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.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Swallow's Rally 2010 - Day one

The 220km ride to Worcester was sublime! I managed to finish work fairly early after delegating part of it to a younger employee and I met up with Frank at 12h00, after a short greeting we pulled out together onto the all too familiar R45 heading for Moorreesburg, and then through to Riebeek West on the R311 and our first scheduled stop at a nice little pub that we had visited on a previous ride. The weather was perfect, warm and with a gentle wind and as we blasted along through the open farmlands I was once again singing into my helmet, extremely happy to be out on the bike with my buddy's headlight in my rearview mirror. It looked like the forcasts for showers had been wrong, I had been in two minds about going to the rally but by the time I had settled into the ride I was glad I had decided to go. Bring it on!
It is only an hour to Riebeek West and by the time we parked the bikes outside "The Farmer's Arms" pub I was ready for a beer. We sat and chatted for a while and then got back out onto the road, it was a fast ride the rest of the way blasting past the slower traffic but as we got nearer to Worcester I could see the heavy black clouds backing up against the "Kleinberg" and "Fonteintjiesberg" mountains which separated us from the town.
Sure enough, as we rode through the town heading for the rally site we encountered almost gale force winds and by the time we had negotiated the rally entrance and located a place to erect our tents, the wind was howling.The first thing we do at a rally is get our tents up, then we unpack the bikes and get everything into the tents, experience has taught us that if you leave all of that until the early hours of the next morning you have a major problem! Rule number one in the biker scum handbook; Set up camp first and then go party.The trouble was that the wind was blowing so strong that there were already tents that looked like this! Once we were set up we took a stroll down to the main site and already the shennigans were under way, the "Tarmac Teasers" were busy with their burnouts and donuts with two GSXR750s which they had trailered in especially for the rally. We were later to discover that we had inadvertantly set up camp too close to them which was a bad mistake because those guys don't sleep at rallies and they don't like other people to sleep either! Rally main road was fairly quiet on Friday afternoon, but it wouldn't be long before the site was pumping with just over 8,000 happy bikers. As is usual with this rally there is an abundance of diverse food stalls and the prices are really reasonable, no shortage of good, cheap food for hungry bikers. As per usual Frank and I quickly got into full party mode and moved out to find out who was around, our favourite rally/celebrity chef Dalton was there and his tent restaurant again became the base of our operations.As soon as I walked into the tent Dalton shouted; "Hey Doos, taking photos will cost you R500!" (For my foreign readers "Doos" is a slang word in Afrikaans which refers to a particular, rather intimate part of the female anatomy and is pronounced like "do-us") We just ignored him and shouted for food.
We met up with the usual suspects during the evening, here are a couple of guys from the Saldanha/Vredenburg area and I think it was probably from here that the evening degenerated into a serious piss-up. Maybe "degenerated" is the wrong word? How about "Elevated"?

Since we had arrived the music had been blaring out of the main tent, unfortunately over the years the music has changed with the demographic of the bikers, where it used to be the old Rock classics it has now become mostly the crap enjoyed by the younger generation, but occasionally the DJs or the band can be persuaded to play the right stuff and even then the youngsters groove to our sounds!They held the "Miss Swallows" contest, (and that is not what you are thinking!) after that was over this young lady was the first to take her shirt right off for the wet tee shirt competition, there was also a very enjoyable strip show, so all in all the guys were kept amused.While I was busy doing my investigative journalism thing Frank met and fell in love with this very attractive young lady, unfortunately for him it wasn't to be a very long relationship because she was already involved with someone else.

It wasn't long after this that the bar was declared closed, I think it was about 3am but we didn't care because I had my bottle of whisky (or what was left of it!) and Frank had his bottle of Cane (or what was left of it!) and I think it was at about 0430 that we eventually stumbled into our tents. I still had to pump my mattress up and I struggled with that for some reason.

Day one had been a great day and as I settled onto my too hard and too small mattress and went unconscious I was happy, let's see what the next two days will bring..................................

Monday, March 22, 2010

Long weekend riding

It has been an interesting weekend, ok Saturday was a bit of a drag because I spent most of the day cleaning and sorting my garage out. It was a chore that I had been putting off for ages and it got to the stage that there was almost no space for my motorbike! It took me and a helper six hours and I was wrecked afterwards but it was worth it, now I can get to my workbench and I find that I actually want to start doing stuff again!
Sunday we started the day off with the bottle of bubbly in the spa bath which was fantastic and then sort of took it easy. We eventually decided on a short ride to Yzerfontein ( say A-zer fon tane ) for lunch, on a previous visit we had popped into "Die Stal" pub for a beer and their lunch menu had looked quite interesting.It was a lovely, calm, slightly overcast day as we set off and I had decided to just cruise quietly and enjoy the ride. I held the bike at 130kmh, just a bit faster than most of the traffic but not fast enough to incur any fines and it was pleasant for a while. I moved over twice to let faster cars past me, something that does not normally happen, but I was feeling mellow.
We were about half way to the turn off when we became part of a convoy of cages, all getting impatient with each other trying to overtake and I thought "No, stuff this!" We came to a hill and the convoy all stayed in line because they did not have enough power to pass each other before the rise, I did! I kicked it down two clicks and grabbed a handful and we blasted past the line of cages up and over the hill, as we crested the rise Janet's hand came over my left shoulder with the index finger flicking forwards "Go, go, go!" That was all the encouragement I needed and I wound it on, soon we were speeding along at 200kmh and we stayed like that for the ten minutes that it took to get to the Yzerfontein turn-off, leaving the impatient motorists far behind, it was an incredibly good feeling and I was happy and energised by the time we pulled into the parking area of "Die Stal" (The Stall).
The sign above the rail says "Tie the horse here", I thought that was a good place for our steed to rest. Inside the pub the beers were cold and we ordered the speciality starter, deep fried cheesy Jalapenos;

The Jalapenos were nice and hot, stuffed with cheese but unfortunately there was way too much oily, fried batter. They would have been far better done in a egg-white batter or something lighter, we enjoyed the chillies but left most of the batter.

There was this very interesting Springbok dispenser for Brandy and Whiskey above the bar, the tails were levers and the liquid apparently dispensed through the spout just below the tail!
The meal, we both had crumbed pork chops, was very ordinary but I suppose it was just pub grub and the price was reasonable but I don't think I will hurry back there. The ride home was very enjoyable and with the prospect of an extra day off the next day, we started thinking about what we were going to do.Over some nice wet biltong (for my American friends this is similar I think to your beef jerky) and a glass or two of red wine we decided that it would be a ride somewhere for lunch, Frank had returned safely from the Buffalo rally and was interested in meeting with us.
We met at 11h00 and decided on just a short ride to Driftwoods Restaurant in Langebaan, it looked like it was going to be quite windy so we kept it local. We took the long way around just for a little bit of a ride and then were lucky enough to find a table on the already pretty crowded veranda at the very popular beach restaurant.
I had a very enjoyable, fresh fillet of "Geelbek" (Yellow Mouth), euphemistically called "Cape Salmon" in local restaurants, it is actually Atractoscion aequidens should you wish to know that.
We ended off a wonderful weekend at the Phoenix bar with the other bikers. Roll on the Swallows rally next weekend!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Buffalo Rally weekend

This time last year I was at the Buffalo rally in Mossel Bay with my buds, (note to self; next time someone points a camera at you try to pull your stomach in a bit!) well not quite this time, but this coming weekend.
Frank and the boys left this morning, they met at 0730 intending to leave at 0800 but if I know them, and I do, they would have stood around drinking coffee and kicking tyres for about an hour before getting side stands up!
I am jealous, even though it was my choice not to go with them and I have been picturing the trip all day, imagining where they are and seeing the road in my mind's eye. It's a lovely long ride, depending on the route about 500kms so you're good and tired by the time you arrive at the campsite and the temptation to go and have a beer and leave the tent until later is strong.
The Thursday night party is good, not too many people arrive on the Thursday so it's a small crowd with most pulling in during Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. By Saturday afternoon the site is crowded, I hope the guys and girls enjoy themselves and all come home safely.
Obviously there will be no FA cup pool competition this week, Frank beat me 4-3 last Friday! We played good close games and had a couple of beers at the Phoenix, a pleasant afternoon. We will take a ride over there on Sunday afternoon to meet up with the guys coming back from the rally and Monday is a public holiday here in SA so I'm sure Janet and I will go for a ride somewhere.
The Phoenix bar is going to be pretty quiet this weekend, I'm sure!
Looking forward to the Swallow's rally next weekend, which reminds me; I still haven't aired out my tent after packing it away wet last time!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pork braai

I know that this doen't have anything to do with braais, beers or bikes but I really love this picture, I think these are called "motivationals" and Man if this doesn't motivate you to get busy and make money then nothing will!
It has been a relatively quiet week, lots of my friends are getting ready to go to the Buffalo rally in Mossel Bay next weekend, I have decided to skip the "Buff" this year and go instead to the "Swallows" rally the following weekend. The last time I went to the Swallow's was in 2004 so it's high time that I went again, I just didn't feel that it would be right for me to do two weekends away in a row. The Swallow's rally is actually bigger than the Buffalo, usually with three brand new motorcycles as the first three prizes in the lucky draw. These are usually won by women so I don't know why I am concerned with that.
The Buffalo is a 500km ride and the Swallow's is a 200km ride so I can leave after work on Friday and get there easily and the last time it was one heck of a jol. The rally is organised by the "Swallow's flight", a Coloured motorcycle club from Capetown and what a great bunch of guys they are, we have met up with them at their rally and at various rallies in the area so we know quite a few of the members. I am looking forward to that one and I will let you know all about it.

In keeping with the "Braai" theme of this blog we invited Frank around for dinner the other night and I did some Pork belly roasts in the Weber, kettle braai;
After "scoring" the skin with a sharp knife I rubbed it well with cooking oil and salt and then placed the two pieces of meat in the braai with some very hot coals. After the meat had been cooking for half an hour I lit some more charcoal briquettes in a separate area and when one hour was up I opened the braai and added a whole batch of fresh hot coals, closed the braai and left it for another half hour to crisp up the skin.
In the meantime Janet prepared some baked beans, peas, mashed potatoes and gravy and we had a fantastic meal with crunchy pork belly ribs!
Damn that was one real good meal!
The hot weather continues but at least it is not heatwave anymore, just back to normal summer weather.
Talking about "normal", can you figure out how this thing works?! How the hell do you steer it?
Being able to customise motorcycles it what makes it all the more interesting though, the more crazy and "out there" the better, and that one certainly is "Crazy!" It appears to be British!?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Electric Cars and bikes?!

This doesn't look too bad does it? This is the "Joule", it was unveiled at the motor show in Geneva just the other day and is South Africa's entry into the electric motorvehicle contest. I use the term contest because there were several other countries involved and apparently we featured very prominently. Personally I am underwhelmed.
I was reading an article in the "Bike SA" magazine recently, a magazine that I read every month thanks to my friend Linda who gave me a year's subscription for my birthday, about electric motorcycles. To be precise these were electric scramblers and the author wrote about an enduro race, apparently these bikes were super efficient, plenty of torque and if you rode them conservatively you could ride for about an hour before you had to recharge them.
The author stated that the only sounds you heard were your own breath and the occasional sound of your tyres scuffing against tree roots, if you came across joggers on the paths you had to shout at them to get out of the way because they didn't hear you coming; "Hey you joggers, Fuck off!"
I "Googled" electric motorcycles and this is one of the results; WTF?! I mean come on, what is this crap?
Isn't the whole point of what we do the fire breathing, carbon monoxide emitting, beautiful sounding internal combustion engine?
Won't we all (and when I say "we all" I mean all of us real bikers who have been grabbing a handful of power with our right hands for more years than we care to remember) give up when silent and slow electric machines replace our beloved petrol guzzlers? I hope that I will not be around to see that happen.
Maybe I'm being a bit paranoid but already scooters are selling by the thousands! I hate scooters!!! You see guys riding them with stupid little helmets on and with their knees pressed tightly together desperately trying to stay ahead of the mini bus taxis. They are just not fast enough, if you are going to ride on two wheels you must have enough speed and power to stay ahead of the other traffic so that you can stay out of trouble.......and have a bit of fun.
What do you think?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Bike Club fun day

On Saturday afternoon, another very hot and windless day, six or seven of the local bike clubs collaborated in a really succesful fun day at "Spionkop", a clubhouse roughly halfway between Saldanha and Vredenburg. It turned out to be a great success, lots of happy people enjoying the cameraderie and the games.

Egg and spoon race.
Ball in bucket race;

The slow race, although most of the guys had problems riding slowly!

The infamous Des arrived and opened up his "Bosvark se Pub", "Bushpig's Pub" which is set up in the topcase of his Honda Goldwing, this soon became the gathering place for the rest of the club, the equally infamous "Kreefsmokkelaars".
Drunken Duncan, our barman from the Phoenix Bar was there with his attractive young lady friend Ilse. Another of the younger members; "Kettings" (Chains) arrived and joined the group.
The regular bar obviously did a roaring trade, a regular 340ml tin of beer was R10 but a quart was only R15, prompting my friend Johan to observe that if you drank quarts you saved R5 therefor the more you drank, the more you saved! It made sense to me.
We have very tall bikers and very short bikers here in the Western Cape, one who always has to beware of low doorways and the other who never has to!
The "Tug o' War" was held in the sweltering heat and was a very popular event with six clubs represented and lots of people gathering to shout encouragement.
The different games were organised by the different clubs, here Div from the "Meeulanders" gets the teams lined up.
Here's Frank with another of the West Coast characters; Joos, (the English pronounciation of his name is difficult, say "you-us" quickly) from the "Blue Diamond Runners", he loves to make a noise with his bike and rode around revving his engine until the oil ran out! Not sure how he got home.
There was lots of encouragement for the teams from the bystanders; "Come on, pull the rope, stop pushing it!"
Here Frank lends encouragement to the Meeulanders team, he sensibly declined the offer to be a member of the team. I was also too busy taking photographs to get involved!
The eventual winners of the event were the "Lighthouse riders" - Well done guys and girls, a well deserved victory!
In the evening the braai fires were lit and braai packs were on sale, congratulations to the clubs involved; in alphabetical order - Christian Motorcyclist Association.
Diamond Runners.
West Coast Motorcycle Association.
A very successful event which brought all of the local clubs together for an afternoon of fun and the profits were to go towards the purchase of a wheelchair for a disabled child, I've said it before and I'll keep on saying it; Bikers are good folk!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Swiss Deli and Bistro

The heatwave persists! It has been really hot these past two weeks and although it is usually hot here in summer I just can't remember it being this hot! We had a pretty lazy weekend but we decided to go out to a new restaurant in Saint Helena Bay on Sunday, I had heard rave reviews about the "Swiss Deli and Bistro" and in particular about their crispy roasted Eisbein and was keen to try one for myself.

They do not, as yet have a liquor license so I was told that we were welcome to take our own drinks - I put four Castle lagers and a bottle of Delaire rose' into my small cool bag along with two freezer blocks, that went into the top case and we set off on the big red machine.
Because it was such a hot day we couldn't face wearing our heavy jackets so we rode in tee shirts just to get some air flowing around us. I know it's not safe but sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind, it is only about 35 to 40kms to Saint Helena Bay, but it is hotter there than it is in Saldanha and on Sunday there was no wind at all. The thermometer on the bike registered 36,5 degrees celsius (98 odd degrees fahrenheit) !!
Daniel the owner/chef offered us a table on the big covered veranda, but I could feel no difference in the temperature whatsoever so we sat inside, they could do with a couple of fans just to move the air around. Janet feels the heat more than I do and she was soon using her ice blocks to cool her face and neck down, I did too and it worked.

Our friends Tash, Fred and Maureen - who had told me about the place - had been there the previous night and they obviously ate the last of the eisbeins! There were none left so I ordered fried gammon steaks with sauteed potatoes and veggies and Janet ordered Bratwurst, also with the potatoes and veggies.
Both meals were really good and reasonably priced, the sauteed potatoes were particularly delicious. I started with a dish of mussels in a creamy wine sauce which I really enjoyed with some of their home baked bread. I can confirm that Janet's Bratwurst was delicious as well because I finished it off for her! We will be back and next time I will pre order the Eisbein.
When it came time to leave the motorbike saddle was extremely hot! We again left our jackets in the panniers and set off, I immediately got up to speed to get some air, not letting any of the other traffic slow me down as the heat from the saddle rose up through our bodies.
Janet later told me that as we were cruising along, sweeping past the cars, she noticed something white flapping around the front of her helmet, when she glanced down it was the hem of her tee shirt which was up around her neck! The air was so warm that she didn't notice it riding up, we wondered what the motorists must have thought?! "Biker trash!" At least she says she was wearing a pretty bra!