On Friday morning (26 April) Johann Nothnagel, a software developer from Cape Town, left home on a 4000 km trip across South Africa on a Triumph Tiger 800. Nothing extraordinary about that, apart from the journey being an awareness campaign for Multiple Sclerosis (MS)*. And that Johann (58) suffers from it.
This disease causes the body’s immune system to attack the central nervous system. In Johann’s case it led to a loss of control over his right leg, so he has to use a crutch for walking. He also suffers from severe pain in both legs, a constant ringing in his ears and blurry vision. He has to wear special lenses when he rides.
On his round trip journey, that goes via Victoria West, Hoopstad, Parys, Pretoria, Durban, Umtata, Port Elizabeth and George Johann will speak to regional and local media and accept donations made towards Multiple Sclerosis South Africa.
Bikeroutes caught up with Johann just before he left Cape Town and chatted to him about the trip. He says endurance is the big issue. “I can’t ride more than 500-700 km per day as my body – especially my legs – grow tired. So I stop regularly to give them a stretch. But after the third day I’m riding fit,” he explains.
Two years ago Johann completed more or less the same journey on his trusty Buell Firebolt XB12R but recently decided to put it out to pasture. A Bikeroutes team member mentioned Johann’s proposed mission to Arnold Olivier at Triumph South Africa (KMSA) who decided to lend Johann a brand new Triumph Tiger 800 for the journey. Triumph added two large panniers and Johann fashioned a holster using good old PVC pipe, mounted in the rear of the frame, which holds his crutch steady while riding.
Johann has an excellent support system, and through various media as well as his Facebook page, Unchaining MS, he connects with other MS sufferers. Some of them have opened their homes to him where he stays during his trip through South Africa.
“For me, making more people aware of MS, and doing so by combining a big passion of mine, motorcycles, is the perfect assembly,” Johann says.
The journey continues. Follow Johann’s progress on www.facebook.com/UnchainingMS
Banking details for donations:
MSSA Western Cape
Account number 073 084 697
Tyger Manor branch code: 050 410
Use reference “Unchaining MS” and your name, please.
* This damage to the nervous system affects people in different ways, but all MS sufferers experience extreme fatigue, find it hard to balance, and may find all or some of their senses suddenly not working as they once did. MS cannot be cured and often has a devastating effect on the life of the person with MS and his or her family and friends. Read more at www.multiplesclerosis.co.za.
Report by Justus Visagie