Saturday 27th July was the date for the sixth annual Polar Bear run, I was up early and ready to ride well before the time so I had a breakfast beer. It looked clear but the forecast was for rain, perhaps this would be the first of the runs in bad weather? Des had always hoped for bad weather for the run but the past five consecutive rides had been run in calm, clear and sunny conditions, perhaps he would be happy with this one.
I was the first to arrive at the Engen One-Stop just after 08h00, no rain but seriously heavy, grey clouds and as I got my cup of famous Wimpy coffee I could see that we were going to get wet. After my coffee I pulled my wets on, I have learnt from long experience that it is better to put them on before it starts to rain!
New Polar Bear runner Greg on his very neat Kawasaki KZ1300. Soon there were eleven of us ready to ride with others coming through later, some poor people have to work on Saturday!
I set off on point and settled into a 130 to 140kmh cruise, we weren't in any hurry and one of the guys was on a scrambler so we took it easy, I was pretty sure that we would soon be riding on wet roads anyway.
As usual with a bunch of bikers there are a few smokers so a smoke break is mandatory, the first one was in Mooreesburg just 80k's away! I am usually very impatient with this, I want to ride but I reminded myself that we had plenty of time so I just bit the bullet.
Our intention was to have breakfast at the Spur in Piketburg which was only about 30kms further and as we rode into the town it started raining in earnest.
We lined the bikes up and went in search of breakfast but the Spur was so busy, there was a large KTM bunch on their way up to Niewvoudtville as well as locals and it seemed that the management had been caught off guard, there were too few staff and we got tired of waiting.
Roellie made a phone call and we eventually found another restaurant in the town; Cafe Latino's, nice enough but they were unlicensed and by then it was nearly midday - Oh well we'd have a drink later,
By then we were all very hungry and thankfully the breakfast was great and a bargain at R40, we'll be back!
On the road again and by then it was seriously raining, also the road condition was not too good with roadworks almost all the way to Clanwilliam. Here we got separated due to a misunderstanding, a few of us pulled into the garage outside of Citrusdal to refuel and the others didn't see us and rode on past.
We were further held up by a long "Stop/Go" section where we were entertained by some fruit sellers who took advantage of captive buyers,
I had told Des that I wanted the next stop to be in a laybye overlooking the dam on the Lambert's Bay road but he misunderstood and carried on almost to Graafwater, by the time we pulled into the laybye there was nobody there. I checked my phone and sure enough there was a message so I phoned him;
"Where are you? Are you in Clanwillaim?" -
"No we're in a laybye overlooking Graafwater, where are you?" -
"We're in the laybye overlooking the dam, are you coming back here?" -
"No you guys must come here." Thank goodness for cellphones.
Eventually we found the bikes lined up in a very picturesque laybye and after the usual noisy, light hearted banter; "What happened to you guys, where've you been?" - "Fuck you what do you mean where've we been? You should have been in the other laybye!" - "What do you mean fuck me? Fuck you!" and so on, we enjoyed our cheese and wine party.
The cheese and wine party had developed from the very first run when, at a laybye Graeme took a single bottle of wine and a small piece of cheese out of his case and shared it with all of us, now it is a tradition.
By then the rain had stopped and we enjoyed a very pleasant chat drinking wine out of styro cups and crunching on biscuits with slices of cheddar cheese, simple but under those particular circumstances very enjoyable.
We rode down the hill and into the little dorp called Graafwater, it was Des' idea to stop for a drink at the hotel and it seemed like a good idea as we were only a couple of K's away from our destination.
It was a pleasant enough little place and the drinks were cheap, I'm sure the owner (who Des went to kiss on the other side of the bar) was happy with the extra sales.
"Hi I'm Des, what do you think of me so far?" He quickly got out of there when he was shown a photo of how big her husband was!
Two K's down the road is the "West Coast Hacienda" where the party got started as the guys gradually arrived, we held a minute's silence in memory of Freddy and dedicated the party to him.
The first draw and Davrin's number came up, he had to sit for five minutes like this to win a meal for two at the Slipway restaurant in Saldanha. It was a cold evening so it must have been very uncomfortable, I hope he enjoys the meal.
Etienne's name came up next; two lengths of the pool for which he won a bottle of very old "Witblitz" which he immediately proceeded to dish out to the guys.
That is about all of that stuff that I was prepared to drink, some of the guys enjoyed it though and I saw the last of it going into coffee at breakfast the next day!
Davrin took over the disco and actually sings very well, he was the winner of the floating trophy for the "Character of the run" this year, a well deserved award because he kept us in stitches!
The party raged through the night, Frank and I were the last ones left and we called it a night somewhere between 01h00 and 02h00, I don't think we were thrown out either. I ended up sharing a room with the "Kreefsmokelaars" and that could be the subject of a whole other story with the comings and goings that went on!
Frank was the last one to wake up the next morning, he still had his rain-suit pants on from yesterday! This is a familiar sight for anyone who knows him.
Marius gave us a really good buffet breakfast to see us right. The accommodation had been very reasonable with a delicious potjie meal for dinner the previous night, he has a special accommodation deal for bikers so if you're looking for a good base especially for the flower season give him a call on 0725379991 and he'll see you right, I'm going back.
The ride home was very pleasant, it was cold but the sky was mostly clear. It is only 140kms to Saldanha so I took it easy and just enjoyed the ride. I rode through a small area of rain near home but nothing like the previous day.
Everyone made their own way so I was alone, Frank was still having his five cups of tea and his breakfast so it would be a while before he got going. The sixth annual Polar Bear run had been a success in spite of the lousy weather, a great bunch of guys partying as only bikers know how to party!
We look forward to the Polar Bear run's continued success, where will it be next year?