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, February 24, 2013

Riding in my own backyard, Sunday lunch with Fungis

Lovely weather Saturday so we decided to get out on the bike, I've been feeling a little bit melancholy about the big red machine of late, not sure if I can trust her anymore, also the handling felt a bit off - a bit heavy and when I checked the tire pressures I found that the front was down to 1,5bar instead of 2,5! That made a hell of a difference straight away! I'm normally quite good with my tire pressures but the bike had been in the hospital for about three weeks so I hadn't been riding.
We took a cruise through Vredenburg and then onto the Hopefield road, hung a right to go past the Orex depot where there are some lovely sweeping curves. Down the straight past "Spionkop" to the intersection near the Saldanha Steel plant,
left there and then right onto the fast back road leading past the oil storage depot and into Langebaan. Now I was getting back into it, I could see again what it was about this bike that I loved, she was performing beautifully, smooth and plenty of power. I tapped it off a bit as we neared the town, a bit more well behaved riding through to the new "Windtown Hotel and Restaurant" which had only opened in December. We had been curious about the place but wanted to wait until the crazy period in Langebaan was over and all of the tourists had gone home.
They have an unusual system, you pay R140 for starter and main course or R180 for starter, main and dessert. We opted for the starter and main, mine was a delicious venison carpaccio and Janet had a "Melon Milkshake" which she really enjoyed.
 My main course (top) looks a bit min but it was a lovely fresh Yellowtail fillet on some chips with coucous mash and cauliflower, now is the best time to eat Yellowtail as this is when it is being caught. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and as fish is very filling it was a big enough portion.
Janet had a chicken breast fillet with roasted vegetables and salad, also very nice, I know because I finished it off for her! The bill came to R400 with wine and the gratuity, we will definitely go back there to try their other menu items, better than the average restaurant for sure.
I dropped Janet off at home after lunch and carried on riding, I was really back into it and loving it. After a bit of hooliganism I saw some bikes parked at the Beach Club, Alex and Vince were there with their ladies so I joined them for a drink.
I had just had a run in with a mini-bus taxi driver, as I was approaching a three-way stop this fool just drove straight through it in front of me without even slowing down. I thundered off in hot pursuit and pulled in alongside him, I raised my helmet visor and shouted; "You don't stop at f#@*ing stop streets, stop now I want to talk to you!" He raised his hand apologetically but he wasn't going to pull over, I raced ahead and waited at the next stop street where he dutifully came to a stop before driving through. My work was done, I think he will think twice about ignoring stop streets from now on, he'll be looking out for crazy bikers!
Today (Sunday) we were invited out to Velddrif to visit my old biker friend Fungis, he has just started a biker friendly guesthouse and although it is still a work in progress I wanted to see what it was like. "Come on through," he said, "I'll cook some graze."
It was hot in Velddrif but luckily there was a slight breeze which made it more bearable, Fungis has three double rooms which are pretty much complete with another on the way, each room has an en-suite shower and toilet and at the moment he is charging R150 per person per night. As I said it is a work in progress and as Fungis is a divorcee the place perhaps lacks that feminine touch, there is a large communal kitchen and there certainly is potential, once he gets it finished I can see that it will be very comfortable.
Fungis opened a lovely bottle of 1991 Kanon Kop Merlot, I thought that it might have passed its "drink-by" date but it was smooth and delicious, we made short work of it while he braaiied some lovely boerewors and a huge slab of lamb rib on his wheelbarrow.
 We enjoyed the ribs with some butter potatoes, a lovely tomato and onion relish and some bread rolls, Frank was also there so we sat chatting until it was time to head home, a very pleasant lunch with a couple of bikers, what more could one want?
You can get Fungis on 0823388131 if you're looking for biker friendly accommodation in Velddrif, there is also off the street, secure parking for your boney.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Buffalo Rally

This is the tee shirt emblem from the last rally that I attended; the iconic Buffalo Rally in 2011. I cannot believe that I have not been to a single rally since March 2011! It's hard to put my finger on the reason for this sad state of affairs; Sickness? Nah, strong like a lion me! Lack of funds? Nah, money is no object! (well actually it is a bit of an object, but that's not the reason), lack of commitment? Nah, I'm biker scum! So what is it then? 
One of the rallies that we always used to attend, the "Slangkop Rally" closed down so we lost out on that one and I remember that I missed out on the "Freedom Road" last year because of work commitments - can you believe it?!
Anyway whatever has happened is past, I am going to the Buffalo Rally in March this year,  the weekend of the 22nd to the 24th to be precise and I am planning to leave on Friday morning at sparrow-fart for the 500km ride.
I must confess that after the 2011 rally I did declare that I wasn't going to attend another "Buff." because it was just too crowded and impersonal, there was absolutely nowhere to sit, either in the main tent or outside any of the myriad food stalls but I definitely feel drawn to attend this next one and in fact I have already paid my entry, the Meeulanders are leaving early on the Thursday which this year is a public holiday and they are going to set up a camp site, I will arrive early afternoon Friday and I have been assured that there will be a spot for my tent.
This is one of the main reasons why I want to go to this years's Buff., I was at the 1983 Buffalo Rally in Port Elizabeth and I want the new badge on my jacket next to this one - thirty years down the line!
As we all know, the best part of any rally is the ride there and the ride home afterwards but a great deal of pleasure is derived from meeting and greeting old friends and making new ones, I'm already looking forward to this one! Just over a month to go, I'll tell you all about it.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

We collect the big red machine.

Right we're back, the big red machine is back home where she belongs. I have a big hole in my credit card! Our lovely friend Linda drove 120kms from Capetown to come and fetch us, in the rain, so that we could collect the bike. How's that for a friend?
That's right, it was raining this morning! I thought WTF man we've had sunshine for the past three months and the very day I want to collect my bike it rains! Bloody Murphy hard at work.
While I was paying and sorting out the account I was approached by a guy wanting to buy my bike, interesting. I told him that I wasn't sure what I wanted to do yet, because I'm not but that he had first option.
We took Linda for lunch at "Dale's Place" in the Paddocks Centre, all three of us agreed that the food was great, lovely meat; Janet's gammon, Linda's Eisbein and my steak, we'll be back.
After lunch we could see the rain bucketing down, we were in the underground car park so we pulled our rain gear on before setting off, I don't mind riding in the rain but it's difficult to see properly. I normally lower the windscreen so that the wind is directed onto my helmet visor then it blows the rain off the visor but you have to be going at speed for this to be effective, it doesn't help in traffic.
Onto the R27 and up towards Blaubergstrand I rode with the visor open but in the stop/start traffic the rain was stinging my face, eventually as we got closer to Melkbos the traffic started thinning out and I could get up to 130kmh, visor down and lower the windscreen, now I could see.......sort of.
I had to keep a wary eye on the traffic but by the time we were about halfway the rain was starting to let up a bit and as we passed the Yzerfontein turnoff the clouds were breaking up and patches of sunlight brightened things up. I increased my speed to between 140 and 150kmh, better to stay ahead of the cages!
The bike was performing beautifully, plenty of power on tap, a 2006 BMW with a 2013 differential and it was definitely providing tranquility, the deeper growl from the smaller Scorch exhaust gave a melodic background to our journey and the deeper bellow whenever I "grabbed a handfull" to pass some slower traffic was enough to raise the hairs on the back of my neck, it was fantastic to be back out on the road.
Thundering along my mind wandered, as it is wont to do under these tranquil circumstances, back to this exact time in 2006; early February when I took delivery of the bike;
What an emotional time that was for me, very exciting and the first time buying a new bike since my Yamaha 1.1 way back in 1982. Little did I know then that I had bought a bike with a Monday morning or a Friday afternoon differential!
The second half of the ride was sublime, no rain, no strong wind and little traffic, we blasted through the new Langebaan bypass, overtaking a slow cage in the middle of the long sweeping curve. I always go that way now, it is so much more pleasant and it feels quicker even though it probably isn't. The speed limit there is 80 km/h but it is incredibly difficult to hold the bike down to that speed as the road is beautiful, anyway I believe that speed restriction only applies to cagers, definitely not to us.
I arrived home rejuvenated, styling it through the streets of my hometown, blipping the throttle for that exhaust bark and  looking forward to more riding tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Thanks my friends

I logged on today and my pageviews  showed the magical number 99,999! It was just a little while ago that I happened to logon at 77,777. Quite a coincidence me thinks. 
I have been  writing this since June 2008, coming up to five years and I really have enjoyed it. I have managed, through this blog, to make quite a lot of friends in a lot of countries - 165 countries to be exact and although I don't get many comments on my blog posts I know that people are reading what I write now and then. It is an enjoyable hobby and it enables me to read what like-minded people in other countries do, I read blogs published by bikers in America, England, Australia, New Zealand and Canada to name but a few.
I hope that you stay with me, I will try to make my posts interesting and if you contact me I will read your blogs too.
Thank you for being with me over the past five years.
Yours in biking - Andrew Wood

Monday, February 4, 2013

Breakfast or lunch and a windy ride

Sunday dawned clear and sunny but the wind that had bothered us on Saturday was still there, gusting strong and on hearing this and before even getting out of bed, Janet suddenly decided that she had a whole lot of things to attend to, "You go on the breakfast run love, I've got lots to do."
I had earlier in the week received a text message about the Meeulanders breakfast run to the Hotel Samoa in Mooreesburg, they would be doing a loop through Malmesbury and as I still had the Yamaha Super Tenere in my garage, I was keen to ride.
I arrived at the designated meeting place; the Engen One Stop on the R27 in time to have a cup of Wimpy's famous coffee, several friends were already there including my old biker bud, Frank. We stood around chatting, sipping coffee and kicking tires waiting for the others to arrive.
You may recall that I wrote about the magnificent Triumph Trophy that I considered going to have a look at? Well all of a sudden a beautiful dark blue one rolled into the garage forecourt!
 I didn't recognize the rider or his pillion with their crash helmets on but when they came to park with us I saw that it was Meeulander members Heine and Gerda, who when I saw them last were riding a Kawasaki Vulcan. They had traded the Vulcan in on this magnificent machine.
What a lovely motorcycle! They had only just brought it home, it doesn't even have a number plate yet.
At 09h30 some 17 bikes with about 22 people headed out in staggered formation for the little town of Mooreesburg, they had agreed to skip Malmesbury and head directly to the hotel due to the very strong wind.
I enjoyed the ride in spite of the fact that we were all leaning over to the right most of the time, it was great to be out on a motorbike! The guys were all pretty sedate, it's not far to Mooreesburg so Div., the president kept the group together at around 130-140kmh.
At the Samoa Hotel they were not ready for us, they were not aware that we were coming! Apparently the cook or manager who had taken the original booking had left during the week and had not passed on the news of our imminent arrival to the hotel owners. They were not doing breakfast that day but they "would make a plan", I smelt a disaster brewing but the bar was open and that's always a good way of keeping bikers happy.
Heine's attractive wife Gerda jumped in to help take the orders and almost everyone immediately teased them about needing extra money to pay for the new bike!
 Bikers relax and enjoy each others company, no one was particularly bothered that the food took ages to come. From the left; Stephen's lady (I apologize for the fact that I don't know your name yet), Barbara, Gerda, Heine, Bev and Daan.
 Div., the President of the Meeulanders in front with two brothers and a sister new to me.
 I know three of the people at this table but that's not important, we all have one thing in common; our love of motorbikes and that makes them all special.
Frank can't help himself, if there's a pretty lady he has to get a squeeze, this is Michelle who rides her own bike along with her husband Anthony. Ain't she sweet? She's too young for you Frank and anyway Anthony was sitting right next to her!
By 13h30 I had all but collapsed through lack of nutrition but luckily they brought my food, it must have been a bit of a nightmare for the hotel, they suddenly had more than twenty bikers to feed without any notice and to be fair they did a good job.
R55 for a "Brunch burger" not too bad at all and by then it went down singing hymns I can tell you!
After that we all made our separate ways home, I had to get the bike back to West Coast Yamaha and collect my bakkie, I had considered just keeping the bike and leaving the bakkie there but Craig reminded me that he knew where I lived!
It was a hectic ride home, by then the wind had increased its intensity and the gusts were really strong. I put the Tenere in "Sport" mode and hung on for dear life! 220kmh leaning sideways and loving it!
I have read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert M.Pirsig and I confess that it is a difficult book to read, it took me a while but I love this passage which I now quote;
"The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn't any other test. If the machine produces tranquility it's right. If it disturbs you it's wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed."
The Yamaha Super Tenere produces tranquility.........and excitement.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

We ride the Yamaha Super Tenere

Craig and Monica Welsh of West Coast Yamaha took pity on me in my severe state of bikelessness and offered me the use of their demo model Yamaha Super Tenere for the weekend. I hastened to tell Craig that I wasn't yet sure what I was going to be doing with my BMW although I am a fan of the Yamaha after my test ride and write up some time ago.
I took the bike out for a relatively short ride when it first came out and definitely formed a favourable opinion but Janet had not been with me, it is essential that she should also like the motorcycle so a weekend would be ideal.
One of the most important considerations is of course; Do I look cool on the motorbike? I think we can tick that particular box with a resounding "Helloooo......Way Cool!"
We actually took the bike out on a particularly lousy day, the wind was pumping gale force out of the south, not conducive to a relaxed ride but it was perhaps good to form our first impressions in unfavourable  conditions.
I immediately found that although I did not have the same degree of wind protection that I am used to, I was not being thrown around as badly as I expected. Janet claimed that she was perfectly happy behind me and that although she was occasionally buffeted with gusts from the side she was very comfortable.
We sat and discussed our first impressions over lunch, Janet liked the pillion saddle and her seating position but thought that the suspension might be a bit hard, she suggested we ride the notoriously rough stretch of road running from Hopefield to Velddrif. A good idea, it is a roughly 30km stretch of tarred road running for the most part parallel to the Berg river and it is in terrible condition, a good test of a motorbike suspension.
It is 30kms from the R27 to Hopefield, we sat comfortably at 150kmh in "Touring" mode with the wind hammering us from the right, although the occasional stronger gust made me lean to the right I had no problem with the handling.
We turned left at Hopefield and I settled down to 80kmh which is the speed I normally ride on that road. The bumps were sometimes fairly harsh but I felt that the Yamaha's suspension was ironing them out very well, Janet leaned over my shoulder and indicated for me to go faster, 90kmh - 100kmh - 120kmh with no problems for Janet, although she was sitting directly over the rear wheel the suspension smoothed the bumps out admirably. We were both very impressed.
At the intersection just outside of Velddrif we crossed over and headed again directly into the wind for the ride home, I must confess that I was getting considerably more wind pressure on my upper body and my helmet but I did not find this overly uncomfortable. We sat at a steady 130kmh with the superbly smooth yet torquey motor thudding quietly along.
It's definitely a good looking machine and there are a lot of accessories with which to personalise it, I'm looking forward to riding again tomorrow - hopefully the wind will have died down and we can assess it in more pleasant conditions.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Two days in Bonnievale and lots of wine

Ok so it's the last few days of our holiday, Monday 4th February we go back to work. This past week was supposed to have been spent touring around on the motorbike but if you've been reading my crap you'll know what has happened, we are still driving around in an Avis rental!
On Tuesday we decided to head off into the winelands for a couple of days just to get away and I figured that if I'm driving a car I've got space for wine, our family decimated my wine collection so I needed to re-stock - the wine was for them and my son, my daughter and my son-in-law managed to drink the whole lot, about forty bottles of good red wine before they left, (with a little help from me!).
The driver - normally I'm "The rider". It's been such a long time since we have traveled by car, (apart from the recent trip with the family to Wilderness) that I can't even remember when it might have been, probably three years ago when they last visited. We are so used to travelling light and carrying only what can be packed in the bikes panniers and topcase that we didn't know what to take and ended up with far too many clothes for a two night stay. Conveniently though we were able to carry food and booze although that fact alone would not convert me, during the trip Janet said; "It's so boring in a car!" - I loved her for that comment and definitely agreed with her - we miss our motorbike.
Man it was hot! The temperature was hovering around the forty degree mark in that valley, we'd stopped for a pleasant lunch in Worcester where the restaurant's air conditioner was only just coping and unfortunately our car did not have one so we drove with the window open to circulate the hot air. (It would have been very hot in biking gear!)
Our chalet was great, right on the bank of the Breede River and it was air-conditioned! We made use of the air-con the whole time we were there and it was wonderful.
We relaxed until the late afternoon when it wasn't quite so hot, "Toy Cottages" (of which there are three) are situated on a working fruit farm and we were told that we could pick what we could eat,
Janet was in her element, she would be a "forager", she loves being able to pick and eat, the yellow cling peaches were ripe, sweet and delicious,
and I think it brought out the "hunter-gatherer" in her.
This beautiful big dog, "Magnum" lives on the farm and visited us a lot over the three days.
On Wednesday it was partly cloudy and a lot more comfortable for our wine estate tour which we started at De Wetshoff;
where we tasted a few wines and I ended up buying two bottles of their "Naissance" 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at R105 each, lovely stuff! From there we went to Van Loveren, more tasting and I bought six bottles of their 2012 Merlot at only R45 each.
Don't leave the wine unattended next to old biker trash! I'm trying to look like I know what I'm doing here. It was lunch time and there is a really nice bistro, I had a wonderful piece of sirloin steak with wedges and onion rings, absolutely delicious;
Janet had the "Hawaiian" pizza which she declared to be the best pizza she has ever had! She managed to eat two-thirds of it but we didn't doggy-bag the left overs because I don't eat that stuff and she wouldn't eat it later because we had planned to burn some ribs that evening.
Much later! We finished off our day with a visit to Van Zhylshoff which is in Bonnievale itself, we tasted a couple of reds and whites - or was that whites and reds? I bought some really nice Sauvignon blanc and some Chenin blanc and from there it was only four and a half k's to our chalet.
Magnum spent the evening with us, a lovely relaxing time.
The next day was homeward bound with a stop for lunch and some more red wine at Rooiberg where I bought an assorted case of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz and from there through to Darling Cellars where I bought some of our favourite "Black Granite Shiraz" arriving at home in the mid afternoon.
What this all means is that if you were planning to come and visit, now's the time, we've got plenty of wine!
Now we take the weekend to prepare ourselves for work on Monday.

I would thoroughly recommend "Toy Cottages" to you for a stayover, we had the luxury cottage which is rather pricey at R400 per person per night but it has everything there; bedding, towels, even a bag of charcoal for your braai, very comfortable beds with two en-suite rooms both with large corner baths and showers and the air conditioner was the kicker, it more than made up for it. The other two chalets which are not as expensive are not air conditioned. Each chalet has a paddle-ski for use on the river although we didn't have the energy to make use of ours!
We'll definitely be back, speak to Carla on 0236162735 and tell her I sent you.

An update on the big red machine; a phone call from the workshop manager to inform me that they would not be able to repair the diff., - I'm really going off this guy! - It would have to be replaced at a cost of R19,000! I have no choice but to go ahead, so now I still have a dilemma; replace the diff. and keep the bike forever or take a loss on the sale and buy another bike - which definitely will NOT be a BMW!