday, although it turns out his former biker outfit did have rules.

When police raided the Downtown Toronto Hells Angels clubhouse on Eastern Ave. in 2007, they seized a typewritten list of 23 rules. Prosecutors reproduced it in an agreed statement of facts.

Members must own a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. All “contact or use of heroin is strictly forbidden” as is the use of needles “for pleasure.”

At club functions, “there is to be no shooting off of firearms or setting off of fireworks.”

Rape is not allowed. Nor are “dealings” that will reflect badly on the club, with “no RIPS,” added in handwriting, referring to rip-offs.

Ironically, central to the Crown’s case against the Hells Angels is the rip-off of barrels of liquid GHB, known as the date rape drug but called “coconuts” by the bikers secretly recorded by Atwell during 18 months between 2005 and 2007.

In this instance, police stirred up chaos in the biker ranks by secretly seizing a large stash of illegal drugs in the midst of Atwell’s undercover operation, leaving a member in debt to B.C. drug dealers.

In May, a Toronto jury found the president, vice-president and two full-patch members of the Downtown Toronto Hells Angels chapter guilty of a drug conspiracy.

On Wednesday, Atwell looked relaxed as he finished testifying against the two remaining men arrested in 2007 during Project Develop, a massive police investigation.

Vincenzo Sansalone and Omid Bayani are charged with conspiracy to traffic GHB.

Living under a fake name in witness protection, he is one of the most prolific police agents in recent Ontario history, testifying for more than 100 days at five court proceedings since 2008.

Acting as a police agent from September 2005 to April 2007, Atwell is responsible for the drug trafficking convictions for 15 men, in addition to his former Toronto biker buddies.

He will earn $1,000 a week until after a Court of Appeal ordered retrial is heard in January, in addition to getting three $90,000 lump-sum payments and $1,850 in weekly expense money while setting up drug dealers.

Burly and wearing suits, he was escorted into court by two undercover police officers who sat nearby. There’s extra security outside the courtroom.

This week, Atwell corrected mistakes found in court transcripts and often addressed Justice Robert Clark directly. “I’m just trying to put it into context for his honour,” Atwell explained at one point.

Sometimes he used sarcasm or cracked a joke, describing how, while in Vancouver, he and a biker associate “walked by a movie set. To our surprise we weren’t asked as extras.”

He seemed to enjoy sparring with defence lawyers.

“Look, I’m not following you. I’m trying my best here,” Atwell told defence lawyer Greg Lafontaine who was vigorously challenging Atwell on whether his client — whom Atwell admittedly did not know well — had anything to do with settling the GHB drug debt.

On another occasion, Atwell told court he wanted to correct a mistake he hoped might “help the defence.”

Biker banned after 158mph ride

Biker banned after 158mph ride - News - Bearsden Herald
A motorcyclist who drove at more than 150mph in Cambridgeshire has been banned from driving, police have said.

The 23-year-old was caught travelling at more than 158mph along the A1 north bound on April 30, Cambridgeshire Police said.

It is thought to be the highest speed ever recorded in Cambridgeshire.

The man, who was riding a black Honda CBR 600RR, was racing another motorbike at 6.10pm when he was caught.

Officers eventually caught up with the rider in Sawtry, where they found that the bike had two defective tyres.

The man, from Bedford, admitted that he had been on his way to visit his girlfriend in Peterborough at the time of the incident.

The driver pleaded guilty to dangerous driving at Huntingdon Magistrates' Court on June 30.

Biker dies after falling and hitting head at anti-helmet protest

Biker dies after falling and hitting head at anti-helmet protest - The Daily Record
A motorcyclist taking part in a protest against a law forcing riders to wear helmets died when he fell off his bike and hit his head.

Philip Contos, 55, went over the handlebars of his Harley Davidson, smashing his head on the pavement, after he hit his brakes.

He was later pronounced dead at the hospital following Saturday’s protest in Onondaga, New York State.

Unlike the UK, in the United States wearing a helmet on public roads is not universally legally required.

But some US states, like New York, have mandatory helmet laws.

The helmet protest was organised by American Bikers Aimed Toward Education, known as ABATE.

The group lobbies against mandatory helmet laws, claiming they inhibit motorcyclists’ freedom.

Motorcycle club speaks about recent rise in biker gang violence

CTV Winnipeg- Motorcycle club speaks about recent rise in biker gang violence - CTV News
Members of the Rock Machine, including its president, spoke to CTV News about the recent biker gang violence on Winnipeg streets.

In the last few weeks, there have been a number of shootings and fire bombings, with police acknowledging officers have a gang war on their hands.

On Tuesday of last week, a house on Canberra Road was shot at. The next day, a home on Stranmillis Avenue was fire bombed and shot at. On Monday of this week, shots were fired at a duplex on Taft Crescent and a 14-year-old boy, who police said was an innocent bystander, was struck in the lower back.

Rock Machine members spoke to CTV News on Wednesday night. They didn't want their names used, however.

"In Winnipeg, we never shot a helpless 14-year-old kid and (never) tried to kill two elderly people collecting pensions," said a Rock Machine member.

"We have a code and ethics. If we have a problem with somebody we deal with it ourselves," said a Rock Machine member.

The members told CTV News they wanted to clear the air, countering media reports which they said were biased. Rock Machine members said they and their families and children have been the targets in the recent incidents.

"We are a motorcycle club not a gang. We want to ride our bikes and wear our patches. We don't want our kids walking down our front lawn and taking a bullet," said a member.

CTV News asked members of the Rock Machine when they believed the violence would stop. They said they didn't have an answer.

On Wednesday, Winnipeg Police Chief Keith McCaskill said officers would do as much as they can to disrupt gang activities