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.