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.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The good and the bad

As an addendum to the previous post I want to tell you about two incidents on opposite ends of the "enjoyment spectrum" that occurred, bikers will be able to relate;
I was on my way home on Thursday morning, barrelling along the N2 between Heidelberg and Swellendam, trying to keep within the speed limit and working on the assumption that 140kmh is not too far off. I really believe anyway, that there should be different rules for bikes.
I was thoroughly enjoying myself, the big red machine was purring under me and all was good with my world. The N2 is a nice road, good condition, nice and wide and it undulates and threads its way between the farms, over hills and through valleys when rounding a bend at speed I came up behind about a dozen cars stuck behind two smoke-belching 18 wheelers grinding their way up an incline. The double solid white line proved a boundary to the cars but not to me, they didn't have enough power to take the short gaps but I had plenty and I made use of it, leapfrogging the cars up the hill until I was behind the second of the big rigs.
In the distance I could see the sign indicating a dual lane overtaking area coming up and I flashed past the first of the rigs, as I overtook the second big rig they were entering the double lane and in my rear view mirror I saw the rig at the back pull out to overtake the first one, trapping the line of cars behind as they slowly climbed the hill next to each other (Don't you hate it when these buggers do that?). I had a big grin on my face as I wound it on and blasted away, I didn't see any of those cars again - serves them right for being in cars! I can imagine just how pissed off they were though.

The second incident which was more of an adrenaline surge and which helped to wake me up, occurred as I was approaching the traffic circle just outside of the town of Robertson, local bikers will know what I am talking about.
The circle was clear and I went in, flicked over left and then over right and I was in the circle, suddenly I heard some tires "chirp" next to me, I glanced to my left and saw a big silver mercedes right next to my rear wheel, this idiot cager had just run into the circle from the Bonnievale road and had seen me at the last minute, almost hit me! I gave him a friendly wave and contemplated stopping for a chat but I could see by the way he hung back right through the town that he probably didn't want to talk to me anyway, he learnt his lesson I'm sure but it could have been nasty.
For a four day 1,500km ride that was all I had to worry about, mostly good times.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Five days, Saldanha to Plettenberg Bay and back

Well I'm back home after a wonderful 1,500km round trip but man was it hot?! The hottest week we've had and I really felt it. I took my notebook with me but couldn't update on the road because I forgot my login password! Not much of a computer fundi, me!
I was packed and loaded on Saturday evening with pretty much only my toiletries to pack the next morning, Sunday dawned warm and clear and Janet's taxi picked her up at 08h00. I was ready to go shortly thereafter and rode out of town just after 08h30, loose on the land!
It's all pretty much familiar riding and the first two hours to Ceres where I stopped for breakfast, went by in an enjoyable flash. It being Sunday the Tulbagh Valley wasn't clogged with slow moving 18-wheelers as it usually is. On this stretch my odo clicked over to 100,000kms and the big red machine was purring, enjoying the ride as much as I was.
After a satisfying Wimpy breakfast I headed out along the R46 over the "Hottentotskloof" Pass, 83kms to the N1, it was really starting to warm up but as long as I was moving I was alright.
There was virtually no traffic about and I was able to open up a bit although once on the N1 it was down to 130km/h because there are speed gantries for quite a long stretch after Touws Rivier. The N1 is quite a pleasant ride, wide and well maintained and by 12h00 I was pulling into the parking area outside the pub in Maatjiesfontein. The beer was bitterly cold and I chatted with another couple of bikers who had had the same idea as me.
It was too early to stop there so I decided to press on, 156kms to Prince Albert, I had not been there before but the guys I was talking to assured me there was plenty of accommodation in the little town. I hadn't done any long distance riding for quite a while and my saddle muscles clenched up again as I lowered my butt onto the seat, out on the N1 again and cruising, 112kms to the intersection felt like quite a long haul in the midday heat but it wasn't too long before I turned off onto the R407 and what a lovely ride that was!
Typical Karoo riding, I had not been along there before so this was all new to me, 44kms hot and dry with the rugged Swartberg mountains a pale blue "massif" on the horizon, I would be enjoying them the next day but in the meantime man alone with just the blat of my engine to keep me company, it was all that I needed and all too soon I was parked outside the Prince Albert Hotel in the main street of the little village. I had ridden 470kms for the day and I was feeling it.
It turned out to be a very pleasant place to stay and I was glad that I had decided to press on, the accommodation was reasonably priced, a comfortable air-conditioned room and a delicious Karoo lamb shank for dinner. I had a good night's sleep after some time spent in the bar chatting to Jay, one of the friendly managers over a few cold beers.
After a good breakfast the next morning I was ready to roll by 08h00 and from the look of the scenery just outside of the town it was going to be an enjoyable ride;
 this was all new countryside for me and I had plenty of time to explore as I was only due in Plettenberg Bay on Tuesday and that was only some 260kms away. There are two routes to take to get to Oudtshoorn; via the Swartberg Pass or via Meiringspoort, the former is quite a bit shorter but is a gravel road pass which was not an option for me so I stuck with the tar road and what a ride that is, Meiringspoort is awesome! I don't often use the word "awesome", in fact I think the last time I used it was when I watched a Dolly Parton music video, Meiringspoort is also deserving of that adjective.
It is about 22kms long, carved through the mountains the road follows the course of the river and in that short space it crosses the river 26 times!
 There are myriad hairpin bends as a result and on many of the crossings there was sand over the road as a result of a recent flood, it is by no means a fast ride but you wouldn't want it to be because there is just so much to see.
I stopped many times just to experience the deafening silence of those canyons and to marvel at the craggy mountains seemingly hanging over the road. I was sorry to ride out of the mountains and eventually into the outskirts of the city of Oudtshoorn where I stopped briefly to buy a new pair of sunglasses, those that I had had been digging  into my head for the past day and a half!
From there I rode the also unfamiliar R328 through the Robinson pass to the N2 at Mosselbay, at the top of the pass I encountered light rain and as I am not a fan of wet hairpin bends I took it really easy on the way down.
It is 56kms to Wilderness where I stayed the night after riding through to Sedgefield for a beer at the "Pili-Pili" bar, I eventually found the place, right on the beach but it was closed for spring-cleaning.
A deliciously fresh cob filet at the "Blue Olive" was my dinner with a bottle of cold Sauvignon Blanc as I watched a replay of South Africa's game against the West Indies with Abie's fantastic record breaking innings. Great stuff!
Breakfast the next day was adequate and I only had a short ride to Plett., some 60kms away, I did some exploring along the coast and also stopped for coffee at the waterfront in Knysna before arriving at my sister's house at about 11h00 where I spent a lovely two nights with my family.
Thursday morning, time to get back on the road and it was getting hotter, I decided to stay on the N2 rather than head inland for as long as I could, the road was much busier, lots of traffic but you don't get held up behind 18-wheelers when you are on a bike! I was loving it.
I stopped for a favourite breakfast just outside of Mosselbay and by then I had made up my mind which way to go, in March last year riding back from the Buffalo rally I had taken the same route; N2 to Swellendam then through Ashton, Robertson and Worcester. Decision made I blasted out onto the highway, I travelled at just above the legal limit, just to stay safely ahead of the traffic and was cautious going through the towns. I did not envy the people in their air conditioned cages as I flashed by, I was having a blast.
Later on the Swellendam/Ashton road I pulled over for a water stop, the temperature was 33 degrees by then and I knew that it was going to get hotter the further inland I went.
I stopped for a bitterly cold draught beer in Worcester where the temperature had climbed to 37 degrees and there wasn't a breath of wind, on the R43 from Worcester to Wolseley I encountered the first of two "Stop/Go's" and as luck would have it I had to stop!
 Ten minutes in the sun can seem like an eternity! My luck was in at the second one and I cruised on through, an hour and a half to Saldanha and as I rode into the influence of our beautiful bay and lagoon the twelve degree drop in temperature was a welcome relief.
It had been a most enjoyable trip in spite of the heat, which at times was seriously oppressive, it was wonderful to spend time with my sister, my niece and nephew and to travel some unfamiliar roads which I am keen to do again. I would not rather have been in my air-conditioned car, I would do it again but in the meantime the big red machine is overdue for a service.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The trip - it's not the destination, it's the ride.

I've got my trip planned, I've packed my stuff and I've studied the map, the big red machine has new Michelins on. I'm leaving tomorrow morning (Sunday) and I'm really psyched up about the ride.
It all came about when Janet told me that she had to go to Durban for a week, I've had a very stressful time at work over the past couple of months so I thought "Why not take a week off and ride somewhere?" An ideal opportunity to visit one of my sisters and one of my lovely nieces in Plettenberg Bay on the famed Garden route.
I'm going to take a slightly longer route getting there and a different one coming back, so far I'm heading up to Ceres and then through to the N1 and up to the historic village of Matjiesfontein where I will probably spend the night. I'm not going to book any accommodation, I'll ride until I'm tired and then find somewhere to stay.
From there the next day I plan to carry on up the N1 to Prince Albert Road, through Prince Albert to the N12, through Oudtshoorn, George and then along the N2 to Plettenberg Bay. I'm going to take my time and explore, planning to arrive in Plett on Tuesday and head back homeward on Thursday morning.
This is coming with me! I'm hoping to write up on the road every evening if I stop in Wifi places, we'll see how that goes but I will definitely be writing it up so stay with me. One thing is for sure, my mobile phone will be off until I want to phone Janet!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's Day - started off right

Good grief it's 2015! What the hell happened? I'll be 66 this year, I can't believe it. Anyway it has been a great ride and if this year is anywhere near as good as the last one was then bring it on!
In keeping with the theme of this blog I'm going to write about our first braai for the year which took place today, just the two of us here,
I normally like to braai for a few more people but we didn't feel like going anywhere today, work for both of us has been really hectic so a relaxing day at home seemed like the right idea. It turned out to be a good one. I put on one of my braai hats and got busy.
Start the year off the way you want it to continue; the braai, the beer and the bike's parked out front. It was a lovely day today, hot and calm, perfect for a braai and a day at home.
Pork loin chops, potatoes and a good local boerewors, really guys, what could be better?
There's the plate, the potato was delicious, I haven't done them like that before, I saw my friend Rory doing them on the grid and gave it a try - pretty much doing them like that from now on!
I've got a ride planned for a couple of weeks time, I'm going to ride through to Plettenberg Bay to visit one of my sisters, Janet's got to go to Durban on business and I'm due a couple of days off. That's about 650k's from here so it's a good ride along the Garden Route, I'll tell you all about it you can count on that!
All of the very best to all of you for 2015, may the best of the past be the worst of the future, stay safe.