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, April 28, 2016

Day three and four, into Margate and a reunion

I woke early to the sound of traffic, 18 wheelers using their exhaust brakes to descend through the town right next to my room. I looked out the window and was greeted by the sight of thick fog again! Only 155kms remained today so I could spend a couple of hours at the local Wimpy and wait for the fog to lift.
 As far as I'm concerned there's no better way to start a travelling day than with a Wimpy breakfast, I know this sounds like an advert but it's true. I sat in the restaurant for about an hour and a half and by the time I was ready to go the fog had lifted as had my spirits. I rode out of Kokstad under a clear blue sky and headed for the coast.
That is a lovely road, undulating first through the farm lands and then through dense forest, it is a busy road with lots of smoke belching 18 wheelers struggling up the many hills holding queues of cars in their wake. Not me though! Close to Port Shepstone it becomes quite chaotic and speed is reduced to sixty but it wasn't long before I was cruising into Margate, now I was seeing bikers. It was the day before the rally was to start but there was already a festive atmosphere.
I cruised around the town, had a couple of beers at a festive country music bar and then went down rally road, things were still being put in place, last minute tents and flags going up, I met up with old friends Earl and Bunny of the Christian Motorcycle Association whom we used to see in the western cape but who now live in Jo'burg, I hope I see them again because I forgot to take their photo!
It's many, many years since I have been here and things have certainly changed but the beaches are really beautiful.
In the early afternoon I found Barry's house and settled into my comfortable accommodation for the next four days. I had travelled 160kms that day and 1591kms since leaving Saldanha.
As it turned out I didn't go back down to the rally the next day, my host Barry Woan organised a reunion of ex members of the Rhodesian Police force, the BSAP and a wonderful day developed into a session that can only come about with a shared bond, a camaraderie that can only be appreciated by veterans.
After most of the guys left only three of us carried on into the night and Barry made some excellent Kudu boerewors rolls for dinner.
Now as I sit here it is Friday morning, looks like it's going to be a glorious day and I have told the guys that I am definitely going down to the rally! There is a braai organised for Saturday lunch and I'm leaving on Sunday morning, if I'm not careful I won't see Africa Bike Week 2016!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Day two; Graaff Reinet to Kokstad

I woke early after quite a good sleep, comfortable enough. I made my self a cup of coffee but there were no spoons!
So I stirred t with my steely knife..................apologies to the Eagles who have been on my mind on this ride.
It was grey and cold when I poked my head out of my room, coffee in one hand and Janet on the phone in the other,  "Oh no! not rain?" she wished me luck.
 I decided to ride without the wets, I would put them on later if needed - that didn't take too long, soon it was bloody cold and my rain jacket made an excellent windbreaker. Graaf Reinet to Middelburg was alright but after I left Middelburg heading for Steynsburg I ran into heavy fog.
I was really not enjoying myself very much by then, wet fog caused me to slow down and the condition of the road was deteriorating the further I went.
The cold and foggy plains of the Camdeboo, at least this was all new scenery to me, I have not ridden these roads before and quite frankly I probably won't do so again. I'm sorry but the small towns in the Eastern Cape are definitely not inviting!
In the small, untidy little town of Steynsburg I needed to stop, my saddle muscles were clenching and I had to get off the bike for a bit, also I was literally shivering cold and I wanted to get some warm gear out of the topcase.
There is no Wimpy (or any restaurant) in Steynburg apart from this one;
where I was happy to warm up with two cups of coffee and a really mediocre breakfast, at least when I left the sun had broken through the fog and I was able to make up some time.....but not for long!
Molteno, Dordrecht, Indwe, Elliot, Ugie all passed by during a couple of hours of riding in wet fog, none of the places invited a stop until Maclear where I filled the tank and stretched my legs. The worst was yet to come; Maclear to Mount Fletcher is a nightmare, apart from the on/off wet fog and rain this is Transkei proper with houses right up to the roadside and sheep, goats and cattle constantly roaming on the verges and crossing the road, constant vigilance is required, all while wiping water from the visor!
Towards the end of my ride, after I had seen the very welcome sign; "Kokstad 198km" and knew that I could make it by 16h00 the skies began to clear but I was very tired by the time I rolled into the town, 685kms today!
I am in a comfortable B&B establishment, I have just had a very good meal at the nearby Spur and I have a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label to hand, things are actually not that bad, also I have only 155kms to ride tomorrow to be in Margate in the afternoon so I can take it easy. We'll see how it goes after a nice "Wimpy" breakfast.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Africa Bike Week trip, day one

Had I known how wet the start of the ride was going to be I might have reconsidered! Thank goodness I didn't know, I'm not sure why I didn't, it's easy enough to get accurate weather predictions from your bloody phone nowadays!
At around 06h30 I was ready and eager to go, loaded the cases, made a last minute mental check of all the things I might need to make sure that I had not forgotten anything - like my reading glasses which I did forget and which lack is now making itself felt here in my room in Graaf Reinet as I type with a bedside lamp right next to the keyboard!
After saying a fond farewell to my lady my first stop this morning was at the Langebaan service station to pull on my wets! Ten minutes into my ride it was pissing down! Great start!
I must confess that I did not enjoy the first hour, my decision to take the "awful 22" off the R45 to Moorreesburg was a bad one, the sun was trying to rise, obscured by rain and a narrow bumpy and gravel-strewn road had me tensed and swearing when I should have been singing.
Swinging out of Riebeek heading towards Hermon the road was dry and my spirits lifted, I actually did start singing old Eagles songs such as "A peacefull easy feeling" and a really bad rendition of "Hotel California".
Breakfast and hot coffee at the Wimpy in Ceres revitalised me and by then the sun was breaking through, as I headed north and east I started leaving the bad weather behind.
I normally don't like riding the N1, especially on a Monday but today it wasn't too bad. It is busy because it's the major artery North from Capetown to Johannesburg and Pretoria and there are almost continuous speed check gantries,  but I set my cruise control to 125kmh and actually relaxed and it didn't seem too long before I was cruising into Beaufort West.
I turned off the N1 onto the R61 and headed into the plains of the Camdeboo, wonderful, I had not been there before, I was heading to Aberdeen 130kms away and hoping to make Graaff Reinet for the evening but I was tired by then, even before I had done 500kms I was feeling tired, I drank yet more coffee and urged myself to get it together, I had done longer trips than this before!
That 130km ride was the longest I have ever done, the road was dead straight with perhaps a two or three percent deviation to the left every thirty or so kilometres, and to top it off there were average speed  gantries every twenty kilometres. I set my cruise control again and just sat enjoying the sunshine. I stopped for coffee at a little shop absolutely in the middle of nowhere.
Later I stopped for a wee, the veld is dry but after a little recent rain little grass shoots are growing and the sheep are getting new food apart from the fynbos, I was to enjoy some of that lamb later that evening in "Polka" restaurant with a bottle of dry red wine, delicious!
I reached "Aberdeen" just after 15h00 and had considered staying there but after seeing the place I dived into the 54km stretch to Graaff Reinet, what a dump!
746km I rode today, I found a very nice and very reasonable place to stay; "Profcon Resort" R389 for a comfortable en suite room with secure parking for my baby;
 It is now 21h00 and I am tired, I have had a fantastic day out on the bike, I have had a lovely meal and I'm sipping a bit of Johnny Walker Red as I write this, tomorrow I have planned to do only some 650kms but it really doesn't matter if I do less, if I want to explore, because day three will only be a short one, some 150kms.
Man I'm looking forward to tomorrow! I will keep you updated, stay with me.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Weskus bikers do it again!

The Weskus (West Coast) bikers are at it again! Last week we all got a "Whatsapp" message from Divi the President of the Meeulanders Motorcycle Club informing all that local farmers are in dire straits due to the ongoing drought. He called on bikers to gather at the Phoenix bar on Saturday afternoon to see if they could raise funds for animal feed.
We were not able to attend as we had visitors for the weekend but apparently a fairly large group of local bikers did attend and Frank took our donations along with him.
 A festive time was had by all according to reports from Frank who was eventually thrown out after everyone else had left!
Many of the local clubs were represented as well as unattached bikers, not only the Meeulanders answered the call and an amazing total of R10,000 was raised which included previous pledges.
I am proud to be counted among the Weskus bikers. I know of no other groups who give of their time and money for causes like bikers do and it was only a couple of weeks ago that they were donating money to Cancer, well done guys and gals- you Rock!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Time for new crash helmets

I decided it was time to replace our old crash helmets, we had been using them for a good few years now and everyone knows that helmets don't last forever. The foam inside gradually compresses and although you don't really notice it they become loose fitting and wouldn't really do their job in the event of a getoff.
Here in South Africa we have no choice but to wear a crash helmet and I must admit that I would not be comfortable riding without one, I am so used to it after all of the years that I have been riding that I think that even if I did get the opportunity to tour America on a bike I would still wear one.
So off we went to our local bike shop, West Coast Yamaha in Vredenburg to have a chat with Monica. I have always favoured the flip-front helmet, whenever I cruise into a town the first thing I like to do is flip the front of the helmet up so Monica showed us the "Spirit FF319 Evolution" - it might sound a bit fancy but it was very reasonably priced at R1,600.
 It is a far more compact helmet and 100g lighter than my old HJC, although 100g is not a lot it certainly feels a lot lighter and very comfortable.
 A nice feature is the retractable sun visor, I may not have to wear sunglasses now. We went for a ride to test the helmets out and found them very comfortable but when I flipped the sun visor down I could hardly see through it and I thought "Oh no, this is not going to be any good!" my vision was a bit blurred.
When we stopped at our destination I was going to point this out to Janet but when I took the helmet off I realised that I had not pulled the protective plastic layer off the visor - duh! It worked perfectly on the way home. I'm happy with my new helmet and Cat likes the box.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Back to Moorreesburg for a mediocre breakfast

A pale, clear blue sky, no wind and a motorbike! What more could one ask for? We left home at 09h15 to meet at "Juffroeshoogte" resort for the monthly breakfast run. As neither the President or the V.P. would be there, and many of the members had camped over at the charity run, we had no idea who would pitch up.
Janet and I were the first ones there and we sat on the sunny veranda with a nice cup of coffee, contentedly waiting to see who would arrive next. Gerrie, then Hein arrived and soon there were ten of us on seven motorbikes. It was just after 11h00 that we set out on the road, as the boss wasn't present Mike nominated me to take point, it was one of those absolutely perfect biking days, I saw 22 celsius on my dash as we thundered out along the R45.
We had already decided that we would carry on through to Malmesbury and then take the N7 to Moorreesburg and soon we were at the first Stop/Go;
 What else is there to do while you wait? At least it wasn't hot and it wasn't long before we were on our way, the second one was open for us and we did some high speed riding through the only corners leading through to the N7. There were lots of bikers out on the road, all like us taking advantage of the wonderful weather.
The thirty kilometres to Moorreesburg was a lovely ride, the road is in great condition and on a Sunday there is very little traffic even though it is the main artery to Namibia. I had stopped in Malmesbury to refuel so we thundered along on our own and joined the others at "Die Oude Stoep" on the little town's main road.
 Twenty two Club members sat down for breakfast, unfortunately the restaurant was not able to cope very well in spite of the fact that Divi had warned them we were coming, it was a very long wait but at least the beer was cold.
Before our breakfast came, which was more like lunch by the time it eventually arrived, Janet was already signalling that her beer was finished! The breakfast was disappointing, good quality food but everything was cold! Seriously guys, how difficult would it be to serve breakfast on hot plates? We won't be hurrying back there I'm afraid.
On the road again. Four of us elected to go back the longer way via the N7 while those who had camped and had not had much sleep were going back via the rough 22km stretch, they also declined a stop at Plaasmol for a last beer.
The ride back was just as good, Gerrie took point and he rides fast, especially when he senses some corners ahead, I have trouble keeping up with him.
Plaasmol was a pleasant stop, a cold beer and some good conversation;

One beer there was enough for us, Gerrie and Murray decided to leave as well, the others were staying a little longer, we said our farewells and headed out. It is only some 40kms home, a truly lovely couple of days out on the bike with hopefully more to come. Winter is fast approaching and although we do get decent biking weather we also get our rains, we'll see how it goes.
Murray on his lovely Gunston Orange K1200LT

Monday, April 4, 2016

Swartland Charity Run Moorreesburg 2016

So it was that on a slightly chilly and overcast Saturday midday seven of us on five bikes stopped at the first stop/go roadworks on the 22km stretch from the R45 to Moorreesburg. We had met at "Juffroeshoogte" for a cup of coffee and got on the road just after 11h00 and although there was a threat of rain it was ideal riding weather and so far I had enjoyed it very much.
That 22km piece of road is actually in appalling condition at the moment, pretty much a single lane most of the way and very rough with high and jagged edges. I'm sure it will be a good road once it is finished but now you have to be careful.
As we pulled into the town it was raining very lightly, it didn't look like it would be a problem and sure enough within an hour it had cleared. We took care of entry procedures at the gate; R150 per person was a bit steep and that did not include a badge but I suppose it was all for charity anyway.
In the showgrounds an attractive young lady admired Murray's BMW and wanted to see what the back seat felt like, Murray was happy to oblige!
We wandered around, grabbed a beer and went to meet and greet, plenty of new and old friends were there and the place was filling up.

Wilhelm with his beautiful GSXR and Wessel with his amazing Ducati Panigale Corsa were there preparing for the concours.
(Click on the images to see them full size.)

It was lunchtime and there was quite a varied menu on offer from oxtail potjie, offal potjie, spit braai rolls to delicious looking "Skilpadjies" ( pieces of lamb's liver wrapped in spleen fat for my overseas readers ) and by then I was hungry.

The huge pots had been started earlier in the day but even so the offal pot was not quite ready by the time I wanted to eat so Murray and I had some oxtail, not the best but not too bad.

Skilpaadjies on the go, these guys were kept busy and by then it was hot!
We went over to watch the concours judging;
 The judge was pretty thorough and here he has found something on Wessel's bike, you can see the disappointment on Wessel's face because they had spent ages cleaning.
We wandered around some more, there were plenty of very interesting stalls and by then a lot of people, good music was blasting out of the dance area although no one was dancing yet, that would surely come later. 
 Later in the afternoon Divi, the Meeulanders President handed over R14,000 cash to Hester of the Cancer Association, donations from Weskus bikers at the Shavathon (earlier post).
 Several of the clubs and riders who took part in the Shavathon were also present and gathered for the handover.
Very well done to the organisers and the West Coast bikers, you ROCK! The Shavathon is now to become a regular annual event on the Cancer Association calendar and it can only go from strength to strength.
Most of the guys and gals were staying over for the rest of the party and had already erected tents, Murray, Hein and I had to return however so we set off for a longer ride via the N7 to Malmesbury with a brief stopover planned at "Plaasmol" for an absolute bloody final.
It was there that Murray's second encounter took place and we have decided to ride with him in future because he is obviously a chick-magnet! We left him to do the explaining to his wife Laureen!
It had been a lovely day out on the bike and an enjoyable time spent with biker friends. The following day was to be the monthly breakfast run back to Moorreesburg, I will tell you about that in the next exciting instalment! Stay safe.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Africa Bike Week preparations, Mohicans sleepover and charity run - busy times.

One of the best parts of a long motorbike ride is, in my opinion the planning stage. Apart from the trip itself the planning gets the excitement levels along with the adrenalin rising, deciding what to take along, which way to go and where to stay overnight is key to the enjoyment of the actual ride and although I do not like to book overnight stops I like to have a daily destination in mind.
I am now in the planning stages of my 1650km trip to Margate on the Kwa-Zulu Natal South Coast at the end of the month, actually I am leaving home on Monday 25th April and I will be away for ten days in total; Africa Bike Week!
This will be the seventh consecutive year of this amazing event, started by the Harley Owners Group but open to all makes of bikes it takes place in the centre of the coastal town of Margate and is similar to the American style of rally.
 See My route here. Friends of mine have been over the years and have had excellent times and have recommended the experience to me, this will more than likely be my last chance to do this, I retire at the end of June and I do not think that finances will allow another trip of this nature. I have been incredibly lucky though in that an old friend, an old comrade from my Rhodesian Police days has offered me four days free accommodation in Margate and he will be organising a get together with a large number of old comrades who live in the area, what an event that promises to be with mates that I haven't seen in some forty odd years!
You can rest assured that I will document this adventure, although I am travelling alone I have no doubt that I will meet up with other bikers during the trip, I am really looking forward to this one!
Unfortunately whilst I will be away I will be missing a good local event; The Mohicans first annual sleepover will be taking place from 30th April, I just know that this will be a party of note, these guys and gals are party animals and it would be worth your while to take the trip up from Capetown for this one - I will definitely be there next year!
I'm off now for my regular weekly pool competition with Frank, last week he decimated me nine games to four, he was on incredible form and I battled to get my four games! I cannot let that happen this week.
Tomorrow we ride through to Moorreesberg for the Annual Charity run at the show grounds, a good fundraiser with a variety of food stalls and attractions, music and booze, many of the local bikers take their tents and make a party of it, see you there.