Nothing is more calculated to drag the Twitcher out of retirement and away from Robert’s book of dead birds than German engineering at its most advanced. And I’m not talking here about the Mark 46 Panzer Tank (did I promise we wouldn’t mention the war?) but rather the elegance of two wheels travelling at 340km per hour between Clarens and Fouriesburg in rush-hour traffic.

As the actress said to the Bishop, nothing heats my seat like 1200 cubic centimetres throbbing between my legs. Speaking personally I rather like a 46 F-cup in slinky leather, but that’s just me. Point is that the golden-fingered engineers of Germany’s Federal Republic have contributed the raw material for a festival of note on the greening square of Clarens. Yes, the BMW Motorrad has arrived and overwhelmed us with showmanship, professionalism and shiny objects that travel at something approaching the speed of sound.

I find it hard to believe that simple human beings, even Bavarians, can twist metal into shapes that defy gravity and spray-paint them in such delicious colours. That might be the cocktails talking but never have motorbikes been so much fun, or looked so good (sorry Harley).

There is no way of calculating the fiscal benefits of the BMW event to Clarens but it is reasonable to suppose that the two or three thousand bikers here this weekend will return with family and friends in the next 6 months. And as the actress (also) said to the Bishop, it’s not the instant gratification that counts but the long-term satisfaction. Put that equation on top of steady growth in the town’s business fortunes and you have what one might call a no-brainer. There will of course be some villagers who resent the noise and the disturbance of their autumn years, but they are not likely to be dependent on the town’s business for their income. By contrast, guest houses, shops, restaurants and pubs might have a more benevolent view as the wider economy (and rugby fortunes) of SA goes south.

With hindsight wisdom, some locals might even admit to doubting the success and knock-on effects of the annual Beer Festival, now 5 years old and still going like a train. There is not a business in Clarens that has not benefited incalculably from this beer festival and the same, for better or worse, is likely to be said for the BMW Motorrad. Assuming it survives the Mother Grundy’s and becomes an annual event of course. And assuming BMW replants the square with lush green grass and puts the baby birds back into their nests.

Like most innovative events, the Motorrad will have its champions and detractors. Speaking personally, I haven’t had so much fun since I stalked Bigfoot on the mountains or crossed ducks with Guinea fowl to improve the flavour of my lonely stew. I have sympathy with villagers whose insomnia has suffered at the hands (guitars?) of young men in cotton vests or stunt riders whose tyre tracks have carved their way into our hearts and roads. But spare a thought for the traders of the town whose fortunes may yet hang by a thread if we don’t sustain our growth.

If all else fails, Hobhouse beckons those who feel overwhelmed by this intrusion. Just think, you could sell your house in Clarens and buy eight houses, a deceased hotel and a railway station with the proceeds, in that gentle town. And if you do decide to colonise the little town to the south, it is extremely unlikely that breweries or BMWs will come calling to spoil what remains of your visit to this planet.

The Twitcher

Author: Clarens Guide