The much anticipated day arrived and we were up and about at 0445, showered dressed packed and ready way too early! We relaxed with a cup of coffee and a piece of toast and rode away from Saldanha at about 0640 just as the sun was beginning to show above the hills to the east of us. It was fresh, chilly but not as cold as I expected and we settled into a steady cruise to the meeting point at Velddrif.Most of the group were already there when we arrived and it wasn't even ten minutes before Des was summoning the riders together for a briefing;"Staggered formation, 50 metres apart, no overtaking on the left and let's keep it safe!" Twenty three motorcycles rode out at about 0720 and headed along the bumpy R399 for the first 80 km stretch to Piketbberg, five were dual purpose bikes which would be taking the dirt roads through and the rest of us would stick to the tar roads.
Here Des chats to Dave and Nikki, we ended up staying there for the duration of the rugby game between South Africa and Australia about which we will say no more! Some went for the short tour on the old London bus;After a very enjoyable stopover at Matjiesfontein it was time for the last leg, 110kms to Sutherland, a narrow tar ribbon winding through the karoo scrub, a nice surface but a road that requires care because there is no runoff area and on the corners the armco barriers are right next to the road.
That was quite a long 80 kms, we rode through patches of very dense fog that cut our already slow progress down to 80kmh for long stretches, but soon we were roaring into Porterville for the first of our scheduled stops, some of the people needed to smoke!
From there it was a wonderful ride through to Ceres where we gathered at the "Spur" for a pre-organised breakfast, and there Dick and Janet and Dave and Nikki joined us for the rest of the trip. By then the weather had improved considerably, the sun was shining and the sky was only partly cloudy, I read 13,5 degrees on the bike's computer so we were quite comfortable.
After a really good breakfast we all mounted up and headed off along the picturesque R46, only 80kms to "Touws Rivier", but we roared through the lovely "Warm bokkeveld" and two passes; the "Theronsberg" and the "Hottentotskloof" Pass and it was an enthusiastically happy bunch of bikers that pulled into the service station to refuel.Just look at these beautiful machines; Frank's Yamaha FJR, my BMW and Dick's ST1300, men and their toys!
After the refuel it was only 55kms along the N1 to Matjiesfontein and although it is a very busy national road, it is a lovely stretch of road with a good wide and smooth surface so that didn't take very long, the guys were eager for a beer at the historic pub - well I suppose it could have been any pub! It just so happens that this place has a lot of history.
Some rode fast and some rode slow, we were in the middle cruising along and enjoying the balmy weather and the stark vistas presented by the "Droeberge", the "Klein Roggeveldberge" and the lovely winding "Verlatekloof" Pass and soon we arrived at the laybye where the cheese and wine snacks had been prepared for us.This banner refers to a heart problem that John had on last year's trip which caused him to miss the festivities at the hotel. We spent a very pleasant half hour or so enjoying some really good local wine with cheese and biscuits, it had been a wonderful ride with some interesting stops and by the time we lined up the bikes outside the hotel in Sutherland we were ready to party!