This year, Wesley Meyer will have ridden motorcycles from 1962 onwards to 2019 – a total of 57 years in the saddle!
Wes joined the Vee Owner’s Group as number VO225 on 22 July 2008 with his Honda Shadow 750cc.
Almost 11 years later and at age 74, Wesley has earned the right to be a “Lifetime Member” – a privilege bestowed on any paid-up member over 70 years old and having achieved at least 5 years unbroken service. Along with retired member Chris Smit, he served as a Steering Committee member for the West Rand and currently enjoys the status of an active Formation Officer.
A Rock ‘n Roller by heart – Wesley boasts to be “semi-retired” and generates an income from his one man gig set up called “Wez Mayo”. He is featured here below playing his sweet sounds for us at the 2009 Birthday Bash.
Wesley relates his biking experience and involvement with VOG - entitling his story:
VOG - Still hooked after all these years
“One thing leads to another they say.”
It was July 2008 and I was doing a music gig at a friend’s 70th birthday party in Krugersdorp. During my first break, the birthday lady introduced me to an elderly couple at her table - Chris and Marie Smit - now-retired members VO190.
This was a turning point in my life.
I had purchased a 2005 Honda Shadow VT 750 cruiser the previous year, yet another great motorcycle amongst the many I have owned and ridden since 1962. Considering my passion for music, I named her my “Black Magic Woman”.
This Honda was my first V-twin motorcycle, as well as my first cruiser - having owned in-line street and single cylinder off-road bikes up until then.
Chris and Marie Smit were members of a motorcycle club called VOG, (the Vee Owners Group), where only owners of V-engined motorcycles of 600cc and above were allowed to join. They rode a Suzuki 800cc Boulevard and invited me to join in as a guest on the group’s next breakfast run.
Not being a “flying with the flock” type of person, I had only ridden in formation once before with another motorcycle club earlier that same year and that was okay, but just that – it was okay………
On the day of my first VOG breakfast run as a guest, it was certainly one of the coldest days in living memory for me on a motorcycle, despite me having ridden bikes since the early 60’s - and now being fully kitted out with all this protective gear!
Time to reminisce about some the “romances” I have had growing up in Krugersdorp……… My first bike was a 50cc Honda C110, which I acquired in November 1962 - the first 4-speed model! Here I am pictured below with my nephew – proud to be a biker!
I recall having to ride on this little Honda between Krugersdorp and Randfontein, when I first started work at the OK Bazaars in 1964 - that was when none of the protective and weather-resistant gear that we enjoy today was available in South Africa.
Picture this! Being a youngster at that time, we all endured the cold and rain on our bikes, be it with wearing my sister’s old pantyhose under my flannel pants for some warmth (no denims were allowed as office attire in those days…..) and wearing fleece-lined leather gloves with an extra pair of large welding mittens worn over that as well. Furthermore, additional attire included a vest, a woollen long sleeved shirt, a thick woollen or nylon jersey and a duffle coat. Also a scarf or two wrapped around the neck! Tally-ho….
For head protection - no full faced helmet, but only the open face type, with a bubble visor clipped on the front to provide some relief from the cold, rain and the odd bug colliding with your facial tender bits.
A little older now, here I am sporting my Yamaha 180cc twin in 1967.
Even later - Getting ready to compete in my first club event organised by the Transvaal Trials Club (TTC)........
So – now you know my pedigree - back to my story:
Cold was therefore not new to me, but this first day with VOG, was an icy exception!
The Biggles Run – 6 July 2008
The official report by Dave Davy afterwards confirmed the following:
“T’was a great ride that started for most of us with a departure from home at about 07h15 on this frost covered winters morn. That burning sensation kicks in when you get into 2nd gear and the chill factor increasingly becomes a component that finds body parts you didn’t know you had, and you think to yourself that dis ones gonna be eina!”
Stats for the day showed that I was the only guest biker, with Area Cells showing the following contributions:
Pretoria: 9 bikes / 17 persons / 1 car Centurion: 7 bikes / 10 persons / 1 car Midrand: 6 bikes / 14 persons / 1 car Westrand: 10 bikes / 18 persons Southrand: 3 bikes / 5 persons Eastrand: 3 bikes / 6 persons
Mmmm… times have changed – with the East Randers mostly topping attendance figures nowadays!
Backtracking to the collection point - It was about 07h30 when I arrived at Sasol Pinehaven Motors in Muldersdrift, already half frozen with the cold.
Here, I was introduced by Chris Smit to the West Rand members present, who instantly made me feel at home. There were some huge bikes there, up to 2000cc – quite overwhelming!
Here’s a pic of Chris Smit and I at Sasol Pinehaven a little later after I had become a member.
Hot coffee or milo was an absolute necessity in order to ward off the bite in your fingers. An attendance register of all the West Rand Cell members present was completed, including myself as first-time guest. I learned that VOG is made up of various cells around the country, such as East Rand, South Rand, Pretoria, and Western Cape etc, with each cell organizing a breakfast run on specified dates throughout the year.
After Chris explained the group’s formation riding rules to me, we set off for Alberton at about 07h45, riding in single formation one behind the other, or staggered, where safe to do so. All new to me, staggered formation was riding two abreast, not alongside, but the left side rider just a bike length behind the right side rider. Up front was the Road Captain, while at the rear end of the formation, was the Sweep.
The road captain gave hand and foot signals as we rode along, with each rider repeating the same signal down to the last bike in front of the sweep at the back e.g. a left leg pointed out and down towards the side of the road, meant a pot-hole or obstacle in the road – same for right foot. A left turn was indicated by left indicator on and left arm outstretched etc.
The sweep at the rear would ensure that passing traffic from behind did not interfere too much with the formation, e.g. moving over to the RHS lane on a dual highway, allowing the formation ahead to pass slower vehicles up front, without interference from vehicles coming from behind…….all very safety conscious and keeping to the speed limits. The sweep would also assist, if necessary, with any bike in the formation breaking down for whatever reason.
All very organized – I felt safe and relaxed.
After a refreshing ride on the highway and on arrival at Sasol Michelle Avenue, with wide eyes I saw that there were about 30-40 other VOG members with their bikes gathered in the parking lot.
Plenty of greetings and introductions were had, plus more coffee to warm the soul!
A meeting of about 10 members wearing yellow safety jackets (marshals) was called, while the rest of us continued socializing. This gathering was to discuss the route and appoint marshalling points on the ride to the Rand Airport in Germiston.
Off we went......
The general public on the roads seemed quite content to be stopped by these marshals and allowed the formation to ride freely through the intersections, possibly also enjoying the spectacle of all these big, roaring motorcycles riding together.
The pure excitement of riding with this formation for the first time certainly helped to subdue the wintery conditions somewhat!
Arriving at the Biggles restaurant at about 10h00, we parked our bikes alongside each other in an allocated parking space and took refuge inside!
Here I am looking a bit sheepish – but feeling at home with these friendly VOG people!
Inside the pre-booked restaurant, the tables were soon filled to capacity while everyone removed most of their weather protective gear – well not everyone, as some were still feeling the effects of the cold run and so stayed wrapped up a bit longer.
The breakfast buffet was ready and everyone lined up to pay and be served. A hearty breakfast it was too, with plenty of coffee to keep warm!
The founder and Chairman of the group, Dave Davy, then proceeded to welcome to all the members, as well as the friends and family present on the run. I was impressed by the attention paid to perfect strangers!
The atmosphere was certainly jovial and proved to be an outing of good friendship and biker brotherhood, where one was made to feel part of the group and not just an outsider.
After breakfast, most of us departed for the 1000 Bike Show at the nearby Germiston High school, where we enjoyed the exhibition and stalls along with numerous fellow bikers and classic motorcycle enthusiasts – motorcycle heaven!
I felt at home with this great bunch of people and joined VOG soon after, where I have remained an active member ever since and have plenty of great memories, enjoyed great trips and made good friends.
What an awesome experience, that I am still able to enjoy here in 2019. Love you guys.
Wesley and Mariette Meyer currently enjoy the status of being the oldest couple both riding their own vee motorcycles in VOG. Here they are - featured with their mean machines!!