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.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

An embarrasing incident

Is anybody reading this stuff? I don't know, but I'm enjoying myself anyway.
I was reminiscing a while back and I thought back to when we first arrived in Durban, we managed to buy a secong hand Suzuki GT750 and again it was Janet who worked out how we could do it - she's amazing, I'm glad I kept her!
Anyway, we lived in the Wingfield Hotel for a while and it was a residential hotel where most of the permanent residents were geriatrics, they seemed to disaprove of us probably because were a hell of a lot younger than them and we were bikers.
The motorbike was in really good condition with one seemingly minor defect; the steering lock didn't work properly. With those older bikes there was a separate keylock on the side of the forks and when you turned the handlebars fully to the side and turned the key they stayed locked in that position, not so my motorbike! When locked the handlebars would move to the centre but wouldn't turn to the left, I had noticed this but it didn't seem to be a problem.
One sunny Sunday morning Janet and I were preparing to meet up with Janet (my sister) and Graham for a picnic and it just so happened that at that same time most of the hotel residents were out on the veranda having their morning tea. Janet was carrying two big brown paper bags full of picnic goodies, she stood next to me while I got onto the bike and started the engine then she handed the bags to me to hold while she climbed on behind me.
I could see all of those miserable bloody people looking at us, tut-tutting and talking to each other about us but what did I care?! I handed the bags back to Janet and slowly started edging forward.
Fortuitously we were in the hotel parking area and I had to navigate my way through the parked cars so we set off slowly, when it came time to turn left to go out of the gate the handlebars wouldn't go that way! SHIT! By then the bike was leaned over slightly and I put my foot out to try and hold it but there was no way and we slowly and gently fell over onto the tar.
Time seemed to stand still, I looked over at Janet and said "Are you alright?"
Janet sort of hissed; "Pick the flippin' bike up!" again using one of those words that Joy would never use.
I slowly looked over at the bike, the back wheel was still spinning and over it I could see the people on the veranda struggling to get up and make their way over to us.
I turned around and watched two oranges bouncing and rolling in slow motion down the drive and settling in the gutter next to the road.
"Are you alright dear?" I knew she wasn't talking to me, one of the old ladies had made it to Janet's side and was very concerned about her. Some of the old guys were trying to help pick up our scattered picnic items but their backs were giving them trouble. None of them seemed to be worried about me!
"I'll get the oranges!" I said and started off towards the gate.
"Forget the oranges, pick up the bike!" Janet hissed, but I was already halfway down the driveway and didn't know how to change direction without looking like an idiot!
I gave Janet the oranges and then picked the bike up, "It's got a faulty steering lock!" I almost shouted and then made a point of unlocking it but no one was interested, they were all fussing over Janet, she had a sort of desparate pleading look on her face, like: "let's get out of here!"
We mounted up again and I made a point of cruising slowly away in a dignified manner, all of the old folks returned to their tea which must have been cold by then and I made a point of never locking my steering again!
We ignored the people when we got back and none of them said anything to us, but I did notice that they seemed to look at Janet with pity, as if she was forced to do something that she didn't really like!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Biker funeral

A couple of weeks back we attended a biker's fuberal, this is an all to common occurence I'm afraid, you only have to read the condolence messages in the bike magazines to see how often it happens. It's not going to scare us off riding our bike though, I'll just be more careful.
The service was very moving, the guy's two young daughters tearfully read testimonials which had almost everyone in tears, even most of the forty or so bikers sitting in the pews clad in leathers and colours.
After the service thirty motorbikes lined up two abreast behind the hearse and we headed through town to the cemetary. As we neared the cemetary all of the motorbikes overtook the hearse and lined up on either side of the road at the entrance, then as the hearse passed between us all of the motorcycle engines were revved, a wonderful loud sound to give the brother a send off. After the hearse had passed through the engines were switched off and we all sat in silence as the rest of the cars entered.
It was incredibly moving, Janet sat behind me with tears dripping out of her helmet.
We left the graveside ceremony to the family and headed for the nearest pub to celebrate life. I hope that I don't have to attend another one for a while, ride safe bro's.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Country Pumpkin

We were in the last week of a wonderful holiday, our kids and their kids had gone back to England and we still had a week left so we decided to get out on the bike. At that time we were riding a Kawasaki Vulcan 1500, an American lookalike and I think I know what the problem was; I had had some spotlights fitted on either side of the headlight, I wanted that cool cruiser look but they were linked to the high beam and connected directly to the battery, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Janet was extremely comfortable on that bike, she had a comfortable pillion saddle and a good sissy bar so that when she fell asleep after a lunch and a couple of glasses of wine, she was leaning backwards, I had to check in the mirror to see if she was still with me. Not like now on the big red machine where I need a rubber pad on the back of my helmet, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
We had a wonderful ride along Clarence Drive, unfortunately it is a difficult road to ride because of the large number of motorists and when you do get a gap you don't know whether to ride fast to enjoy the bends or ride slowly to enjoy the scenery, I'm seriously considering a motion to make that a bikers only road. We arrived in Rooiels in the late afternoon and after a couple of beers in the pub, we decided to stay there - not in the pub, in the area!
After exploring the little village we found a reasonable B, on the gate it was advertised as a B&B but they no longer did breakfasts but that suited us anyway and after a comfortable sleep we got on the road nice and early.
We had a nice breakfast in Hermanus at a friendly little restaurant that was prepared to serve beers at that time of the day, I did notice that we seemed to be the only ones taking advantage of that but those people must have had their own reasons for drinking tea and coffee.
Pressing on we went through to Stanford and along the amazing R326 to where it joins the N2.
That has to be one of the best biking roads! Ok there are lots, but it is a wonderful surface with a minimum of traffic which winds through the wheatfields alongside the "Klein" river, we have ridden that road quite often and you can haul along there until you get to the main road, we stopped in Swellendam for couple of beers and then headed along the N2 until the R324 through Suurbrak.
By now we were quite bum sore but it wasn't far to our destination which was the Country Pumpkin at Barrydale, I had read about the place in the Bike SA magazine and had booked for the two of us. Anyway, there we were riding through the Tradouws Pass when all of a sudden I got that feeling that all bikers get after a while, that macho and stunning feeling so we decided to stop and take photos of me.
We spent a half an hour there and took a good few photos and when it came time to leave the f**king bike wouldn't start! Those two spotlights!
There's no way you can push start a Vtwin 1500! Janet's a big strong girl, but not that strong so we sat there looking at each other thinking what do we do now!?
Nokia! I phoned Dereck and told him the story, "Is there a mechanic in the area who can help me?" To cut a long story short, after telling me that there was no one to help, he arrived with a trailer, loaded the dead Vulcan and took us back to the Country Pumpkin. We tested the battery and found it to be completely dead but Dereck said that he had a new bike coming up from Capetown the next day and he could organise a new battery for us, the only problem was that it would only be arriving in the evening. We had not planned on spending a whole day there but Dereck offered us the use of his new R1200GS for the day while we waited for our battery!
What a day we had! It was such a jol blasting around on the GS because we could go off road, we visited the hot springs resort and Ronnie's Sex Shop and cruised the local area.
The next day we set off with a new battery, got home and sold the bike! Since then the Country Pumpkin has become a regular place for us to visit - okay one time it was full and we ended up in a gay guys B&B where we were the only boy/girl couple at breakfast the next morning, but that's another story.
Stay on two wheels guys!

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Maybe it's a sign of withdrawal symptoms, but because I haven't been riding for a while I find myself reminiscing about some of my favourite roads and my favourite rides; like the R318 from Montagu to the N1 or the R326 from Stanford.
Cape bikers will know about the 46km stretch from Ashton to Swellendam, a wonderful high speed road with a good surface, sweeping bends and wide shoulders. I have ridden that road on many occasions but one ride sticks in my mind; we were on a run to the Buffalo rally in Mosselbay two years ago and by the time we had reached Ashton I felt that I had to open up for a bit, we stopped for petrol and I said to the guys that I was going to go ahead for a bit of a fast ride, we had been riding quite slowly because there were a couple of cruisers in our group and we agreed to meet in Swllendam for a beer or two.
Jim and Daphne were on a Triumph and he said he was going to ride with me and we set off, my intention was not to ride seriously fast I just wanted to enjoy the road and I settled into about 180kmh just enjoying myself when all of a sudden Jim flashed past me doing over 200! This was with a loaded bike with Daphne on the back, I was alone on my bike!
So I says to myself, I says: "Myself," I says, "There is no way this Pommie on a Triumph is going to leave me behind!" he is a Pommie, comes out from England every six months! So I set off in hot pursuit, what a ride! We sat nose to tail for the whole way doing over 200s and ruined what up until then had been a fantasticaly economical ride.
How about the R62 from Montagu?
We have ridden that wonderful road often and stayed over at the "Country Pumpkin" in Barrydale, many of the Cape bikers will know about the amazing breakfast at the Country Pumpkin, if you arrive on a bike you get a free sherry and a free coffee before you leave and Dereck, a biker himself has a selection of badges for sale to bikers.
There is also that cool biker bar, the Karoo Saloon just before Barrydale; we arrived there one late afternoon and the place was full of bikers and there was some serious rock and roll music on the go, what an amazing vibe!
I will have more to say about that area, Dereck's "Country Pumpkin" is a special place for us because he rescued us when our bike broke down one day, not the big red machine! But that's another story.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Dismal week

What a crap week it has been at work! Even though I enjoy my job, sometimes I wish that I had a job that wasn't affected by the weather. The wind has been blowing out of the north for the whole week and we have had some serious rain! To top off all of the shit, on Wednesday the "Mussel Cat's" starboard side propellor shaft broke. I enjoy driving the Cat, I pride myself on being able to drive it really well but it is a big Catamaran and when you only have one engine working then it handles like a pig, especially when the wind is blowing.
Yesterday we got trapped out on the farm, before we realised what was happening the wind had picked up to 30 knots out of the north and although we were already tied up alongside one of the rafts, we were stuck there. With only one engine there was no way we could move. We carried on harvesting while we could and built up a good stock and I was wishing for some rain so that the wind would die down, but no such luck. By 13h00, which was already much later than we normally pack up, I called the "Mytillus" to come and help us. The "Mytillus" is a converted life boat that we use as a lorry, a transporter and a rugged little vessel which is about 6 metres long with lots of flotation and really solid gunwhales.
By then the wind had abated a little so we lashed the Mytillus onto the starboard side of the Musselcat to act as the starboard engine and cast off to begin the trip back to the Pepper Bay jetty, what a trip that was! The poor little boat took a hell of bashing, I took a video clip which I will post later but suffice it to say, we made it after what seemed a long trip.
I was quite tense during this trip because I have the responsibility for the safety of the personnel, at that time 24 people and of the vessels - a lot of money. It makes the job on the mussel farm quite enjoyable though.
Anyway to end the week off Frank and I played pool today at the Blue Diamond and I won! Luckily we use the centre table because there was a motorbike leaning up against the first one. What a cool pub!
We will ride soon, we will get a chance to braai soon and we will surely drink some beers soon! (One of the above will be tomorrow morning early!)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Pool and Cribbage

I'm sitting here in front of my computer and thinking; "Shit man, since I started this blog I have hardly ridden my bike because the weather's been so bad" - ok we managed to ride to the pub the other day, but that's about 18kms. I haven't done a single braai, but tomorrow is a public holiday and we are going to a braai at Joe's place, but that doesn't count because I won't be doing the braai (for a change!) Joe lights the fire and gets someone else to do the braaiing, this used to be me but now he's got Leon in charge.
But then I thought "Hokay Stopie Lorrie! It's cool because I have drunk lots of beers since then." So all is not lost and if the weather's nice tomorrow we will go down on the bike even though Janet has a problem with flat hair. Someone should invent a big bulbous crash helmet that doesn't flatten Janet's hair, every time before we set off on a ride she says to me "OK how do I look? Remember this because it's not going to be the same when we get there."
I have several times pointed out to her that she looks really nice except for her flat hair, but you have to know when you can get away with that sort of thing, you have to be able to accurately judge the mood. Janet uses words that Joy would never use!
We did pull into the Blue Diamond today for an ABF (Absolute Bloody Final) that changed into three ABF's because they had some really loud, cool music going. They have a good disco setup there and Janet and I danced a bit, unfortunately because of the weather, there were only three other people there.
I had a great day yesterday though because Joe and I went to play some pool and I won the first six games straight, this put Joe under extreme pressure and he also started using those bad words! The afternoon ended with me being 8 games to 4 up when we decided that it was time to pack it in, joe suggested that we should have a game of cribbage later thinking that he would be able to pull something back, I readily agreed because I was hot, should have bought a lotto ticket right then!
We got back home at about 2230 and Joe said "Come on let's have a game." Well to cut a long story short - I beat him with quite a big margin, put the cards in front of him and said "Mugs away." to which he replied "No, I'm not playing anymore." Man did I have a great day!
I'll let you know how tomorrow goes, if you see us on road on the big red machine - wave, I'll wave back even if you are on a Harley.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Good day at work

Check it out! Today was a good day at work, ok my baby stayed in the garage but the northerly wind stayed away and we were able to get our work done on the farm. I called it a day at about 2pm because it was starting to get a bit heavy but by then we had finished the bags for the fresh market and a good number of crates for the factory. Winter is a bad time for us because of the northerly winds, we budget for a few lost production days each year but I still like to get it done as often as I can, it's a delicate balance between downright dangerous and just manageable. In the 18 years that I have been involved there has only been one death and very few injuries.
So we finished early and while I was at home Janet phoned me to ask if I could pick her up in town, she had just had her hair done - sure, I'm on my way ( you don't keep them waiting!) I was busy trying to improve my solitaire score but what the hell.
We decided to go to "Captain's Cabin" for a bottle of wine, even though we have cheaper versions of the same wine in our fridge. What is it that makes you want to go to a pub and pay more for the same booze that you have in your own fridge? OK not everyone does that, I know people who don't go anywhere, they are going to die well off, their house paid off and a small boring car in the garage. He dreams about that Harley that he's always wanted and he's getting older and older and there's no way he's going to get it. What a shame!
Janet was the one who organized our big red machine, sure we both visualised it in the garage but she was the one who worked out how we were to get it, I will never forget the day we went to collect it, that was one of the best days of my life. Ok being there when my daughter was born was also good, and in 1972 I bought a brand new Yamaha 1100 for R3000, that was a good day too.
So what am I saying here? Don't wait until your house is paid off or your daughter is born, get out and buy yourself that motorbike - there's nothing like it man.
We finished the first bottle of Robertson Sauvignon Blanc and I said to Janet "Shall we get another one?" this is not usually a difficult question for her to answer but for some reason she said "No!".
I looked at her quizically, I'm good at doing that and said "What about eating here?" because I was thinking about the calamari and chips with the amazing garlic sauce. Janet thought about the next bottle of wine and said "Ok."
So that's what we did, I decided to have my serious garlic on Thursday night because I don't care what my workers think about my breath the next day, but we are going to Joe and Annie on Saturday and if I was to have garlic on Friday night and then talk to Joe on Saturday that would be a problem, he is rude and makes a point of pulling away and saying something like "Gosh you had garlic!"
So it was a good day at work and Monday is a public holiday, tomorrow is a quiet day and I'm going to play pool with Frank in the afternoon. I'll get my baby out of the garage for a while during the weekend, keep the rubber side down Bro's.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Crap day at work

Today was a serious winter day, my baby stayed in the garage and there was no chance of a braai after work, when my alarm went off at 0445 I heard the wind pumping from the north and I knew that it was going to be a bad one.
We couldn't get to the "Mussel Cat's" mooring because the wind was driving big swells into the corner so put the staff on standby and waited for first light to assess the weather conditions.
Whenever the northerly blows strong it drives big wind swells across the bay and makes things really difficult for the mussel farm operation, it was 0900 by the time we got going, two hours later than normal so it was a push to get the bags packed for the market, 210 of them. As we steamed out to the farm the rain came down, a drenching rain but at least the wind had dropped. I sat in the cabin and read my newspaper and drank my first cup of coffee, one of my routines that I really enjoy, preparing myself for the rigours of the day.
The rafts we are working on are good now so we were able to get everything packed before midday and we were able to get 64 crates packed for the factory, the last thing we did on the way in was take a stack of oysters out for a customer in Durban. As usual I ate two fresh oysters to check that they are alright for my customers, hell someone has to do it!
At the time of writing there is no wind, let's hope it stays that way because I've got a hell of a lot to do tomorrow!
Monday is a public holiday, I'm hoping for a chance to get out on the bike?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Charity Runs

This weekend all of the local biker clubs, and there are a good few in the surrounding areas now, got together on Saturday for a tin run and on Sunday for a blanket run.
On Saturday the guys and girls set up outside all of the local supermarkets and persuaded the public to donate tinned food for needy people, by the end of the day an incredible amount of tins had been collected for distribution.
Sunday's run started with a huge number of bikers arriving at the church in Vredenburg to hand in blankets and as the run was organised by the CMA (Christian Motorcycle Association) a biker's church service was held for those who wished to attend. Everyone then took part in various local rides and all ended up at the Blue Diamond for a braai, this turned out to be a very festive scene with the biggest crowd yet. Unfortunately, but as is to be expected some of the guys, including the owner of the place started revving and doing donuts inside! This resulted in a large part of the crowd opting to drink outside as the noise level was absolutely incredible!
The braai went down well and everyone enjoyed themselves - but let me ask you this; what other group will get together in huge numbers to collect for needy people? Any car owners? The Annual Toy run is held throughout South Africa every November where thousands and thousands of bikers donate toys to under privileged children, Janet and I will be doing our 11th run and I will tell you all about it then. Bikers are good people, under that rough leather clad exterior beats a heart of gold.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Blue Diamond

It's winter now on the west coast and that means wet and windy so my baby's doing a lot of garage time. We don't mind getting wet if we have to, when you do any long distance riding you're bound to ride in rain every now and then, but we'd obviously rather not. Having said that though, when you do get calm and sunny days in the winter they are glorious and perfect for riding.
We got out for a local cruise yesterday afternoon just to blow the cobwebs out of the exhaust pipe and it was lovely, as usual we ended up at the "Blue Diamond" biker pub in Vredenburg. This is fast becoming my favourite spot and Frank and I usually play a couple of games of pool there every Friday afternoon.
The pub is now in the industrial area (used to be in the centre of the town) so bike engines are not going to bother anyone and the owner is still busy fitting the place out, there are four very good pool tables but what is so enjoyable about the place, and is I believe unique, is that you can ride your bike into the pub and park it inside. This so cool!
We need to see more of the Cape bikers there, it's ideal for a stopover on the way back to Capetown after a day's ride. Plenty of people using it already as there are lots of bikers in this area. We had a couple of beers, chewed the fat with a couple of buds and then headed home. See you there.

Monday, June 2, 2008

What it's all about

If you are bikers you guys know what it's all about; biking gets into your blood. Once you've been out on the road, either on your own or with someone special on you pillion, that's it! Those who don't ride motorbikes don't know about it; that amazing feeling, the tar flashing by inches beneath your feet, the road unwinding in front of you and unexplored destinations beckoning. You control your ride with delicate movements of your hand and wrist, dipping into long sweeping corners looking through them and negotiating the apex, pouring the power on and accelerating out.
You can feel the road through your butt, your hands and your feet and there's nothing like a sudden surge of power to get you quickly past a long line of cars held up behind a slow moving truck on an uphill gradient. You don't need as much overtaking space as they do and you grin as you imagine their frustrated comments whilst watching you disappear into the distance.
How great is it to be caught in a sudden downpour? You stop to pull on your rain gear and head off into the wet shouting "Bring it on!" into your helmet, knowing that you would not rather be in a car.
We are going to talk about those times, the wonderful and memorable times spent out on the open road. South Africa is a fantastic place for bikers, the Western Cape is glorious with something like nine mountain passes in our riding area and we have ridden around the whole country so I can talk about it with some authority.
On one memorable month on the road we did 8760kms, in a loop around the whole country without booking a single night's accommodation. When we felt that we had ridden far enough for the day, which was usually indicated by a sore bum we looked for a bottle store, a butchery and a place to sleep - usually in that order. I am going to discuss that holiday later, share those memories with you.
In the meantime let me leave you with this thought;
Bikers make better motorists (when they have to drive a car) because they learn to anticipate potential road hazards far sooner than non bikers, they have to to stay alive. They learn to watch out for the stupid moves that motorists are going to make.
Keep the rubber side down Brothers and stay safe, and when you are out on the open road and you pass a brother on a bike, wave for f**k's sake.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Women like bikers, don't misunderstand me here; they like bikers not bikes, unless they ride themselves or on a pillion. If you want to impress a chick don't buy a bike, you'll have to buy a fancy car for that. You will see it for yourself, you're sitting in a pub with all of your buds and the bikes are lined up outside a guy and his women walk past and he will stop to admire the bikes, she will not have seen them and will start pulling at him to carry on; "Over my dead body!" she's saying.

"That can be arranged." he's thinking, picturing himself sitting astride the bike wearing old denim with rock and roll music in his helmet.

Frank and I were on our way to the Slangkop Rally one sunny Friday afternoon, we cruised into the outskirts of Capetown and came up behind "Piggie's Party Bus" driving slowly along in the inside lane, there was a party in full swing and I could see the barmaid behind the bar at the rear of the bus dishing out beers to the revellers.

I pulled in close behind the bus and blew my hooter, the lovely young lady turned around and I raised my visor and shouted "One Castle please!", more as a joke than anything else, by then Frank was wondering what the hell I was up to. The barmaid signalled me in closer, my front wheel was by then only inches from the bumper and she carefully tossed me a can of beer which I managed to catch with my left hand. She then signalled Frank to come in and tossed one to him as well.

I have no idea what the nearby motorists must have thought! We accelerated past the bus, pulled off the road and cracked our beers and saluted everyone on the bus as it chugged past. That sort of thing can only happen to a biker and it was a wonderful start to a rally weekend. Now that was a woman who liked bikers!

That was a good rally, it's a very small one but it is growing quickly. I love going to rallies, I take my tent and inflatable mattress and my sleeping bag and get away for the weekend. Janet prefers not to go unless we can stay in a B&B or a hotel, she prefers her comforts and dislikes the usually inadequate ablution facilities that guys can put up with for a couple of days. So I get to go off and act like a biker scum with my friends - cool.

We arrived on Friday mid afternoon and started to party, usually the party goes on right through the Friday night and we gave it a good go, I don't remember what time I turned in but at least I did manage to inflate my mattress - Frank just fell into his tent and slept on the ground still in his leathers. Saturday starts off a bit slow, but a lot of people arrived during the day and started their own party!

At 2am on Sunday the wind started up and it can blow there. I got up to take a leak and it was only when I returned to the tent that I realised that I had been holding it down, luckily my panniers were also inside otherwise it would have blown away completely, as it was it had blown over onto Frank's tent and woken him up, he scrambled out and was calling me thinking that I was still inside. What a mess! We managed to get my tent packed and then started on his and then it started to rain! Man did it rain! There was nothing for it but to pack up and go, by then it was 0345 and as Frank is usually the last one to leave a rally site, his is literally the last tent still on site, he was bitching at just about everything.

That was a memorable ride home, riding over "Ou Kaapse Weg" in the pouring rain, the wind pumping in pitch dark was not fun. I repeatedly told myself "Trust your tires, they're good!" as I dropped into a tight and unfamiliar corner. It rained hard the whole way home, 150kms and we were good and wet by the time we pulled into the Wimpy at the Engen One-stop for breakfast. We weren't as badly off as some of the guys who pulled in after us, we have fairings and windscreens but most were on naked bikes and they were dripping wet.

In spite of the miserable conditions I wouldn't have rather been in a car and it makes for good conversation in the pub afterwards. Bikers rule!