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.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Lunch in Riebeek West at the Grumpy Grouse

What a fantastic day on the bike! Today was a public holiday, actually yesterday June 16th was youth day and as it fell on a Sunday we got the Monday off. I believe representations have been made to change this, if this is passed then it will just be bad luck if a holiday falls on a Sunday, that will be a pity.
Anyway the weather has been wonderful this whole weekend, perhaps a little chilly, and today was no exception. I was up and about quite early and after the obligatory spa bath with the chilled bottle of J.C.Le Roux Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc I decided to give the bike a wash, it had been quite wet the last time we rode and she was bit dirty.
I am still very happy with this bike, in spite of the money that I had to spend on the diff., and now she is running like clockwork. In February this year she was seven years old, she now has just over 90,000ks on the clock so Janet and I are averaging just over 1,000ks per month, I don't think that's too bad for people who are still working and who can only ride in their spare time.
We headed out of town just after 10h00, calm, clear and sunny weather. The bay was a pale blue mirror reflecting the winter sky and there was not a breath of wind to ripple its surface. As we rode around towards Langebaan my thermometer showed me that it was 11,5 celsius, we settled into an easy 130kmh cruise out over the new bypass - I don't go any other way since that lovely road has been completed - and onto the R45 heading for Malmesbury.
We were not in any particular hurry so we sat at a steady 140kmh for the 80 or so kilometres. By then the temperature was up around the 18 degree mark and we were very comfortable, at that speed it wasn't long before we were cruising through the town, still plenty of petrol and we don't smoke so we saw no reason to stop.
From Malmesbury over the pass and down into the Riebeek Valley is an extremely picturesque ride, albeit one of many in our riding area and we were thoroughly enjoying ourselves, the road is in excellent condition with wide shoulder areas and there was very little traffic - biker heaven, and at that time there was nowhere else that I would rather have been.
We stopped briefly at the top of the "Pieter Gruythoff" Pass and looked down into the beautiful Riebeek Valley, I always say a quiet hello to my old BSAP buddy Paul Weinel whose ashes are scattered there before riding down the pass and into the picturesque village of Riebeek Kasteel nestling at the foot of the majestic Kasteelberge range, where he used to live with his lady Amanda.
I had earlier remarked to Janet that there were very few bikes out on the road and when we pulled up outside "Ed's diner" we found that it was closed! So too was the "Pleasant Pheasant", another popular biker eatery, also "The View" had a closed sign up, "Uh oh! Now what?"  I was beginning to think that we would not be eating today when cruising into Riebeek West I spotted an "Open" sign outside the "Grumpy Grouse",
a relief because I was feeling distinctly weak from want of nourishment.
I knew that this place had stood closed for quite a long period and had now apparently been re-opened with a new name and therefor probably a new owner. It turned out that the new owner is Eddie who used to have "Ed's Diner and who had reopened this business last November, and "Yes we do do meals."
We sat outside in the pleasant garden at the side of the building, warm in the sun.
The beers were lovely and cold, they have a fairly extensive pizza menu but I don't eat that crap, luckily there is also a limited but interesting meat menu and the prices were very reasonable.
My lunch was succulent shake-off-the-bone pork ribs with chips, a double portion for R85 and they were truly delicious, they had a basting sauce but it wasn't too sweet or over-powering like some restaurants tend to serve. I flattened that with no trouble!
Janet left out the carbs and had a 350g Sirloin steak with vegetables which she also declared to be delicious, so much so that she ate the whole thing herself!
Two beers, two glasses of white wine and the two meals came to a very reasonable R245 with a gratuity for the waiter, you cannot complain about that and we will certainly be back.
We saddled up for the ride home, luckily I had enough petrol to make it to Mooreesburg because the service station was also closed! Winding our way out of the pretty little town we noted the now russet coloured grape vines along side the road, the countryside also has a new emerald green hue from the recent rains and all is clean and fresh.
Briefly the deep growl of my exhaust disturbed the peace as we thundered out of town and onto the smooth tar ribbon slicing its way through the farmlands, young lambs a plenty frolicking next to the sheep and huge hay stacks made up of individual bales dotted the landscape.
Fortunately the service station in Mooreesburg was open and we filled up, Janet had already been nodding off behind me, I felt the plastic tap of her helmet against mine and then it would press against mine quite heavily, perhaps I need to make a pad on the back of my helmet and some velcro on the front of hers?
The 20km stretch from the town to the intersection with the R45 is now in even worse condition after the rains and there are treacherous potholes for the unwary, I kept my speed down to an easy 80kmh until we were able to wind it up again on the R45.
I cruised past local watering holes looking for the other bikers; "Juffroeshoogte" was empty, "Edwardo's" was closed, there were no bikes outside the "Rooikraans" so we headed home. It was by then a very pleasant 27 celsius as we rode quietly into our home village, what an extremely pleasant day it had been.
I don't know how many more excellent riding days we are likely to get from now on, I do need another one to take my bike down to Capetown for a service and I am organizing the sixth annual Polar Bear run for the last weekend in July, the previous five have been run in beautiful weather and I hope the luck holds out for this one.
Stay safe brothers and sisters, see you out there. Keep the shiny side up!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Meeulanders on a charity run again, blankets for the needy.

My alarm jolted me out of a deep sleep and with bleary eyes I glared at the offending machine; 06h00. During the week the alarm goes off at 04h45 so I don't normally need the alarm on weekends but today I obviously did. I reached out of bed and pulled the curtain open, it was still about two hours until sunrise so it was too dark to see what the sky was like, I was hoping it was clear as had been promised by the weather bureau because yesterday it had rained on and off the whole day.
I stumbled to the kitchen to make the coffee and then returned to my warm pit, by the time we'd had our second cup we could see a clear sky gradually lightening from the east, cold but you can dress for that and just after 08h00 as we rode out of Saldanha the temperature was a very fresh 9 celsius.
Under a very pale blue wintry sky we rode towards Vredenburg 13 kilometres away, I had my winter jacket on over a jersey but it wasn't long at all until my legs and my knees were particularly cold. This was practise for the upcoming Polar Bear run at the end of July and I decided I would wear the winter jacket with its lining and I would use knee warmers under my jeans, perhaps a scarf of some sort around my neck which was also quite cold. My hands and feet felt alright, no problem there and the windscreen kept the wind off my face - Great, I'm ready!
The gathering point was at the "Lighthouse Church" and the service was already underway so I rode as quietly as possible into the parking area, Frank was already there and he and I made good use of our blankets before we handed then in.
There were a lot of bikes in the parking area which was great to see, a lot of blankets had been collected and they would be handed out to needy people a bit later. This was part of an annual Meeulanders mcc drive and the members and friends rose to the occasion as usual.
There were some very nice looking bikes like this clean Suzuki with chrome rims and Jan's beautiful Boulevard with matching panniers.
After the service ended and the people poured out of the church we milled around meeting and greeting and then it was time for kickstands up, they were heading for "Zizi's restaurant" in Langebaan for breakfast, I didn't count the number of bikes or people but it was a sizeable convoy that rumbled through to the holiday town and lined up in the parking area in front of the restaurant.
We hung around for a bit chatting to the people but I wasn't in the mood for a breakfast, I wanted to do some more riding and have a lunch somewhere, I much prefer a lunch on Sunday than a breakfast so we said our goodbyes.
It was good to see my brother Alec walking easily around, it was only a short while ago that he was riding with a badly broken leg;
incidentally according to Janet he's a "bloody good looking guy!" I'll have to stop taking her on these runs!
We saddled up and headed out of Langebaan, no particular agenda, just enjoying the calm and sunny weather, by then it was starting to warm up a bit. I turned left onto the R27 and we rode at a steady pace through to Velddrif and then back around to Vredenburg, as it turned out we ended up at one of my favourite local restaurants for lunch; the "Slipway".
It was really pleasant sitting in the sun at the Slipway, they're in the process of fitting glass concertina doors in front, one side has been completed already and what a pleasant change this makes,
We are so well known at the Slipway that we don't have to order the bottle of wine or the starter of "Mussel and bacon bites", these are just brought to our table to share;
I went outside to get a photo of the new front of the restaurant and caught Janet pouring the wine, I had to check that she was dishing it out fairly so I hurried back inside!
My meal; Dorado fillet with chips - delicious, this is why it's one of my favourite places to eat, that and the fact that we are made to feel so welcome there.
Janet opted for two starters; spicy chicken wings and crumbed mushrooms both of which were delicious, I know because I had some!
After a relaxed lunch we headed out in search of the rest of the guys again, I thought they might be at one of the local watering holes but after cruising past the well known places with no sign of them we headed for home, it had been a very pleasant day out on the bike and we had participated in a worthy charity event organised by the local Meeulanders, a great bunch of people with whom I am proud to be associated.
You've heard me say this before and I'll say it again; bikers are wonderful people!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Stormy dayjol - we gather for a good cause

With the biggest storm forecast to hit the western cape in ages, a fundraiser day jol had been advertised for Saturday at the nearby "Vlakvarkgat" resort. Bikers I spoke to confirmed that they were going to attend but that they would likely be going in bakkies (utes or pick-ups) and leaving the bikes at home, I agreed that this was a good idea, it's all very well getting caught in rain when you're out on the road but to cold-bloodedly leave home in the rain when the venue is only twenty kilometers away takes some doing!
I've been riding motorbikes since the mid 60's, man I've got the tee shirt! I drove my bakkie around to "Vlakkies" in the rain and when I got there I parked in amongst plenty of other cars and bakkies already lined up in the parking area.
There were some guys on bikes and they deserved respect! (Not many)
The weather was seriously bad, cold and windy with rain squalls coming through.  There was plenty of shelter at Vlakkies with an awning providing extra protection and a huge tree trunk fire helping to keep the cold at bay,
not even the frequent showers could put that fire out which I'm sure would burn for a month!
I arrived at about 14h00 and already the place was pumping, I was pleased to see that in spite of the miserable weather there was plenty of support.
Freddie was one of the beneficiaries of the dayjol, he has motor neuron disease and can no longer speak or  swallow food but he has still got an amazing spirit,
he has a tube connected to his stomach for nutrition and he had the tattoo done, what a character!
The music was great, the DJ kept the rock going and as long as AC/DC played then Freddie was nearby and throughout the afternoon Freddie got lots of love.
What can you say about a picture like this?! Bikers - my people.
The DJ kept the muzak going and the place was rockin' and while Freddie danced Joe played the air guitar like a pro.,
The rain came and went in squalls, while it rained the people gathered under the veranda and during the breaks they congregated around the fire and all seemed to be having a good time,
It was a well organised jol and many old friends were there;
Joe and Frank, my old biker buddy Frank is always at these jols and is usually the last to leave.
Daan and Beverley - I love this photo, as I was taking it I was holding a glass of whisky in my left hand and Bev noticed that I was tipping the whisky over my jacket while trying to manipulate the camera so she reached forward to help me save my whisky.
During one of the sunny spells they held a slow race but it didn't take long because there weren't very many bikes - there didn't seem much point in holding a slow race for bakkies!
Joe's son Llewellen won the slow race,
What a nice young man this guy is, he handles a bike with confidence and skill and he is already a real biker.
All in all the day was a success and in spite of the terrible weather the turn out was great, sadly the Gypsy Jokers were not represented even though their local dayjols are well supported by all who were there at this one.
 The two best represented clubs would have been the "Meeulanders" with their President "Div" (right) and the "Kreefsmokelaars" and their President Jean both of whom had many members there.
I left in the late afternoon, I left Frank there who said that he was also leaving soon, the party raged on and I hope that the revellers were staying over, Frank sent me a text at 23h40 to say that he was home safe which I only got the next morning!
The road was slick and wet, the wind was blowing strong and I had the music turned up loud as I drove home, I'm a biker to the bone but sometimes I'm happy in a cage! You won't hear me saying that too often I promise!