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.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Day 1 - Saldanha to Carnarvon

Saldanha to Carnarvon is a long way, especially for the first day of a long trip; it is some 650kms but we wanted to be in Kimberley for Tuesday evening and that is another 550kms so that was our plan.
We rode out of Saldanha at about 0830 in heavy overcast conditions but it didn't look like rain, we headed up through Vredenburg to Velddrif and then along the bumpy and narrow R399 to Piketburg. It was a bit windy but not overly so and we took our time settling into the bike and the trip. We joined the N7 and merged in with the traffic heading for Namibia, although very picturesque, the N7 is a narrow busy road which winds its way through beautiful fruit orchards in fertile valleys. There are often long queues of cars behind deisel belching behemoths grinding their way slowly up the myriad inclines, most of the time we were able to sweep past and it wasn't long before I was thoroughly enjoying myself but I was looking forward to rejoining the R27 at Vanrhynsdorp and getting away from the traffic.
We started looking for somewhere to have breakfast but it wasn't until we got to Vanrhynsdorp at about 1100 that we pulled into the One-stop and had a very welcome leg and saddle-muscle stretch and a good breakfast at the Wimpy. There's nothing like a Wimpy breakfast when you're on a bike trip!
Soon we were accelerating along the R27 towards the amazing Vanrhyns Pass which climbs at an incredible rate up to the Northern Cape, at the top we stopped for a while and looked back into the misty lowlands of the Western cape. We refuelled at Nieuwoudtville and then hit the road.
70kms to Calvinia, a good road surface with virtually no traffic and I wound it up to around 15okmh and within half an hour we were passing through the dry little town nestled in the "Hantamsberg". This was as far as we had been on a motorbike trip having done a lodge visit on the Goldwing some years back, from here it was all new country.
118kms to Williston and we had decided to stop for a beer break there, I could see that this was going to be good fast riding as there was nowhere for a traffic cop to hide, typical Karoo scrub land with no trees! In fact we did pass a traffic cop parked on the side of the road but he was carrying his take-away food containers to the bin and we waved to each other as we flashed past way above the legal limit!
Soon we were cruising through the Karoo at 180kmh and it was thoroughly enjoyable, there was the occasional slow mooving car or bakkie but they didn't hold us up at all and must have got a hell of a fright as we flashed past.
The countryside was totally different to what we are used to; rust red rocks clustered in haphazard piles with pale golden yellow grass growing from the iron hard ground, one wonders what could possible be farmed in this inhospitable environment but of course the Karoo is renowned for it's amazing lamb, and there were plenty of herds of sheep in evidence.
Eventually we cruised thankfully into Williston and found the little hotel where we enjoyed a couple of cold beers, that had been a long haul and we relaxed for nearly an hour before climbing back onto the bike for the last 129km stretch, by then it was very warm and as soon as you get your jacket and gloves on you have to get moving!
At the speed we were travelling it took just under 45 minutes to do the 129kms but it still felt like a long way! I saw three whirlwinds form up, move across the dry and dusty landscape before fading away and the wind by then started pushing us around a bit.
By the time we cruised into Carnarvon we were both pretty tired and bum-sore and looking forward to a stop over, the village is a dry and dusty dump but the hotel is nice and we were able to park the big red machine inside in the hall, which I really appreciated.
We spent some time in the pub which is a very interesting place lined with beer cans from all over the world!

The owners of the hotel were an interesting couple, they had three mongoose, mongooses mongi,they had a mongoose and two others as pets and they also had a little lamb that ran around with the dogs and whose name was "tjoppies" (little chops) - which told you where he was going to end up!
We had an interesting evening and a good meal of Karoo lamb (not tjoppies) and vegetables, went for a bit of a walk and an early night thoroughly happy with our first day on the bike.
632 kilometres.

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