The Dirt Guys Group

Johan du Preez's picture

Points: 6

The Dirt Guys Group. Some of the longer standing members (perhaps more often longer sitting down nowadays than longer standing members) of our illustrious motorcycle club may remember this name from years gone by.

It was the time when our club haven’t had a website, Facebook or any of the modern marvels of electronic communication. (We did have cellphones, though, but often we were too scared to use them as the technology was a bit, uhm, intimidating at the time.)

I’m digressing…

The Dirt Guys Group happened many years ago when Trefco and Auto Atlantic were the two BMW motorcycle dealers in Cape Town. And as things happen with other things in a man’s life, also many years ago and even before that, you had to choose between important things. You were, for example, either a Ford or Chev supporter or a Cortina or a Valiant man. Along the same line we found that many of the BMW riders in our wonderful city were either Trefco or Auto Atlantic men. (“Men” - hokaai, I’m not being sexist here. Those were the days when men were men and women were the pillion riders. No women riders, as far as I can remember. At the same time “as far as I can remember”, at my age, doesn't necessarily go back far enough into the chronicles of history to remember the exact detail of that era gone by.)

I’m digressing…

At Trefco, a dashing John Carr was the man to speak to if you wanted to buy your dream BMW machine. At Auto Atlantic you could choose between a mischievous Johan Booyens and a candid Neil Berry to make you part your money before riding down that daunting Auto Atlantic ramp into the freedom that motorcycling offered.

Now, at the time we already had a BMW motorcycle club in Cape Town. And as it goes with all things in life, there were those who were pro-club and there were those who were anti-club. The pro-clubbers looked forward to each second Sunday’s rather challenging breakfast ride to faraway places like Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek and, if they really wanted to go extreme, to Hermanus. All of this happened on tar and on road bikes. GS was still an unknown and frowned upon entity at the time.

The anti-clubbers sniggered when they referred to the pro-clubbers as the Old Men’s Breakfast Club.

I’m digressing…   

Entered the BMW 650 GS and the BMW 1100/1150 GS sensations of motorcycling! And as with all new things, those who knew all about motorcycling (read: Old Men’s Breakfast Club…) also knew how to frown upon these newcomers that had the potential to upset the very foundation of the world of motorcycling. Who will ever buy something that’s neither a road bike, nor the scramblers from “On any Sunday”, that iconic movie of off-road motorcycling at the time?

But, some of us did venture to the Carr, the Booyens and the Berry to part with our money in exchange for these new phenomena in the world of two wheels and an engine.

But we wanted to belong somewhere. The pro-clubbers were ready to fall in with the BMW motorcycle club. But, The Old Men’s Breakfast Club wasn't really ready for us yet. The anti-clubbers, on the other hand, just wanted to ride off into the sunset, but still needed some form of a base to do it from.

Arrived The Dirt Guys Group!

Someone in his wisdom (“his” – see my note above about not being sexist…) decided to utilize the wonders of e-mail and created an e-mail group – The Dirt Guys Group. Owning a GS and being a privileged member of this exclusive group meant that you could send an e-mail out which sommer automatically in one go reached all the members of the group with one push of the send button. Wonderful! We were connected! We were able to share and communicate everything to do with our GSs and riding in the dirt!

The problem, however, came when each member of the group started to reply. Each reply landed in your inbox as a new e-mail – almost like modern day’s WhatsApp groups. Incoming and outgoing Dirt Guys e-mails never stopped.

And I was frowned upon and had to explain to my boss at the time when a female colleague at work noticed the string of unread Dirt Guys Group e-mails lying in my inbox at work. Thinking back, the name perhaps did have a suspicious and bodily ring to it which could have caused the uninformed to wonder what it really was all about.

But then, this happened at a time when men were men, and female colleagues were permitted to be suspicious of GS riders.

So, dear readers from today’s much younger BMW motorcycle generation, there you have it! You now know about the hardships and shame that we, the older GS riders had to suffer at a time when we were even hesitant to acknowledge that we were riding those wonderful machines. But today we are proud about the pioneering work that we’ve done. Together with the Carr, the Booyens and the Berry we’ve opened up a whole new world that pro-GS clubbers and non-GS clubbers can enjoy today.

Next time when you ride off on your state-of-the-art GS to those places far-far away, spare The Dirt Guys Group a thought. If it weren't for us, you’d probably be doing the trip on some fancy road bike. Even worse, you may find that there would still be those from the Old Men’s Breakfast Club wondering how anybody with a right mind can even consider venturing further from Cape Town on a motorbike than the Du Toitskloof Pass!



Andyman's picture
Joined: 2007/06/22

Oom Johan,

Thanks for that piece of history.

Living history

In 1997 I bought a 1980 R100RT, from Christian Walser of the Strand, a legendary bike rebuilder in his own right. 

Back then, as you say, everyone bought a road bike or a scrambler, but not an in-between hybrid.

Neil Berry tried for years to get me to buy a GS, and so did Dave Higgs when he joined Atlantic.

I owned a succession of the RT's and upgraded regularly at the amazingly high kilos of 60 000 kms... the 1150 RT then the 1200RT, I think two or three of each in turn.

The RT still remains one of my most favorite bikes.

We avoided John Carr, because he was a long haired hooligan, who, if he was not racing a boxer at Killarney, was riding a mix bike on gravel roads further away than Paarl.

Or just round the corner by Durbanville.

I only bought a GS because of two things, in Jan 2007.

1 My wife rebelled as a pillion and bought a GS and wanted to ride herself and went on gravel.

2 We were fast running out of tar roads and had to ride not less than 450 km or so to find a less-travelled tar road to tour.


In 2007, I joined the BMWMCC and there was a mad man called Geoff Russell, who took rides off road, not just off the tar, but off the road.

Apparently he was the type of guy mothers warn their daughters about.

So I liked him immediately.

And now, ten years later, after 2 GSA1150's and one 1200 GSA

I have done more than 800 000km of sheer riding pleasure on BMW bikes, half of those off the tar and  many in the wonderful company of both John Carr and Geoff Russell.

Guys who mentored me through  my GS intro and gave me so much with the club, that I started giving back...

My current gSA of 12 years has 200 500km and still taking me to the most awesome places.....

Anyone can ride a bike fast....   But can you ride your bike real slow???

Johan du Preez's picture
Joined: 2007/06/20

OOM Johan? He-he-he... I attribute the OOM to your sharp sense of humour, Andy. Obviously nothing to do with my vintage! smiley

GeelKameel's picture
Joined: 2007/06/21

Die Dirt Guys Group was lank gelede, voordat ek begin motorfiets ry het. En die BMW klub nog klein (en jonk?) was.

Later, rondom 2005/2006 was Johan voorsitter van die BMW klub. Die klub was meestal Roadies georienteer. Die GS ryers was volop maar elkeen het maar sy eie ding gedoen. 

In 2006 het die stofpadryers (met GS fietse) alreeds so baie geword dat Johan (en Adriaan de Bruyn) besluit het om die "GS Initiative" te reel. Hulle het 'n saamtrek geroep sodat die GS ryers hulself meer georganiseerd kan reel om in groepe saam te toer.

Aanvanklik was die BMW klub bang dat die GS Initiative die klub sou laat kwyn (omdat daar so baie GS'e was en hulle meestal nie aan die klub behoort het nie), maar mettertyd het die hierdie "GS Initiative" deel geword van die BMW klub en die naam GS Initiative het toe  verdwyn. Rede: die klub het dinge gedoen soos wat die ouens dit graag gedoen wou he', en het by die klub aangesluit. 

Hierdie foto is geneem daardie dag voor die Protea hotel in TechnoPark, toe die GS Initiative begin het.

Wie onthou dit? En wie was almal daar?


Ek onthou daardie dag baie goed vir twee redes:

Vier maade voor daardie dag het ek die GeelKameel by Adriaan de Bruyn gekoop. Ek was vuur-en-vlam vir grondpadry.

En op hierdie GS saamtrek het ek my eerste Sidestand Insident gehad .... die sidestand het in die sagte grasperk ingesak en die GS het omgeval (gelukkig op sagte gras!)



Johan du Preez's picture
Joined: 2007/06/20

Danie, hier is 'n paar foto's van die dag toe ons die eerste keer oor die GS Initiative begin gesels het. Kyk mooi, jy is op die tweede foto van bo af...


Zanie's picture
Joined: 2013/11/21

Interesting "history lesson". Thanks!

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