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.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Meeulanders breakfast run February 2017

Our first breakfast run with me as President of the club and I had no idea how many members would turn up, I sent out the Whatsapp reminder on the Wednesday and made a phone call to the restaurant in Melkbos that I had chosen as the breakfast venue. I told the manager that I had no idea how many people it would be but that I would phone him at 09h30 on the Sunday morning to tell him and he was alright with that.
from a picture by Gerrie Pieterse

We arrived at the meeting place at 09h00 and already there was a good crowd there, this was great! Janet got us some coffee and we chatted with the bikers, during this time more and more were arriving!
By 09h25 I had a list of 27 names handed to me by the acting Road Captain Johan and was told that two more were coming! I phoned the restaurant and the manager said "Oh I'm sorry Sir but I don't think we can accommodate such a large group, we get very busy on a Sunday." Thanks for telling me that now! I told him I was bringing 29 hungry bikers and we'll talk then.
09h30 briefing and I told the people there may be a problem but let's go see, nobody was concerned and kickstands went up, I led the ride out onto the R27 headed south and kept the speed at a reasonable 120 to 130kmh to keep the ride together.
It was a beautiful mild, sunny day, ideal for a ride, the wind was likely to be a factor later but that would be behind us and would push us home. Although the road was busy most cars and trucks moved over to let us past (except for the asshole in the green jeep!), on gradients I could see the long line of lights following behind me and what an impressive sight it was!
The pre-arranged stop was in a layby about two thirds of the way and we pulled off the road, pretty much all together.

At this stage it is traditionally "Tea time" and Johan had brought the bottle but he was worried that one bottle would not be enough for so many people!
 As Gerda poured the tea the crowd drew nearer, almost sensing that there was alcohol and I think everyone got a shot, at least I didn't hear any complaints. After about 20 minutes or so I called for kickstands up again, I wanted to get to the restaurant before 11h00 to see what our options were going to be.
As it turned out the staff had made some arrangements for us and after more tables and chairs were assembled most of us were able to sit inside, a few elected to sit outside which was probably better anyway as it was by then quite warm.
from a picture by Gerrie Pieterse  

picture by Gerrie Pieterse

 Waiting for beer! It was a bit chaotic at first and the wait for beer and then the breakfast was rather long but in all fairness they did their best and we did all get fed. Some of the guys elected to have lunch instead of breakfast and declared the food to be very good so all in all the staff at the newly named "Castella Amare" in Melkbos did a good job dealing with what must be a nightmare, a group of 29 people all arriving together in the late morning.
We had a festive time as only a bunch of bikers can and headed off for home in the early afternoon, Janet and I stopped for a beer at the Juffroeshoogte pub for an ABF and then home.
A big thanks to the twenty five club members, three prospects and three visitors who took part in the run, I cannot remember when last we had such a large group and it was heart-warming to be a part of it.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Meeulanders AGM and election

It has been a bit of a hectic time, last week we went right across the country to visit Janet's sister in Richards Bay. Our intention had been to make it into s bike trip, for which purpose Janet took five days leave. Richards Bay is just over 1800 kms from Saldanha via the shortest route so we thought we could take three days to get there, spend two there and then take another three getting back.
I got quite excited making the plans, as always before a long trip I haul out the maps - paper ones, not digital! I plan routes and possible accommodation stops but I do use the computer to check what's in the towns and where the restaurants and pubs are.
Anyway plans were on the go when I heard that the Meeulanders monthly meeting had been brought forward a week, this was to be the AGM and the election for the new President. I had known this but had completely forgotten it. After discussion Janet suggested that we should cancel the bike trip and fly up to Durban on Monday, hire a car and drive to Richards Bay and that way we could be back in time for the meeting. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement!
This was waiting at the Avis rental area at King Shaka airport in Durban when we arrived. That's not what we drove off in though, this was......
There was one consolation, the weather on the Monday was absolutely atrocious, gale force winds and driving rain and that would have been the day we arrived on the bike. We had a nice visit with Janet's sister and family and flew back on Wednesday.
The meeting on Thursday was amazing, all but two of the members were there, one just out of hospital recuperating and one away at work. I had the absolute honour of being elected President for the coming year! I was absolutely amazed, I did not expect it but I accepted with pride and will do my best to maintain the very high standards set by my illustrious predecessor, the late Divi DeVries for whom I had enormous respect.
The first Englishman in the twenty year history of the Club? I think so and it will be easy to check, what were they thinking! Anyway a really big "Thank you!" to the members of the Meeulanders Motorcycle Club for your confidence in me.
There it is, an amazing time and a new chapter serving the Club which in a relatively short time has become such a big part of my life.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Part 4 of the 1984 tour, back to Windhoek and Grunau

It had been a very interesting visit to Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, some very nice pubs and restaurants and our self catering accommodation was comfortable but Monday morning it was time to start retracing our steps all the way back to Grunau, after that we would be in unfamiliar country on our way to Capetown down the west coast.
As it was only 300kms back to Windhoek where we had decided to spend another night we were in no particular hurry, so we made a slap-up breakfast out of food left in our fridge but as it was we gave a lot to the staff.
The ride back to Windhoek was uneventful, hot but pleasant and we booked back into the same hotel. We all had warthog steaks in the beer garden for supper and a couple of beers, not particularly looking forward to the next day's ride all the way down to Grunau.
The following day passed in a sweaty blur, 660kms of all too familiar sandy countryside punctuated by a couple of bitterly cold beers now and then. We were all glad when we arrived at the Grunau Hotel in the late afternoon, and as it was again Tuesday night we knew what to expect! The food was the same very nice Karoo lamb and the wine was the same Grunberger Stein, the beds were the same very comfortable ones and as the generator was switched off I settled into a deep sleep looking forward to unfamiliar roads the next day.
Remembering the breakfast the last time we were there we all agreed to pass this time and we set off at around 08h30, it's 140km to "Vioolsdrift", the South African border on the banks of the Orange river, at that time of the day it was pleasant riding and we notice a gradual changing in the scenery, the countryside changes from desert scrub to "Namaqualand" bush and we start seeing the first hints of the wildflowers that cover the area at this time of the year.
Parked on the banks of the Orange river, a motorist stopped and advised us not to park our bikes like that because 18 wheelers come down there at speed and would probably hit them, we hastily mounted up and moved on!
By then we were in amongst hills and mountains, the N7 was fantastic but I had almost forgotten how to ride in corners!
By 11h30 we reached the town of Springbok and found a restaurant where we could have a brunch, all hungry and thirsty and as the place was unlicensed I bought supplies at a nearby bottle store. Back on the road and it was much more interesting by then, through small towns; "Garies" and "Newerus" and eventually by 15h00 we reach "VanRynsdorp". We were all for stopping there for the night, we had been battling with sore saddle muscles for a while but Eddie had been to "lambert's Bay" on the coast before and thought we should press on, "It's only another 144kms." he said, "It'll be easy." he said.
That was a long ride though I must admit the scenery was fantastic but we started battling with strong cross winds that we were to discover can be a feature of riding on the west coast. We arrived at the hotel in Lambert's Bay in the late afternoon, by then I was really tired, it had been a 640km ride and we needed to get off the bike.
 We put our stuff in our rooms and then went for a walk, I was not ready to sit down anywhere! It is a fairly picturesque little fishing town with a very interesting bird sanctuary on a small rocky island in the harbour. We were able to stroll around enormous colonies of Seagulls, Cormorants, Terns and Penguins which was very interesting if you could put up with the almost overpowering smell of guano!
A pleasant enough meal at the hotel, a couple of drinks and bed. Only some 300kms the next day to Capetown, I slipped into a trouble free sleep, 6000kms completed on the trip so far.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Part three of the 1984 tour

Going through my diary of the tour I read that we left Grunau just after 08h00, I do remember that it was getting very warm by then and as we rode further north the hotter it became. We were heading into the Kalahari desert scrub, 78kms to the little village of Keetmanshoop where we filled the tanks and then decided that our next stop would be Marientaal, 166kms further where we would find cold beer.
I noted that it was 12h30 when we pulled into Marientaal so we must have been travelling very slowly although we did have a roadside stop for Eddie to carry out some repairs to his intercom set which had packed up.
Two bitterly cold Windhoek Lagers each at the hotel and then back on the road after topping up the tanks, next stop Windhoek. The road is dead straight for mile after mile, you see the road disappearing into the distance, you top a rise and again see it heading straight to the far horizon, quite boring and very hot, we sat and rode on and on.
With 187kms to go my bum was sore and I could feel Janet shifting around behind me, we stopped for a leg stretch but also I could hear a faint squeaking noise coming from my front wheel which I wanted to check. The axle and hub were warm to the touch but not overly so.
Back on the road and just at the small settlement called Rehoboth the noise becomes quite loud, we decide to take it easy the rest of the way and reached Windhoek just around 17h00.
Windhoek is a beautiful, clean cosmopolitan city where you hear English, Afrikaans and German being spoken alongside the African language. We found accommodation in the Thuringa Hof hotel on Kaiser street and settled down happily.
A couple of beers, a delicious meal in the beer garden and early to bed after a tiring day.
We spent the next day in Windhoek and my front wheel bearings were replaced at the bike shop, we had a pleasant relaxing day and another good meal at the hotel that night.
 Windhoek to Swakopmund, our destination on the west coast is only 300kms so no great rush, then it was proper desert riding, especially as we neared the coast.
Sand with a ribbon of tar running through it, our accommodation was the 'A' frame cottages just outside of the small town, very comfortable cottages but no shade or lawn at all.
We make ourselves comfortable and an evening braai was excellent, as the sun sets it gets quite cold there. We arrived on Friday evening and only planned to head back to Windhoek on the Monday morning so we had plenty of time to relax and explore, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, about 30kms down the coast are very interesting places so we had plenty to do.
 Playing on the sand dunes between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay the next day, there are some very nice restaurants and interesting pubs and we spent a very pleasant weekend.
 Sunday was hot but we were determined to have a braai anyway and it turned into quite a piss up, we weren't going anywhere until the next day so we enjoyed ourselves. Besides it was only 300kms back to Windhoek, we watched the sun set over the sea and stumbled off to bed.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A heartwarming tale of biker caring, Logan's ride.

We interrupt this riveting narrative from the past to bring a heartwarming tale of biker generosity and caring from the Eastern Cape, especially heartwarming at this time of the year.
There is a youngster living in Capetown who was on holiday with his family in a little village  called Komga about fifty or so kms to the north of East London, his name is Logan and he is a big fan of motorcycles, according to people who know him he is an awesome little guy who is unfortunately losing the use of his legs.
As it was his birthday Carol, a family friend contacted the Christian Motorcycle Association in East London to ask if it was at all possible for them to do anything special for this little boy. Now we all know what bikers are like, they will jump at something like this and so it was that a bunch of guys and gals from East London rode out to Komga to meet and greet little Logan.
Logan was given special badges and gifts and was taken for a ride on one of the bikes.
The riders spent some time with the family, offered a prayer and even gave other children a ride as well,
Here is my great nephew (my nephew's son) Colby also having a ride.
Well done to the guys from the C.M.A in East London, this is what being a biker is about and congratulations to Logan on his first ride, let it not be the last my boy - go for it!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Part two of the 1984 tour

In my diary I noted that we left Kuruman at 10h00, obviously not in too much of a hurry then but we had a long way to go. It was hot there in the southern parts of the Kalahari and the road was pretty much arrow-straight, we rode for hours through the heat seeing the road ahead shimmering in the distance. Over a slight rise and there ahead another dead straight road.
Eventually the town of Upington appeared in the distance, green "oasis-like" on the banks of the Orange river and it was a pleasure to cruise into the clean streets, we sought and found a nice place to relax and drink a cold beer but it was too early to stop for long. Press on! Back out into the baking hot countryside, more dead straight roads,
Just before the village of Ariamsvlei where we stopped to refuel, we crossed into South West Africa and so it was that in the late afternoon, with no previous arrangements we arrived at the intersection with the N7 and the dusty little enclave called "Grunau". We rode down a short gravel road to a rather nondescript looking hotel and as I stopped the bike Janet got off and declared "We're staying here tonight!" After 660kms on the bike she wasn't going any further.
Eddie went in to check if we could get accommodation and after about twenty minutes came out carrying four frosty cold cans of Windhoek Lager, man did they go down well! He had also secured two double en-suite rooms so all was good.
 After finishing our beers we showered and got comfortable and met in the bar, it was a Tuesday evening and there was nobody else there, we had the place all to ourselves and after another couple of drinks we went into the restaurant, also empty, the hand written menu offered "boiled meat", "roast meat" and vegetables we all opted for the roast and it turned out to be the most delicious Karoo lamb that we had eaten in a long time.
I asked for a wine list as we wanted some wine with our meal and was asked; "Do you want a big bottle or a small one?" and when I asked what kind of wine they had the waitress gestured for me to follow her, through in the bar the wine fridge was opened and there were big and small bottles of Grunburger Stein, nothing else so I selected a big one and we had another later. The meal was excellent.
After dinner we returned to the bar, which was still deserted and we were told that it would close at 22h00, that the lights would go out but we could take out glasses to the room, no problem then?
We sat happily chatting until just before 21h00 when suddenly we heard the sounds of many vehicles roaring into the gravel parking area outside the hotel! What the hell was going on? The doors were flung open and about twenty people crowded into the bar, families, children, khaki clad farmer types lined chairs up infront of the TV and the shouts of "Dubbel brandewyn en coke aseblief" (Double brandy and coke please" filled the bar as the all too familiar strains of the "Dallas" soap opera theme tune was heard above the din!
We couldn't believe it! Tuesday evening at nine, even up here Dallas took over. After the program was finished the families left as suddenly as they had arrived and true to the word the place closed, the generator was switched off and we stumbled to our rooms in the dark to finish our drinks by candle light.
We had a good comfortable night, the room and the bed was clean and I slept the sleep of the dead.
 The Grunau hotel at the junction with the N7, clean and comfortable and good Karoo lamb.
The next morning after a mediocre breakfast of cold eggs and thickly sliced bread we got ready to hit the road, this day we had decided to go all the way to Windhoek, the capital which was another 660kms away and again it was going to be a hot one. Loving it.

May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, have a great day and a lovely weekend and if you don't celebrate Christmas then have a great weekend anyway, all the best to you and yours.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

A very long time ago

Nothing much happening around here as far as rides are concerned, we had the club's year end party and we were out of town when the last breakfast run for the year took place. I take the bike out and go for a run every now and then to blow the cobwebs out of the zorst pipe but we have no plans for any trips for a while. Also it is so bloody hot here at the moment, quite debilitating but that doesn't mean we won't ride.
Christmas is just around the corner, I am going to help out on the mussel farm for thirteen days from Monday while the boat skipper goes on leave so our next ride will probably only be sometime in January.
Janet and I were reminiscing over what she calls the best holiday she has ever had; our 1984 bike trip around South Africa during which we did 8,631kms in a month on the road. Thirty two years ago now, I find it hard to believe it was that long ago because the memories are still fresh.
At that time we were living in the Eastern Cape and we did an anti-clockwise trip around the country, up to the North-eastern Transvaal, across the country through Johannesburg and the Karoo to the North West, up through then South West Africa to Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, then all the way back down the west coast to Capetown, up the Garden route and back to the Eastern Cape.
It started off badly, intermittent heavy rain for the first two days, I had painted the sign for the back of my bike and at that stop an older gentleman said to Janet "You can't tell me that you're having fun!" but actually we were.
Four of us traveled together; my late friend Eddie and his wife Althea on their Honda Silverwing 500, and the two of us on our XS1100 Yamaha.
 By the end of the second day the rain eased and then stopped and for the rest of the month we had excellent weather until the last two days when it rained again.
 A lot of our accommodation on the trip consisted of caravan park chalets and a lot of our catering consisted of braais. Some days we rode 600 to 700kms and others only 100 to 200kms depending on the area and the sight seeing. We did not book a single night's accommodation before the trip but instead we would pull into a town after a long ride and decide to stay there for the night so then we looked for the accommodation, a bottle store and a butchery. The only plan we had was rough idea of where we wanted to go and it all worked out perfectly.
Breakfasts were usually a festive affair, getting rid of the extra food and drink from the previous night!
 The North Eastern part of the country is fabulous, both in terms of the roads and the incredible scenery and we spent three days there just on sight seeing before heading across to the hectic hustle and bustle that is Johannesburg. I needed a new tire and we visited with my sister and brother in law for a couple of days. Eddie and Althea also had people to visit so we met up on the Monday morning just outside of Krugersdorp to continue our journey.
That was a hot day, from Jo'burg 530kms to Kuruman in the Northern Cape, we stayed in caravan park chalets and had the usual braai but it got very cold at night. By that part of the trip we had completed 3,000kms.  
We were certainly feeling "bike-fit" by then and really enjoying riding unknown country. One of the best parts of a journey like that is starting off the next day going somewhere else instead of going home. The next part was to be South West Africa, also completely unknown to us.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

An original work of art

I happen to be friends with the artist Murray Harris and I recently commissioned him to do a rendering of my motorcycle after having seen the work that he had done for other people. I sent him a couple of photographs so that he could choose and then waited impatiently.
He burns the pictures into wood by using electric irons with various attachments after which he colours them, this is obviously quite a painstaking process and he did warn me that this kind of thing can take from eighteen to twenty hours.
After a week or so I received this tantalising preview on my phone, work in progress and already you can see the detail.
A little later and I received this picture, it's coming on.
I had to wait quite a while but eventually I got the news that the picture was ready for collection and here it is;
The attention to detail is absolutely incredible and now when I eventually get too old to ride this beauty and I have to sell it, I will always have this wonderful picture as a memory. I obviously have plenty of photographs but there is absolutely nothing like an original, one-off work of art and what biker doesn't like a picture of his baby?
Here is the finished, framed picture. It measures approximately 600mm x 450mm. If you would like to find out more, or about getting one for yourself give me a shout and I will give you details, me? I'm chuffed!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Memorial service and the local toy run - sadness and happiness

This past Sunday was a day first of sadness and then of happiness, we attended the annual memorial service for fallen bikers at the Biker church in Vredenburg. A very moving service conducted by Pastor Errol and the tears flowed when the names were read out.
By the time we arrived there were already a lot of bikers there, it was a very windy day but we weren't going to be doing any long distance. By the time the service started the parking area was crowded with motorbikes.
Pastor Errol, also a biker, with the unique pulpit for the biker church and behind him is the memorial board.
After the service the bikers gathered in a nearby parking area to await the Traffic Police escort and the arrival of more bikers, some came from as far away as Capetown and the mass ride down to the sports ground in Saldanha apparently consisted of 109 bikes.

It was an impressive sight and the Traffic Department made sure that we didn't have to stop at any traffic lights or intersections. Photos by Gerrie. (Click on photos to see them full size.) We all parked on the sportsfield and the fun day began.

First all the toys were piled into the trailer and most people brought many more than one toy, before long there was an impressive pile of toys for local children. Here Greg and Johan are two of the many who brought toys along.

Thereafter amid good music provided by DJ Splinter, one of our own club members, the games took place. Tyre throw for men, ladies (incidentally won by Mercia of the Mohicans and one of the organisers) and then the hilarious children's tyre throw, boys and girls.

On the left is Mercia with her winning throw and on the right the men's winner and unfortunately I didn't get his name, a visitor I think from Capetown, a powerful guy who just about threw the bloody thing away!

The drinking competition for children (future bikers?) was with fruit juice, lots of fun, the smaller ones just enjoyed drinking a free juice.

There were drinking competitions for the adult bikers too but Frank and I were content to nurse our juice like gentlemen (well almost!) Elize seen here taking a break with a hotdog from the food caravan and a refreshing drink.
All in all a very successful day under the auspices of the Westcoast Motorcycle Association, well done to the hard working organisers and a big thumbs up to all of the bikers who attended and donated toys for needy children. No other group gives as much to charity as bikers do.