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.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Easter in East London

The ride up from Saldanha to East London was fantastic, the ride back wasn't so lekker - end of story.
Actually maybe that's not the end of the story, maybe I can embellish it a bit;

Thursday afternoon the weather was wonderful, sunny and clear with very little wind, we had packed the previous night and were ready to go as soon as we could get off work. We rode out of Saldanha at 15h10, eager for the trip and I consciously relaxed my shoulders as we accelerated out along the all too familiar R45 and then the R311 to Mooreesburg. Right from the start it was just so good to be out on the road on the big red machine.

The traffic was horrendous! 232kms to Worcester and we ended up in a traffic jam going through and out of the town onto the R60 heading for Robertson. This is one of my favourite roads, it is not particularly twisty but it is normally a fast 50km run, a lovely wide surface with some good sweeps but this time we ended up in a traffic queue of about thirty, slow, impatient cages behind two eighteen wheelers. At first I thought it was going to be a hellish ride but I slowly started working my way past the grim-jawed cagers until I was up in front, it didn't take me long to get past the deisel belching behemoths and then the road was ours!

It was a classic example of my firm belief that travelling by bike is so much better than sitting in a mobile lounge suite, once past the trucks I opened up and we cruised at 150kmh through the early evening, the mountains of the Langeberge were highlighted by the setting sun, etched in sharp relief against the pale blue sky while my mirrors occasionally flashed brightly as the sun slowly sank behind us, I was a happy man as we cruised into Robertson and found our accommodation at the Grand Hotel.After a couple of cold ones while Janet tried her luck on the slot machines we had a good meal and a relatively early night, we wanted to get out on the road early for the long stretch to Port Elizabeth.

Friday dawned clear and warm, 28kms to Montagu and the start of the R62. We had decided to stay off the incredibly busy N2 which also had several stop/go road-works in favour of the beautiful R62 and although there was a fair amount of traffic it was no problem as most drivers moved aside as we sped up behind them. I refuelled in Barrydale and carried on through, a very pleasant 137kms to Ladismith which took us about an hour, after that it is about 50kms through the spectacular Huisrivier Pass to Calitzdorp where we stopped for a welcome leg/bum stretch and a good breakfast.

From Calitzdorp it is 50kms to Oudtshoorn, the Ostrich Capital, a really good fast run on a straight wide road and we lapped it up, making good time. I refuelled there and then we pressed on, the R62 from Oudtshoorn parallels the N2 but on the other side of the mountains; the Bobbejaansberg, the Middelberg, the Langkloofberge, the Tsitsikamaberge and the Kareedouwberge before rejoining the N2 just before Humansdorp. Apart from the first 34km stretch the road is about 140kms almost dead straight so one can wind it up a bit and there is usually very little traffic, most motorists opting for the N2 - we wound it up!

We pulled into Port Elizabeth in the late afternoon, saddle sore but happy and spent a very pleasant night with our good friends. Early Saturday found us back out on the road for the final 300km run to East London. 110kms to go, we pulled into the Fish River Diner for a cup of coffee and in spite of the way I look I was having a great time!

The Fish River used to be the Southern border of the then Ciskei, an independant homeland and it was there many years ago that a drunk Ciskei Police officer ordered me to turn my car around and go back to where we had come from, I bit my tongue to stop arguing with him as two of his junior officers were pointing machine guns at my car where my two babies were sleeping. This was the result of a political argument between the Ciskei and the Transkei where we lived and to where we were en route, we spent the night in the hotel at nearby Port Alfred and the next morning I crept up to the bridge and seeing that the road block had been dismantled, sped through the Ciskei and home.

We spent a very pleasant two and a half days visiting friends and family and were up and about early Tuesday for the ride home, the weather looked great but it wasn't to be for long as we were soon to find out.

140kms to Port Alfred was fantastic, the road is good and the Chalumna Pass is a dream but from the other side of Port Alfred, as we got nearer to Port Elizabeth we ran into serious wind and soon it was coming from the side at gale force! I was soon battling and my shoulders were taking strain, I was hoping that once we got past Humansdorp and back onto the R62 the mountain ranges would shield us from the wind and indeed as we took that road I could see that the N2 ahead was blanketted in heavy cloud."Put your rain suit on before it starts raining" is the advice I was given and the first drops were coming down as we pulled over. From there things just got worse and once past Joubertina the heavens just dumped on us, because the road is mostly straight I was able to maintain a good speed but it was very unpleasant and by the time we pulled in to Oudtshoorn I had had enough, we could have carried on in good conditions but we found a decent guest house, a nice bar, a good restaurant and were actually quite happy.
The bed was comfortable but too many of these damn places insist on using bloody duvets, too lazy to use proper sheets and blankets they use things that were invented in bloody Switzerland, and are completely inappropriate for South African conditions...don't get me started! My feet stick out the bottom and get cold, if I try to cover my feet my shoulders get cold! I didn't have a good night but breakfast the next morning helped.It started with a lovely fruit salad and yoghurt, croissants with cold meat and cheese and then fried eggs and bacon with really good coffee - I didn't stay cross for long.
The rain appeared to have passed over as we got out on the road but man was it cold! We kept our rain suits on just to help as wind-breakers, it was 11,5 degrees celsius in the morning and as we rode back through the Huisrivier Pass there was snow on the nearby mountains!
530kms to do for the day, not too much but the cold conditions made it difficult for me to relax and I fear that some of my cornering might have been a bit jerky. We didn't have any more rain thankfully and arrived home in the mid afternoon after a wonderful long weekend and we both agreed that we would not rather have been in a car.

We notched up a round trip of 2364kms, I used 148 litres of fuel which gave me about 16km per litre which I think is damn good, especially considering that I consistently travelled at around 150kmh and sometimes more, can't wait for the next one!


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had good biking fun!!
Just back ourselves did 4757kms - ice,wind,serious rain, huge potholes in rain,speedbumps for Africa, and cows , cows , cows - magnificent scenery - awesome Africa Bike Week - what an experience!! wouldn't miss it for the world
Go well

the rider said...

Fantastic Dick! I look forward to hearing more about Africa bike week and we'll be there next year for sure. You were heading back the same time as us so we got the same cold front hammering us on the east coast.