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.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Meeulanders AGM and election

It has been a bit of a hectic time, last week we went right across the country to visit Janet's sister in Richards Bay. Our intention had been to make it into s bike trip, for which purpose Janet took five days leave. Richards Bay is just over 1800 kms from Saldanha via the shortest route so we thought we could take three days to get there, spend two there and then take another three getting back.
I got quite excited making the plans, as always before a long trip I haul out the maps - paper ones, not digital! I plan routes and possible accommodation stops but I do use the computer to check what's in the towns and where the restaurants and pubs are.
Anyway plans were on the go when I heard that the Meeulanders monthly meeting had been brought forward a week, this was to be the AGM and the election for the new President. I had known this but had completely forgotten it. After discussion Janet suggested that we should cancel the bike trip and fly up to Durban on Monday, hire a car and drive to Richards Bay and that way we could be back in time for the meeting. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement!
This was waiting at the Avis rental area at King Shaka airport in Durban when we arrived. That's not what we drove off in though, this was......
There was one consolation, the weather on the Monday was absolutely atrocious, gale force winds and driving rain and that would have been the day we arrived on the bike. We had a nice visit with Janet's sister and family and flew back on Wednesday.
The meeting on Thursday was amazing, all but two of the members were there, one just out of hospital recuperating and one away at work. I had the absolute honour of being elected President for the coming year! I was absolutely amazed, I did not expect it but I accepted with pride and will do my best to maintain the very high standards set by my illustrious predecessor, the late Divi DeVries for whom I had enormous respect.
The first Englishman in the twenty year history of the Club? I think so and it will be easy to check, what were they thinking! Anyway a really big "Thank you!" to the members of the Meeulanders Motorcycle Club for your confidence in me.
There it is, an amazing time and a new chapter serving the Club which in a relatively short time has become such a big part of my life.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Part 4 of the 1984 tour, back to Windhoek and Grunau

It had been a very interesting visit to Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, some very nice pubs and restaurants and our self catering accommodation was comfortable but Monday morning it was time to start retracing our steps all the way back to Grunau, after that we would be in unfamiliar country on our way to Capetown down the west coast.
As it was only 300kms back to Windhoek where we had decided to spend another night we were in no particular hurry, so we made a slap-up breakfast out of food left in our fridge but as it was we gave a lot to the staff.
The ride back to Windhoek was uneventful, hot but pleasant and we booked back into the same hotel. We all had warthog steaks in the beer garden for supper and a couple of beers, not particularly looking forward to the next day's ride all the way down to Grunau.
The following day passed in a sweaty blur, 660kms of all too familiar sandy countryside punctuated by a couple of bitterly cold beers now and then. We were all glad when we arrived at the Grunau Hotel in the late afternoon, and as it was again Tuesday night we knew what to expect! The food was the same very nice Karoo lamb and the wine was the same Grunberger Stein, the beds were the same very comfortable ones and as the generator was switched off I settled into a deep sleep looking forward to unfamiliar roads the next day.
Remembering the breakfast the last time we were there we all agreed to pass this time and we set off at around 08h30, it's 140km to "Vioolsdrift", the South African border on the banks of the Orange river, at that time of the day it was pleasant riding and we notice a gradual changing in the scenery, the countryside changes from desert scrub to "Namaqualand" bush and we start seeing the first hints of the wildflowers that cover the area at this time of the year.
Parked on the banks of the Orange river, a motorist stopped and advised us not to park our bikes like that because 18 wheelers come down there at speed and would probably hit them, we hastily mounted up and moved on!
By then we were in amongst hills and mountains, the N7 was fantastic but I had almost forgotten how to ride in corners!
By 11h30 we reached the town of Springbok and found a restaurant where we could have a brunch, all hungry and thirsty and as the place was unlicensed I bought supplies at a nearby bottle store. Back on the road and it was much more interesting by then, through small towns; "Garies" and "Newerus" and eventually by 15h00 we reach "VanRynsdorp". We were all for stopping there for the night, we had been battling with sore saddle muscles for a while but Eddie had been to "lambert's Bay" on the coast before and thought we should press on, "It's only another 144kms." he said, "It'll be easy." he said.
That was a long ride though I must admit the scenery was fantastic but we started battling with strong cross winds that we were to discover can be a feature of riding on the west coast. We arrived at the hotel in Lambert's Bay in the late afternoon, by then I was really tired, it had been a 640km ride and we needed to get off the bike.
 We put our stuff in our rooms and then went for a walk, I was not ready to sit down anywhere! It is a fairly picturesque little fishing town with a very interesting bird sanctuary on a small rocky island in the harbour. We were able to stroll around enormous colonies of Seagulls, Cormorants, Terns and Penguins which was very interesting if you could put up with the almost overpowering smell of guano!
A pleasant enough meal at the hotel, a couple of drinks and bed. Only some 300kms the next day to Capetown, I slipped into a trouble free sleep, 6000kms completed on the trip so far.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Part three of the 1984 tour

Going through my diary of the tour I read that we left Grunau just after 08h00, I do remember that it was getting very warm by then and as we rode further north the hotter it became. We were heading into the Kalahari desert scrub, 78kms to the little village of Keetmanshoop where we filled the tanks and then decided that our next stop would be Marientaal, 166kms further where we would find cold beer.
I noted that it was 12h30 when we pulled into Marientaal so we must have been travelling very slowly although we did have a roadside stop for Eddie to carry out some repairs to his intercom set which had packed up.
Two bitterly cold Windhoek Lagers each at the hotel and then back on the road after topping up the tanks, next stop Windhoek. The road is dead straight for mile after mile, you see the road disappearing into the distance, you top a rise and again see it heading straight to the far horizon, quite boring and very hot, we sat and rode on and on.
With 187kms to go my bum was sore and I could feel Janet shifting around behind me, we stopped for a leg stretch but also I could hear a faint squeaking noise coming from my front wheel which I wanted to check. The axle and hub were warm to the touch but not overly so.
Back on the road and just at the small settlement called Rehoboth the noise becomes quite loud, we decide to take it easy the rest of the way and reached Windhoek just around 17h00.
Windhoek is a beautiful, clean cosmopolitan city where you hear English, Afrikaans and German being spoken alongside the African language. We found accommodation in the Thuringa Hof hotel on Kaiser street and settled down happily.
A couple of beers, a delicious meal in the beer garden and early to bed after a tiring day.
We spent the next day in Windhoek and my front wheel bearings were replaced at the bike shop, we had a pleasant relaxing day and another good meal at the hotel that night.
 Windhoek to Swakopmund, our destination on the west coast is only 300kms so no great rush, then it was proper desert riding, especially as we neared the coast.
Sand with a ribbon of tar running through it, our accommodation was the 'A' frame cottages just outside of the small town, very comfortable cottages but no shade or lawn at all.
We make ourselves comfortable and an evening braai was excellent, as the sun sets it gets quite cold there. We arrived on Friday evening and only planned to head back to Windhoek on the Monday morning so we had plenty of time to relax and explore, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, about 30kms down the coast are very interesting places so we had plenty to do.
 Playing on the sand dunes between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay the next day, there are some very nice restaurants and interesting pubs and we spent a very pleasant weekend.
 Sunday was hot but we were determined to have a braai anyway and it turned into quite a piss up, we weren't going anywhere until the next day so we enjoyed ourselves. Besides it was only 300kms back to Windhoek, we watched the sun set over the sea and stumbled off to bed.