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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bowling; an enjoyable afternoon and a weekend on the bike

We had an arrangement, you could even say an appointment with Joe and Annie and Dave and Nicky for the weekend which included us taking part in some bowling tournament which was organised as a fundraiser for the "Rollers Cricket Club" and the "Mowbray Bowling Club", both worthy causes to which I committed our attendance.
I should perhaps have consulted with Janet beforehand. There was no way that she was going to do any bowling, even though the Mowbray Club encouraged its members to walk barefoot on the green with their beer bottles in hand, an arrangement which seemed appropriate for her.
Janet had just yesterday been for her bi-weekly fingernail appointment and anyway ball games bored her, we would have to play without her. This we did, even Dave with his prosthetic left leg managed to bowl some good woods and with Joe as our "Skip" we had a good time but did not make it to the semi's, let alone the finals.
Six hours at the bowling club did not seem like such a long time, we had fun and it was good to see that it was not just an "old people's game", we drank many beers and ate really good hamburgers and boerewors rolls as we watched the finals from the wooden balcony, an enjoyable day and although it will not make me join a bowling club in a hurry I could see the attraction.
We had a wonderful early dinner at the "Ocean Basket", one of my favourites and my evening was made complete when I beat my friend Joe at cribbage two games to one, something that will bother him for ages.
Sunday morning we said our goodbyes and rode around to the Viper lounge for a look at the new Victory motorcycles for which they have just become the Capetown agents.
The big touring model is HUGE, it is bigger than the Goldwing 1800 and the Harley (whatever) but it feels well balanced, all the weight is low down and forward but still it feels very daunting, just the sheer size of the bike is quite intimidating.
That bike is not a new one, it is for sale at somewhere around R200,000 and it must be an amazing touring bike - go and talk to Dieter about it.
The dashboard is like an aeroplane, there are dials and lights all over the place and the handlebars reach far back from the front of the bike, it would be an interesting ride but I wasn't much impressed.
Go and check it out for yourself at the Viper Lounge, there is no doubt that it is a very impressive machine and it may just be what you are looking for.
The "Cafe racer" models were parked outside and were very nice looking bikes, I did not enquire about prices as obviously these bikes would not be any good for us!
After just one beer we headed out towards the N7, it was already feeling warm and we were looking for a good breakfast. As we joined the N7 we came across these guys involved in what is just another day at the office for them;
"I am a lineman for the county, and I work the main line." The helicopter lifted the guys onto the lines.
We watched enthralled as the helicopter moved the workers from one line to the next, many motorists stopped next to the road to watch as well. This job obviously requires a very skilled helicopter pilot but I am sure that there is no shortage of really very experienced pilots from both the South African and the previous Rhodesian bush wars.
From there it was a short 13kms to the little village of Philadelphia where we had a very pleasant breakfast. The only problem was that it was incredibly hot and there was no wind at all so we were absolutely swamped, within minutes of our beer being placed before us, with "muggies"/"miggies" - midges.
They get in everywhere, they try to get moisture from your eyes, mouth, nose, food and beer and so you end up eating lots of them, they also bite but you don't notice that at first - I ended up with lots of itchy sores on my arms the next day.
We did the tourist thing, checking out the shops which were crowded with Capetown visitors. As we moved outside to get on the bike there were people milling around muttering things like; "All the restaurants are full, I've checked - what must we do?" and still others, mainly women were saying things like; "Well let's drive through to Melkbos for lunch, it's not far."
Our visit was as a result of an article I had read in the Sunday paper travel supplement promoting the village and I assume that many of the visitors that day were there for the same reason.
The four restaurants and the arts and craft shops were really benefitting from the newspaper article, and good luck to them - I will just make sure that the "Cape Doctor", the south easterly is blowing a bit before I go there again.
I opted for the Coastal road, the R27 for the ride home just to get away from the oppressive heat and we blasted along at a comfortable 140 - 150kmh. It had been a wonderful weekend on the bike and by mid afternoon we ended up in  Paternoster for a cheese platter and a bottle of wine at "Modo Mio", a fitting end to a lovely weekend.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Every now and then fate or kismet conspires to place an inspirational person in your path, someone who has had to overcome incredible difficulties and personal tribulations which make our minor frustrations and hassles seem incredibly trivial.
This happened to me a while back on a breakfast run out in Riebeek Casteel when I saw a rider and his lady pull in to the restaurant parking area on a Can Am Spyder, the three wheeler with two front wheels and one rear. The thing that struck me was that the rider had his left arm strapped inside his jacket and he was walking awkwardly, I mentioned in a post that he had apparently had a stroke but had adapted his machine to operate with right hand and right foot controls. To my shame I did not introduce myself to them, I should have met them and chatted before blithely putting my opinion out in this blog. That will not happen again!
A short while later Chris Hamer contacted me, happy to see their picture but wanting to set the record straight; he had been involved in a bad accident on the way back from the Swallows rally in Worcester a while back and his left arm had been paralysed when the nerves were torn, he also lost his left leg. He told me that he had been a stunt rider and a musician and after the accident had gone through a period of depression until one day he saw the Can Am spyder on a demo, he had bought it and had it modified to suit his needs and from then on no more depression.
He still plays music at the Viper lounge on a regular basis with a friend in a group called "One arm and the Bandit" and is seen all over on the Spyder, even recently on the Killarney race track;
Here you see Chris putting the machine through it's paces, either Grant Crosby-Emery and Gary Hodgson are coming up on the inside or Chris is overtaking them on the outside, it is a wonderful picture by Alana Hodgson, just look at the air under that front right wheel!
In this picture you can clearly see how Chris rides. Respect!
I subsequently met and spoke with Chris at the Viper lounge and I apologised for my incorrect assumptions, I now count him as a friend and I can only hope that should I ever be found in a similar state of trial I will act with similar courage.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Forthcoming events

Well as the weather starts to improve here on the West Coast we start looking forward to some good biking events, and there are some good ones coming up;
8th October sees the second annual Ink and Iron Show in Capetown and this time it's being held at Timor Hall in Plumstead. This was quite an interesting show last year featuring some very good custom bikes and a lot of tattoos.
It has been running for a good few years in Johannesburg, quite successfully and I am glad that they have brought it to Capetown. The choice of venue is interesting because Timor Hall in Plumstead is the home of the I.P.A, the International Police Association! I'm looking forward to that one.
November will be quite a busy month;
Saturday 5th will be the "Day of the Dead.", a rather ominous sounding event but it is being held to commemorate fallen brothers and to support those left behind.
The event is being hosted by four clubs; Arachnid, Brothers of the Wind, Gypsy Jokers and The Shaman at the WPMC Clubhouse at the Killarney Race track from 14h00. They promise grog and nosh at biker prices and music aplenty and a donation of at least R50 includes a metal badge, I will be there.
The weekend of the 12th and 13th will be the Beaver Rally at a venue still to be announced, Frank and I really enjoyed this one last year and I fully intend to go again, last year it was at the show grounds in Heidelberg Cape, a nice ride and I hope they find another good venue.
November 27 will be the annual Toy run organised by the Italian Motorcycle Club, this will be our fourteenth consecutive run and we wouldn't miss it for the world. Thousands and thousands of bikers gathering to give toys to under privileged children, bikers are good folk!
There are obviously going to be other rides and smaller organised events in between, but the weekend of the 16th - 18th December sees an event which we are all eagerly awaiting; the first Cape Town Bike Festival which is going to be held at the Greenpoint stadium. I have already registered for my three day pass and we have organised accommodation within walking distance of the stadium, it promises to be a major event on the biking calendar and I really hope it turns out to be an annual one.
I will cover these events, and others in more detail later but in the meantime stay on two wheels and remember ATGATT! All The Gear All The Time, stay safe.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Modo Mio Restaurant, Paternoster

We have just found a "new" restaurant in Paternoster, ok new for us because it has apparently been on the go for about six months. Western Cape residents, and South Africans who holiday in this area will know the still fairly unspoiled seaside village called Paternoster which is roughly 30kms from us. I say "fairly unspoiled" because over the past decade or more there has been a huge amount of developement which has definitely changed the character of the village, there are now many B&B's and guest houses among the holiday homes which are only used once or twice a year.
We go down there every now and then for a beer on the hotel veranda and when I can talk Janet into it we have a meal at the "Voorstrand Restaurant" (Beachfront) which caters mainly for seafood eaters, so she has to be in a particularly charitable mood because she's not that keen on fish, particularly fish of a "fishy" flavour!
Janet went for her bi-weekly finger nail session, and remember we had just returned from three weeks overseas, so she had missed at least two of the sessions, and while they were sitting doing what they do at these places the "technician" - what do you call these ladies? - mentioned a nice little restaurant down in Paternoster. That was enough for us, the next day we were there!
Outside the unpretentious but delightfully quaint frontage of the restaurant; "Modo Mio", Janet leans on our Avis rent-a-piece-of-crap before going in for lunch. We were still on holiday at this stage so we kept the rental for convenience, believe me it beats owning a car!
This handwritten blackboard, in spite of it's gramatical errors, is a wonderful indication of the owners attitude and it attracted a lot of attention.
The Du Toitskloof Sauvignon Blanc at R69 was a little expensive but it was nicely presented by the smiling, attentive waitress and it was cold. One thing I hate at any restaurant is waiting for something to drink, I don't mind waiting for my food as long as they bring the wine almost immediately after I sit down. Our wine arrived straight away and we happily studied the menu.
 For starters Janet ordered the Cream cheese Jalapenos (left) which unfortunately were pretty bland, saved only by a very tasty cream cheese sauce. My bacon and mussel bites on the other hand were absolutely divine, the bacon was cooked properly, (I'm sure they thinned the bacon before wrapping it around the mussel) the crumb batter was not too thick and the taste of the mussels was definitely there. Both of these starters were priced at R35.
My main course was "Platter for one" which at R99 I thought was an absolute bargain; four mussels in a creamy garlic sauce, several battered calamari strips, three good sized prawns on a bed of rice and a lovely fillet of linefish, accompanied by a small bucket of lovely thin chips (french fries) - I really enjoyed this meal.
 Janet opted for the "Cheese plate" at R79 and there was a hell of a lot on there, I know because after I had finished my food I helped her! Next to the biscuits there is a bowl of thinly sliced biltong, some fig preserve, olives, cheddar, blue cheese, goat's cheese, smoked mussels and salami.
It was a very enjoyable and fairly drawn-out meal, during which I ordered a glass of wine because mine got finished and Janet was still busy!
The bill came to R329 to which we added a tip of R31 making it R360 in total which I consider great value for the quality of food that we had. We will be back, that's for sure and I have no hesitation in recommending this restaurant to anyone in the Western Cape who happens to be in the area.
Give it a try and tell them where you read about it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

At last, a day on the bike!

After a terrible twelve hour journey imprisoned in a metal tube travelling at more than 900kmh at 30,000 feet we arrived back in South Africa to weather that was worse than that in the UK! Alright, we got back here on Tuesday morning and we only had to be back at work the following Monday but still I was hoping for some motorbike weather - this was not to be!
What was I to do? Tuesday night we went to bed at 19h00 and slept for a full twelve hours, Wednesday morning Janet's cracked ribs were still bothering her so she was sort of pushing me away all the time and after three weeks in the house with grandsons who were likely to burst into the room at any time, Janet had been pushing me away for a while! We worked it out though.
The cracked ribs? That was her own fault, about a week before we left she tried to use a dressing table stool to stand on while attempting to adjust the television on top of the wardrobe, it tipped over and she fell across the edge of the stool. I didn't know about this as I was outside entertaining a bunch of students, busy cooking for twelve people, it could have been a lot worse, it could have been twenty people!
We relaxed, went to a few restaurants, saw some friends...Friday afternoon I went to the Phoenix bar as usual with my buddy Frank and got totally stuffed up at pool! I'm not sure what it is but whilst I was in England my son-in-law beat me 42 games to 14 as is usual and when I returned to South Africa I just could not get my mojo back! Don (the bastard!) my ex friend from the "Beira Mar Restaurant" in Saint Helena Bay white-washed me!!!
My biker scum buddy Frank told me about a breakfast run on Sunday which I determined to attend, the meeting area was the petrol station in Velddrif and even though the weather was not that good I was going to be there, I had had enough of the "ladies" Linda and Janet who had come up from Capetown to visit us on Saturday, I had to get away, I left the three of them to their own devices - sometimes a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do!
I arrived just after 09h00 and already most of the riders were there, they were mostly from the local "Meeulanders" club, one of the longest running motorcycle clubs in the area and all friends of mine.
Malcolm arrived on his Super Tenere', every time I see it he has done something else and this time there were after-market crash bars which looked very good. (George have you got yours yet?)

By 0930 there were 15 bikes at the garage ready to go, some twenty people all with a common goal; to have a good ride with like-minded people. We set off in a good staggered formation, as much as the narrow road permitted, and rode at a steady pace in the gradually warming winter sunlight. It was only about 70kms to our destination; the Eland's Bay Hotel but it was a good ride and as we lined the bikes up outside the Hotel we were happy, contented and ready for a good breakfast, and maybe a beer or two!
We lined up outside the hotel, I always try to encourage bikers to line up in an orderly fashion for good photographs but some guys have no imagination and I have no authority so I let it be.
Frank lines up his FJR while Pieter looks on.
The Eland's Bay hotel is really nice on a good day, the view is spectacular and the bar is open. We stood around talking crap and drinking a beer while we waited.....and waited for our breakfast.
It was whilst we were waiting for our breakfast that we noticed a lot of attractive ladies wandering around in bright orange overalls, at first I thought that they might have been on the run from a nearby prison but Frank pointed out that they were far too good looking and several of them had large flowers attached to their overalls, surely not prison attire?
Once we summoned the courage to approach them we found that they were actually lady members of the HDCCT (Harley Davidson Club of Cape Town) out on a ladies day and that some of them were actually riding! Frank tried to move in but I managed to drag him away, I pointed out that there were probably some big guys involved.
Lovely ladies, we enjoyed chatting with them and they assured us that we would be welcome at their club functions even if we didn't want to buy Harley Davidsons. We'll see you soon ladies xxx.
Our breakfast was good even if we did have to wait for it, maybe that encouraged bar sales but anyway we left close to 13h00 and had a good fast ride back to Velddrif, I was tucked in behind Craig and Monica on their Yamaha Fazer and Willie on his BMW K1300 and it wasn't long before we were pulling into the parking area outside "Die Wielhys" Pub. (The Wheelhouse)
Anton and his lady arrive on their custom Kawasaki.
Another very nice Kawasaki Vulcan, and by the next entry I will have their names!
The bikers try to line up outside the "Wielhys" pub, they still haven't quite got it right but I will work on them. This is quite a new biker-friendly pub in Velddrif.
The bikers settle in, here you see Willie, Steven, Anton and Mike getting their beverages.
Here's our lovely Monica, always smiling - lovely lady. I headed home after a beer and a shooter that the owner insisted we have, I went via the Phoenix bar in Vredenburg where I again got crushed in few pool games. Dammit I don't know what's going on at the moment but I will sort it out.
It was a good day, how could it not be? I was on two wheels with a lot of good people.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Beaulieu Motor Museum, Ryka's Cafe and the 6th Gear Supercar experience

We have just returned from a three week trip to the UK where we had a wonderful time visiting our son, our daughter, our son-in-law and our two lovely grandsons. What a shame that they are all so far away, the only option for us is to go and live over there, who knows? It could still happen.
Our family made sure that we had a good time with visits to Devon and Cornwall, a trip on the train down to Portsmouth for the day as well as many local pub meals to pile on the kilos!
One of the attractions that we visited was the fascinating Motor Museum at Beaulieu (Pronounced Byewlee) in spite of its French spelling.
The museum houses an incredible collection of old cars and motorcycles and must be worth an absolute fortune. In spite of the fact that this is supposed to be about motorbikes we are all still petrol-heads anyway and I just couldn't help but admire (and drool over) this V8 Shelby AC Cobra, this is not a replica or a kit car, it's the real deal!
There is an incredible collection of motorcycles and it would take up many pages to post them all here, I spent ages wandering around the exhibits;
Here is Mike Hailwood's racing Honda, things were different in those days - imagine what it must have been liking stopping that thing with drum brakes!
A beautiful AJS in absolute showroom condition.

A Norton and a Triumph 3TA, pretty much the same as those in my previous post on the Polar Bear run. If only the owner of that collection up in Nieuwoudtville could build himself a showroom he could make some money out of his bikes. We paid 17.50GBP each to get in, I don't even want to convert that to South African!
How's this for a comfortable looking sidecar? Not too sure that I would be happy travelling in it on anything faster than that old bike though!

Do you remember when these lovely Honda 750s came out? I was still in the Police in Rhodesia when guys used to come up visiting from South Africa and we saw these for the first time, what fantastic bikes they were! We were still riding BSA 650s and Matchless 500s, no match for the Honda!
We spent about four hours exploring the Motor museum as well as the Top Gear and James Bond exhibits and then headed home, very interesting indeed.
The following Sunday I went over to "Ryka's Cafe" just below Box Hill, which is conveniently close to where my family lives, and is the weekly gathering point for bikers.
The Bikers gather and bikes of all shapes and sizes are ranged in the parking area, many fast bikes in spite of the narrow, twisty country lanes and also many cruisers including the ubiquitous Harley Davidson.

I saw a nice couple of BMW R1200RTs, probably the ideal motorbike for the riding conditions, in my humble opinion anyway.

A new model Triumph Speed Triple, a lovely hooligan machine and probably well suited to the country lanes.
Here are the Harley Davidsons I mentioned, nice looking white-wall tyres but sorry guys, not my "cup of tea."
You also get the extremes like this seriously modified R6 and this very long chopper but most of the bikes that I saw were standard road bikes. A couple of things sprung to mind while I was wandering around this gathering;
1 - In South Africa most gatherings occur where liquor is on sale, Ryka's is only a cafe;
2 - There were no donuts on the tar! In South Africa there would have been plenty!
3 - It was a very quiet gathering. In South Africa there would have been the sound of revving engines.
In fact South African bikers would probably have to find a different gathering point every week, we are a lively, rowdy bunch and most times pretty noisy and I love it!

On a different note, but still related to petrol-heads, my family gave me a very special gift for past birthday and Father's day; A 6th Gear Supercar driving experience!

On that particular weekend it was taking place at a track just outside of Birmingham some two hours away from home, we left at about 11h00 so as to be there in time for our laps which were booked for just after 14h00. My son-in-law was driving a Ferrari but I had the magnificent, sexy Aston Martin:
I felt like I should have been wearing my tuxedo for the occasion! We did a familiarisation lap in an ordinary vehicle where we were shown the track, the brake points and the corner apexes and then we climbed into our cars for four laps driving in the company of an instructor who made sure that we kept the cars flat out!
It is a totally different way of driving and my first lap was a bit rubbish but I made up for it on the subsequent laps, I have a video recording of the experience which I reviewed and which I will try to post later, but in it I see that I reached 100 miles per hour twice on two short straights and I also overtook a Lamborghini just before one of the corners. What a thoroughly enjoyable experience and one that is not likely to be repeated in the near future, to drive a car that us mere mortals can only dream of - unbelievable!
After the laps, which seemed to be over way too quickly, we were taken for a "Hot lap" by one of the instructors in a Ford Focus RS and man did he show us how it should be done!
Not something that I will forget in a hurry!