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.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Living on the edge

The weather this weekend has been absolutely atrocious! One of the most severe storms moved across the St Helena Bay - Saldanha Bay area that we have seen in ages, this coincided with a biker scum spring dance at the Blue Diamond and a biker scum day jol at "Vlakvarkgat" which is a very difficult word for English people to say, you try it! Anyway because of the weather Janet and I became "bakkie-scum" for the weekend, I had just spent some time washing and polishing my baby and I didn't want to get her all wet and dirty.
Friday night we arrived at the Blue Diamond at about 7pm and shortly after we got there the rain started and I was sure that it would keep a lot of the people away, it did - but we had fun anyway, the music wasn't too bad and the people who were there got into the spirit of the evening and we all danced. We won the lucky draw prize which was R100 gift vouchers for the local "Spur" restaurant. This pissed Frank off big time because he says that I am always winning things but I think that had a lot to do with the fact that I beat his ass at pool in the afternoon.
We were there until about midnight and after a good home made curry and rice and a good few beers we decided to call it a night, we left Frank to his own devices and I had a good idea that they would have to throw him out in the morning!
Saturday started off with the usual spa bath and a bottle of bubbly and then at about 11am we headed off to "Vlakvarkgat" which is a bush pub on the R27 about 20kms from home, we were both hungry so we sat in the restaurant and had a light meal and a beer while we watched the people at the gate trying to keep their stocks dry and at the same time holding the awning down. At times the wind and the rain were incredible and I really doubted that there would be many people there but I underestimated the bikers, amazingly they started arriving in that appalling weather, lots of them all the way from Capetown - the "Shaman" club had organized the day and they supported in numbers.
We wandered around for an hour or two greeting old friends and making new ones and drinking a couple of beers and then Janet decided that she had had enough of that fun, I should take her home so that she could have a sleep.
I returned a bit later and the party had increased, amazingly there were by then about 500 people all partying like crazy. I was standing talking to Frank and Des and a biker chick joined the group briefly, she and her husband had been at the dance last night, a tall attractive girl, she grabbed Frank's arm and said "Shit Frank I'm wasted!", she had a badge on her jacket that said "I've got the pussy so I make the rules." She wandered off dancing to the music but I didn't see her cat.
Time passed noisily by, the band played a really good version of "Smoke on the water" and the rain thundered down outside. Soon it was time for the competitions; first it was best tattoo and then when it came to best piercing three guys and a girl got up on stage, she indicated her belly button and her ears but the guys all took their dicks out and showed the piercings that they had had done!
Bikers are good people! They live life on the edge and when they party, they party hard. Most of them were camping that night, in spite of the weather, but most of them would party until they dropped and stagger back to their tents. The weather just didn't matter as long as there was enough brandy or rum and coke.
The bad weather continued today, accompanied by some huge swells that have caused major damage on the mussel farm, things that I am going to have to sort out this coming week. We went for lunch at "Beira Mar" in St Helena Bay where I had the most amazing "whole baby Yellow tail" and Janet had what she described as the best sole she has had for years. That has become my new favourite restaurant.
All in all a very good weekend and again I found that if you party on the Friday night it makes the weekend seem so much longer! Try it, you'll see.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Polar Bear run to Sutherland

Firstly, to anyone reading this; appologies for the delay, last week my computer just said "howzit!" It was during a self-install-save R500 ADSL, anyway now I'm back!
Dave came up from Capetown on his Aprillia to stay over on Friday night so that we could get started early and by 0700 on a clear and calm but cold Saturday morning we were warming our bikes up outside the house.
We met up with Frank in Vredenburg and then rode through to Velddfrif where we joined up with the other seven intrepid bikers, all eager for the adventure and what the weekend was to bring. As things turned out I was to seriously regret inviting Dave on the run.
It was very cold as we set out from Velddrif along the bumpy R399 to Piketberg and as we were settling into the ride suddenly there was a flash of brake lights ahead of me and guys swerving as a BMW topcase came tumbling and sliding in between us, luckily nobody hit it - it seems that Nick hadn't secured it properly to his bike. About ten k's further I had to avoid a tin petrol can that was tumbling down the road splashing petrol all over the place! Dan's spare petrol for his scrambler.
Our plan was to stop at Ceres for breakfast, I had my heated handgrips on and inspite of that my fingertips and my thumbs were freezing! Every time I needed to switch on an indicator I had to first look at the switch and then will my thumb to move to it and press it, I couldn't feel the switches.
We blasted through from Piketberg to Porterville in a close procession with the sun coming up over the mountains and promising to warm the day (later), through a sleepy Porterville and a fast ride along the R44 to join the R46 at Gouda. This is all familiar and much loved riding country and soon we were cruising uphill through the magnificently picturesque Mitchell's Pass and into Ceres.
Eight of us sat around a table in the Wimpy, two of the guys had taken a dirt road option as they were on off-roaders, I clasped a hot mega coffe in trembling hands sipping the sweet liquid trying to warm my frozen core. A good breakfast went down well and by the time we got going again it was a lot warmer, we roared out of Ceres in convoy and headed along the R46 to the N1. That is a lovely stretch of road through the "Warm Bokkeveld" with some lovely twisties through the Theronsberg Pass and then 5kms later the Hottentotskloof Pass. From there it's about 40kms through the Karoo scrubland and the Bonteberg to join the N1.
62 kms to Matjiesfontein! The first Castle lagers of the day were calling out to me. That stretch of the N1 is in very good condition and after refuelling at Touwsrivier we thundered along eagerly to the wonderful old hotel at Matjiesfontein and those cold Castles went down singing hymns!
Soon it was time to get going again and by then the sun was warm, there was no wind and it was a fantastic day to be out on a motorbike, I was going to enjoy the last 110kms to Sutherland. The first 30 to 40kms is a bit tricky with some tight turns but after that it opens up and there is some good fast cruising through the red brown, rocky karoo scrubland. Ahead of me I saw the guys pulling over into a laybye and after I stopped I learned that John was experiencing heart palpitations, his heart was racing and he was dizzy. He couldn't ride his bike any further, this was a bit of a problem because we were in the middle of nowhere!
Eventually it was decided that Des would take him on the back of his bike to Sutherland where they would find a doctor, Dave and I followed and after getting John settled I took Dave back to the laybye so that he could ride John's bike to Sutherland. I told Dave that he was a lot heavier than my normal pillion passenger and he must have been a bit nervous going through the sharp curves of the Verlatekloof Pass, I don't like riding pillion and I'm sure he was the same.
We eventually got all of the bikes settled in a comfortable lock-up garage for the night and the festivities began!

Fungis had found a dead skunk on the side of the road on the way in and he decided that this was to be the mascot, he carried it around with him for the evening much to the consternation of the locals who had gathered to watch rugby.
We enjoyed a braai that evening with some absolutely excellent Karoo lamb chops and boerewors supplied by the hotel, and even tought it was eventually so cold that even the braai fire didn't help, we had a very festive evening.
Fungis talked the hotel owner into freezing the skunk because he wanted to get it stuffed when he got home, it was to be a permanent mascot for future Polar Bear runs!
It was early morning by the time we turned in and I awoke with a fright at 0800 with Des shouting outside, I had been extremely comfortable in a double bed with an electric blanket but it was time for breakfast and to get back on the road.
Soon we were back on the road, five of us in the first bunch with me at number four and Dave at number five with the other guys coming on a bit later. We settled into a steady cruise, not pushing it too much and the idea was to meet at the refuelling stop at Touwsrivier again.
As with all runs along this type of road, you tend to spread out a bit then close up and then spread out again and so on, and most of the time I had Dave in my mirrors then he would drop back and for a while he wasn't there. The road is tricky with some difficult corners, sharp curves, narrow tar and no run off area so you have to be careful and guys ride it according to their ability so it is inevitable that the riders will spread out.
By the time I got to the intersection with the N1 he was not behind me so I pulled over to wait for him, the other guys pressed on. "He's stopped for a leak or a photo." I told myself, I was not thinking "accident."
A car pulled up behind me and the driver asked "Are you waiting for someone? Because there's been an accident, a motorbike has gone off the road about thirty kms back."
I stared at him, I could hear the wind, the ticking and pinging of my engine and exhaust cooling down, my stomach turned over and my mouth went completely dry. Then my phone rang and it was Frank, Dave was lying in a gully next to the road with a broken leg! I didn't have enough petrol to get back to the scene so I first had to get some, no petrol in Matjiesfontein so I had to nurse my bike the 55kms to Touwsrivier and then I sped back to the scene. By the time I got back the Police and a Paramedic were attending to my buddy who was in a lot of pain, we carried him up out of the gully and eventually he was taken out by helicopter to George.
We were able to see that he had run out of road on a tight right hander and started sliding on the gravel, he had stuck his left leg out to try and stabilize himself and it had hit the armco barrier, he had been flung off the bike which had carried on for about 50 metres and then fallen over on the side of the road, Dave had tumbled down a fifteen foot drop. The first person on the scene had found the bike lying on the side of the road but couldn't find the rider, eventually he heard Dave's cries further back and found him there.
It was a sobering experience and a dark spot on an otherwise very enjoyable weekend, I was still able to enjoy my ride home but I was perhaps a bit slower than I would normally have been and now my buddy is lying in a hospital with a lot of pins and screws holding his leg together, the doctors are confident that he will regain full use of his leg but it is going to be a long and painful process. The bike wasn't too badly damaged, mainly scratches to the panels and panniers so that can be repaired.
Dave is philosophical about it, he says he has no one to blame but himself but I can't help regretting that I invited him on the ride.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Parties and weddings

There's a lot of stuff going on this weekend; there's a James Bond theme birthday party at the West Coast School where a friend of ours is celebrating his 40th birthday, we were invited even though we're quite a lot older and I'm sure it's going to be a serious jol.
Check this out, there's also a bring and braai wedding at the Blue Diamond on Saturday! This one I'm sorry we're missing, because the usual biker customers at the Blue Diamond are welcome to attend. I'm having a bit of trouble imagining a "bring and braai wedding" so that would be really interesting, what does the wife do while the groom is standing in line at the braai waiting to braai her chops? While all this is going on all of the usual biker scum are going to be sitting at the bar or revving their motorbikes, as I said I'm sorry I'm missing this one. But aint bikers good folks?
As far as the Polar bear run is concerned it looks like the weather is going to be pretty good, I mean for goodness sake who the hell rides a motorbike to the coldest place in South Africa in winter?! Ten of us older guys do!
Dave's coming through tomorrow evening and we will leave at sparrow fart on Saturday to meet all of the other guys in Velddrif, it's going to be a very interesting ride and I"ll tell you I haven't been so keyed up for a ride for a long time.
If there's anyone reading this drivel I will be updating next week with details about the run to Sutherland, there may even be photos because there are a couple of "characters" on the run so watch this space!
Keep the rubber side down and hang onto the cables Bros!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The good and the bad

We had another good weekend, looks like the weather is improving so there's hope for next weekend's Polar bear run to Sutherland. It's still cold but at least the sun is shining so I want you all to hold thumbs and concentrate on good weather for next weekend ok?
I did rump steaks for lunch on Saturday and they were really good, if you start off with good quality meat that has been aged a bit then you have a good base to work with. We had another couple over for lunch so I did four 300g steaks and about an hour and a half before they came I marinated the steaks in a mixture of Olive oil, just a drizzle over each steak, then a liberal sprinkle of Aromat, a good amount of ground black pepper corns and then I spread a fair amount of hot English mustard on the steaks and then finally sprinkled with garlic flakes. Turn the steaks over in the dish quite regularly to make sure they are well marinated.
Use a dry (preferably a cast iron) pan which you then heat up until it is smoking hot, I did mine over a gas flame so it got really hot and then chuck the steaks in. Turn them regularly after you have sealed both sides and after about five minutes take them out of the pan and let them rest in a warmer, they will carry on cooking so if you want them medium rare take them off the heat when they are still quite rare. Janet did her creamy Aromat potatoes as an accompaniment and it was a delicious meal with some black olives.
Sunday was a bit of a disaster, it was a lovely day so we got on the bike and headed to Velddrif for lunch, we had eaten at "Die Vishuis" on the banks of the Berg River before and were keen to try that again but after a very pleasant ride we found that the place had been closed for the winter, the next stop was at a Seafood special place which was also not open, pressing on we tried the "Sundown Restaurant" next to the harbour; "Sorry we are fully booked."
I said to Janet; "What about going to Paternoster?" she sighed and said "I don't care, I'm just hungry." and I knew then that I had better find food quick or I would be in trouble, the spa bath in the morning hadn't been too good for a start because I used too much bubble bath and it was all slippery, we kept bumping into each other!
As we were leaving I saw the "Eigebraai restaurant" so we decided to try that, they had a good reputation for steaks but for some reason they kept us waiting for our food for more than an hour! They asked me how I wanted my Tee bone cooked and I said medium rare but when the steak came it was only a quarter of an inch thick! (thin!) so how the hell can you cook it medium rare anyway? We wont go back there again and I told them so but I don't think they were particularly interested.
A beer at the Blue Diamond on the way home was nice and cold and the ride was good.
Here's hoping for better weather from now on.