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.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Polar Bear run, 24th August 2019

Way back in 2008 Des and Dan, bikers from Velddrif decided to start a winter ride as their businesses kept them off bikes during the summer, they made some phone calls, made some plans, made some enquiries and the Polar Bear Run was born. The idea was that it would be held right in the middle of winter to separate the men from the boys and I was lucky enough to be invited to take part in that first ride.

We have just had the twelfth run this past weekend and the weather was glorious. I have been on ten of the runs now, I missed two due to family commitments, and on all of those runs we have only had rain once. It has been cold sometimes but that is the reality of South African riding, even in winter there are fine days.

We started out riding to distant destinations, between 400 and 600 kms from home, and the first four runs were like that, we partied hard on the Saturday night but then had to make the same long journey home which was usually hung-over and not very enjoyable. Following discussions it was decided that we should try a nearby destination with a long looping ride on the Saturday which then only involves a short, direct route home and on the fifth run we did just that. It was much more pleasant and since then it has always been thus.

So it was that this past Saturday was again to be to Porterville which is only 95km directly but we were to do a 300km loop, ending up at the hotel in the late afternoon and what a great ride it turned out to be.

Once again it was a beautiful day for riding, calm, warm, no wind and the bikers gathered at the "One stop" in Velddrif eagerly anticipating the ride and the party that night.
 Greg would be on his Harley, he took over organising a couple of years back after Des left the run.
Dan and I chatting here, Dan is also an organiser and he would be leading the group of ten or eleven dirt road riders, or "Stoffmoffies" as they are known here to the hotel via some back roads. I was to lead the group of eight road riders.

Nobody told us that there were four Stop/Go roadwork sections between Dwaarskersbos and Eland's Bay! Quite often we jump the stops, much to the ire of the attendants and flag-wavers and simply pull aside when we come across the oncoming traffic, but this time we couldn't because the road sections were in such bad condition and the edges were either cut-aways or banks of gravel, we just had to be patient. We had no train to catch, we had the whole day but there was a beer waiting!

It was shortly after 11h00 when we reached "Vensterklip" anyway and the bar was just opening.

We parked up in the dusty car park and went to the rustic pub in the old farm building for a cold (and cheap at R16) beer, it went down very well, only one beer and back on the road, next stop Lambert's Bay and maybe something to eat at "Isabella's Restaurant" in the harbour.

Unfortunately the restaurant was crowded, which was to be expected as it is the height of the flower season so we settled for a beer and moved on, 30km up the road towards Clanwilliam is the little town of Graafwater with it's tucked away, hard to find hotel.

We've been there before but I missed the turning, anyway we found it and enjoyed another cheap, cold beer. With the beers at R16 each I considered staying there for the weekend! Time to move on and this time we were going through to Citrusdal golf club 117km away.

It was an outstanding ride, the road through to Clanwilliam was relatively quiet and we cruised at around 140kmh, descending the long sweeping curve I was pleased to see that the Clanwilliam dam was pretty full, much more water than the last time I saw it about a year ago.

We joined the N7 which is now an absolute joy to ride, lovely smooth surface, sweeping bends and lots of overtaking places to pass the numerous 18 wheelers that use the road back and forth to Namibia. Another cheap beer at the golf club! Only 57km to our destination, it was early afternoon and still I had not had anything to eat, never mind we had a cheese and wine stop coming up.

Gerrie left first, we had the Piekenierskloof Pass to negotiate and he is the crazy corners guy, he would wait for us at the bottom. The pass was first built by Sir Thomas Bain in the mid 1800s through the neck in the Olifantsrivier mountains and descends from 520m above sea level down into the Swartland, the modern pass was opened in 1958. It is a lovely surface with wide, sweeping bends, a couple of tight turns to catch the unwary but I'm afraid I don't like it very much, it is a very busy road used by big rigs carrying loads between Capetown and Namibia and I am ever mindful of diesel spills.

We all made it safely and met up at the turn off, we soon found a shady spot to stop for the traditional cheese and wine party. This took its origin from the first run back in 2008 when at a roadside smoke break Graeme (who no longer rides with us) took a bottle of wine and a small piece of cheese out of his pannier and shared them with his brothers.

With only about thirty kms to go to the hotel we had a leisurely break and a chat, drank a bit of wine and had our first meal of the day and then headed for the hotel.

There was a slight mishap when Chris' zorst pipe fell off, they recovered it and when it had cooled down enough Gerrie tied it onto the back of his bike and carried it in to Porterville for him. Chris would have to ride the 140km to Capetown without a pipe the next day.

We settled in, got comfortable and Chris was tasked with lighting the fire for our braai later. The Stoffmoffies arrived shortly after us, dusty but happy after a good ride, drinks in hand we relaxed and chatted as the sun went down.     

 Once again the hotel supplied us with some great steaks, a potato salad, pasta salad and a coleslaw and by the time the fire was ready there were some hungry bikers! Chris and Ashley helped with the braai, I char-grilled my own in the flames and it was a very good meal.
 The party went on into the night but by midnight only Van, my brother from the Gypsy Jokers and I were the only ones in the bar,

The lovely bar lady came to us and said that they wanted to close at 00h30 but that we could go with them to another bar if we wished, so we took them up on it and went to a noisy, happy place called "Kwagga's bar" a few blocks up the road. There we were plied with loud music, more whisky and shooters that tasted like "toilet duck". It was a raucous and enjoyable experience and I eventually climbed into bed at around 02h30.
 I was up and at breakfast by 08h00, two cups of coffee and a good greasy breakfast soon had me feeling better, in the meantime Sean was out on the main road riding his bike wearing only his boots and jocks, his name having been pulled first out of the hat last night, he said that people in the street could see how cold he was!
 I was glad my name didn't come out because as the song says; ~"I don't look good naked anymore!"

The ride home was not as enjoyable as the ride there but at least it didn't take long, Gerrie and I rode together through some very thick morning fog and then lowering grey skies and I was hung-over, but what a great jol it had been, thanks for including me and thanks for the memories you guys ROCK!

Saturday, August 10, 2019

A heartwarming story of caring bikers

I'm passing on a story that I read online, a heartwarming story out of Brakpan just outside of Johannesburg by people I don't know, but I do know that they are my kind of people, they are bikers. This is a tragic story because it concerns the death of an eight year old little girl and of her brother who decided that he wanted bikers involved in her funeral.
The group "Wings of Wardship" put out a notice calling for any bikers who were available to take part and they arrived in numbers!
Bikers formed a noisy escort for the funeral procession and provided a "helmets-up" line of honour for the little girl's casket.
Rest in peace little Amalia Greeff, sincere condolences and strength to the family and friends and well done to the bikers who took part in this ride of love.
(from pictures online by Cobus Zeelie)

Thursday, August 1, 2019

July Book Club, the eleventh meeting

We almost missed having a Book Club meeting in July. For various reasons, not least of all the weather it looked like there would not be a July meeting but we managed to squeeze it in yesterday, the last day of the month and it turned out to be another damn good one.
These are the stalwarts who attended; from left Anton, Willie, Frank who came along as a guest with Murray and me. This is a rider's club but Murray was having trouble with his bike so he came along in his cage and brought Frank. Apologies were received from Sooi, Daan and Johan.
We met as usual at the Phoenix bar and had a drink while we discussed the day's book as well as where to go next, (I keep meaning to take a book with me!)

Anna wished us well and sent us on our way with a shooter, at least it wasn't tequila!

We decided on the Pirate's bar outside Langebaan and had a very pleasant blast through, the weather was mild, no wind and the sky was a pale wintry blue with my temperature readout showing 18 degrees celsius. Lovely riding weather actually because you can dress for it and take layers off if you get too warm.

We parked outside the pub and I said to Anton that a short ride like that always makes me want more, like it was time for another road trip, he agreed with me. Perhaps it's time to plan a bit of a trip, I'll speak to Janet about it.
Anton and Willie

Pirate's is a pleasant bar, nicely decorated and the young barmaids are pretty. I drank "Fokoff" lager which name has some connection to the South African band called "Fokoff Polisie kar", in spite of the name it is quite a good beer and I don't often like craft beers.

It was a pleasant afternoon but time was getting away from us for some reason, we decided to end off at Captain's Cabin in Saldanha.
Aside from the motorbikes the view from the Captain's Cabin verandah has to be one of the best, looking out over the bay, which on that day was flat and calm.

We ordered a couple of plates of chips to line the stomach against the alcohol and even though they weren't the best chips they still went down well.

Then it was time to go, here Anton peels out on his big Indian. Once again it had been a very pleasant meeting, lots of friendly banter interspersed with serious matters. This had been the eleventh meeting so we'll have to plan something a bit special for the anniversary meeting in August, let's hope everyone can attend.