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, December 16, 2014

Wind, stolen manhole covers and great food

The west coast has been very windy now for what seems like bloody ages, during November we lost two production days because it was just too windy to take the boat off the mooring, the southerlies have been pumping strong and that makes riding unpleasant too.
It seems to be never-ending, but at least there are some people who are enjoying the windy conditions, apparently Langebaan is crowded with foreign kite-surfers at the moment. This was the scene on the beach outside Pearly's restaurant last Tuesday afternoon when Janet and I sat sharing a bottle of wine on the veranda.
 Our kitchen is being renovated so the place is a mess and we have been eating out, a lot. We are fortunate to have a plethora of great, good and mediocre retaurants within a forty kilometer radius and Tuesday dinner was at A & J's Chinese at the Laguna Mall, delicious prawns in garlic and pepper and sizzling pork ribs with stir fry rice, lovely.
Today, Tuesday, was a public holiday and after a hectic day on the farm yesterday with the southerly pumping and customers clamouring for mussels, 2,25 tons of the stuff, it was wonderful to just stay in bed this morning.
We awoke to a calm day! Sun shining and no wind, can it be? Could we go for a ride? At about 10h30 we got the bike out and saddled up but already the wind was starting to blow again and as we headed out of town it was blowing strong and picking up. Bugger! We rode through Vredenburg and out to "Juffroeshoogte" where we had a beer, Janet suggested that as we were already out on the bike we might as well ride through to Langebaan for lunch and then go home, I had it in my mind to go back to the Oystercatcher so off we went.
By then the wind was stronger, pushing us around but there were a couple of other bikers out and about. I was hungry as we parked out side the restaurant.
I had intended riding a bit further than this but it really wasn't pleasant and this is one of the better restaurants anyway. It is owned by Charles who used to be the chef at Driftwoods so he knows his seafood.
 My excellent starter; deep fried calamari tubes and tentacles, if you've been reading my stuff you may remember that this is what I had the last time and it was just as good again. Janet had garlic butter snails and declared it to be one of the best she'd ever had.
 My main course, seared Norwegian Salmon, was absolutely delicious and as you can see it was served with wasabi and Chinese mayonnaise which as we all know is the best mayo in the world! 
Janet's main, curried chicken and prawns on tagliatelli was huge, in fact we have a meal of leftovers for tonight, and it too was outstanding. A really enjoyable meal of two starters, two mains, a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and then two glasses of the same because the contents of the bottle seemed to have evaporated, came to just over R520 with the gratuity, excellent value in my book and we rode home replete and happy.
However this euphoric feeling was dispelled as we rode into Saldanha and saw that some scumbags had stolen up to twelve manhole covers from the side of the road heading into town. Obviously these covers would be too heavy for any one person to lift out of their frames and into a vehicle,
 these gaping steel-framed holes are in the rain channel right next to the road and have created a very dangerous situation. A car running through one of these would be seriously damaged, but a motorcycle hitting one of these would be too horrible to contemplate, a fact which is obviously of no concern to the oxygen thieves who removed them.
I reported this to the municipality immediately we arrived at home, I hope they do something before there is an accident. Anyway, in spite of this and in spite of the wind, a very pleasant day. Back to work tomorrow and still the wind pumps angrily outside my window.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Farewell to an old biker friend

At around midday on Sunday we arrived at the Wielhys Pub in Velddrif, the weekend thus far had been rather hectic with a really good music show with Jo Martin at the Alegria Restaurant in Saint Helena Bay on Friday night, then a trip down to Capetown on Saturday to have lunch with my sister.
On Sunday morning we had been able to lie in for a bit, which I seemed to need, the leisurely morning was good for me to recharge my batteries.
It's not far from my house to the Wielhys pub, via the direct route it is only about 40 kms but we left the house at about 11h00 to do a slightly longer loop, I wanted to test my new eye - which by the way hadn't fared so well at pool on the Friday afternoon! Frank won most of the games we played.
The weather wasn't so great, cloudy and with a gusting wind but I needed to ride. We headed around the bay towards Langebaan and then over the relatively new by-pass and up to the R27, so far so good, I can definitely see better.
We cruised up the R45 for 21 kms and hung a left at Hopefield onto the newly resurfaced road that follows the Berg River into Velddrif, that road is now a very pleasant ride and although you can't see the river from the road you can feel its influence as the temperature drops about half way along.
Sometimes it's nice just to tootle along looking at the scenery, we certainly weren't in any hurry and we pulled up outside the pub just before 12h00, the first bike to park but not for long.
The pub has just been taken over by the ex- President of the Clique in Capetown, he has moved to Velddrif and is starting a west coast chapter who will use the pub as there Clubhouse. So you know that the Wielhys is a biker friendly pub, prices are good and they have a small kitchen for burgers etc., it's worth a visit when you ride this way.
It wasn't long before the bikers arrived, Frank and Div and the others crowded into the benches outside the back and got the braai fires going, it was turning into a festive afternoon.
The reason for the gathering was to wish Oom Hans well in his new endeavours, he has been a regular west coast biker for many years, a member of the Christian Motorcycle Association who has attended all of the local events and many rallies and who was moving later in the week with his wife, who is in poor health, to the North East.
Go well Oom Hans, may you keep riding and may your lovely wife benefit from the re-location.
It looked like the afternoon was developing into another biker jol, more friends were arriving but it was time for us to move on. I'm back on my bike and loving it!

Monday, December 1, 2014

The toy run without me

Sunday morning the weather was beautiful, partly cloudy with a light breeze, perfect for riding but it did get pretty hot in the early afternoon. I was not allowed to ride my motorbike so I got into my bakkie and headed over to the Engen One-Stop to see who was there.
Just as a matter of interest the eye op was a great success, I can now see perfectly with my left eye which before was hazy due to the cataract, in fact I am like a kid with a new present I am so amazed at how clear my vision is. Where I thought that my right eye was good and was doing all of the work for the almost blind left eye, the right eye is now blurry and I realise that I have been going around quite happily in a state of near blindness! I am looking forward now to having the right eye done as well even though already I can again see the fine golden hair on a young ladie's inner thigh.
I arrived at 07h45 and there was already quite a large crowd in the parking area with more arriving all the time and the almost constant roar of bikers heading past on their way to Capetown, the west coast was going to be well represented.
That looks like a new Yamaha Super Tenere' in front, very nice.
There was a large contingent of the newly formed west coast chapter of the Mohicans in attendance.
Kick-stands up at 08h00 and the group headed out onto the R27. Div and Caro.
'cois and Linicia.
Heinie and Gerda on their Triumph.
Wessel's lovely, recently re-sprayed Honda with music blaring, heading out.
Big Anton and his good lady.
I watched them all leave and listened to the rapidly diminishing roar of the bikes blasting southward and suddenly it was quiet. I walked disconsolately back to my bakkie and headed home, ride safe.
I haven't spoken to any of them yet but from social media reports it was another successful charity event and I'm definitely going next year.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

No Toy Run for me this year!

What a bummer! I had cataract surgery on Thursday and the doctor was quite adamant that I cannot ride my motorbike this weekend. That means that I will have to miss the Toy run on Sunday, this would have been my seventeenth consecutive run but I suppose the doctor knows best.
This year the run starts at the Grand West Casino car park and apparently that is the only starting point whereas in previous years we had two starting points and the riders converged on the one end venue at Maynardville, this caused serious congestion in the narrow streets and quite a lot of frustration for the cagers who got caught up in it.
One would have thought that they, being aware of the fact that the run was taking place, would have arranged to leave a bit earlier or go the other way. I must say, however, that in spite of there being the odd scenes of annoyance, most of them patiently waited for the seemingly endless stream of bikers to go through.
Oh well there's always next year, I will read all about it on my friends' websites and on the biker news pages.
I still haven't had the opportunity to ride the Yamaha Tricity;
but I will go pretty soon, West Coast Yamaha has moved to new premises so I will go and take a look at that as well and let you know all about it.
Safe riding to all of my friends and to all bikers taking part in the toy run tomorrow, I will certainly be thinking of you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Toy run 2014

Sunday is the toy run, this is a special day for me, this will be my seventeenth consecutive run - if I make it, I've got a minor thing to take care of tomorrow.
It's a new start and end venue and I have no idea where the end venue is so we will just follow the crowd. Many of my friends just ride straight through to the end venue without taking part in the mass ride but that sort of defeats the whole object of the ride for me, I love to see the way the people have decorated their bikes with toys, how they dress up and get into the spirit of giving.
Nothing is as moving as seeing the bikes festooned with toys for underprivileged children and once the bikers get involved there's no stopping them! The route is usually lined with people cheering the bikers on and handing toys over to be added to the massive collection, it's an amazing "feel-good" experience.
We're going toy shopping on Saturday morning and then our plan is to ride down on Sunday morning with Frank and we'll pick Janet up at the Viper Lounge and ride through to the gathering point at the Grand West Casino car park, from there we'll follow the mob to the end venue.
I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Food handover and Sunday memorial run

A couple of weeks back I wrote about the Meeulanders "Tin run" where members gathered outside the various local supermarkets and gently persuaded members of the public to donate tins or dry food products for needy people.
A sterling effort by a small number of club members netted a huge amount of food, conservatively estimated at R25,000 worth with the members who collected at the Laguna Mall in Langebaan managing the most number of trolleys.
On Saturday morning we loaded the swag onto three bakkies and carted it through to "Juffroshoogte" to hand it over to the local Round table for distribution.
A representative selection of the food was displayed on one of the tables for an official handover and the members gathered around.
The Round Table President on the left receiving the food from Div., the Meeulanders President.
Well done guys and ladies, this is just a small part of what this club and indeed all of the South African bike clubs do on a continous basis for charity, I've said it before and I'll keep on saying it; "Bikers are wonderful people."
On Sunday morning Janet and I arrived at the FNB car park in Vredenburg at around 08h30 where the bikers were gathering to ride to the Lighthouse Church for the annual memorial run, already there were plenty of bikers there and more arriving all the time.
Janet was impressed with this, "Real men prepared to support breast cancer awareness."
 By 08h55 we saddled up to ride the short distance down to the church and I was amazed by the number of bikers that had assembled to pay their respects to our departed brothers and sisters, I didn't count them, I'm not sure if anyone did but it was a huge crowd, extremely heartwarming.
The service was a tear-jerker, conducted by Errol the biker pastor and I'm not ashamed to say that I shed tears when the names were read out and the pictures of the fallen came up on the screen.
After the service family and friends placed flowers next to the name board, it was a sad morning and in a contemplative mood we headed home, please no more names for this list.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Beaver Rally 2014 - part three, homeward bound

I don't know what time it was when I woke up, it was early but people were moving around packing up and getting ready to go. I pulled the plug out of my mattress and got up when I was lying on the ground. I stuck my head out of the tent, a leaden overcast sky greeted me, was it going to rain? I hoped not, time to P.U.F.O.
It didn't take long to get everything packed, Alex and Mercia and I would ride together, Frank surfaced and lit his first cigarette but he was in no hurry to get going. He only arrived home mid afternoon.
 Mercia rides her own ZX10 and she rides fast, we rode out of the gate at 06h00 and Alex hit the throttle, we didn't see him again until the "Whistle stop" at Worcester where we had agreed to stop for breakfast. It was a much more pleasant ride this time, there was hardly any traffic at that time of the day but the clouds were building up, it looked and felt like rain was imminent and I hadn't packed any wet weather gear.
I needed that cup of coffee! We had breakfast which went down very well and feeling much refreshed and comfortable I saddled up for the home stretch, we didn't stop anywhere because it was too early for any of the pubs to be open. 
Leaving Worcester the skies were ominously dark but way in the distance I could see a blue gap and that was the way we were heading, sure enough just before Tulbagh we left the clouds behind and the sun broke through to warm us. We blasted through the wine country, Alex pulling us along at an illegal but exhilarating pace in the crisp, early morning air.
After Hopefield Alex and Mercia started pulling away from me but I wound it on and caught up to them, at 200kmh there would have been no option of a fine, straight to jail but man it was good!
I was home just after 09h00 after a thoroughly enjoyable weekend, a hot shower was first on the agenda and later we went out for lunch at "Oliphant's kop" where I had the best spare ribs I've had in a long time.
Thanks to the I.M.O.C. (Italian Motorcycle Owners Club) for a well organised rally, please put me down for next year.

Beaver Rally 2014 - part two, recovery

I obviously slept because someone woke me; "Hey Engelsman, wake up!" - "Waddayawant?" "Come, we're going for breakfast." I crawled awkwardly out of my small space and got to my feet, my mouth tasted like a hobo had been sleeping in there and had left his blanket behind. I stumbled bladderfully to the ablution block, already the camp site was active, it was just after 05h00!
Mercia appeared to be having as much trouble surfacing as I had.
Back at the camp we discovered that Frank wasn't in his tent, this is not unusual and as I headed off in search of a cup of coffee I expected to find him still in the main tent finishing off the last of his cane and coke.
On my way back I found him, he had been trying to find his tent, stumbling around in the dark and had been adopted by some kind strangers, he assured me he was alright and he was obviously in no condition to ride so he said we should go on without him, "Leave me, I'll be fine." the kind strangers seemed happy to have him there so I left him.
We had a very enjoyable ride, the weather was perfect and the wind that had plagued us yesterday was gone. We cruised the lovely R62 through to Barrydale for a very welcome breakfast at the "Country Pumpkin", rejuvenated we gathered outside,
some of the guys talked about maybe carrying on to "Ronnie's Sex Shop" but that was another 20ks further so I suggested a stop off at the "Karoo Saloon" and as a few of them hadn't been there before we decided to have a beer or two there.
 There were four Victory cruisers parked outside, the first time that I have seen any of these on the road, very imposing looking bikes.
The Mohicans gathered for a beveridge at the saloon. From there a quick ride back to the camp and on our arrival we discovered that Frank was still not in his tent, I went off to buy a beer and to see if I could find him, he wasn't with the guys I had seen before but one of them thought that he had headed off to the other side of the camp. I eventually found him with a couple of friends, Bonnie took me aside and said "You must please take him with you now." almost pleading.
I managed to get him back to the camp but it was a struggle, as soon as anyone expressed an interest he wanted to go over and join them, he wasn't around for much longer but the old boy has certainly got staying power, he'll out party any youngster!
We were not to see him for about five hours after that, meanwhile we went back to the main tent where the games were about to take place, I chewed another beer or two but the excesses of the previous night were catching up on me.
The Mohicans won everything! Wessel won the shackle throw and the team beat all comers in the tug-o-war, way to go guys!
 Eduardo, Alex, Van and his young lady and me - what you don't see in this picture is that I didn't have a drink in my hand! Couldn't face another beer and my whisky was finished, the liver is evil and must be punished!
Frank surfaced and joined us, many miles and many rallies under our belts and long may it continue.
We sat through the prize giving, none of us won anything else. I was surprised to hear that it was the 35th Beaver rally, I had no idea that it had been going for so long, this had been my second but you can rest assured that I will be back next year, 636 party animals attended this one and it had been a blast.
By 22h00 I was finished, I crawled into my tent and got as comfortable as I could on the narrow inflatable mattress, it took a long time to get to sleep but I relaxed. Some idiot was cruising around the campsite stopping here and there to rev and backfire his bike, at one stage he was so close that the air inside my mattress vibrated with every bang! I slept eventually.
To be continued......