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.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Bikers Rally Against Farm Murders - inaugural run

First I would like to posts some statistics from the T.A.U. (Transvaal Agricultural Union) based on confirmed attacks on farms from 1st January 2017 up to 17th March;
In that period there have been 101 attacks which resulted in 23 murders, between 1st and 17th March alone, 29 attacks have resulted in 3 murders. During these attacks, which have not only been on white farmers but also a smaller percentage of black farmers, in some cases particularly brutal methods of torture have been carried out. This, which some are calling genocide, is not being reported in the media.
We here on the west coast were informed, through social media, of an initiative to help raise awareness of this amongst the biking community which would be in the form of a mass ride. Bikers by their very nature will jump at the chance to support a worthy cause and there is not one much more worthy of our support than this one.
Five Meeulanders; Gerrie, Willie, Sooi and Linicia and myself were the only representatives from the Weskus, we rode down the R27 to the Viper Lounge in Tableview with my dash readout showing 29,5 celsius at 09h00! It was going to be a hot day.
We arrived at the Viper Lounge just after 10h00 and already the place was crowded, cold beer went down singing hymns! Unofficial estimates put the number of riders at 200, hopefully we will hear an official number but it was indeed a festive and enthusiastic bunch.

The ride through to the Moonshine Tavern just outside of Stellenbosch was very pleasant, facilitated by members of "Scattered Links" who did a great job and who also obviously had great fun speeding ahead to block traffic for us, well done those guys! We formed up just outside Stellenbosch for the final few kilometers to arrive in formation, and what an impressive formation it was.

By the time we arrived the temperature was already over 40 celsius and the Moonshine Tavern got a huge cash injection selling cold beers and boerewors rolls to the hot and hungry bikers.

A very good muzo/DJ kept the crowd entertained and the organisers gave us a brief explanation of their hopes and aspirations for the future of the rally, particularly the wish to make it national and annual with some fund raising for the benefit of the victims, good work indeed and we all wish them success in their endeavours.
The ride home that afternoon was hot! Sooi and Linicia headed into Capetown to visit family so Gerrie, Willie and I sped through to Malmesbury where we stopped for a refuel. We decided that a stop at Plaasmol for another cold beer was mandatory and I must confess that that seemed like a very long stretch on the bike when in fact it's only about 60kms! By the time we parked under the trees at Plaasmol my saddle muscles were painfully clenched!
This picture epitomises despondency, Willie contemplates the ride home without beer as we discovered that the Plaasmol pub was closed!
This is us putting on a brave face, just about to mount up again when we received the welcome news that we could get beer from the restaurant!
Standing under mist sprayers we waited for the beer, it had been an interesting day but one of the hottest rides and it definitely takes its toll. We said our goodbyes there after a break and went our separate ways, me to a cooling shower at home. A big thumbs up to the organisers and especially to the hundreds of wonderful bikers who supported this cause, we will watch with interest to see how this develops.

Monday, March 13, 2017

B.E.A.Rally (British, European, American) Swellendam 2017

I had heard about the inaugural BEAR last year but was unable to attend so when the chance came to go this time I was quite happy to join in, fellow club members Daan and Bev., who were going to the Buffalo rally on the 17th and then the Swallows rally on the 24th decided to make it three rallies in two weeks. Very keen rally riders these two are.
I was planning to ride through on Friday but then at short notice I was asked to supervise the product despatch and do the local deliveries for the mussel farm, working on the premise that it is better to earn money than to spend it I accepted the job and shelved my plans for the rally.
I met Frank later that afternoon at the Phoenix bar for our customary pool games, which I managed with some difficulty to win, and suddenly decided that I would ride through early Saturday morning. It's not that far, only some 320km to Swellendam so I could easily be there before lunchtime.
The more I thought about it the more this was beginning to sound like a good idea, there were benefits to arriving early Saturday, the main one being that I have never really enjoyed Saturday at any rally because the Friday night party always had me feeling like a homeless person had slept in my mouth and left his blanket behind, I would try to catch a couple of hours sleep but by then the tent was usually in full sunlight and the masses were always bloody noisy! This would be a whole new experience.
Saturday morning I left home at 07h00, it was a beautiful day, no wind and for the first hour I headed towards the rising sun, interestingly the 22km stretch from the R45 to Moorreesburg is nearly finished, there is only one short stop/go section and now it is a lovely fast road.
It was such a pleasant ride, absolutely no indication of how terrible the next day's ride home was going to be and I hadn't checked the weather reports otherwise I might have cancelled my trip. I stopped for a nice breakfast in Robertson just after 09h00.
This time I didn't go to the Wimpy as has been my usual custom, the last time I found the breakfast there a bit sparse, almost as if they were trying to cut costs and I did not feel as though I was getting my money's worth. There were two other BMW GS riders also having breakfast and we greeted each other, my age or maybe just a bit older the one asked me; "Are you camping there?" when we discovered that we were going to the same rally, when I said that I was his mate said "See, older guys do still camp!" They were of the B&B type of rallyist, something I am not yet ready for, preferring to be in the action.
From Robertson to Swellendam is only about 60kms but the last 45 of which is one of my favourite biking roads, the beautiful winding, undulating stretch from Ashton. The R60 is an absolute delight and I look forward to it whenever we go that way, it has a great surface and winds its way alongside the beautiful Langeberg mountain range all the way to Swellendam, needless to say we ride it fast and it wasn't long before I was cruising happily into the town.
I met up with Daan and Bev after checking in at the gate, the R350 entry fee was a bit steep particularly for such a small rally and at that stage there were not many people there. Daan helped me to erect my tent and then we headed for the bar area, I wanted a cold beer because I was already feeling the heat.

I was assuming that more people would be arriving as they day progressed but not many more did, for a while the Meeulanders was the best represented club until four guys from the Earth riders pitched up! 
There were some good product stalls and interesting displays, nice bikes to be ogled at;

such as these Royal Enfields and this beautiful Ducati 1299 Pannigale, there was also an Indian and some Victorys as well as a few Harleys.
About twenty people took part in the mass ride through the town but by then it was too hot and I was well into the cold beer, no more riding for me that day.
My mate Dan from Velddrif was also there and taking part in the mass ride.
The music was good that night, they had a band and then a disco and they played the right kind of music, we bought a braai pack for R50 each and the lady even agreed to braai our meat for us which I thought was a real bargain;
My meal, which by then went down very well consisted of a piece of boerewors, a lamb chop and two Skilpaaitjies (lamb's liver wrapped in the spleen fat) accompanied with a cheese and tomato toastie bun and a bottle of good Merlot, pretty good for only R150.
I really enjoyed the evening, we sat chatting with Rob and Isobel from the Odysseus in Capetown and because there was so few people there was no shortage of place to sit. I am not sure what time it was when I eventually turned in, I had neglected to inflate my mattress earlier and couldn't be bothered then so I just kicked my boots off and lay down on my rubber pad, the zip on my sleeping blanket was broken so I pulled it over me and managed to get some sleep.
I awoke to the unmistakable sound of rain pattering down on my tent and my feet and socks were wet from sticking out through the doorway, ah the joys of rallying! I had wisely taken a bottle of water with me when I turned in, that was good right then.

Daan surveys the river running past my tent, his stuff was pretty wet too! I dislike packing wet rally gear but we've done it often enough, I bundled the wet tent and equipment into the bike and hit the road, it rained quite hard and it was pretty cold by the time I stopped at the same restaurant in Robertson for some much needed coffee and a toasted sandwich.
From there the rain stopped but just around Wolseley I ran into the same gale force winds that caused the cancellation of the famous Cape Argus Cycle tour, it was incredibly bad and especially on the notorious 17km road from the Nuwekloof pass to Hermon I had to stay at around 80kmh leaning over to the left to keep from being blown off the road!
That ride was not enjoyable and I was just looking forward to getting it over with and getting home in one piece, which I managed and after a shower and change of clothes I took my lady out for lunch.
I enjoyed the rally in general, not sure if I'll go again, maybe the reason they didn't get a decent attendance is because it was too close to the Buffalo and the Swallows rallies and a lot of people have to choose carefully these days. Whatever the reason is we'll see if the rally carries on and grows to become a calendar event, just a bit pricey though.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Club breakfast run, 5th March 2017

We were up early on Sunday morning, I was really looking forward to the breakfast run and just to getting out on the road. It was a beautiful calm, sunny morning and if the weather over the past couple of weeks was anything to go by, it was going to be a beautiful day.
We left the house just before 08h00 which gave me more than enough time to get to the rendezvous point which was the Engen garage in Velddrif and we waited for the others to show up. Once again I had no idea how many would take part although I had received a few apologies earlier. I had phoned Isabella's Restaurant in Lambert's Bay on Wednesday to advise them that we were coming and once again I had arranged to phone them with the number once we were to leave.
By 09h00 I called for kickstands up, we were nineteen members on ten motorbikes accompanied by Floors and Marina in their car as she was recovering from a recent back operation, great to have them with us and this epitomises the biker spirit and the club spirit as far as I am concerned.
The road up as far as Eland's Bay is not too bad, it has been resurfaced in places but there are still a few rough patches so I decided to keep the speed down to around 120kmh, from Eland's Bay to Lambert's Bay it is much better but we weren't in any big hurry because it is only just over an hour's ride anyway.
We cruised happily along and we managed to keep the group together nicely. After Eland's Bay I started looking for somewhere to pull over for the "tea" break and for those who needed to smoke. As it turned out there were no suitable lay bys but at the intersection with the R364, with only about 35kms to go there was a nice hard packed area next to the road so we pulled off and parked.
While I phoned the lady at the restaurant, there had been no answer when we left, Janet, Gerda and Cathy poured the tea.
and in this picture we see that Janet is in control of the "teapot", whilst we were there another couple on a BMW GS pulled up to chat and were invited to join us for a cuppa which they happily accepted.

Rinette and Bev enjoying the sunshine.
 Soon it was time to get going again, people were getting hungry, a short ride down to the coast and we were cruising into Lambert's Bay and parking outside Isabella's restaurant in the harbour.

It's a pretty little restaurant, nicely situated and biker friendly. They were ready for us with three tables on the veranda and the service was prompt and friendly.
We didn't have to wait long for the drinks which is always a good sign and the food arrived on warm plates, we'll have to go back there again soon.
A decent breakfast for R79, I was very happy with that and it had been a good ride, all in all a very enjoyable day.
Here is Elsje, our latest prospect and photographer for the day, I used some of her photos here. Elsje is our second lady rider after Stefanie Brink, well done ladies.
We all made our own way home after breakfast, some stopping at the hotel in Eland's Bay and others, like us just heading home, roll on the next ride!

Friday, March 3, 2017

The final part of the 1984 tour

It was Monday 24th September and I read that we were not in any hurry that morning, this seems to have been a feature of this whole trip and was probably one of the things that made it so memorable, we were just so laid back. Eddie had business to attend to so we did our own thing at met up back at the yacht club where we ended up having lunch. We rode out of Capetown at around 13h30.
We rode through the glorious roads and passes of the western cape that was to become our backyard in just a few short years, we actually ended up doing quite a circuitous route, probably because Eddie who was out in front, didn't know his way around too well but what the hell, we enjoyed the ride.
That night we ended up in Montagu where we spent the night in the hotel. In a direct line that is only 185kms from Capetown but we traveled a lot more than that!
The next morning it was the R62 North, a lovely ride which we had done before through Barrydale, Ladismith and Calitzdorp to Oudtshoorn, the old Ostrich Capital, where we arrived at midday just in time for something to eat.
Instead of stopping for beer we decided to buy a six pack and then stop in a lay by for a break which we did on the pass heading down from Oudtshoorn to George.
 It was very nice spending a bit of time there although the weather was rapidly deteriorating and we were sure we were in for some rain. We also discovered that a single six pack was not enough so we went down into George to buy another.
Back out on the N2 heading into the normally picturesque Garden Route and just past Wilderness it started to rain so we pulled over to put our wets on, there we sorted out the other six pack and waved to the passing motorists who hooted at us.
It rained intermittently for most of the day and there were a lot of road work deviations and heavy traffic on the N2 which rather spoiled things for us, we arrived at our intended destination; Storms River Mouth in the late afternoon and booked into a chalet. We had a pleasant meal in a nearby restaurant and then chatted on our verandah before turning in.
The next morning it was raining!
 Althea and Eddie with their Honda Silverwing.
 We had only a short ride planned for the day because we had hoped to go for a bit of a walk along the hiking trail but that was out so we hit the road, typically strong winds buffeted us as we arrived in Port Elizabeth. We spent a pleasant evening with friends.
The next day, Thursday 27th was our last day, Port Elizabeth to East London is only 300kms so plenty of time but we were looking forward to getting back to our children who had stayed with our dear friends Arnold and Joy who are there second parents.
A pleasant ride even though the weather was overcast and cool, little spatters of rain now and then, we stopped on the outskirts of East London at the Orange Grove Hotel to have a beer and say goodbye to Eddie and Althea,
and then it was on to our friends house to see if Christie and Simon remembered who we were;
 we needn't have worried about that!
It had been a wonderful holiday, 28th August to 28th September 1984, and 8,631 kilometers covered and to this day Janet says that it was one of the best holidays she has had.
Janet retires at the end of November this year and in December we are going over to England for a couple of months, courtesy of the little girl in the picture above, and her husband Andy but when we return I am hoping that we can do another road trip, we'll see what happens. Isn't life an absolute jol?