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.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Polar Bear run 2010, part 2 - the party

By the time we got settled, and by that I mean like slinging some of my luggage on to the bed of my choice, it was just about half past two and I could hear good rock and roll music coming from the bar! Some of the guys were already settled in, Des and a couple of them spoke about riding 12kms to Barrydale for a beer but as Dick said; "The place is good, the music is lekker and the beers are cold, I'm not going anywhere." I had to agree with him on that and once we made our intentions known everyone decided to stay.
As the afternoon progressed and the sun sank quickly behind the mountains it got quite cold, did we care? Hell No! Charmaine our hostess came around and took our braai pack orders for later and in the meantime pizzas and hamburgers were available.
Frank quickly got into the party mood and donned a colourful wig that he was to wear right through the night, and I do mean "Right through the night!" We organised for our hosts to play decent music and the party got started with the dulcet tones of ACDC blaring out of the speakers!
I don't know what it was, what caused it but Frank started jolling right from the start and there was no holding him back - not that we wanted to anyway, he was on a roll!
Our hosts; Stewart and Charmaine had the place well organised for us, including a huge bonfire of vine stumps which was soon roaring and keeping the guys warm.
I had carried a 6kg box of fresh mussels in one of my panniers and I cooked them up in a borrowed pot for the guys, soon they were all gathered around the pot enjoying the starter.
Time for the speeches after that, thanks to the sponsors of the event, thanks to Des for once again organising a wonderful weekend.
Des conducted the raffle and there were good prizes; meals at restaurants in Velddrif but the winners had to prove themselves worthy, the first one drawn was won by Malan who had to prove that he was a Polar Bear by keeping his feet in a bowl of ice water while holding a glass of ice water in each hand for five minutes, I just hope that the meal is good!
He took it in good spirits, but by the time the five minutes were up he was looking decidedly uncomfortable!
Freddie won the main prize and to confirm his eligibility he would have to ride up the road in the morning wearing only his helmet, boots and underpants! "No problem" he said, "I would do that anyway." We would see in the morning!
The party continued and suddenly Des was dancing amongst us wearing a dress! He was actually very well received, probably because of a distinct lack of females in the place.Frank continued to provide entertainment, he fancies himself as a pole dancer so I ended up having to braai our meat, we had really nice sirloin steaks, boerewors (sausage) and a good spread of salads which went down really well.
The "Three-must-get-beers" came on next, really look at this lot! Would you introduce people like this to your family? Hell Yeah!
In the early hours of the morning, Stewart the barman, who was well into the swing of things started trying to convey a message - we pretty much ignored him.
This was the last photograph taken with my camera at 01h20 and things were still on the go although most of the mob had retired for the night. I do know that just before 03h00 Charmaine was trying to get us to leave saying things like "You guys must leave now, we want to close up." Yeah, yeah, give us another round." then I went up and whispered to her; "If you want to get Frank to leave, here's what you must do......."
She walked over to Frank and said; "Frank.....fuck off now!" So he did. Frank has been thrown out of better places than that and has had that message many times.
What a night it had been, I climbed wearily into my bed and went unconscious............................

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Polar Bear run 2010, day 1 - the journey

The weekend finally arrived! We had been looking forward to it, waiting for the time to get on the bike and ride, and now it was here, Des phoned and said that Frank, Dick and I must attend a pre-ride meeting on Friday evening at the new "Admiral Pub" in Velddrif - we don't need much persuading to go to a pub!
We joined John and Des at the pub at about 17h30 and gradually the rest of the local Polar Bear riders arrived, we had drinks and snacks and Des outlined the ride and the accommodation.
Here you can see the mob listening intently, some very nice snacks had been sponsored so we all hung around for a while enjoying the company and a couple of cold beers.
Although Dick was enjoying himself and was definitely in the mood to stay at the pub I managed to persuade him that we should get going, we had to get out pretty early the next morning.
It was about 07h40 when we left home, it was cold but we were prepared for it - heated hand grips on! We met Frank at the Engen One-Stop and stood around sipping hot coffee out of a cardboard cup while we waited for the others to arrive.
Amazingly the rest of the local group arrived on time and after a brief chat it wasn't long before we had kick stands up and we were surging out onto the R45 towards Malmesbury. Des put me at point, something I hadn't done before and I was determined to keep the group of eight bikes together. I needn't have worried too much though because it wasn't long before we were riding through patches of fog that got thicker and heavier the farther we got from the coast!
In places we were riding at 80-90kmh and by the time we reached the intersection with the N7 the conditions were deadly dangerous. We all pulled up at the stop, we were on a side road and had to cross and turn right onto the National road and the visibility was down to about twenty metres! If the cars on the main road had their lights on you could only just see them right at the intersection, I took the gap first, accelerating across the road and onto the side shoulder and one by one the others did the same until we were all safely across but Man that was one of the most dangerous crossings I have ever done.
Once the adrenalin settled we carried on down towards Malmesbury and gradually the fog lifted, I increased the pace a bit. Des had said that the guys would like to stop for a smoke break somewhere after the town but I couldn't find a decent place to pull off so we carried on. Eventually it was about two hours later that we stopped, just after the toll gate on the N1 and by then I'm sure that the smokers were quivering wrecks! From there it was a short ride to the other side of the tunnel where we were to have breakfast at the Trout farm, I was ready!
"I'll have a Castle lager and a toasted egg and bacon sandwich with chips, a dash of speed and a bit of respect please!"The rest of the road group joined us and it wasn't long before the guys were misbehaving! Bikers are a free spirited bunch, we are different to ordinary people who travel in cars and sit quietly in restaurants, we take corners on two wheels and sit astride a powerful machine at high speed over a cheese grater - when it's time to relax we do it noisily, not quietly and some people disaprove - quietly.
Then we mount up and do it some more! We had a good break and then much to the relief of the boring people in the place we got back on the bikes to continue the ride. So far the weather had been fantastic, so much for Des' wish to have a really bad Polar Bear run!
Only about twenty kilometres along the N1 to Worcester and I led the pack at a good speed, 160 to 180kmh but after that I held it back a bit for the fifty kilometres through De Doorns to the intersection with the R318 so that we didn't leave the cruisers too far behind. What a fantastic ride, I led the group into the side road and pulled off for a break.The first thing that Frank did was roll another cigarette and the first thing that Phil did was head off into the bush for a leak! Get rid of the beer! From there it was a really nice cruise to the start of the pass leading down to the Koo Valley, about another 50kms and we pulled off the road into a construction area.Guess what happened then? The Old Brown Sherry (OB's) and the brandy and coke came out of the pannier bags and the guys settled down for a bit of a chat and a warm up drink.
The next part of the ride lay before us, the descent into the Koo Valley and the road through to the little town of Montagu - does that look good or what? We spent a good half hour or more in that laybye and by then we had sorted out a lot of the World's problems, but soon it was time to get going and we descended into the valley.It had been another very pleasant interlude and I think that this picture very aptly depicts the typical biker ethos, at least the bikers that I am proud to hang with.
From there it was a cruise into the little town of Montagu, the site of the famous hot springs resort, we refuelled and then as it was only fifty kilometres to our destination I led a high speed convoy along the fantastic R62 to the Karoo Saloon. We rode at upwards of 180kmh, five of us revelling in the fantastic wide, smooth road, the calm weather and the powerful motorcycles and we arrived at our destination happy and invigorated and more than ready for the party that was to take place that evening. Our hosts were ready for us and as the Karoo Saloon is a biker joint there was no need to behave! We arrived before the off-road contingent of about five guys so we all selected our beds in the "Bunk house" and then settled down to party.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Riding and cooking.....great stuff!

It has been another busy week, we have had some really lovely weather right in the middle of winter and we took advantage of it on Sunday to ride down to Capetown to visit Dave in hospital. I have mentioned Dave a couple of times, he's our bro who broke his knee in a bike accident on the first Polar Bear run two years ago. He has now had seven operations on that knee and it is still not right.
We met Frank at the Engen one-stop just before 09h00, when we left home the temperature was reading 6 degrees celsius (42,8f), a little chilly with a few early morning cold fog patches but it was a lovely ride and it seemed like ages since we had had a decent ride.
By the time we arrived in Capetown the temperature had risen to 12 degrees (53,6f). Here's Frank on his Yamaha FJR pulling into the parking area in front of the Viper lounge, when we got there the place was quite empty. We ordered our breakfast and sucked on a couple of cold ales while we waited.
That place doesn't stay quiet for long, especially on the weekend and it wasn't long before more bikers arrived. This group was from the M.O.T.H. riders, the Memorable Order of Tin Hats which is for serving military or veterans.
We had a really good breakfast, good value for money and then saddled up for the short ride through to the hospital where we spent about an hour or so chatting to Dave. He will be missing the Polar Bear run next weekend and we will certainly miss him.
After that it was back to the Viper lounge where we watched the MotoGP at Sachsenring and the incredible dice for third place between Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner. After only six weeks recuperation from a broken leg Rossi rode an incredible race and I was really disappointed that he didn't get a podium, he's an absolute genius on the track!
By then the bar was pretty full of motorcycle enthusiasts and it was a good vibe, we enjoyed the atmosphere and a couple of beers and then had a cup of coffee before hitting the West Coast road for the trip home.
We pulled into the Phoenix bar in Vredenburg for an ABF (Absolute Bloody Final) before going home and as we were heading towards Saldanha, Janet's hand came over my shoulder and she made the "Go for it!" sign. I didn't need any further encouragement and clicked down a gear and grabbed a handful, we sped down the dual carriageway towards town at over 200kmh! Very naughty at more than twice the speed limit, but oh so nice. A great day out on the bike.
Wednesday had us preparing a meal for twenty people, the annual visit of the post graduate students from Rhodes University to the acquaculture facilities in the Cape and Janet and I have done the seafood meal every year for about the past 16 or 17 years!Here are all my ingredients laid out for the seafood pot; chopped onions, celery, green peppers and mushroom, prawns, calamari, fish and mussels and my collection of herbs and spices.
First on the menu was the oysters, I opened 50 and laid them out with fresh lemon, black pepper and tabasco sauce.Then it was a big pot of fresh mussels steamed in white wine and fresh lemon and that lot went down extremely well. Here you can see part of the mob crowding around the table for the starters! If you area seafood lover there's not a lot that can beat fresh oysters and mussels.
Janet roasted some chicken wings and then we gave everyone a bit of a gap while my pot was on the go.
This rather delicious seafood pot (even if I do say so myself!) was served up with rice and Janet's home made beer bread and we ended up with a Malva pudding and cream. According to all of the guests it was a very good meal, a lot of work but a fun evening.
Tomorrow (Friday) starts the preparation for the Polar Bear run on Saturday morning so I will tell you all about that in my next post - cheers for now!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A good weekend.......again!

It was an interesting weekend. Friday as usual saw another leg of the FA Cup pool competition at the Phoenix bar, I managed to beat Frank but it was pretty close and then Danny challenged me to a game and he won - Oh well at least the beers went down well. Friday's pool always starts the weekend off well for me and at least the weather wasn't too bad then.
Saturday was cold and wet and I was going to get the bike out to visit the Undaunted club's day jol but I looked at the weather and thought "Ah stuff it! I'll just have a beer." That's when I heard Janet call me from the bedroom, I went through and this is the sight that met me!
I got a hell of a fright, it was like something from a horror movie but all she wanted was a beer while the facial moisturiser did its work and it obviously did work because by the time we went to the Slipway restaurant for lunch she was looking gorgeous again.
There was a gap in the weather and my intention was to go out on the bike after lunch, which by the way was a wonderful plate of prawns, calamari and chips which I really enjoyed. The Slipway is one of my favourites, it has a wonderful setting right on the water's edge and the seafood is always very good.
On the way home from the restaurant we saw a group of people on the railway bridge so we stopped to see what was going on and this was the sight!
This happened during Friday night and apparently the driver got away with only a minor cut on the head! It appeared that he just went on the wrong side of the bridge for some reason or other, luckily the railway line is no longer in use. Quite a lot of traffic misdemeanours take place on a Friday night in this area, usually only flattened traffic signs or traffic lights though, not usually this serious.
The skies opened up again while we were on our way home so I decided not to go out, I just couldn't raise the enthusiasm to get the bike out in the rain. I may have to do that next weekend but then I will have no choice, this time I did and I chose to relax at home.
Sunday my baby sister Annette, my boet (brother-in-law) Barry and my niece Steegan came through for a brief visit and I decided to prepare a beef potjie for them.
I like to get all of my ingredients ready before hand and here you see (clockwise) the beef shin complete with marrow bones which I had already cut into chunks and sprinkled with Aromat, ground black pepper, mixed herbs and a Chilli beef and green pepper soup powder. I tossed the meat in the mix so that it was all well covered, this helps to make a thick and tasty gravy.
Chopped butternut, one kilo of baby potatoes, chopped fresh green beans, chopped fresh spring onions, a bowl of chopped onions, green peppers and fresh garlic and at the bottom a bowl of chopped patti-pans.
On the side is a tin of tomato and onion mix, this is optional - I forgot to add it to my pot! (Must have been the alcohol!)
Open a beer and drink it, pour a small pool of olive oil into the pot and once it is good and hot chuck the meat in and stir it around until it is nicely brown. Remove the meat and set it aside, if necessary add a little more oil and then fry up the onions, peppers and garlic until translucent and then chuck the meat back in.
At this stage I can usually call Janet to bring me another beer while I am busily engaged in stirring the meat around but you have to guage it well, I can't get away with that too often!

Once the meat and onion mix are well stirred I normally pour in a whole beer, usually one of my friend's beers rather than a Castle if I can get away with it, and also a cup of red wine. Now add the potatoes and the butternut, turn the heat down to a simmer and put the lid on the pot for about an hour.
Get another beer. This was at the halfway stage, the meat was getting tender and the potatoes were almost done, looking good! Here I added the green beans and the spring onions, and here I should have added the tomato and onion mix, and then let it simmer some more while I got another beer (myself).
In the meantime my sister and my wife were getting into the mood for the upcoming soccer final and I wasn't sure if their message was for me or for the Spanish team!
The meal was ready just before the game and here it is plated up with some rice, fresh ciabatta, fetta cheese and olives and it really was very nice.
It was a festive evening, unfortunately our team lost but I didn't stay up to watch the end as the game went into extra time, I had to work early the next morning. That was definitely the last football game that I will watch but the whole World Cup experience has been very good, now it's all over and life goes back to normal, let's see if we can keep the spirit going.
During next week I will plan what I am going to be taking with me on the Polar Bear run, such as warm clothing and bedding etc., I will look at the extended weather forcast to see what we can expect and I will take the bike out to fill up and check the tyre pressures. The planning stage adds to the excitement and the build up............looking forward to it!