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.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

WMA dayjol 28th May

I wrote about this one last year, it was an amazing success for an inaugural dayjol and I am sure that this year it will be even better. If the organisation and preparations are anything to go by it cannot fail.
If you weren't there last year you missed out - don't miss out this year!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Homeward bound

Sunday morning was sunny but cold as I headed out of Margate down to Port Shepstone and back through to Kokstad where I stopped for a breakfast, I had decided to take the N2 route and visit my sister and brother-in-law in the little eastern cape town of Komga some 500kms distant.
Heading back through the Transkei again the road was excellent but still constant vigilance is needed as animals forage on the roadsides and stroll across to see if the grass is greener on the other side. Again I did not feel like stopping in any of the towns that I rode through; Qumbu, Mthatha or Dutywa - where we lived from '76 to '86 - but I had to stop in Butterworth to refuel and by then my backside and legs were really tired after about 400kms.
I was happy to arrive in Komga and enjoyed a braai that evening. Monday being a public holiday I stayed for lunch to enjoy some time with my family and then headed through to East London, only 65kms away to spend the evening with some old family friends.
Tuesday saw another 500km ride to the beautiful little Garden Route coastal town of Plettenberg Bay where I spent a very pleasant evening with my youngest sister and two of my nieces, that had been a bit of an unpleasant ride with early rain and then incredibly strong winds around Port Elizabeth and Humansdorp but by midday the wind dropped and the sun shone promising me a better day for my last ride.
Wednesday I saddled up early and hit the road just after 07h00, I was eager to get back to my lady and had a 630km stretch ahead of me, happily it was a wonderful sunny day with only a gentle wind and the N2 is a joy to ride under those conditions.
I hit Knysna rush-hour traffic and the town was shrouded in early morning fog but it didn't take long until I was back at 140kmh heading for Sedgefield, Wilderness, George and then a welcome Wimpy breakfast just outside of Mossel Bay. From there it is 500km and I have easily done that before when riding back from the Buffalo Rally.
Swellendam, Ashton, Robertson and then my first beer stop and another leg stretch at the Dros in Worcester. Home is about 220km from there and I parked the bike just after 15h00 after a really wonderful day's riding.
The homeward journey along the  N2; 1,718km was negligibly longer by 127kms than the outward journey but it was a much better ride, if I were to go again that is the way I would go.
The big red machine performed flawlessly and I got a very pleasing consumption of 19km/litre which I thought was excellent considering that I am rather heavy on the throttle at times.
 The overpriced but essential souvenir tee shirt with a large HD emblem on the front, but as they say; ~"Been there, done that, got the tee shirt."

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Africa Bike Week rally visited and the Saturday braai

Friday dawned clear and sunny, I do not suffer from hangovers so the previous night's excesses did not bother me, this was my day to visit the rally, the 8th annual running of Africa Bike week. By the time I got down to the rally road it was already hot and very humid, typical Kwa-Zulu Natal!
I was quite early so I had no trouble finding a place to park but it was filling up quickly.
 I had no sooner arrived when I saw three "Rhodesian Survivors" rolling in, here I am in the midst of a reunion and there are more of them, we chatted briefly and it turned out that they were from Australia on a touring holiday which included the rally.
I wandered around after a bit of a breakfast, the Harley stand was obviously in full swing with a whole lot of new models on display including a fantastic looking trike priced at a whopping R450,000!
It's not so easy to enjoy a rally on your own, at least that was the way I felt, I went into the main arena to get out of the midday sun and have a couple of cold beers and enjoy some of the live music, which was very good.
 By mid afternoon the place was heaving with revellers and the various stands were doing a roaring trade, rally road includes a lot of restaurants and pubs as well as food stalls and the usual purveyors of both hard and soft drinks.
I went and bought a "Bike week" tee shirt at an exorbitant price but I had to have one, by then I had had enough and took a ride along to Ramsgate to visit "Pistol's Saloon", a place that had been recommended to me and which was crowded with bikers, a very interesting place.
 A couple of cold draught beers there and I was ready to call it a day - been there, done that, got the tee shirt. A hell of a long way to visit a rally; 1,650kms.
Dinner with my friends that evening was great.
Saturday was completely the opposite; cold, wet and windy and I was grateful that I had been down the day before, my host Barry had invited a bunch of ex-cops to his home "The Woanery" for a braai but us Rhodies were not about to let a bit of inclement weather put us off!
Barry is an excellent host and a collector and dealer in Rhodesian and Police memorabilia, he has a huge collection so his pub is an interesting place, it was to be full of people later in the day!
John Alford and I took turns at bar duty, John is an excellent fellow whom I had the pleasure of meeting, he was there with his Harley but was unable to ride that weekend due to a rather badly wrenched knee.
The braai later was great, Barry has a sheltered area but it was too cold to stay out long - the party moved inside and a great time was had by all;
 A fine bunch of men, most of whom I last saw in Bulawayo some forty years ago!
"Stretch" Hughes, my old comrade from the Crime Prevention Unit, the fact that I was able to meet up with all of these excellent fellows was what made my trip to Margate so special. All good things must come to an end, I was leaving the next day - please let the weather be kind to me!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Day three and four, into Margate and a reunion

I woke early to the sound of traffic, 18 wheelers using their exhaust brakes to descend through the town right next to my room. I looked out the window and was greeted by the sight of thick fog again! Only 155kms remained today so I could spend a couple of hours at the local Wimpy and wait for the fog to lift.
 As far as I'm concerned there's no better way to start a travelling day than with a Wimpy breakfast, I know this sounds like an advert but it's true. I sat in the restaurant for about an hour and a half and by the time I was ready to go the fog had lifted as had my spirits. I rode out of Kokstad under a clear blue sky and headed for the coast.
That is a lovely road, undulating first through the farm lands and then through dense forest, it is a busy road with lots of smoke belching 18 wheelers struggling up the many hills holding queues of cars in their wake. Not me though! Close to Port Shepstone it becomes quite chaotic and speed is reduced to sixty but it wasn't long before I was cruising into Margate, now I was seeing bikers. It was the day before the rally was to start but there was already a festive atmosphere.
I cruised around the town, had a couple of beers at a festive country music bar and then went down rally road, things were still being put in place, last minute tents and flags going up, I met up with old friends Earl and Bunny of the Christian Motorcycle Association whom we used to see in the western cape but who now live in Jo'burg, I hope I see them again because I forgot to take their photo!
It's many, many years since I have been here and things have certainly changed but the beaches are really beautiful.
In the early afternoon I found Barry's house and settled into my comfortable accommodation for the next four days. I had travelled 160kms that day and 1591kms since leaving Saldanha.
As it turned out I didn't go back down to the rally the next day, my host Barry Woan organised a reunion of ex members of the Rhodesian Police force, the BSAP and a wonderful day developed into a session that can only come about with a shared bond, a camaraderie that can only be appreciated by veterans.
After most of the guys left only three of us carried on into the night and Barry made some excellent Kudu boerewors rolls for dinner.
Now as I sit here it is Friday morning, looks like it's going to be a glorious day and I have told the guys that I am definitely going down to the rally! There is a braai organised for Saturday lunch and I'm leaving on Sunday morning, if I'm not careful I won't see Africa Bike Week 2016!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Day two; Graaff Reinet to Kokstad

I woke early after quite a good sleep, comfortable enough. I made my self a cup of coffee but there were no spoons!
So I stirred t with my steely knife..................apologies to the Eagles who have been on my mind on this ride.
It was grey and cold when I poked my head out of my room, coffee in one hand and Janet on the phone in the other,  "Oh no! not rain?" she wished me luck.
 I decided to ride without the wets, I would put them on later if needed - that didn't take too long, soon it was bloody cold and my rain jacket made an excellent windbreaker. Graaf Reinet to Middelburg was alright but after I left Middelburg heading for Steynsburg I ran into heavy fog.
I was really not enjoying myself very much by then, wet fog caused me to slow down and the condition of the road was deteriorating the further I went.
The cold and foggy plains of the Camdeboo, at least this was all new scenery to me, I have not ridden these roads before and quite frankly I probably won't do so again. I'm sorry but the small towns in the Eastern Cape are definitely not inviting!
In the small, untidy little town of Steynsburg I needed to stop, my saddle muscles were clenching and I had to get off the bike for a bit, also I was literally shivering cold and I wanted to get some warm gear out of the topcase.
There is no Wimpy (or any restaurant) in Steynburg apart from this one;
where I was happy to warm up with two cups of coffee and a really mediocre breakfast, at least when I left the sun had broken through the fog and I was able to make up some time.....but not for long!
Molteno, Dordrecht, Indwe, Elliot, Ugie all passed by during a couple of hours of riding in wet fog, none of the places invited a stop until Maclear where I filled the tank and stretched my legs. The worst was yet to come; Maclear to Mount Fletcher is a nightmare, apart from the on/off wet fog and rain this is Transkei proper with houses right up to the roadside and sheep, goats and cattle constantly roaming on the verges and crossing the road, constant vigilance is required, all while wiping water from the visor!
Towards the end of my ride, after I had seen the very welcome sign; "Kokstad 198km" and knew that I could make it by 16h00 the skies began to clear but I was very tired by the time I rolled into the town, 685kms today!
I am in a comfortable B&B establishment, I have just had a very good meal at the nearby Spur and I have a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label to hand, things are actually not that bad, also I have only 155kms to ride tomorrow to be in Margate in the afternoon so I can take it easy. We'll see how it goes after a nice "Wimpy" breakfast.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Africa Bike Week trip, day one

Had I known how wet the start of the ride was going to be I might have reconsidered! Thank goodness I didn't know, I'm not sure why I didn't, it's easy enough to get accurate weather predictions from your bloody phone nowadays!
At around 06h30 I was ready and eager to go, loaded the cases, made a last minute mental check of all the things I might need to make sure that I had not forgotten anything - like my reading glasses which I did forget and which lack is now making itself felt here in my room in Graaf Reinet as I type with a bedside lamp right next to the keyboard!
After saying a fond farewell to my lady my first stop this morning was at the Langebaan service station to pull on my wets! Ten minutes into my ride it was pissing down! Great start!
I must confess that I did not enjoy the first hour, my decision to take the "awful 22" off the R45 to Moorreesburg was a bad one, the sun was trying to rise, obscured by rain and a narrow bumpy and gravel-strewn road had me tensed and swearing when I should have been singing.
Swinging out of Riebeek heading towards Hermon the road was dry and my spirits lifted, I actually did start singing old Eagles songs such as "A peacefull easy feeling" and a really bad rendition of "Hotel California".
Breakfast and hot coffee at the Wimpy in Ceres revitalised me and by then the sun was breaking through, as I headed north and east I started leaving the bad weather behind.
I normally don't like riding the N1, especially on a Monday but today it wasn't too bad. It is busy because it's the major artery North from Capetown to Johannesburg and Pretoria and there are almost continuous speed check gantries,  but I set my cruise control to 125kmh and actually relaxed and it didn't seem too long before I was cruising into Beaufort West.
I turned off the N1 onto the R61 and headed into the plains of the Camdeboo, wonderful, I had not been there before, I was heading to Aberdeen 130kms away and hoping to make Graaff Reinet for the evening but I was tired by then, even before I had done 500kms I was feeling tired, I drank yet more coffee and urged myself to get it together, I had done longer trips than this before!
That 130km ride was the longest I have ever done, the road was dead straight with perhaps a two or three percent deviation to the left every thirty or so kilometres, and to top it off there were average speed  gantries every twenty kilometres. I set my cruise control again and just sat enjoying the sunshine. I stopped for coffee at a little shop absolutely in the middle of nowhere.
Later I stopped for a wee, the veld is dry but after a little recent rain little grass shoots are growing and the sheep are getting new food apart from the fynbos, I was to enjoy some of that lamb later that evening in "Polka" restaurant with a bottle of dry red wine, delicious!
I reached "Aberdeen" just after 15h00 and had considered staying there but after seeing the place I dived into the 54km stretch to Graaff Reinet, what a dump!
746km I rode today, I found a very nice and very reasonable place to stay; "Profcon Resort" R389 for a comfortable en suite room with secure parking for my baby;
 It is now 21h00 and I am tired, I have had a fantastic day out on the bike, I have had a lovely meal and I'm sipping a bit of Johnny Walker Red as I write this, tomorrow I have planned to do only some 650kms but it really doesn't matter if I do less, if I want to explore, because day three will only be a short one, some 150kms.
Man I'm looking forward to tomorrow! I will keep you updated, stay with me.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Weskus bikers do it again!

The Weskus (West Coast) bikers are at it again! Last week we all got a "Whatsapp" message from Divi the President of the Meeulanders Motorcycle Club informing all that local farmers are in dire straits due to the ongoing drought. He called on bikers to gather at the Phoenix bar on Saturday afternoon to see if they could raise funds for animal feed.
We were not able to attend as we had visitors for the weekend but apparently a fairly large group of local bikers did attend and Frank took our donations along with him.
 A festive time was had by all according to reports from Frank who was eventually thrown out after everyone else had left!
Many of the local clubs were represented as well as unattached bikers, not only the Meeulanders answered the call and an amazing total of R10,000 was raised which included previous pledges.
I am proud to be counted among the Weskus bikers. I know of no other groups who give of their time and money for causes like bikers do and it was only a couple of weeks ago that they were donating money to Cancer, well done guys and gals- you Rock!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Time for new crash helmets

I decided it was time to replace our old crash helmets, we had been using them for a good few years now and everyone knows that helmets don't last forever. The foam inside gradually compresses and although you don't really notice it they become loose fitting and wouldn't really do their job in the event of a getoff.
Here in South Africa we have no choice but to wear a crash helmet and I must admit that I would not be comfortable riding without one, I am so used to it after all of the years that I have been riding that I think that even if I did get the opportunity to tour America on a bike I would still wear one.
So off we went to our local bike shop, West Coast Yamaha in Vredenburg to have a chat with Monica. I have always favoured the flip-front helmet, whenever I cruise into a town the first thing I like to do is flip the front of the helmet up so Monica showed us the "Spirit FF319 Evolution" - it might sound a bit fancy but it was very reasonably priced at R1,600.
 It is a far more compact helmet and 100g lighter than my old HJC, although 100g is not a lot it certainly feels a lot lighter and very comfortable.
 A nice feature is the retractable sun visor, I may not have to wear sunglasses now. We went for a ride to test the helmets out and found them very comfortable but when I flipped the sun visor down I could hardly see through it and I thought "Oh no, this is not going to be any good!" my vision was a bit blurred.
When we stopped at our destination I was going to point this out to Janet but when I took the helmet off I realised that I had not pulled the protective plastic layer off the visor - duh! It worked perfectly on the way home. I'm happy with my new helmet and Cat likes the box.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Back to Moorreesburg for a mediocre breakfast

A pale, clear blue sky, no wind and a motorbike! What more could one ask for? We left home at 09h15 to meet at "Juffroeshoogte" resort for the monthly breakfast run. As neither the President or the V.P. would be there, and many of the members had camped over at the charity run, we had no idea who would pitch up.
Janet and I were the first ones there and we sat on the sunny veranda with a nice cup of coffee, contentedly waiting to see who would arrive next. Gerrie, then Hein arrived and soon there were ten of us on seven motorbikes. It was just after 11h00 that we set out on the road, as the boss wasn't present Mike nominated me to take point, it was one of those absolutely perfect biking days, I saw 22 celsius on my dash as we thundered out along the R45.
We had already decided that we would carry on through to Malmesbury and then take the N7 to Moorreesburg and soon we were at the first Stop/Go;
 What else is there to do while you wait? At least it wasn't hot and it wasn't long before we were on our way, the second one was open for us and we did some high speed riding through the only corners leading through to the N7. There were lots of bikers out on the road, all like us taking advantage of the wonderful weather.
The thirty kilometres to Moorreesburg was a lovely ride, the road is in great condition and on a Sunday there is very little traffic even though it is the main artery to Namibia. I had stopped in Malmesbury to refuel so we thundered along on our own and joined the others at "Die Oude Stoep" on the little town's main road.
 Twenty two Club members sat down for breakfast, unfortunately the restaurant was not able to cope very well in spite of the fact that Divi had warned them we were coming, it was a very long wait but at least the beer was cold.
Before our breakfast came, which was more like lunch by the time it eventually arrived, Janet was already signalling that her beer was finished! The breakfast was disappointing, good quality food but everything was cold! Seriously guys, how difficult would it be to serve breakfast on hot plates? We won't be hurrying back there I'm afraid.
On the road again. Four of us elected to go back the longer way via the N7 while those who had camped and had not had much sleep were going back via the rough 22km stretch, they also declined a stop at Plaasmol for a last beer.
The ride back was just as good, Gerrie took point and he rides fast, especially when he senses some corners ahead, I have trouble keeping up with him.
Plaasmol was a pleasant stop, a cold beer and some good conversation;

One beer there was enough for us, Gerrie and Murray decided to leave as well, the others were staying a little longer, we said our farewells and headed out. It is only some 40kms home, a truly lovely couple of days out on the bike with hopefully more to come. Winter is fast approaching and although we do get decent biking weather we also get our rains, we'll see how it goes.
Murray on his lovely Gunston Orange K1200LT