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, 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!


Christie said...

Such a wonderful holiday. We will have to see if we can top that present next time you come up Dad. You could still be biker scum here....

Geoff James said...

you lucky, lucky lad seethe, seethe :-).

I've never been to Beaulieu, despite having lived in the UK for 28 years! What a fantastic place. There's a powder blue Triumph 3TA in one of your shots - that was my second ever bike at 18 years of age!

What a fantastic opportunity with the cars too. What with family and all that too, it really was a holiday in a million.

BTW, my wife studied in Portsmouth many moons ago!

the rider said...

Christie my love you're all coming here next, I'll stay biker scum here in SA - I've had enough sitting in a flying metal tube to last me for a while! It was a fantastic holiday though.

Geoff there were so many motorbikes at Beaulieu it was fantastic. I have more, only posted a few and only touched on the cars.
We only went to the harbour at Portsmouth and it is an amazing tourist development now, I'm sure it has changed incredibly since your wife was there.
Maybe you should go and have a look at Beaulieu and Portsmouth on your next holiday, knowing you I know you'll love the Motor museum.

Chairman Chegwin said...

Glad you had a great trip Andrew. You're right, Box Hill can sometimes be a bit quiet but on the rare occasions when the sun comes out, all the sportsbikes appear and the atmosphere is very different.

Beauliu (pronounced Bewleee) is great too. Looks like you had a blast.

I'm just planning a trip to SA next March in actual fact - intending a few days in Jo'burg (and will do the Hartie's run) then head to Cape Town for some R&R. Never been before so really looking forward to it.

Great blog btw....

the rider said...

Thanks my friend, interesting to see that you will be in SA next year. Fine, do the "Harties" run but if you come to Capetown we will show you some really good breakfast run routes and we can even do 9 passes in one day so please give me a call before you come, I'll be glad to show you around.

Anonymous said...

What a great holiday - that museum looks very interesting - that Honda 750 is the bike that changed everything - I saw thr very first one in CT at Killarney in 1969 - it was mind blowing. And that present you got must have been great !!
Go well Dick