Much to Des' disappointment the weather last weekend was fantastic! He has been wanting the "Polar Bear run" to be a real winter test for the members, something to sort the men out from the boys;
in spite of the previous weekend being wet and cold, the week leading up to the run being miserable and the subsequent weekend also being wet, (as I sit at my keyboard now it is definitely not biking weather.) the weekend of the fifth annual run was like summer, as it has been every year.
In fact the worst part of the whole run was when I left home at about 08h00 Saturday morning to head for the gathering point in Velddrif, my temperature guage read 5,5 celsius which is cold enough to seriously damage a brass monkey and the sun was hovering directly over the town so I rode the whole 60kms trying not to stare at it.
The previous evening we had met at the Admiral pub for the traditional pre-run briefing, beanies and badges were handed out - six of us qualified for our five year badges,
|Me, Freddy and Frank proudly sporting our 'Polar Bear run 2012' beanies|
everyone agreed that Frank looked like a homeless person.
Des presented the owner of the Admiral pub with a plaque commemorating their support of the run which she assured us will be proudly displayed for all to see.
The presentations and acknowledgements were enthusiastically applauded, even by the WAGS although they were not taking part in the run, the second Polar Bear run included them but by subsequent unanimous vote the run was returned to the "Guys only" status.
It was a pleasant evening meeting old freinds, discussing past runs and eagerly anticipating the next day's ride.
A good few of the members were already there when I arrived, we stood around clutching paper cups of hot coffee with our breath visible in the cold morning air as we waited for the rest to arrive,
Des is a member of the infamous "Kreefsmokelaars" Mcc (Crayfish smugglers) so his Honda Goldwing which was being ridden by his son in law, was adorned with a crayfish and braai grid!
Thirteen of us headed out onto the R27 just after 09h00, time to find out if the guys liked the route that Frank and I had set up. Five members on scramblers were doing their own thing, meeting us at the end venue later that day, and another three were going to be meeting us at the breakfast venue.
We settled into a staggered formation, I was leading and set up a resonably fast pace 140 - 150kmh, we took the R45 for very pleasant 80 or so kilometers to the intersection with the N7, the cold winter sun slowly rising in the pale blue sky was beginning to do its work.
Only about thirty k's along the N7 and we turned left towards the little town of Philadelphia for a very pleasant breakfast at the "Pepper Tree Coffee shop" for the very reasonable price of R45.
Philadelphia and the Pepper Tree is a popular breakfast venue so already there were quite a lot of people there but service was good and the venue is pleasant, the beer was cold so the guys were happy.
The next part of the run was to the town of Wellington, The R304 out of Philadelphia is a very nice narrow tar road that winds it's way through the farmlands to intersect with the R302 where we turned left heading towards Malmesbury, about halfway along we turned right onto a minor road that cuts through to join the R44 at "Windmeul", what a lovely piece of road that is! A narrow tar ribbon that undulates its way through verdant farmlands, wineyards and fragrant fields of intense yellow Canola that fill the helmet with its heavy rich aroma.
Soon we were pulling noisily into the parking area outside the "Gecko Lounge" in Wellington, here extra jerseys were peeled off as by then it was warming up nicely. A cold beverage while we discussed the next part of the ride; over Bain's Kloof Pass, past Wolesley and Tulbagh and to the turnoff at Gouda. Dave went on ahead in his car to set up the traditional cheese and wine stop.
I must confess to not actually enjoying the Bain's Kloof Pass very much, it is for me far too narrow with very tight corners and absolutely no room for any mistakes - we all made it safely though and pulled into a parking area at the bottom for a wee/smoke break.
I started thinking that perhaps I had taken my jersey off too soon as we saddled up again, there was a fairly strong wind blowing through that valley and the rugged peaks of the massive "Slanghoekberge" were lightly dusted with snow. No time to think about that though as we sped through those beautiful valleys, the wide sweeping curves following the Bree River, we crossed the bridge and took a right onto the R44 and the magnificent Mitchell's Pass. Halfway up that wonderfully fast pass is the "Tollhuis Bistro" where we stopped briefly for an expensive, warm beer - I'll give that place a miss next time!
Time to meet up with Dave, back onto the R44 and down the pass, speeding through the farmlands again, leap-frogging lines of cages held up behind deisel exhaust-belching 18 wheelers we revelled in our freedom. A few road work areas slowed us occasionally but soon we were cruising through the usually Baboon-infested "Nuwekloof Pass" then a right to pass the small dorp "Gouda" and soon we were pulling up in a very picturesque spot that Dave had chosen.
The cheese and wine stop has become a tradition after the first run when Graeme pulled a bottle of wine and a little piece of cheese out of his pannier and shared it with his brethren, it amounted to only a sip of wine and a taste of cheese but now it is a welcome stop especially as it was a good few hours since breakfast.
From there it was between 40 and 50kms to the Porterville Hotel and it was decided that the guys could all do their own thing, some wanted to wind it up a bit,
and as they all thundered off the sound of those bellowing exhausts was like music to the ears, soon it was just Des, Frank and I left in the laybye. We saddled up and headed down the road, Des flashed past me and I decided to speed up as well but all of a sudden my helmet was again filled with the heavy, warm aroma of Canola and I couldn't resist stopping for a photo,
sometimes you just have to stop and smell the roses! After a very enjoyable day's ride, apparently Frank and I had done a good job setting up the route, we lined the bikes up outside the Porterville Hotel.
Time to party! We put our gear into our rooms and headed for the bar from what I could gather everyone was in the mood for a party.........................................................