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.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Tornado in Tableview

We were in Capetown over the weekend and riding home on Sunday, it was a beautiful day and we had arranged to meet Frank at the Viper lounge in Tableview. He hadn't had his bike out for a while and was hankering for a ride.

We had stayed with our friend Janet in Hout Bay and had to travel that incredibly picturesque road over "Suikerbossie", down along the coast and through Camp's Bay and I had underestimated how busy that area was even on a Sunday morning. There were pretty young ladies in skimpy outfits all over the place! This naturally made me a bit late but Frank had a table organised by the time we got there. This was fortunate because the place was humming, people had tables and chairs on the pavement and even in the parking area amongst the motorbikes. We arrived at about 10h00 so we were able to have a beer while we waited for our breakfast.Some guy rode up on this beautiful Bennelli Tornado, I have never seen one of these before and have no idea what this would cost here in South Africa but I would imagine quite a few shillings! It was beautifully finished with loads of carbon fibre covers and it sounded absolutely fantastic, a deep melodious growl. (Is there such a word as "melodious"? - melodic? - maybe "a deep lekker sounding growl" would be better.)

The breakfast was good and we sat for a while chatting, enjoying the warm morning air before mounting up and hitting the R27 for the ride home.

The plan was to go through to the Phoenix bar later in the afternoon but I gave it a miss, it had been rather a heavy Saturday night with a few friends and some of Dick's good whisky and I was feeling a bit tired. Another good weekend.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The ride home

It has become accepted by my biker friends that I pack up and leave early on a Sunday, I want to get home to Janet so I don't wait for anyone and this day was no exception. I was awakened at about 05h30 by the sounds of chatter and of people packing up to leave.

It was just barely daylight, still over an hour to sunrise when I started packing my gear, the tent and flysheet were both wet from dew as I stuffed them into the bag, I would have to air them out at home. By the time I had all my gear stowed and the bike engine idling to warm up I was sweating profusely, it was going to be a hot day. The others were still wandering around and would be packing in the sunlight!

I rode out of the gate at 07h15, refuelled at the one-stop just outside of the town and headed off down the N2. The air was slightly chilly, refreshing and I soon cooled down as I accelerated away from Mosselbay. There was nowhere near as much traffic on the road at that time on a Sunday, and not many bikes yet either and I was soon doing 160kmh.

It is about 90km to Riversdale where I pulled into the Wimpy and had a good breakfast, there were already a lot of bikers there and the breakfast went down singing hymns!

After about a half an hour break I again took the lovely R323 some 70kms through the lovely Klein Karoo scrubland and the Garcia Pass to join the R62. There was virtually no traffic on the road and I was able to enjoy myself at an illegal cruising speed.

I passed through Barrydale without stopping, along the lovely R62 at speed to Montagu and then through to Robertson, by then I was feeling a bit tired and butt-sore so I stopped for a cup of coffee at the local Dros, that did wonders and I carried on from there much refreshed.

I had another fuel stop along the way and by the time I got to Riebeek I was desparately in need of a cold beer.

The whole trip was 570kms and it took me exactly 6 hours which included a breakfast stop, two fuel stops, a coffee and a beer so as you can see I was keeping up a good average speed. I had a thoroughly enjoyable morning on the bike in perfect weather, what more could one want?

This coming weekend we are going to the Gypsy Jokers fun day at the hotel in Saint Helena Bay which is only about 45kms away, we have booked a room in the hotel so that we don't have to worry about travelling. We paid R280 each which includes a lamb on the spit braai, the room and breakfast on Sunday morning, definitely a bargain and it promises to be a good jol - I'll let you know what it's like, stay safe!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Buffalo Rally - day two

I surfaced at about 06h00, it was the sound of people talking that roused me and as usual I staggered bladderfully to the ablutions, it was pre dawn calm, the sky was clear and there was no wind, it was promising to be a beautiful day. Pieter and his wife had a kettle boiling and offered me a very welcome cup of coffee which I stood drinking, no where to sit except on the ground. I must buy myself a chair, they are too big to carry on the bike but with the big rallies someone usually goes in a car or a bakkie and will carry things for you. I have had one of the small three legged folding stools which are easy to carry on the bike but they are flimsy and the last one I flattened in a rather embarrasing manner one evening.

Div, Willie, Bernard and I went across the beach to a restaurant for breakfast which went down well, I decided not to go on the mass ride as it was already very hot by then and I just couldn't be bothered.It's a very picturesque spot and it was pleasant looking out over the beach from the restaurant balcony. The campsite is where the line of trees is in the picture.After a hearty breakfast I wandered around the rally, there was a wheelie machine in operation which looked like a good safe way to learn how to wheelie and it was certainly kept busy. More people were arriving throughout the morning, obviously those poor people who can't get off work on a Friday and the place was really beginning to fill up. As usual there were many interesting bikes to be seen, like these two old BMWs; they were in really good running condition and sounded lovely. Look at this "Rat bike" and try to imagine travelling any kind of distance on that saddle! That exhaust was very noisy too. As I said usually there is a bakkie to carry stuff to a rally, well these guys had taken a fridge along! Passers by were invited to sign the fridge or write a comment for posterity. Towards the middle of the day I wandered back to the camp, it was incredibly hot and I was so tired of walking and standing around, as luck would have it Marius' chair was vacant and I gratefully flopped down into it with Willie, Div and Bernard in the shade, it was so good to sit down! By then pretty much every available spot had a tent on it, the place was filling up although later on the organisers were to announce that attendance, at 5250 entries was considerably down on last year. Daan joined us for a bit, bringing along a bottle of brandy and a coke which he offered to share with us, I don't drink brandy but the others joined in and I fetched what was left of my whisky. This was a very neat Suzuki GT750 parked nearby, the first motorbike I owned when we moved down to South Africa in 1974 was one of these. There were four of these massive Honda Goldwing 1800 trikes that had amazing lights all over and under them, they cruised around in the dark making a very impressive light show, a bit kitsch for my taste but impressive nontheless. Another interesting trike although it looks bit narrow an unstable to me. Somebody's GSXR had been condomised in his absence! Later that evening we had a braai and then headed down to the main tent for the prizegiving, it was crowded and incredibly stuffy with thousands crammed into the tent and I couldn't wait to get out. I didn't win the main prize of R100,000, in fact I didn't win any of the prizes!

Back at the camp everyone was gathered around a fire braaiing the remainder of the meat and just quietly chatting, even the bike revving had died down and the campsite quietened down as people got an early night before the ride home next day. I climbed into my tent at about 11h00 and didn't have any trouble getting to sleep, my mattress was very comfortable after sitting on the hard ground! Looking forward to the ride home.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Buffalo Rally 2011 - Day one

I don't have to tell my biker readers that the best part of the weekend was the ride there and the ride back. The Buffalo Rally was great but the time spent on the big red machine was fantastic!Friday morning, having organised a day off work, I was ready packed and loaded by 08h15 and here you see the Big Red Machine ready to go; the beauty of this kind of bike is that I can carry everything I need (except a chair - about which you will read more later) in the panniers and top case with my tent strapped to the pillion seat.
I set off with a great sense of anticipation, the sun was shining and I was ready for another adventure. I was riding alone which is also great for me, I could set my own pace and make the stops that I wanted.
I settled into the bike and accelerated out away from the coast, away from the cool weather and into the Boland and the Klein Karoo and within the hour the wind started to blow! I am well aware of the nature of the beast that I am riding, incredible power under me barely controlled by wrist and foot action with a serious grater flashing inches beneath my feet....but what a feeling! A grin inducing sensation, it doesn't take long until I am in a comfortable position, slightly hunched forward, close up to the tank, shoulders relaxed and forearms parallel to the road and barelling along at an illegal speed. BRING IT ON!
The wind teased up dust devils in the parched wheat fields as I sped through and I had to close my visor in places as the dust covered the road, I was forced into an awkward sideways lean in some places as the wind hit me from the side but I rode on, opening the throttle even more.
After two hours, by which time my shoulders were starting to take a bit of strain I got to the east side of the mountain range and the wind died down, I was able to increase my speed and by the time I had done 345kms I was looking for a refuel and something to eat, it had been fantastic so far. I had decided to stay on the R62 through Montagu to avoid the N2 where there were many "Stop/Go" road closures and it appeared that many bikers had made the same decision, I joined a group of about 30 bikes riding into Montagu, mostly cruisers and after a brief beer stop at the Karoo Saloon I met up with them again at the garage outside of Barrydale.
After finding that my regular stop; the "Country Pumpkin" was crowded out by bikers I pulled in at "Clarke of the Karoo", a lovely restaurant run by Mike Clarke who incredibly remembered my name even though it was more than a year since we had last been there. I had a beer and a fantastic Karoo lamb burger for lunch.Because I was not in a huge hurry I rode the next twenty or so kilometres at a fairly relaxed pace and pulled into the iconic "Ronnie's Sex Shop" for a beer.
This place is now amazingly world famous and attracts bus loads of tourists apart from those in cars or on motorcycles, apparently it was an ordinary place called "Ronnie's Shop" doing a modest trade when a drunken friend added the word "Sex" after a piss-up weekend and since then the rest is history. Now it is a pub restaurant oasis in the middle of the Klein Karoo which is always busy and where a tin of beer costs R12!
Proceeding onwards I sped down through Gracia Pass in the company of several other bikers to Riversdale where I joined the ever busy N2 Highway and gleefully engaged with the cages in their pedestrian travels. Surely they must be able to see how pedantic their progress is compared to my energetic weaving, diving and dicing fun. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and pulled into Mosselbay energised and invigorated after some seven and a half hours on the road.
As usual the entry area was a chaotic mix of people and machines, all intent on getting through the registration proceedures and settling into the Buffalo Rally party and it wasn't long before I had progressed through the efficient pre-entry area and was in search of my friends.
It was still a bit windy as I set up my camp, but with the help of my friend Floors and his wife Marina I was soon good to go.
I wandered down to rally road in search of a cold beer, there was the usual plethora of good food stalls as well as clothing and accessories and it was good to greet old freinds and meet new ones on my way to the "Castle Lager" sign at the beer tent.
The tent was a massive affair and the band (one of three) was already playing excellent Rock and Roll music which they were to keep up the whole weekend. I bought three beers, one in hand and one in each pocket and went for a look around.
As usual there were excellent machines to see, such as this custom built V8 Thor trike, a truly awesome machine. If you've been reading my stuff for a while you will know that I am not a fan of Harley Davidson but even I was impressed with this very clean and understated Harley trike.
By the time evening came along I found myself outside Colin's Kudu Stall which was doing a roaring trade and for good reason, the food was great! I had a Kudu fillet burger which was outstanding, all of the meat was genuine Kudu and I determined to eat there again.
I found myself back at the campsite - because I wanted to get my whisky flask from my pannier - and Bernard was braaiing a lovely piece of rump steak which he cut up into chunks for us all to taste; delicious! After that we all walked back down to the main tent, by now I was getting seriously tired of standing and walking! There was nowhere to sit.
Sometime during the evening we were at an ice cream stall and this young lady took a fancy to Div and his badges, a real little sweetheart. We headed back to our camp, about a kilometre and a half from the main tent and then everyone turned in for the night.
I wasn't ready for that and normally I would have had Frank with me to carry on with the party but alone I wandered back (a k and a half) to the main tent, determined to let the jol continue. There I found the party animals in full swing and I submerged myself in the revellery, it was actually during this period that I found more friends, people whom I recognised from previous rallies and people who came up to me and put an arm around my shoulder, brothers and sisters who recognised me and asked "Where's your friend Frank?" and I loved the biker fraternity.
Arseholes closed the bar at 02h00!
I wandered back slowly demolishing a Kudu wors (sausage) roll and sipping whisky from my plastic bottle, I was very happy with my first day and I had a brand new inflatable mattress waiting for me - life is good!
I settled into my tent in the early hours of the morning with the sound of motorbike engines revving to the limit from different parts of the camp..............aaaahhh rally!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mid week chicken potjie

On Wednesday evenings we usually invite my old bike rally/drinking buddy around for dinner and this time I felt like doing the cooking so I decided on an old favourite; chicken potjie.

It didn't take us long to get stuck in to the important stuff, it's a good opportunity for us to discuss upcoming rides although Frank is not going to the Buffalo Rally this year.
I like to get all of my ingredients prepared so that I don't have to keep running back and forward to the kitchen, clockwise from top left; potatoes peeled and chopped, mushrooms halved, the chicken portions (I used one whole chicken plus four extra thigh portions), bacon bits, broccoli and cauliflower and the last bowl has chopped onions, green peppers and celery.
I heated some cooking oil in the pot and prepared the chicken, I sprinkled the soup powder, some Aromat and a good dash of mixed herbs over it and made sure it was all well covered.
This helps to make a lovely tasty gravy, I set that aside and then fried the bacon bits in the cooking oil.
When they were just browned I scooped them out and then fried up the onion/green pepper mix in the lovely bacon flavoured oil and when that was all nicely sweated down I put the bacon back in.
Then it was time for the chicken, over a good hot flame I browned the chicken, stirring it continuosly for about ten minutes and then poured in a whole beer;
If you try this recipe and you don't use a Castle lager then I will not be held responsible if your pot doesn't work! At this point I added the potatoes and turned the heat right down to allow the pot to simmer for half an hour.
This is actually one of the quickest and easiest pots to make, I checked to see that the potatoes were feeling soft and then added the mushrooms and the vegetables, gave the whole lot a stir and left it to simmer for another fifteen minutes. I added salt and pepper to taste.
Just before serving time I stirred in about 100ml of fresh cream, turned the heat off and allowed it to sit for ten minutes.
That's it, easy - Janet made up some nice brown rice to go with it. It was rather good even if I do say so myself and what's nice about making a big pot full of food like this is the left-overs!
Janet says she's going to eat left-over chicken potjie this weekend while I'm at the rally, tomorrow morning early I'm packing the big red machine and heading off on a nice long ride to Mosselbay, I'll tell you all about it - can't wait!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Two great bike trips planned

There are two bike trips coming up now; the Buffalo Rally in Mossel Bay this coming weekend and the Easter weekend ride to East London. The Buff is a 500km ride which I am doing alone, mainly because Janet doesn't particularly enjoy rallies, but also because she is extremely busy at work with financial year end. My lovely woman lets me go off and act like old biker scum with my buds for a weekend four or five times a year, I think she recognises the need that a guy has to get out with his buddies and just tie the dog loose every now and then.
When I say I am doing it alone I mean without Janet, a good few of the local bikers are going to the Buff and I will meet up with them there. The only negative thing is that my old rally mate Frank is not going to be there, he can't make the Buff so I think it will be a bit of a subdued party because there are not many who can keep up with us.

Our Easter weekend trip to East London is now in the planning stage, the trip is more than a month away but this is what I really enjoy; the lead up to the trip, planning the ride and even though we have done this trip many times there are still things to organise, such as the route, Frank and the boys encountered five stop/go roadworks on the N2 on the way to the Freedom Road rally which cost them an hour! I want to avoid those at all costs, so we will take the R62 through to Outdshoorn, then Joubertina and join the N2 near Humansdorp.

I have been sitting with my map happily plotting our trip which is some 1295km, I have booked Thursday night at the Grand Hotel in Robertson so that we can get some 160kms of the trip under our belts on the first night, from there we ride through to Port Elizabeth where we will stay with friends Dirk and Sonja and then through to East London on Saturday morning where we will arrive mid afternoon.
We will enjoy quality time with family and friends for the weekend and then leave on Monday morning for the ride home, we have both taken the day off on Tuesday and Wednesday is a public holiday so we have plenty of time to get home without having to make a mad rush.
I am not going to book anything on the return trip, we will ride for as long as we feel like it and then we will look for a place to stay over, I'm thinking a caravan park chalet somewhere with a braai. I'm dying to try out my new ipod nano with the docking station on some chalet veranda with some chops on the grid.
Damn it's going to be good and you can bet I will tell you all about it, it's a great ride on some lovely roads and we can't wait to get going.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Another Friday afternoon at the Phoenix bar

I really look forward to my Friday afternoons, that's when I play my sport - pool. Usually I finish work by midday and by 14h00 I have done my deliveries. This Friday the biker bar was nice and busy and it seems as if a younger crowd is starting to come as well, Danny has struggled a bit with numbers but hopefully his patience and diligence are starting to pay off. I for one would really be disappointed if he had to close, as far as I am concerned this is the best bar in the area and all we need is more support from the locals.
Talking about locals; while we were busy with a game I heard several bikes arriving and then the sound of a siren, Des and Marina led a group in on his beautifully restored BMW R80 "Police bike"
Des is a good friend of mine, a West Coast character and the organiser of our annual "Polar Bear Run", the fourth one takes place on the last weekend in July this year.
Des and his lovely wife Marina, she is an artist with her own studio in Veldriff on the banks of the Berg river next to Des' shop which I have featured in earlier posts.
In this photo from the left Lindsay and John, Frank and two visitors from England Bill and Gay, two very nice people visiting with John and Lindsay and getting an introduction to the West Coast biker scene. Bill was very impressed with our pub saying that there was nothing like it at all in the UK, maybe in the US but he wasn't sure.
During the afternoon, in between games of pool I found Fungis chatting Janet up, he's going to ride to the Buffalo rally with me next weekend.
I played quite a few games but wasn't doing too well for some reason, Don the owner of our favourite restaurant; "Beira Mar" has now organised his work load so that he can play pool on a Friday, beat me three games to two and various other people beat me as well!
I did manage to win a few of the games I played but really I would prefer to win them all! Still that's the nature of the game and probably where the old saying originates; "You can't win them all."
During the afternoon the ever ebullient Davrin arrived wearing the worst crash helmet I have ever seen! He says he likes it but it is just an "eye-blinder" as far as the law is concerned, also apparently the faster he goes the more it tries to lift off, pulling his head back! Not a very comfortable way to ride.
It was a good afternoon spent with biker friends, old and new, and our pool afternoons have become something of an institution now. The game winner stays on the table and is challenged by all and sundry, much like a gunfighter in the old West, until he is usurped by the newcomer and so it goes on through the afternoon. There is much banter and beer drinking and general revellery, as there is with any biker gathering. Come on over and see for yourself!

Monday, March 7, 2011

To Capetown and the long way back

Saturday afternoon we were in Capetown after a really good ride down from Saldanha, I had a meeting to attend so we stayed over with friends Joe and Annie. I took these photos of the iconic Lion's Head, Table Mountain and Devil's Peak at sunset from their veranda whilst sipping on a cold beverage. It really is a lovely view, further to the right of this one can see Robben Island where Nelson Mandela and many others were incarcerated during the apartheid years, quite clearly.
We left at about 09h00 on Sunday morning with the intention of linking up with other bikers in the Riebeek Valley area, possibly at the little town of Tulbagh for breakfast. I refuelled just outside of Melkbos on the R27 and then headed up to the N7, turning north towards Malmesbury.
It was an absolutely beautiful morning, no wind, slightly overcast, just perfect for riding. We hadn't been on that section of the N7 for many a moon and as we sped along through the early morning it was not very busy, the N7 is the main artery for traffic heading up to Namibia and on a weekday it can be seriously clogged.
As we approached the N7 One-Stop after about fifteen minutes I felt those familiar hunger pangs, I lifted my helmet visor and shouted to Janet; "Should we have breakfast here?", "Yes, great!" she replied so we pulled into the Wimpy, a favourite breakfast venue anywhere in the country when we are on motorbike trips.
After a hearty breakfast we resumed our journey, every now and then we encountered queues of cars and heavy vehicles but happily sped past leaving them far in our wake and it wasn't long before we were riding through Malmesbury and out into wine country.
20kms along the picturesque R46 with "Kanonkop" off to the right and the imposing "Kasteelberge" in the distance we stopped alongside the road overlooking the beautiful Riebeek Valley. There is a 1661 monument to someone named Pieter Gruyhoff there (which I must look up sometime) but more importantly my old friend Paul Weinel's ashes are scattered there, overlooking the valley that he loved. I said a quiet "Hello." to my old BSAP (Rhodesian Police Force) comrade and we pressed on down into the valley.
Time for a beer! We pulled into a popular breakfast stop in Riebeek West where several other bikers had gathered, on any Sunday you can find bikes parked outside pretty much all of the restaurants in that area, it is a very popular riding area for Cape bikers.
Time to go and Janet gets her hair ready for the helmet. The ride wasn't exactly as we had planned it, but that's also part of the joy of motorcycling isn't it? Going just where the road and the mood takes you.
From there we took the 34km stretch of the R38 back to the N7, through the sleepy little town of Mooreesburg, down through Hopefield and back to the Phoenix Bar.Alex and Malcolm arrived on their matching Tenere's, Craig and Monica were also there on the demo model that I rode so there were three of these lovely bikes parked outside the pub. (For some of my American friends to drool over!)
In this picture some of the local bikers; from the left Amanda and Allan, Floors, Craig, Malcolm and Elise. The pub was quite busy through the afternoon, I took Janet home and put the bike away and then went back a little later in the bakkie.
Willie and Div enjoying a drink and discussing the upcoming Buffalo rally in Mosselbay which we will all be attending. I spent a very pleasant afternoon playing some pool and drinking a few beers, Willie kept buying them but I eventually managed to buy him one back and then got out of there before it got too hectic!
Looking forward to the Buffalo Rally on the weekend of the 19th/20th, a good 500k ride and a long established rally with a good bunch of guys, what more could one want?