Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
I did manage to get out for a brief ride yesterday, I took the road out to the R27 and then down to the Langebaan turn off, there was quite a wind but it was good to get the bike out and I just wanted to blow the cobwebs out of the exhaust. I turned back to ride past Club Mykonos and around the bay to Saldanha and then pulled into the "Drop Anchor" bar which is a biker pub at the "Dial Rock" block of flats, there I sunk a couple of cold ones and chatted with the guys before taking the bike back home.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
This was our eleventh consecutive Toy run and on Saturday we rode down to Hout Bay to spend the night with Dick and Janet where we had a very enjoyable braai. On previous years we had rode down from Saldanha to Capetown en masse on the Sunday morning.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
We arrived in Victoria West and found a little roadside cafe where we were able to have an adequate though unremarkable breakfast and from there we joined the N12 heading north towards Kimberley. The road is a lot busier with plenty of 18 wheelers en route to Johannesburg but it is a good road and we were easily able to maintain 140-150kmh, it is 104km to Britstown and we decided to stop there for a beer. Once we joined the N12 the strong wind was from behind and it actually became quite pleasant speeding along in the mid morning sunlight, it wasn't long before we were looking for the hotel in eager anticipation of the first beer of the day. The next stretch was 123kms to Hopetown and by then it was getting hot, I could feel Janet shifting around behind me a lot and this is a sign that she is uncomfortable for some reason. We maintained our good cruising speed and at Hopetown we pulled off and looked for a place to take a break, but what a misnomer "Hopetown" is! What a dump! Eventually I found a coffe shop and had a pretty good Cappucino, we relaxed and then Janet told me that the pack was not working, that it was uncomfortable and was hurting her back because instead of perching on top of the top case it was sliding off whenever the wind blew. This was bad news because I had thought that we had found the solution to our shortage of luggage space.
It was really hot when we mounted up to carry on and I took the pack, at first I tried it on my back but there was not enough space between us so I put it in front of me with my arms through the slings, it fitted there but it was not ideal because my helmet rested on top of it, I couldn't look down very easily, and Janet had to keep repositioning the straps on my shoulders, this was not good!
Soon were speeding off towards Kimberley but with about 100kms to go I could see a massive storm system ahead and slightly to our left, it was a huge dark blue mass and I was pretty sure we were going to get wet.
I increased our speed hoping to get to Kimberley before the storm crossed our path. By the time we were about 40kms out this massive awe inspiring system was some 5kms to the west of us, the most frightening thing was that the centre of it was neon-electric silver with lightening flashes and the last thing I wanted was to be caught in the middle of that! I should have stopped to take some photos but that was the last thing on my mind as I increased our speed to 180kmh and like "storm chasers" we blasted through the darkening countryside. Thankfully the road started edging gradually to the east and we started leaving it behind but as we got to the sign that said "Kimberley 2km" we ran into rain.
The dayglo orange is not really Janet's colour! We rode into Kimberley with fat raindrops and a bit of hail and managed to find a nice B&B right across the road from the big hole area, we were going to be there for two nights so we could offload and relax. I went to a nearby bottle store and bought two bottles of wine and a bottle of Johhny Walker black label as part of the celebrations.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
you do not heed the morning cold
as the early sky begins to gold.
The button thumbed,
the engine fires, the iron beast trembles
eager to get her tyres
The song of power, muted thunder, sweeping curves and distant places.
A group of bikers inspires wonder
preferring speed and open spaces.
You grab a handful,
roll it on
she leaps ahead at your command
or slows right down as you demand,
but keeps her tyres
Gaze far ahead, look close about as the road goes by beneath your feet.
You're in the wind, you want to shout,
you feel the rain your thoughts are fleet.
No need to speak
just to sing
the song of freedom
and feel her tyres
If you knew how I feel as I open her up, the wind in my face, the sound in my ears
it's like sipping life from a precious cup.
My only regret is all the years
without the iron maiden.
Now I live
I'm in the wind
and I'll keep her tyres
- Andrew Wood
Thursday, October 30, 2008
As you can see past me it is a lovely wide road. First from Ashton you go through the amazing "Kogmanskloof Pass" with the hole in the rock (also mentioned in a previous post!) then ride slowly through Montagu, where the famous hot springs resort is, because I have seen speed traps there. After that you are on the open road and it is about 65kms to Barrydale, this is a thoroughly enjoyable road with some wonderful scenery and after about 50kms you will see the "Karoo Saloon" on the right hand side, this is well worth a stop for a beer and the last time we pulled in there was a good biker scene on the go with some wonderful rock and roll music.
From there it's a short hop to Barrydale and the Country Pumpkin; R150 per person bed and a fantastic breakfast! The last time we did this trip we went back to Montagu but then we took the fantastic R318 which winds its way though the Koo valley and has two fantastic passes; the incredibly sharp and steep "Burger's Pass" and the slightly more gentle "Rooihoogte Pass" in it's 70 odd kilometre length. Just look at this picture, this was taken near the top of the "Burger's Pass", doesn't that make you just want to get out on your bike and ride it? How boring would that be in a car? The R318 comes out on the N1 about 50 kms from Worcester and you have the choice of going to the left and heading back the way you came or you can go right and after 12kms turn left onto the R46 and head for Ceres, about 75kms with another Pass; "Die Venster" (The Window). The absolute Piece de Resistance though is "Mitchell's Pass" after Ceres, an unbelievably beautiful ride down the mountain to rejoin the R46 through Gouda and Hermon.
After I have done that ride I am happy, I know that I have about an hour and a half to Saldanha and I settle in to a comfortable cruise. Usually Janet is asleep by then and we arrive home relaxed and refreshed after some wonderful local biking.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Janet had four attempts at throwing the dart and eventually scored a four and then decided that she was going to withdraw from the competition so as not to cause too much of a delay in the line!
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Friday night we were in bed at eight o'clock!
As this picture clearly shows; the glass on the right, Janet's glass again has several millilitres more than mine, so next week I will have the glass which is half full and she will have to have the one that is half empty! Fair's fair! Anyway we had a good discussion and we decided to go to Don's "Beira Mar" again for lunch, I thought it would be nice to contact Frank and get him to go along as well so we arranged to meet at the airstrip at the turn off to the R27 at 1145. I suggested a ride out to "Vlakvarkgat" for beer and then we would ride through to Saint Helena Bay to the restaurant.
Janet had another idea; she said "Frank's going to be late, I would rather go directly to Vlakvarkgat and get pissed, rather than get pissed off waiting for him at the intersection." !!! Bit of a rough chick this! As it turned out we were a bit late and he was waiting for us. We had a cold beer at the bush pub and then a pleasant ride through to Saint Helena Bay, there is a narrow dirt road down to the shore to get to the restaurant and if you didn't know about it you would never guess that one of the very best eateries on the west coast was down there. I love this place and we have now been several times and as luck would have it they had whole baby Yellowtail on the menu again!
It was the most amazing meal, Frank had the same and he also enjoyed it although he doesn't get as fully involved with his meal as I do; when I'm finished there is only a little bit of skin left because I eat just about everything including the eyes, the cheeks and all of the tasty little morsels of flesh in and around the skull. As you can see, not a hell of a lot left there! We had a very pleasant afternoon and left at about three o'clock. It was calm and clear but slightly overcast and I really enjoyed the ride home, after we said "Goodbye" to Frank in Vredenburg I got that familiar feeling on the bike that is so hard to describe, but it is like comfort; being fully in tune and at one with the machine and wanting to just stay on it and carry on riding. As we cruised along I lifted my visor and turned my head slightly towards Janet, she knows that this is when I want to say something and she leaned her head in against mine, all I said was "I'm looking forward to our trip." She squeezed her knees against me and said "Yes!" and I think she got it too - that feeling. Our bike trip is not too far off now, it starts on the 10th of November; our 35th wedding anniversary! I can't believe we've been happily married for so long, she's happily and I'm married!
Friday, October 10, 2008
We were going to visit family and friends in East London, two years ago we had done exactly the same trip on our 1983 Honda Gold wing 1100 but this time we were travelling on our two month old BMW R1200RT and I was interested in the comparison between the two bikes.
It was a beautiful calm evening as we headed East with the sun slowly setting, turning the sky gold and crimson in my rear view mirrors and our shadow getting longer on the road directly in front of us. We were soon cruising at a very comfortable and effortless 150kmh with the big red machine eating up the kilometres. Saldanha to Mooreesburg didn’t take long, always a bit of a boring ride until you get into the area around Riebeek and then through the wine country to Worcester where we stopped at the Dros for a very welcome beer.
My first favourable comparison was that I did not have to fill up at Worcester, still plenty of fuel in the tank. By the time we had finished our beers it was twilight and the last 48km section to Robertson was an absolutely magical ride; it was a balmy evening and the moon was a huge pale orb rising over the mountain range. The road is excellent, there was not too much traffic and what there was we swept powerfully and majestically by, most made way for us and the ride was over far too soon for my liking but we had previously booked accommodation at the Grand Hotel.
The following day we wanted to be in Port Elizabeth early enough to spend some time with our friends so we were glad to have just over 260kms “under our belts”. We had a very pleasant evening, a comfortable sleep and a good breakfast and saddled up just after 8am for the next long day; some 770kms. Robertson to Ashton and then onto the R62 which goes through the beautiful “Kogmans Kloof” where we stopped for our first road photo in the very picturesque hole in the rock. From there we rode through Montagu and then onto the lovely stretch of road running through to Barrydale where I filled the tank after having travelled 344kms and there was still about three and a half litres left. No time to stop and say “Hi” to our friend Derrick at the “Country Pumpkin” but I did give a blast on the hooter as we went past, maybe on the way back. We blasted up the pass out of Barrydale and were soon speeding along the R62 on our way to Ladismith, also too early to stop at “Ronnie’s Sex Shop”, the well known bar about 20kms out.
We were still getting used to the bike but so far I was thoroughly enjoying the way she handled; she felt firm and steady in the corners, well planted on the road and there is plenty of power available. Is there any better way to travel? We don’t think so.
The 77kms to Ladismith passed in a pleasant blur, there was no wind and it was a warm and sunny day, on to Calitzdorp through the “Huisrivierpas”, very enjoyable but too short and not really enough time to turn back and do it again. By midday we arrived in Oudtshoorn and stopped for a couple of beers at the Spur, I parked the bike out front and we stood in the beer garden drinking our beers while we relieved sore saddle muscles.
We pressed on after a good break, the 33km stretch towards George to where the R62 continues was extremely busy so it was a lot of slow riding with short bursts of speed to get past the heavy vehicles and lines of impatient motorists, soon we arrived at the intersection and all the “cagers” turned right to go to George, we turned left onto the virtually empty R62 and accelerated happily up through the gears until we were back to our cruising speed.
On our last trip on the Gold wing we arrived at Avontuur on our reserve tank only to find that there was no service station so we were forced to make an unplanned 13km detour through Uniondale Poort to Uniondale for petrol, what a fantastic ride that 13km is! A winding good tar surface cut through the hills, the sand coloured bluffs high above almost seem to touch each other in places, you don’t have much time to appreciate the spectacle as you have to concentrate on the myriad sharp turns but after filling up with petrol and the inevitable beer or two at the local bar where the bar tender regaled us with stories of the famous ghost, we wound our way slowly back to the R62 so that we could appreciate it.
This time there was no need to make that detour as we still had plenty of petrol, I considered doing it anyway but decided against it, we sped past and pressed on to Joubertina. Eating up the mileage on a pleasant day; 70kms to Joubertina on an almost deserted, good surface road and then another 73kms to join the N2 near Humansdorp. Here we encountered a bit of wind, but only about 100kms to go and we had made good time but it was time to join the traffic again.
We arrived at our friends home at about 4 o’clock, spent a very pleasant evening and after a good sleep we were ready for the short 300km trip to East London. We took it fairly easy out of Port Elizabeth so as not to fall foul of the revenue collectors. I was able to wave at one front flashing speed camera, I wish I could get a copy of that picture; it would have been a good one!
Once you turn off the N2 onto the R72 which follows the coast through Alexandria, and Port Alfred you can open up again, since we were last there two years ago the road has been greatly improved and it was a real pleasure to ride. There was not much traffic and what there was certainly didn’t hold us up, we were able to maintain our favourite cruising speed and thoroughly enjoy the winding, undulating coastal route.
We stopped for a decent breakfast in Port Alfred, had a bit of a break and after refuelling the bike we headed off again. What used to be quite a difficult ride on a narrow badly surfaced road over the Chalumna pass has now been made into a real joy for bikers. There are long uphill and downhill sweepers, mostly wide open and the road is wide and well surfaced, certainly much faster than it used to be. There is a yellow line shoulder on both sides so you have plenty of room to play with and after a thoroughly enjoyable morning we arrived in East London at about eleven thirty.
We spent a lovely long weekend with friends and family, had many braais and beers and caught up with family news. It was a happy time but all too soon it was time to leave. At least our trip home was going to be a part of the whole weekend not like having to climb into a car or an aeroplane, I was eagerly anticipating the ride. Here's me with my late, lovely Mom.
The visit over we said our goodbyes and made ready to leave on Monday morning – up early, our destination Mosselbaai and it was raining! Not raining hard, but the sky was ominously grey and the forecast was not good but hey, we’re bikers, we drink the rain – bring it on!
Out of East London the sky started clearing and as we thundered over the Chalumna pass again the road surface was dry but I could see the heavily laden sky to the South and West of us and I knew that we were in for it! We had a lovely ride through to Port Alfred but after that we started getting the first wetting from the edges of the clouds hanging low and dark over Alexandria and as we rode into that little village the skies opened up and dumped on us!
We already had our rain suits on, but it wasn’t long before the rain was starting to trickle down my neck and my boots and gloves were getting wet. We stopped outside a small general dealer and bought two styro cups of awful coffee, there is no café in that forsaken little dorp.
From there on it rained steadily and heavily, we were still able to cruise quite confidently but it was cold! As we joined the N2 we met up with another couple on a black BMW R1200RT who had come through from Grahamstown, quite a coincidence because we hadn’t seen many bikers at all. We rode together for a while to Port Elizabeth and then we peeled off into the city and they stayed on the freeway, we waved goodbye to each other as we went our separate ways, we had organized a breakfast at our friend’s house but I would have liked to have met those two people, had a chat to find out if they loved their bike as much as I loved mine.
It wasn’t long before our damp stuff was in our friend’s tumble dryer, we took our boots off to try and dry them a bit and after a superb breakfast and a bit of a break we were ready to hit the road again. Our friend suggested that Janet put plastic bread packets over her socks before she put her shoes back on and this worked very well, even though her shoes got very wet her feet stayed dry for the rest of the day.
It was not a very nice ride that day, I was disappointed because I love the Garden route but it rained and rained and the road was extremely busy with “cagers” on their way home and driving like maniacs in the extreme conditions. It was a tough day, I wasn’t able to relax very much and it was cold, thank goodness for heated hand grips! The day passed in a damp and gusty blur, we stopped for another cup of coffee and a bit of a leg stretch at the petro-port but the place was crowded and we didn’t want to stay long.
We passed through Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, Sedgefield and Wilderness, all usually favourite places to visit and to ride through, but not on that day. Each of those lovely little towns was bursting at the sodden seams with impatient motorists.
We arrived in Mossel Baai in the mid afternoon and our friends had a roaring fire on the go, Janet and I warmed ourselves gratefully after changing out of our damp clothes, we put our boots and gloves near the fire to dry out for the next day. We had a pleasant evening and it rained itself out that night, by eight o’clock on the Tuesday morning the sky was clearing and it looked like our ride home would be a good one. We rode away at 8am with the sky clearing more and more the further we went and as the morning progressed the sun began to warm us, our spirits were high and we settled in to an enjoyable day on the bike. By mid morning we pulled into Swellendam and found a nice restaurant with some tables and benches outside where we had a very welcome and hearty breakfast with a couple of cold beers.
The rest of the day was familiar countryside which started out with one of my favourite rides; that superb section of the R60 from Swellendam to Ashton, what a lovely piece of road that is! Wide, excellent surface with wide open sweeping corners, what more can a biker ask for?
As we swept around a lovely fast right hander and headed down a small dip we came upon a queue of cars stuck behind two extremely slow camper vehicles, they did not have the space to overtake the two diesel belching behemoths but I did! We swept past the whole queue and headed off over the hill, I was grinning hugely as I imagined some of the clenched teeth comments from the frustrated motorists, I reckoned it was their own fault if they wanted to travel by car.
The rest of the day went by like that, sun and wind and power literally at my fingertips, the tar road flashing past inches below my feet and no other way in the world would I rather travel. Soon we are going to do it again, look out for us on the road – and wave when we pass each other.
The return trip was 2562kms, interestingly we did 67kms more this time but used 25,4litres less fuel than on the Goldwing and we travelled consistently faster on the BMW. This all equates to 16km per litre as opposed to 13,4km per litre on the previous trip – I’m happy, so's Janet!
Sunday, October 5, 2008
This was my next motorbike, I rode a lot of British bikes in Rhodesia during my Police service; Matchless 500cc singles and BSA 650cc twins and the new Yamaha 350 (?) when they first came in, but when we moved down to Durban in 1974 we bought the Suzuki GT750 and we did lots of happy mileage around Natal. In an earlier post I told about "an embarrasing incident", that was on this bike. We enjoyed it, it was pretty fast but it had an uncomfortable tendency to wallow in the corners.
At that time I also bought my Suzuki DR500s "thumper" on which I did a lot of exploration of the Transkei, I had a wonderful time and it is only in retrospect that I realise how dangerous that was; I used to go off into the bush for the day completely on my own, no body knew where I was and if anything had happened I would have been completely alone, no cellphones in those days!
Next was a brand new Yamaha 1.1 in 1982, my first new motorbike, these two pictures were taken at the Buffalo Rally in Port Elizabeth, probably in 1983. This was the bike on which we did our most enjoyable tour; 8760kms around South Africa in one month, definitely a story I will tell here later.I bought this beauty in about 1985 while I still had the Yamaha, it was a 1983 Honda Goldwing and shortly after that I sold the Yamaha for R3000, which was what I had paid for it! We did some great trips on the 'wing but I sold it prior to going overseas on a business trip and for about ten years we were without a bike while Christie and Simon were growing up. As you can see from the above photo, in spite of how cool I looked in the rally photos with the Yamaha, I hadn't quite got the cool thing going properly, I mean for f*%#'s sake look at the jacket, slacks and shoes!This 1982 Goldwing came next, for which I paid R22,000! It was a very enjoyable bike and we travelled a lot with it, the only problem I had was that it was not an "interstate" which means that the previous owner fitted the luggage himself and did a crap job of it, I had endless trouble with the mounting brackets. However, I managed to sell it for R30,000 - can you believe that?We decided it was time to upgrade and I went for this Kawasaki Vulcan 1500, a big mistake! I fancied the American look and although Janet was very comfortable on the back I could not get used to the whole setup of the bike, I didn't like the fact that I was sitting on the base of my spine with my feet forward, this meant that I could never lift my butt from the seat while we were riding. Also it had a very small petrol tank with a range of only about 150kms, most of the towns in South Africa are more than 150kms apart! It had only three gears, and this was the very bike that let us down with a dead battery on the way to Barrydale one day - mentioned in a previous post.
Which brings us to our tenth motorbike; the big red machine, a thing of beauty. The BMW R1200RT.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
I rubbed the chicken with olive oil and then covered it liberally with a mixture of Aromat, garlic flakes, lemon pepper and mixed herbs and then got busy braaiing it. We relaxed with a beer or two and by the time the bird was ready Janet's potatoes were as well.
If that was a "free range" chicken it must have been a bloody big range! Or else the bloody chicken walked all the way to Saldanha, it was incredibly tough and apart from that it must have had the wind behind it blowing sand up its bum because the inside was all gritty! We managed to eat it but I don't know what I'm going to do with the other one, luckily we didn't have any guests for lunch.
On a bad note, the Blue Diamond has closed its doors! I'm not sure what the story is at the moment but this is bad news - I hope it's not permanent, I'll keep you informed.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Here you can see the waves breaking right over the jetty and the wall next to the road, this was at Pepper Bay outside Pedro's restaurant. We are still busy on the farm trying to repair the damage and it will take us another couple of weeks to get finished.