Here it is. I promised I would give a couple motorcycle experiences. The biggest difference from the pedal-powered bike is that you didn’t have to pedal and you could travel at a faster speed (usually). Moving along on the well corrugated roads meant that you had to move pretty fast to keep from being shaken to pieces. I usually tried to follow the cow paths or foot paths that often paralleled the main road- they were a lot smoother. At the same time, that bee you ran into that was flying tail-end first and had it stinger ready for your chin really disrupted the journey! And, those “dog/spinning wheels/flapping trousers” (previous blog “village dogs seemed always to be enemies of spinning wheels and, plunging out of a village, would attack the bike’s wheels trying to bite them. It didn’t matter, front or back, but they always attacked with fury. As I kept on riding, and when they found they could not “catch” a wheel, they often turned on me – on my ankles, flapping trousers or legs that were moving in the pedaling or on the footrests on the motor bike” problems continued but I was able to outrun those nasty brutes!
My experiences began with a little 125cc Triumph. I think it had been used by at least 6 owners before it became mine and had a lot of engine problems.
Once, after a light rain, I was tooling down a foot path and I saw a bicycle coming up my direction. He moved the same direction as I did to let him pass; I moved the other direction and so did he. I moved back – hit a muddy patch and laid my bike down. I went flying but was unhurt (after all, the ground was soft and how fast can one travel on an African foot path?!?). The African on the bicycle jumped off his bike, let it fall to the ground and took off yelling, “I killed an Mzungu (white man), I killed an Mzungu!” Across the field he ran, yelling.
I stood up and, I guess, my yelling was louder than his. I yelled that I was unhurt and that he shouldn’t be afraid. He stopped, heard my voice and slowly made his way back. I showed him that I was uninjured and we had a good conversation. Soon both of us were on our respective ways. The next Sunday he showed up in church. I wish I could say that he accepted the Lord but I can’t. He shook my hand warmly and thanked me for not holding the accident against him.
My next motorcycle was a 350cc Matchless – a beauty! Much heavier, with a stronger engine and could travel faster. I even used it to take long roofing timbers to a remote school which I was re-roofing. The stuck out fore and aft on jury-rigged supports. Of course I had to watch the turns on those narrow African foot-paths but I managed! I wish I had a picture of how I did this!
Remember my blog from February 18, 2017? “About 30 miles away, on one of our other mission stations, the resident missionary saved “good” eggs for us. I usually dropped by to pick them up to take home when I went the 70+ miles to town for supplies. They were always well packed, wrapped in newspaper so they wouldn’t break on the rough roads we traveled.
This time, my safari to town was on my Matchless motorcycle. On my way home I stopped by for any eggs saved for us. There was a tin box full with the wrapped eggs and I tied the box onto the motorcycle carrier. Off I went, down the bumpy road, across the rough mbugas (seasonal cotton-soil swamps), through the forest and on home about 30+ miles away. All arrived safe and sound — or, rather, I did.
What I didn’t realize was that anything carried on the carrier over the back fender of the motorcycle at least doubles any road vibrations and bumps. And the eggs were back there! When I arrived home I opened the tin box to take out the eggs – they were well scrambled! And well mixed with pieces of news paper! What a mess – and waste!” Live – and, I hope, learn!
Then, later, we also had a little 75cc Honda – you know, the ones that were advertised as “You meet the nicest people on a Honda”? Anyway, it was good for short, quick trips and Carol used it from time to time (it was more lady-friendly) until – !!! I heard her come back from an outing followed by a loud yell. I ran out and saw the motorbike had fallen over as she tried to put it on its stand and the hot exhaust pipe was resting on her foot – and she was wearing flip-flops! I don’t think she rode it too much after that.
But this little bike was great, better than the Matchless, for getting to outchurches during the rainy season – mostly in getting across the flooded swamps. There usually were large clumps of grass in the swamps, growing up from the clay, and by pushing the Honda, with the engine running I was able to get across – from clump to clump – to the other side.
When the water in the swamp was deep, I had with me a long leather strap with a strong brass buckle that was about 2+ inches wide. I was able to pass the belt under the engine, buckle it and put my shoulder through the looped strap and lift the machine and walk carefully across. OF COURSE, I was a lot younger and stronger then (and wish for a return of those days)!
Transport, no matter of what kind, proved essential in ministry. I think back to “old time” pioneer missionaries who walked hundreds of miles in ministry as they visited villages and out churches. It made one give thanks for “progress” and especially for the Lord’s provision.
(pictures borrowed from the Internet)