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.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

2013 Buffalo Rally - part two

I'm lucky, I don't get headaches - I really cannot remember the last time I had one, because if I was going to have a headache Saturday morning would have been the time! Chatter, laughter and motorbike engines - heaven! I stuck my head out of the tent and looked blearily around, it was about 07h30 and everyone was up and about, fresh and ready to go for it.
Some kind soul had been down the road to fetch Frank a cup of coffee, I had to go and get my own. By the time I had had the second one I was feeling better, the weather did not look good, lots of heavy grey clouds around.
It soon started raining and everyone gathered under the gazebos, it looked like it was going to be a stay-at-home day. I had entertained the hope of riding up to Wilderness around lunchtime but not in the rain.
There were occasional gaps in the rain when it looked like it may clear up but then it would start again, not heavy rain but just enough to make things unpleasant, it would continue through the day eventually clearing up in the evening. Unfortunately the mass ride was very thin with only a small percentage of die-hards taking part, I wasn't one of them.
During one of those gaps I took a walk around, I needed breakfast so I headed down to "Rally road" where all of the food and trade stalls were set up.
 I found a nice breakfast burger with cheese and egg that did the trick.
 The trade stalls were well supported, those with awnings got busier as the rain clouds passed over.
As with any rally there were some really nice bikes to drool over;
 A really trick CBX, a very nice job.
The Suzuki Boulevard must be one of the most customised bikes around, this was a really nice looking one.
The day progressively got noisier with bored bikers revving engines or just cruising around the campsite and there was the usual shenanigans in various parts of the site.
 I had another meal later on in the afternoon and we all prepared to head for the main tent where the prize-giving and lucky draw was taking place, everyone had their hopes up for the R100,000 first prize! By around  19h00 everyone was heading for the tent,
Frank found a convenient tree to hold up, he was feeling pretty ragged by then but he can certainly "out-party" most of the younger people, I haven't seen many who can keep up with him.
The prizes were dished out for things like the concours-d'elegance in the various classes, three guys received certificates, R500 cash and free entry to all future Buffalo rallies for having attended 30 consecutive rallies, quite an achievement! Some other guy won R100,000 after which the disco started playing, we hung around for a while but then gradually all headed back to our camp.
 The weather had cleared up nicely with the promise of a good day for riding home tomorrow.
We sat around chatting for a while, this was definitely not a party night though, with a 570km ride I didn't want to be hungover. I got into my tent at around 22h30, there was still a lot of noise though, occasionally someone would rev a motorbike and there would be a reply from a different part of the camp but gradually all of that subsided, I eventually drifted off to sleep looking forward to the ride home.
To be continued..............

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

2013 Buffalo Rally - part one

The big day arrived! Exactly two years since I have attended any rallies and I was seriously looking forward to this one, especially the ride - as we all know it's not about the destination, it's the journey.
I was up good and early, I had packed the bike the previous day, all that was needed was to throw my toothbrush into a bag and get going. We had agreed to meet at 07h00 at the Engen One Stop and it now seemed that we were to be five people on four motorbikes, great stuff.
From the left, Mark, Frank (talking) Mark's wife Charmaine and Hannes, whom Frank calls "Harness". We stood around talking for a while, drinking Wimpy's famous coffee and planning the ride and soon it was time to go. As we headed out onto the R45 there was quite a bit of fog but there was no wind and it was a comfortably moderate 17 degrees, perfect riding weather.
We settled into a steady speed, 140 to 150kmh, not in too much of a hurry and I soon relaxed into the bike, I let my shoulders drop and settled my hands lightly on the grips, the balls of my feet on the pegs once I was in top gear and felt my senses awakening, the wind and road noise a welcome background to my wandering thoughts; Nirvana.
All too soon the first smoke break, after only about one hour we stopped in Riebeek outside the petrol station. In front of Frank (who was talking then) you can see Hannes' very nice BMW R1100S which attracted a lot of attention.
On the road again and an interesting riding area from Riebeek to Worcester, we were able to wind it up a bit but unfortunately the traffic can be a bit problematic with many 18 wheelers clogging the biking roads avoiding the toll tunnel near Paarl, quite a lot of repairs going on as well. Inevitably we became separated so we pulled off onto the side of the N1 just outside of Worcester to gather - and to have another smoke break!
By then we were feeling hungry, it was 09h30, time for something to eat so we decided to fuel up in Robertson some 50kms further and have a Wimpy breakfast. That stretch from Worcester to Robertson is one of my favourite rides and with the weather getting warmer but still lovely and calm we blasted down that wide, smooth road happily acknowledging with a raised hand or flashing hazards, the cages that pulled aside so as not to impede our enjoyment.
We had a good breakfast and feeling much refreshed we resumed our journey, the next stop was to be at the iconic "Ronnie's Sex Shop" on the R62. It's only about 100kms but it is a lovely 100kms; through Ashton and Montagu and then the lovely 62km stretch through to Barrydale, it's a smooth, wide and fast road with a pass and a couple of winding areas thrown in for good measure. By then I was feeling really settled in, the big red machine was purring along and feeling as good as I was, by the time we pulled into the crowded parking area in front of Ronnie's I was ready for a cold beer even if it was seriously over-priced at R20 per tin! It went down so well that I had another.
The rest of the ride went well, a fantastic blast down through "Garcia's Pass" to Riversdale where we stopped for another smoke break. A short ride to Albertinia for refuel (and a smoke break!) and the last 50kms to Mosselbay was a drag with a seriously congested road but eventually we arrived.
Booking in procedures taken care of and the first person I saw was my old friend Des Pistorius from Durban;
He is very well known in South African biking circles and attends rallies all over the country, I last saw him in the Western Cape when he went through on a scooter towing a trailer whilst on an epic trip around the country, an old school biker!
It was easy to find the Meeulanders campsite and what a pleasure it was to find that I didn't have to erect my tent! That is one of the big hassles which must be done as soon as you arrive, if not you sleep on the ground because after a major party and in the early hours of the morning one is not capable of erecting a tent! It turned out that Anton's tent was not going to be used so it was available for me - Yes please!
Div and the other members of the club had arrived the day before and had established a very comfortable camp overlooking the beach with all of the tents surrounding two large gazebo's which were to prove very handy the next day.
We settled in, poured a drink and greeted the friends who were already there, Frank's tent had also been set up for him. I wandered around a bit to see what was going on but returned to the camp for a chat around the fire.
It was a lovely calm and warm evening, the conversation and the alcohol were stimulating but although some of the people were going to braai, I went off in search of sustenance from the myriad food stalls down on Rally Road;
At a Cape Malay foodstall I ate some delicious "Samoosas" while I watched the chef prepare a delicious  looking "Bunny-chow", I was tempted but decided to press on;
The "Shwarmas" were also tempting but I eventually settled on some "Avfal Potjie" (Offal Pot) which was rather good. By then the crowd was flowing down towards the main tent and the Meeulanders had finished their braai and had also congregated there, it was crowded;
but that was mainly because the wet tee shirt competition was on the go, I made my way as far forward as I could without seeming too eager!
I don't know what the "horny" guy was doing on the stage! Eventually a winner was chosen and to end off she displayed her assets and for some obscure reason that was the only photograph that was blurred! Some things just ain't fair!
Back to the bar for a drink served by a young barmaid who should perhaps have entered the competition, exactly the kind of barmaid needed at a biker bar.
I was set upon by some other bikers, accused of being "big", they wanted my photo taken, it was all in good fun and the party started to get into gear as the disco warmed up..
Frank meanwhile was performing his famous pole dance. Some pretty young girls came around trying to persuade bikers to drink some shooters of some sort, good luck with that!
 The party raged on but unfortunately, and without any warning the bar was suddenly shut down just before 02h00! I was alright because I had my own whisky with me but some people were caught unawares and left in a huff.
Two old biker scums here showing a newbie the ropes, this is Mario a school friend of my son's and now a biker.
Hannes and Frank interfered with the Meeulander's ladies picture just before they all went back to the camp and Frank needed help from Anton,
We stayed in the tent talking to friends, two of whom came back to our camp with us, I eventually faded sometime just after 04h00, dived into Anton's tent and drifted off into brief oblivion leaving Frank to his own devices. He fell asleep in a chair for a couple of hours, it was noisy but I managed about two and a half hours sleep before the rising sun and the chatter and laughter of rally goers aroused me, it had been a hell of a party............Coffee!
To be continued.......

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Local ride and lunch at The Oystercatcher restaurant

It was a lovely day today, it started out pretty hot but I think that is because I was sweating after planting Janet's herbs in pots outside the kitchen door. Not much of a gardener me, but they had been standing around dying in their plastic trays for more than a week so I had to make some sort of effort. The work also scored me some points.
By the time I was finished it was around 11h00 so we decided that a local ride and a lunch was what we needed. We left home at 11h45 and by then it seemed to have cooled down somewhat, the sky was a pale blue with scattered high level patches of cloud that could almost have been applied in random streaks with a gigantic paint brush.
We sped around the area between Saldanha, Vredenburg and Langebaan, reveling in the feeling of pure escapism, freedom and enjoyment that this machine invokes. The bike was really feeling good and I needed the reassurance that today's ride provided, after the incident with the differential I had lost some of my confidence in the Big Red Machine. 
We discussed where to go for lunch and one of the options was the "Black Oyster Catcher" restaurant in Langebaan, we had last been there some time ago but I had heard that Charles, the Chef from "Driftwoods" restaurant was now there, "Let's go check it out!"
We had a leisurely lunch and a bottle of wine, I had the freshest filet of Kob that I have had in ages, absolutely delicious. Janet had a lovely Hake and Chips, and I know it was good because I finished it off for her! I enjoyed myself so much that I forgot to photograph the food.
Janet's Hake and chips was on a Sunday special for an unbelievable R38! Our bill, with the gratuity came to only R220, you don't often get value like that and if I had also had the Hake and chips our bill would have been less than R200!  We'll be back.
We rode back home via Vredenburg and then a brief stop, just for one beer, at the Beach Club in Saldanha. I am once again impressed with my bike and am now really looking forward to the Buffalo Rally next weekend.
Janet was so impressed with my gardening prowess this morning that she has lined up some other outstanding chores for me on Thursday which is a public holiday! Part of that day will be taken up with packing the bike for the trip but I don't think I can use that as much of an excuse, it won't take long.
The reason for the garden clean up is that we have a bunch of friends coming up for the Easter weekend and although I am used to my garden the way it is, women have a way of seeing through a current state of affairs into the future, they can see what it should or could look like with a bit of (husband's) effort, so I guess that's what I'll be doing on Thursday.
I'll tell you all about the Buffalo Rally.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My son's debut novel

I told you about this most important novel a little while ago and whilst it has absolutely nothing to do with either braais, beers or bikes I thought stuff it, this is my blog so I'm going to use it to promote this book.
Let me start by saying that this is the first novel that I have read in many years, I am not a reader of novels, I prefer documentaries or history, travel etc., but obviously I had to read this one.
Simon builds his characters and his plot in a thoroughly believable way, I was very surprised by the way he led me through the day to day routines and difficulties experienced by his various characters and whilst reading I found myself saying things like "No come on Simon, don't let this one get hurt please."
His bad guys are bad, his good guys are good but with their quirks, the ladies are sexy and the ending is edge of the seat stuff, I must confess that I read this book in small sections but by the time I got to the end I could not put it down, for a first novel this is bloody good reading and follow-ups can only get better.
This book is available on www.amazon.com, if only a few of you buy a copy it will make a huge difference, I urge you to buy it, you won't be sorry I promise you.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Crispy roasted Eisbeins in Aurora

The weather forecast for Sunday was seriously hot and they weren't wrong! We met up with Fungis and Graeme at the Engen one-stop at 10h45 and already the temperature was reading just over 20 degrees celsius. We were booked to have lunch in the little town of Aurora but being typical bikers we had decided to take the long way; up the R45 towards Malmesbury, take the turnoff halfway and go through Mooreesburg to the N7 then up to Piketburg and down on the Velddrif Road to the Aurora turnoff.
It was a beautiful, calm day as we left the Engen garage, my bike seemed to be behaving beautifully as we flipped into the left hand sweep on the link road to the R45, flick over to a right hand sweep and accelerate out after Fungis and Graeme, I was bringing up the rear so that I could take photographs with my fairing mounted action camera.
On the straight-away I leaned forward to turn the camera on, something I should have done before we left so that I could have checked that it was working! Whilst on the R45 a huge group of Harley riders, must have been 50 or 60 bikes thundered past on their way towards the R27, the direction from which we had come, for an instant the road was full of bikes and I was clicking away. I noticed that they were riding in a mass and not a disciplined staggered formation which we always use, I also noticed that not a single one of them raised a hand in greeting!
The ride was enjoyable, fungis was leading and he set up a moderate pace at around 140kmh and within about three quarters of an hour we rolled into the town of Mooreesburg, by then the temperature was up to 27 degrees, this called for a refreshment stop at "Die Oude Stoep",
 Fungis and Janet enjoying a nice cold Castle Lager in the shade.
Graeme also enjoyed a cold beer, we sat chatting for a while, long enough to finish just the one beer and then saddled up.
The N7 is actually a very pleasant road, wide and well maintained with some lovely sweeping bends and although the ever present 18 wheelers kept the cagers in line, they didn't hold us up for very long. I particularly enjoy leap-frogging a line of impatient cagers and then accelerating past the diesel belching behemoths to gain the wide open road ahead, sheer bliss!
We took the bypass link before the town of Piketberg and joined the Velddrif road, there are only three or four nice sweeping bends at the start of that road and the rest is 80 km's of bumpy narrow tar. It was at this point, while we were cruising along that my action-cam suddenly flew off the fairing and disappeared behind us! I threw out all the anchors and did a "U" turn, Janet climbed off and managed to recover all the bits, luckily including the memory card but I'm afraid that the camera is history!
I chucked all the bits into the topcase and we continued along the road, meeting up with an obviously worried Fungis along the way. We have not been to Aurora before and it was good to ride along the road leading to the town, 20km's of lovely smooth tar where we could increase our speed to our preferred 140kmh, moments later pulling up into the shade outside the restaurant, "La Aurora".
Man it was hot but luckily the beers were cold!
The "Three Must-get-beers" inside the very interesting old building.
Graeme looks decidedly worried as Fungis prepares to climb onto the horse saddle bar stool and in fact it almost threw him off!
Fungis had booked the restaurant and had also booked our Eisbeins so we didn't have long to wait before they were served,
done just the way I like them, not smoked or in brine, but crispy roasted and delicious served with the chef's own sauerkraut and mash, what a meal!
After the feast I went and took a few photos of the dorp, mainly because my brother Dan and Alison used to own a plot here before they went over to New Zealand, across from the church. Typical of all small towns in South Africa, the church is usually the most ornate and ostentatious building in the town or village, and usually visible from a couple of miles away;
Aurora is no exception!
We stopped briefly in the now 43 degree heat for this photo looking back onto the town and I had two questions; why was this town here? and what would you do if you lived here? The answers to both I cannot imagine and neither of our friends could offer any. We couldn't stop for long because the heat was oppressive - "Let's get moving!" was the general consensus so that is what we did.
Back to the Velddrif road and the remaining 60 kms to the town where we said our goodbyes to Fungis and Graeme, nice guys, we'll ride together soon again. Janet and I flashed through to Saldanha, towards the ever cooling air blowing over the Saldanha Bay, welcome relief from the heat we settled into plastic chairs outside the Beach Sailing Club,
we had both been hallucinating over cold drinks, Janet's was a Rock Shandy and mine was a single whisky in a tall glass with lots of ice and water, those first two drinks went down singing hymns! So much so that we ordered another two.
 From 43 degrees in Aurora it was 27 in Saldanha, still warm but with a lovely breeze over the bay.
Later that day I was to discover that there were no photos on the Memory card from the other camera, either the batteries were flat or I had made a mistake and not switched the camera on, I prefer to believe that it was the former, be that as it may it had been another great day on the motorbike with like-minded people, my best! I'm looking forward to the next one.