Welcome to my blog, these are the ramblings and musings of an (upper) middle aged biker and if you enjoy braais, (barbeques) beers and motorbikes then hopefully you will enjoy what Janet and I do; we do lots of braais, we drink lots of beer and we tour South Africa on our motorbike, which at the moment is a BMW R1200RT. Join us, read about what we do and please leave us your comments.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Freedom Road rally 2015

Breakfast at the False Bay Wimpy was good, by the time we pulled in it was 10h30 and we had been on the road for almost two and a half hours.  Twelve bikes and sixteen people had left the meeting place, which this time had been at the Langebaan air force base, and at which there was some confusion, but we got out on the road on time. I must confess that I did not enjoy the route very much, heading down towards town on the N1, across on the R300 to the N2 on a Friday meant dicing with traffic which was heavy and which made it difficult for us to stay together but eventually we enjoyed breakfast together.
From there we climbed over Sir Lowry's Pass, enjoyable curves and fast straights but we fought with people who did not want to move over, almost simultaneously Jannie overtook a woman on the left as I passed her on the right, she seemed agitated as if she didn't know that all she had to do was pull over slightly to let us past.
We found a pub in Caledon and gathered for a beer, Divi our President said that he and Jannie who were both on CBR's were going to go ahead on the fabulous 80km road to Bredasdorp and they would wait for us outside the garage, I was not long after them after my two beers, both of which which seemed to improve the big red machine's cornering abilities.
Caledon to Bredasdorp, what a fabulous road! Most of the people who read this will know it? A great surface, wide shoulders and long sweeping bends, 180 to 200km/h means that it doesn't take long to get to Bredasdorp and I soon found Divi and Jannie;
relaxing with their bikes waiting for the rest to arrive. From there it is 30kms to Struisbaai and we arrived to find that our camp site had already been set up, what a bargain!
We were teamed up with "Knights of the skies"  an air force club from LangebaanWeg and they had carried our kit in a bakkie, not only that but they had arrived early and had erected all of the tents.

By the time that I had pumped up my mattress and had tried to put it in the tent, which was ridiculously small, it had started to deflate! I was longer than the mattress and it didn't fit into the tent, apart from that I slept on the ground for both nights.
But this is rally - right?

The first thing that the Meeulanders and the Knights do is light a fire; "Ons gaan NOU braai!", the guys are organised and they concentrate on relaxing and socialising. Good meat is on sale as is decent food, Frank and I ate a really good Eisbein and chips that evening, we needed to get our stomachs lined for the party that was to ensue!

Willie found a new friend, "Rocky" who stayed with him for the weekend.  As was usual our "village" had a comfortable Gazebo set up to keep us out of the rain which was a brief problem during the early hours of Saturday Morning.

My good friend and brother 'cois (Soy) a solid biker, and a genuine nice guy, as are most if not all of the club members.
The weather was not all that good on Friday evening, the wind blew and we had a little bit of rain but the party raged on, this was what me and my brother Frank are born for; and we partied on into the early hours, even after everyone else had gone to bed.
Christian Motorcycle Association Rallies are notoriously boring, sorry guys if you read this but it's true. By 03h00 we had nothing else to do but to call it a night! But fear not, I have some suggestions, I will let you know how you can improve the rally, stay with me.
I was awake early on Saturday morning, mostly because I was sore and stiff from sleeping on the hard ground, my mattress, which was smaller than my tent and smaller then me, had deflated during the night!
I was in search of a greasy breakfast, I visited the CMA coffee tent at 07h00 and then saddled up for the short ride down to Cape Agulhas.
It was cold as I rode along the coastal road, the ozone aroma of the crashing waves was fresh and incredibly intense, invoking memories of seafood excursions along this coast in years gone by. I was hoping for more incredible seafood later but for now I was in search of a memorable breakfast and I found it!
The Southern-most restaurant was barely open as I parked outside and strode in, "Bring me coffee and your best breakfast" I grunted as I sat down, still feeling rough I was the first one there but others soon arrived, the breakfast went down singing hymns.
The mass ride was soon to pass my way but I did not feel like joining in, instead I would take photos along the road and follow along,
I parked the big red machine, which is incredibly photogenic anyway, in a convenient spot and waited for the mob to arrive.
The run ended at the lighthouse at the southernmost tip of the African continent, which I learnt from a speech by the local Mayor is 166 years old, still in its original condition apart from some renovations but the original structure remains unchanged - "Ho-hum, time to move on."
I must mention that after a quiet, rather boring, babelaas day I went to have a late lunch at "Seagulls" pub and restaurant, I chose a strategic seat and ordered a glass of white wine, I had the most amazing filet of Yellowtail with chips and salad, the freshest I have ever had,
strategic because I could watch the young waitress with the short denim mini-skirt flouncing around the tables, I could see my motorbike parked below, I was a happy man, loose on the land and having an absolute ball!
Here is "Seagulls", she may still be there but even if she's not, the seafood is fantastic. 
Saturday night back at the campsite was somewhat quieter, we went to the main tent for the prize giving but we were not involved except for Frank who got a prize for the oldest rider, well done my buddy!
Who at any rally has not seen Frank rolling his own smokes? Often he has been asked for some of those by younger people who think he is rolling something more interesting!
I was up early Sunday morning, because I was sleeping on the ground! It was bloody cold at 03h30 and I stuck my head out of the tent, mainly because I wanted to straighten my legs. I lay on my back and looked up at the stars which were incredibly clear and bright, as I lay there contemplating our universe and my place in this massive spectacle I thought "Ah fuggit." and went back to sleep for a while.
The sounds of others packing their stuff reminded me that I must have slept for a little while and I made my way slowly to the ablution block and then to the CMA coffee tent for a cup of hot deliciousness, even though it was Ricoffee.
By the time I left the site it was 06h50 and I was looking forward to a different, if slightly longer way home, I wanted to take Janet for lunch so I had five or six hours, plenty of time to explore.
The temperature was 5,5 degrees celsius as I roared out of the small town, I was happy and looking forward to the day, I will tell you about this and my suggestions for the CMA to improve their rally in my next post - happy man signing off.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Our first club breakfast run for 2015

The first Sunday of the month, breakfast run and the members gathered at the Engen One-stop. It was another warm day and the destination was a restaurant in Citrusdal, a nice ride up the N7 and over the Olifantsrivierbege via the Pikenierskloof Pass. Something to look forward to, the last time I rode that way the temperature was at a killing 45 degrees, it wasn't that hot this time thank goodness.
By the time we had had our famous Wimpy coffee and had chatted with all our friends it was time to saddle up, seventeen bikes roared out of the car park and onto the R45, a nice turn out and five more were heading out from Capetown to meet up with us.
Div set up a healthy pace on his Harley and it was good to see the line of bikes owning the road, we rode through Mooreesburg and onto the N7 stopping for a smoke break just outside of Piketberg. We carried on and stopped up in the pass so that I could get some photos.
Pikenierskloof is a lovely fast road, well maintained with long sweeping bends and a favourite of bikers, because it is the main route up to Namibia it is very busy during the week but on Sundays it is mostly for us and we made good use of it.
 Only ten k's to the "Grapevine" restaurant and by the time we arrived it was warm but luckily the beers were cold.
Everyone divested themselves of their heavy protective clothing and settled into the cool shade, it had been a very enjoyable ride and it was time to relax and eat. As usual conversation revolved around bikes and the ride, what was supposed to be breakfast developed into a lunch by the time we ate but no one was in any hurry.
While we were there five others arrived having ridden up from Capetown, I didn't count the people but Frank said we were more than thirty - an excellent turn out for a breakfast run.

It was a buffet breakfast and the food was plentiful and delicious if rather pricey at R100 per head! By then I was hungry.
As is usually the case after breakfast most of us headed off in our own time but we agreed to stop at Plaasmol on the R45 just outside of Hopefield for a cold one, a bikers pitstop had been established there so it was a good call.

This was new to us, we had stopped here a couple of times in the past but only for coffee, now there's a bar - great stuff! They'll definitely see more bikers pulling in.

We met "Spitbraai" the Namibian lamb, I thought he was a goat but I was assured he was indeed a lamb, too young for the braai at the moment!
A beer or two there and it was time to head home, by then the wind had come up quite strong and we rode the thirty-odd kilometers to the R27 leaning into it. It had been a very good run with a nice bunch of people, the breakfast was good but I don't think I'll rush back there.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The good and the bad

As an addendum to the previous post I want to tell you about two incidents on opposite ends of the "enjoyment spectrum" that occurred, bikers will be able to relate;
I was on my way home on Thursday morning, barrelling along the N2 between Heidelberg and Swellendam, trying to keep within the speed limit and working on the assumption that 140kmh is not too far off. I really believe anyway, that there should be different rules for bikes.
I was thoroughly enjoying myself, the big red machine was purring under me and all was good with my world. The N2 is a nice road, good condition, nice and wide and it undulates and threads its way between the farms, over hills and through valleys when rounding a bend at speed I came up behind about a dozen cars stuck behind two smoke-belching 18 wheelers grinding their way up an incline. The double solid white line proved a boundary to the cars but not to me, they didn't have enough power to take the short gaps but I had plenty and I made use of it, leapfrogging the cars up the hill until I was behind the second of the big rigs.
In the distance I could see the sign indicating a dual lane overtaking area coming up and I flashed past the first of the rigs, as I overtook the second big rig they were entering the double lane and in my rear view mirror I saw the rig at the back pull out to overtake the first one, trapping the line of cars behind as they slowly climbed the hill next to each other (Don't you hate it when these buggers do that?). I had a big grin on my face as I wound it on and blasted away, I didn't see any of those cars again - serves them right for being in cars! I can imagine just how pissed off they were though.

The second incident which was more of an adrenaline surge and which helped to wake me up, occurred as I was approaching the traffic circle just outside of the town of Robertson, local bikers will know what I am talking about.
The circle was clear and I went in, flicked over left and then over right and I was in the circle, suddenly I heard some tires "chirp" next to me, I glanced to my left and saw a big silver mercedes right next to my rear wheel, this idiot cager had just run into the circle from the Bonnievale road and had seen me at the last minute, almost hit me! I gave him a friendly wave and contemplated stopping for a chat but I could see by the way he hung back right through the town that he probably didn't want to talk to me anyway, he learnt his lesson I'm sure but it could have been nasty.
For a four day 1,500km ride that was all I had to worry about, mostly good times.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Five days, Saldanha to Plettenberg Bay and back

Well I'm back home after a wonderful 1,500km round trip but man was it hot?! The hottest week we've had and I really felt it. I took my notebook with me but couldn't update on the road because I forgot my login password! Not much of a computer fundi, me!
I was packed and loaded on Saturday evening with pretty much only my toiletries to pack the next morning, Sunday dawned warm and clear and Janet's taxi picked her up at 08h00. I was ready to go shortly thereafter and rode out of town just after 08h30, loose on the land!
It's all pretty much familiar riding and the first two hours to Ceres where I stopped for breakfast, went by in an enjoyable flash. It being Sunday the Tulbagh Valley wasn't clogged with slow moving 18-wheelers as it usually is. On this stretch my odo clicked over to 100,000kms and the big red machine was purring, enjoying the ride as much as I was.
After a satisfying Wimpy breakfast I headed out along the R46 over the "Hottentotskloof" Pass, 83kms to the N1, it was really starting to warm up but as long as I was moving I was alright.
There was virtually no traffic about and I was able to open up a bit although once on the N1 it was down to 130km/h because there are speed gantries for quite a long stretch after Touws Rivier. The N1 is quite a pleasant ride, wide and well maintained and by 12h00 I was pulling into the parking area outside the pub in Maatjiesfontein. The beer was bitterly cold and I chatted with another couple of bikers who had had the same idea as me.
It was too early to stop there so I decided to press on, 156kms to Prince Albert, I had not been there before but the guys I was talking to assured me there was plenty of accommodation in the little town. I hadn't done any long distance riding for quite a while and my saddle muscles clenched up again as I lowered my butt onto the seat, out on the N1 again and cruising, 112kms to the intersection felt like quite a long haul in the midday heat but it wasn't too long before I turned off onto the R407 and what a lovely ride that was!
Typical Karoo riding, I had not been along there before so this was all new to me, 44kms hot and dry with the rugged Swartberg mountains a pale blue "massif" on the horizon, I would be enjoying them the next day but in the meantime man alone with just the blat of my engine to keep me company, it was all that I needed and all too soon I was parked outside the Prince Albert Hotel in the main street of the little village. I had ridden 470kms for the day and I was feeling it.
It turned out to be a very pleasant place to stay and I was glad that I had decided to press on, the accommodation was reasonably priced, a comfortable air-conditioned room and a delicious Karoo lamb shank for dinner. I had a good night's sleep after some time spent in the bar chatting to Jay, one of the friendly managers over a few cold beers.
After a good breakfast the next morning I was ready to roll by 08h00 and from the look of the scenery just outside of the town it was going to be an enjoyable ride;
 this was all new countryside for me and I had plenty of time to explore as I was only due in Plettenberg Bay on Tuesday and that was only some 260kms away. There are two routes to take to get to Oudtshoorn; via the Swartberg Pass or via Meiringspoort, the former is quite a bit shorter but is a gravel road pass which was not an option for me so I stuck with the tar road and what a ride that is, Meiringspoort is awesome! I don't often use the word "awesome", in fact I think the last time I used it was when I watched a Dolly Parton music video, Meiringspoort is also deserving of that adjective.
It is about 22kms long, carved through the mountains the road follows the course of the river and in that short space it crosses the river 26 times!
 There are myriad hairpin bends as a result and on many of the crossings there was sand over the road as a result of a recent flood, it is by no means a fast ride but you wouldn't want it to be because there is just so much to see.
I stopped many times just to experience the deafening silence of those canyons and to marvel at the craggy mountains seemingly hanging over the road. I was sorry to ride out of the mountains and eventually into the outskirts of the city of Oudtshoorn where I stopped briefly to buy a new pair of sunglasses, those that I had had been digging  into my head for the past day and a half!
From there I rode the also unfamiliar R328 through the Robinson pass to the N2 at Mosselbay, at the top of the pass I encountered light rain and as I am not a fan of wet hairpin bends I took it really easy on the way down.
It is 56kms to Wilderness where I stayed the night after riding through to Sedgefield for a beer at the "Pili-Pili" bar, I eventually found the place, right on the beach but it was closed for spring-cleaning.
A deliciously fresh cob filet at the "Blue Olive" was my dinner with a bottle of cold Sauvignon Blanc as I watched a replay of South Africa's game against the West Indies with Abie's fantastic record breaking innings. Great stuff!
Breakfast the next day was adequate and I only had a short ride to Plett., some 60kms away, I did some exploring along the coast and also stopped for coffee at the waterfront in Knysna before arriving at my sister's house at about 11h00 where I spent a lovely two nights with my family.
Thursday morning, time to get back on the road and it was getting hotter, I decided to stay on the N2 rather than head inland for as long as I could, the road was much busier, lots of traffic but you don't get held up behind 18-wheelers when you are on a bike! I was loving it.
I stopped for a favourite breakfast just outside of Mosselbay and by then I had made up my mind which way to go, in March last year riding back from the Buffalo rally I had taken the same route; N2 to Swellendam then through Ashton, Robertson and Worcester. Decision made I blasted out onto the highway, I travelled at just above the legal limit, just to stay safely ahead of the traffic and was cautious going through the towns. I did not envy the people in their air conditioned cages as I flashed by, I was having a blast.
Later on the Swellendam/Ashton road I pulled over for a water stop, the temperature was 33 degrees by then and I knew that it was going to get hotter the further inland I went.
I stopped for a bitterly cold draught beer in Worcester where the temperature had climbed to 37 degrees and there wasn't a breath of wind, on the R43 from Worcester to Wolseley I encountered the first of two "Stop/Go's" and as luck would have it I had to stop!
 Ten minutes in the sun can seem like an eternity! My luck was in at the second one and I cruised on through, an hour and a half to Saldanha and as I rode into the influence of our beautiful bay and lagoon the twelve degree drop in temperature was a welcome relief.
It had been a most enjoyable trip in spite of the heat, which at times was seriously oppressive, it was wonderful to spend time with my sister, my niece and nephew and to travel some unfamiliar roads which I am keen to do again. I would not rather have been in my air-conditioned car, I would do it again but in the meantime the big red machine is overdue for a service.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The trip - it's not the destination, it's the ride.

I've got my trip planned, I've packed my stuff and I've studied the map, the big red machine has new Michelins on. I'm leaving tomorrow morning (Sunday) and I'm really psyched up about the ride.
It all came about when Janet told me that she had to go to Durban for a week, I've had a very stressful time at work over the past couple of months so I thought "Why not take a week off and ride somewhere?" An ideal opportunity to visit one of my sisters and one of my lovely nieces in Plettenberg Bay on the famed Garden route.
I'm going to take a slightly longer route getting there and a different one coming back, so far I'm heading up to Ceres and then through to the N1 and up to the historic village of Matjiesfontein where I will probably spend the night. I'm not going to book any accommodation, I'll ride until I'm tired and then find somewhere to stay.
From there the next day I plan to carry on up the N1 to Prince Albert Road, through Prince Albert to the N12, through Oudtshoorn, George and then along the N2 to Plettenberg Bay. I'm going to take my time and explore, planning to arrive in Plett on Tuesday and head back homeward on Thursday morning.
This is coming with me! I'm hoping to write up on the road every evening if I stop in Wifi places, we'll see how that goes but I will definitely be writing it up so stay with me. One thing is for sure, my mobile phone will be off until I want to phone Janet!