Definitely not your typical bikers

Bruce Fraser

Bruce Fraser

Any preconceptions I had about bikers being a bunch of hard-arsed, whiskey-drinking louts was blown out of the water faster than a politician denying involvement in Travelgate.

Invited to spend a couple of days with a bunch of HOGs (Harley-Davidson Owners Group), I licked my lips in anticipation.

Late nights, loose women and enough booze to sink the Titanic it promised to be a time to savour.

Imagine my surprise though when the bikers turned out to be a bunch of 50-somethings who spent more time discussing share prices, rand/dollar exchange rates and hip replacements for their ageing bodies.

In fact, I met more doctors, physiotherapists and other medical-related professionals than if I had spent time at a Discovery Health convention.

But one thing I will say about the Harley-Davidson crowd, they have deep pockets.

This much was in evidence at Sun City where we met and they dug deep, very deep, in aid of Tapologo Aids Hospice situated just outside Rustenburg.

Started in 1992 by Bishop Kevin Dowling, from the Catholic Diocese of Rustenburg, the hospice today helps more than 1000 people daily, both at the hospice and through its outreach programme.

A little more than a year ago it had a staff of 120 people - nurses, doctors, counsellors and other helpers. This figure has grown to more than 200 because of the ever-increasing number of patients.

"There is no slowing down," says Dowling.

"This pandemic is wreaking havoc in our communities and there is no end in sight.

"At the hospice we provide a place where people can come and die with dignity.

"We try and make their last few days, and often it may only be hours, as peaceful as possible.

"It is due to corporate sponsors such as Sun International and Platinum Mines and groups such as Harley-Davidson that we are able to help others in need.

"It is tough, but we have to do it," said Dowling.

Fifty-thousand rand was raised for the hospice and will be used to build more wards to cope with the ever-increasing demand for beds.

It was heart-warming to see the amount of money raised by the bikers who put on a tough exterior but underneath all the leather, tattoos, chains and attitude are hearts of gold.

Now let me sit back, pour myself a double Jack Daniel's, put on the Easy Rider DVD and dream about when bikers were really bikers.

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