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, February 17, 2014

Freedom Road rally, Struisbaai 2014

I had hoped to ride through to the Christian Motorcycle Association's Freedom Road Rally on Friday morning with the Meeulanders but was unable to get off work in time, they were leaving at 08h00. I told Frank to ride with his club, he normally waits for me but I had no idea when I would be able to get away. As it turned out I was still at work at 14h30, totally frustrated and very hot and bothered I decided not to ride through that afternoon but to leave early the next morning.
This turned out to be a very good decision, firstly because I thought Struisbaai was only 250kms away, actually it turned out to be 374kms which means I would have arrived very late, and secondly they had really bad weather on Friday evening with rain and gale force winds!
I had packed my gear so all I had to do was get on the road, which I did just after 06h00, we have been having quite a heat wave lately so it was lovely and cool just before the sunrise, in fact heading out towards the R27 I was riding towards the deep red orb just beginning to show on the eastern horizon, my thermometer was showing 21 degrees Celsius even at that time, it was going to be another hot day!
Within an hour and a half I had cleared Capetown traffic and pulled into the False bay one stop on the N2 to refuel and stretch cramping saddle muscles, I briefly thought about breakfast but decided to press on and find a more interesting place.
Through Somerset West and up Sir Lowry's pass the wind became very strong but once I got over the top it wasn't too bad, I had been really enjoying the ride but I don't enjoy getting buffetted by strong winds. Soon I left the N2 and headed down through Hermanus, lovely roads from Hermanus to Stanford and then through to Napier where I stopped for another leg stretch and a good cup of coffee with a toasted sandwich.
From there it is some 45 to 50kms through Bredasdorp to Struisbaai, I pulled into the campsite just around 11h00 under a heavy grey sky with a moderate wind, much better than what the guys had had to put up with the previous evening. I was tired but happy after a great ride, I immediately got to work putting up my tent. Frank was apparently still sleeping after only having got to bed around 08h00! Usual story.
One of the first sights was this poor Suzuki being loaded on a trailer, apparently two of the younger guys made an error of judgement returning from the pub in the early hours of the morning, no serious injuries thank goodness but the bike took some heavy damage.
As usual the Meeulanders had set up a nice camp and there was a festive group under the awnings, I had to go downtown though because this being the CMA rally there is no beer tent or any alcohol sold on site, I was in urgent need of an ice cold beer or two anyway after my ride and my work with the tent. Van elected to accompany me, the first pub was just around the corner and a very good place to start.
Struisbaai is right next to and pretty much adjoining Cape Agulhas, Janet and I were last there some ten years ago and the place has grown quite considerably, it was interesting to cruise around checking out the pubs and restaurants in and around the southern-most tip of the African continent.
By about 15h00 we'd done the rounds, we stopped at a bottle store for supplies for the evening and returned to the campsite, time for me to park the bike!
By then my old buddy Frank was up and about and we wandered around greeting friends and having a chat,
These friends had settled in for the evening and insisted that we have a taste of their potjie, looks like it's going to be a good one guys!
There were a few food stalls so the choice was good, also there was a butcher selling braai meat and we made our purchases because there was to be a braai before the prize giving that evening.
By the time Frank and I got back to the camp there were shouts of "Ons Gaan Nou braai!" (We're going to braai now!) ringing out with guys shuffling around the fire clutching their braai packs
 It was purely a meat meal but very good quality meat, Van got busy braaiing ours
after which everyone wandered over to the tent to hear the prize giving, all hoping that they would be the winner of the main prize; R10,000 in cash - none of us I'm afraid.
The Freedom Road rally is one of the smaller rallies on the calendar so it's never a very crowded affair, I have been to six of them now but this was my first one in Struisbaai and I must say that the campsite is very nice, good clean ablution blocks and well grassed sites. Also the Struisbaai/Agulhas area is a pleasant place to spend a weekend - I'll more than likely be back next year.
The party carried on for a bit longer, here Francois was seen drinking out of his "Redneck Wine Glass" which had a screw on lid although I think he was drinking either rum or brandy and coke, not wine! Nice glass though.
I was up fairly early the next morning after quite an uncomfortable night, as I climbed creakily out of my tent I could see lots of people in various stages of packing up. I like to get going early so I packed my tent and gear away, had a wash up and then headed for the CMA's ubiquitous coffee tent,
Frank was up and packing his stuff when I walked back, I said goodbye to all of the guys and rode out homeward bound. From Struisbaai to Bredasdorp is only 30kms but I rode under heavy grey skies with just the faintest bit of rain to cool things down.
Through Napier and the skies were clearing but the bloody wind was picking up again! I decided to take the slightly longer route back through Hermanus, Kleinmond, Betty's Bay and the coastal road but it was a bad decision with the strong gusting wind making the usually beautiful coastal road a battle which I didn't particularly enjoy.
Man was it hot! I saw 37 degrees but I'm sure it got hotter, back on the N2 at Strand I didn't know it then but I joined in with the rest of the guys who had left after me but had taken the shorter route and as I pulled into the False Bay one stop for a coffee and toasted sandwich most of them were already there.
The coffee was delicious, we chatted, both me and Stephen reluctant to sit down because of sore saddle muscles we drank our coffee standing. The toasted sandwich was adequate and close to 11h00 I was riding out onto the N2 for the final stretch home.
The R300 link to the N1 wasn't very busy and I was able to make good time, down the N1 and through the Plattekloof to the N7 the only unpleasant factor by then was the heat because the wind had died down but the heat was debillitating,
I had to make another stop on the R27 to stretch my legs and cool down a bit, not the bike - me, the bike was performing flawlessly but I need to do some long trips to get "bike-fit" again, the round trip was 770kms with some of it fighting against really strong wind.
It had been a nice ride generally, I enjoyed the rally and I'll do it again next year, hopefully in better conditions and with the Friday off work. Next month I want to do the Buffalo Rally again in Mossel Bay so I need to speak nicely to my boss before the time because I definitely need the Friday off for that one, it's a 500km ride.
Tomorrow I'm taking the big red machine down to Capetown for it's service - another ride, cool.

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