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, April 26, 2015

Undaunted's tenth anniversary jol

It has been a great week, the weather has been fantastic and we've done a lot of riding, albeit only weekend riding because work keeps getting in the way. Dave Barr has been in South Africa and rode down from Pretoria to the Cape to promote his charity caring for people disabled in bike accidents, I was not able to join in the ride when they came down here also because of work commitments, damn I hate it when work gets in the way of riding! This guy is one of my heroes, maybe next time?
As I said we've done a lot of riding, last weekend Janet had to work Saturday morning so I decided to get out on the road, it was again one of those lovely mild Autumn days just perfect for the bike and I made full use of it, I took the long way through to Velddrif to say Hi to my old friend Des Clunie at his wonderfully iconic shop "Ek and Djy Visserye" on "Bokkom Laan", it was early and there were no customers, I bought a cup of coffee and Des poured a tot of whisky into it for me, we sat and chatted on the jetty in the warming sun while Dan carried out repairs to his boat door damaged by miscreants trying to break in the previous night, such is life in South Africa.
Moving on I rode down to the quaint little coastal village of Paternoster and ate a plate of Hake and Chips in the market area amongst tourists browsing through the stalls selling shells and old window frames with sea views behind the glass panes, had I not been on the bike I might have bought one or two they were that good.
Sunday Janet and I rode together, just a local cruise and ended up at "Vlakvarkgat" again, lunch was just alright, not fantastic although from the comments I suspect that Janet's "offal potjie" was better than my seafood buffet. A quick 20km ride home, leaning into the few bends that we have in the area, ended a really good weekend.
Jump ahead to Saturday 25th and "Undaunted's" 10th anniversary bash at "Plaasmol" just outside of Hopefield, nine of us on six bikes rode out of Vredenburg at 13h00 for the short spurt to join in the fun and support a local club. Although they had opened at 12h00 there were not many bikes there when we arrived but we knew they would soon be pulling in.
Frank was happy when lovely Monica arrived and gave him a cuddle.
"Slang" of the Mac's, Bev and Daan of the Meeulanders enjoying a chat and some of the good food on sale, bar prices were also very reasonable.

The site lends itself to a biker party, a large area under cover with a bar, a stage and plenty of seating.
Here's a happy group shot by Gerrie Pieterse that epitomises the biker scene in South Africa, three  or four different clubs in this shot all partying together.
As usual there were some good bikes to be seen and drooled over. Craig and Monica were on the new Yamaha MT09 Tracer, a demo model that I am definitely going to take for a ride,
An aggresively styled bike that received a very good write up in the recent motoring supplement.
 My friend Wessel arrived on this Hyabusa with an amazing custom paint job; the "Al Capone" bike, why he would be immortalised on such a bike is beyond me but the artwork was incredible.
As the afternoon progressed more bikers arrived and things started to look up for the Undaunted's efforts,
 tents were being erected and the party was gaining momentum, that's when I decided to leave. There's a fine line between leaving on time or having to stay over and I didn't cross it, I had a really good ride home in the cool of the late afternoon leaving my brothers to their party. I passed only one traffic police vehicle on the way and he didn't seem too interested in me, I had had a few drinks and I would not have passed any tests but I was more than capable of riding my bike, I just hope that my brothers and sisters either left soon or stayed over, it had been a good jol.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

April breakfast run to DuVlei restaurant becomes lunch

Last Sunday was the Meeulanders' April breakfast run, it was delayed by a week due to the Easter weekend and saw fifteen people on eleven motorbikes gather on the main road in Vredenburg.

I left home just after 08h00 and to my dismay there was an extremely thick, wet fog which I was sure was going to ruin the ride, we have ridden in fog before many times because it is a regular occurrence on the west coast and it is extremely dangerous, especially when trying to join one of the main national roads. Luckily this time the fog lifted by the time I reached the meeting place and apart from small patches in low-lying areas, it was soon clear and sunny.
I was the first one at the meeting place but soon the others arrived, Janet was not on the ride this time as our friend Linda was visiting and they were going to do "girly" things.
The usual R45 ride to Malmesbury was enjoyable, we maintained a disciplined formation slightly over the speed limit and an hour later we were pulling into the garage forecourt for a smoke break and leg stretch.
The difference this time was that good old Koos had brought along a cold bottle of Cape Velvet and a whole lot of shot glasses - bless him. Cape Velvet is an iconic South African cream liqueur much loved by all of us, Jenny did the honours,
 Look how much Koos is enjoying his Cape Velvet! That stuff went down like pudding, delicious - well done that man!
It's not far from Malmesbury to Du Vlei Restaurant on the other side of Riebeek, there is one very good Pass descending into the Riebeek Valley past the Pieter Gruythoff monument, where the ashes of my old BSAP buddy Paul Weinel are scattered, Div., in front on his Harley pulled aside to let Gerrie Pieterse get past, Gerrie is a crazy corner man on his Super Tenere and he soon disappeared into the distance. I was next but I don't try to keep up with him, we waited at the bottom of the pass for the others and then resumed the formation to the restaurant.
Du Vlei has become a popular biker venue and is usually crowded on a Sunday, luckily Div had phoned ahead and had secured us a veranda spot.
By 10h30 we placed our orders, and it was a good job that the beers were cold because we had quite a long wait.
We eventually ate at 12h30 but nobody seemed bothered by the fact that breakfast became lunch, Frank said that it gave us all time to sit and chat. It was a good meal and I was bloody hungry by then, also I had had three beers - the bike would be cornering much better on the way home!
We all split up after the meal, I had a fast and enjoyable ride through to the pub at "Plaasmol" the other side of Hopefield where I was soon joined by the rest of the mob, a short stop there and I headed for home. Altogether a very good day with a good bunch of people, bikers - ya gotta love 'em.
April 25th is the Undaunted Day jol at Plaasmol, maybe some of you should take a ride up the R27 and come join us, it's going to be a good one.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Easter weekend in Cape Agulhas

Janet and I had last visited Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of the African continent together almost thirteen years ago so I thought this would be a good time for her to see how much the Struisbaai and Agulhas area had grown, I have been there twice in the interim attending the Freedom Road rally which is now held there instead of Stillbaai.
This was not to be a motorbike trip for two reasons; first I intended to do some wine farm visits to stock up on my red wine collection which had been decimated by my family when they visited last year. They are due back in the middle of this year! Secondly rain and lousy weather is traditional over Easter and this time was to be no exception.
We set out early on Friday and until we hit the N2 at the R300 junction the traffic was pretty thin so I made good time, but once on the N2 everyone was going the same bloody way! We stopped for a nice breakfast at the False Bay one-stop but after that it was hectic, we went up over Sir Lowry's Pass heading for Caledon and the traffic actually came to a standstill on several occasions, nothing for it but to relax and go with the flow (or non-flow!).
Much of the traffic turned off at the Hermanus intersection and I was relieved that we weren't going there for the weekend. We arrived in Caledon just after 11h30 and stopped for a drink, Janet wanted to hit the machines in the Casino for a bit but this time they robbed her.
The wonderful R316 through Napier and Bredasdorp, although not as enjoyable in a car, was still a joy and relatively quiet after the N2 and it wasn't long before we were rolling into Struisbaai and looking for the Cape Agulhas Lodge which conveniently turned out to be within walking distance of the best restaurants and pubs. (My "walking distance" is not more than 50 metres!)
After settling into our small but comfortable room we took a walk to "Seagulls" restaurant where I had eaten an amazingly fresh Yellowtail fillet the last time I was there. We sat at the bar counter sucking on cold Castles and enjoying the crowded vibe of the busy eatery, the lady behind the bar assured me that they would reserve a table for us later that evening.
They did not have Yellowtail that evening but I selected a fillet of "Geelbek" or colloquially "Cape Salmon" which probably sounds a bit better, it was succulent, fresh and delicious and I enjoyed every morsel. Janet had Hake and chips which she also thoroughly enjoyed.
From there we walked over to "Zuidste Kaap" restaurant for a nightcap, I knew that there was a nice little pub at the back. The restaurant advertises that it is the southern-most restaurant in Africa but actually it is not, evidently since they put the sign up two others have opened within fifty metres to the south!
The pub was very festive, one of the patrons very intoxicated fell down and actually broke his fall with his face, broke his nose too but he was back there enjoying himself when we went back the next night. They breed 'em tough in the western cape!
Still on the hunt for fresh fish we ended up back at Zuidste Kaap for a late lunch after a morning spent visiting some of the more out of the way wine farms in the area; Black Oystercatcher and Strandfontein wines where we made a few purchases but I found them to be rather overpricedIt had started raining whilst we were driving around and from the angry skies we could see that lots more was on the way, we were glad that we weren't on the bike.
The restaurant had sold out of fish! I was devastated and was on the point of leaving when Janet pointed out that they had prawns on the menu, second favourite. They were outstanding! I was so impressed that I forgot to take a photograph but here's one of the aftermath;
A dozen perfectly prepared large prawns served with crispy chips, a delightfully messy finger meal and among the best prawns that I have ever had.
During the middle of the afternoon there was a lull in the rain and we decided to go for a walk down to the beacon marking the two oceans,
There is a wooden walkway all the way from the lighthouse to the southern point and although we could see advancing storm clouds we decided to go for it, there were quite a few people out braving the weather.
The storm clouds were getting closer, it was time to head back to the car.
In the background is the 167 year old Agulhas lighthouse, still in service but now with an electric light. After a rest in our room to let the rain pass over we ended up at the restaurant and pub at 158 on Main, which was pleasantly quiet after the other places and they had Yellowtail!
 Happy man, not looking much like a biker at all! The wine was cold and the fish was fresh, the company was good and the atmosphere was relaxing, what more could one want?
We spent two nights in Agulhas, there's not a hell of a lot to do there but plenty to see in the surrounding area if you want to drive around and the food is great, if you go to Agulhas eat fish, it's fresh and it's delicious.
Heading home on Sunday after breakfast it rained again but not for long, it was a pleasant drive and we found another excellent wine farm between Ceres and Tulbagh which was open for tasting;  Waverley Hills, excellent wines at far better prices, I bought most of my weekend wine there and now my wine racks are almost all full, here's one of them;
We did not braai at all, we did not ride the bike but we did drink a good few beers so I think it's alright to include this story, all in all a good weekend.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sunset cruise

Yesterday evening I was feeling lazy, Janet was in Durban on business and I was intent on having a quiet time. I had received a "Whatsapp" message from Divi earlier, a reminder about the sunset cruise, but I didn't think I was going to bother, relax with a couple of glasses of wine man!
Just after 18h00 I opened the front door and had a look outside, it was a wonderful warm and calm evening, just perfect for riding and suddenly I had the urge to go. I had to be at the Engen garage in Velddrif before 19h00 when they would be leaving, it was only about 40kms to Velddrif and at 200kmh that wouldn't take long.
It was a splendid ride, warm and calm and the bike was performing beautifully. Recently serviced in Capetown and wearing new rubber it felt solid and planted but responsive and agile at the same time and between Vredenburg and Velddrif I did indeed hold it at 200kmh arriving at the gathering point with plenty of time to spare.
This sunset cruise is a new initiative by the members of the newly formed West Coast Motorcycle Association, I suppose that could be "re-established" association because there was an attempt to form the association some time back but it didn't get off the ground, these guys seem to have it right and may it go from strength to strength.
I didn't count the number of bikes (twelve?) or the number of people but a fair bunch thundered out of the forecourt at exactly 19h00 and headed down the R27 but after only some 10kms we pulled off into a large tarred laybye and parked the bikes.
Good enough, this was a social event and not a mass ride and soon the bottles and flasks were produced and conversation flowed.
Divi, the Meeulanders President chats with Ettienne of the WMA. It was around this time that Divi pointed out that my favourite flask that I had bought in Scotland in 2003 was leaking and the precious liquid was dripping onto the tarmac! In times of crisis plans are urgently formulated and I kept my finger over the neck and held the flask upside down in between sips but how much of the lovely amber liquid had been wasted? I ask you with tears in my eyes.
All is not lost though, I do have another flask which my lovely family bought for me when they went to Las Vegas last year, I will try that one next time, might have to sleep in the laybye though!
As the sun set the guys decided to make a bonfire, cautiously bearing in mind how dry the veld is at the moment, it was good to feel the warmth of the fire and share the camaraderie that only bikers know.
I took my leave of my brothers and sisters, it had been a very pleasant experience and one which I will repeat as long as the weather allows, winter is just around the corner! The ride home was sublime, I cruised not wanting to tangle with any small buck or porcupine that usually come out to play at this time of the day, I had forgotten how much I enjoy riding at night.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Mohicans at the Rooikraans

Last Friday afternoon I was playing pool with Frank as usual when we heard the welcome and exciting sound of multiple bikes arriving outside the "Rooikraans pub", the sound heralded the arrival of several members of the newly formed west coast chapter of the Mohicans club who popped in for a drink and a quick game of pool.
Most of the guys we know and it was good to see that there were a few new young members and that the chapter was growing, good luck guys and may the Mohicans go from strength to strength.
Terence on his new machine, he bought this beauty in East London.
Some serious eye candy there!
The late Quintin Vermeulen tribute bike, now being ridden by his brother a new member of the chapter, ride safe brother.
Isn't that a heart-warming sight? A beautiful bunch of heavy metal parked outside the pub.
Friday afternoon was the usual very enjoyable prelude to the weekend, a couple of drinks, a good few games of pool and a lot of good natured banter after a hard week's work. I look forward to my Friday afternoons and if for any reason I can't play pool I feel very hard done by.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Breakfast run March 1st - Darling!

Sunday was the scheduled day for the club's monthly breakfast run and as we got up in the morning we could hear the wind blowing, I was expecting Janet to say something like; "You go, I've got things to do around the house and I don't like the wind."
I kept quiet, let her get on with her morning stuff and got dressed for the bike. She came along and although the ride through to the Engen One-Stop was quite windy it wasn't as bead as we expected. We were a bit early but I like my Wimpy coffee.
Time to meet and greet, this picture by Gerrie Pieterse shows Janet just bringing me my coffee from the shop. The wind wasn't too bad by then but already it was hot, we were due to leave at 09h00 and Divi kept it to that,
There was time for me to get a photo of Steven's brand new KTM 1190, he was loving this bike, and how about this "Gunston Orange" BMW?
I love the colour man, reminds me of the 70's.
Kick stands up at 09h00 as advertised and ten or eleven bikes with seventeen people roared out of the parking area and onto the R45 headed for Malmesbury, it turned out to be a brilliant ride, warming up but the wind was not an issue and we maintained a moderate pace through to the N7 and through the town to a garage parking area where the smokers could feed their habit.
Soon after we were back on the road, under the N7 and down to Darling on the much improved, re-surfaced R315. We kept to a steady 120kmh, keeping the bunch together and it wasn't long before we were gathering the bikes together in the parking area of "Brig's Barn" in the town.
As we gathered Janet was already telling people how glad she was that she had come along and how good the ride had been, I could only listen and agree, it had been fabulous - we had maintained a reasonable pace and stayed together, except for close to Malmesbury where there are a few sweeps, I could not keep up with the fast guys but had enjoyed my own experience, that's what it's all about - your own experience.
In the restaurant parking lot I organised the three BMW touring machines for a photo;
Anton on his K1600GT, me with my R1200RT and Murray with his K1200LT (although in retrospect I should have had the orange bike in the middle for the colour progression, maybe next time) but then my brother Gerrie Pieterse took a far more dramatic photo of the three bikes, and this is a classic photo;
Click on the picture to see it full size, it is already my desktop background - well done Gerrie!
Breakfast was festive affair as it always is, the tables were spread out in the shady garden or you could eat inside, we elected to eat out in the garden as it was so hot by then.
 Mike and Barbara waiting for their food, actually the restaurant did very well considering the size of the group, we did not wait long for our food.
Janet and I both had a "three-egg omelette", a great breakfast at a reasonable price, our friend Murray struggled with his meal which I'm sure fed him for another couple of days.
Look how worried he looks! If you're looking for good breakfast venue, give them a call at "Brig's Barn", we've eaten lunch there too and it has always been good value. 
The road from Malmesbury to Darling is now in good condition so it is a very pleasant ride, from Darling to the R27 is a slow one, not so good but we all made it in good time and were able to "tank it" to the first speed gantry.
Our agreed destination was "Vlakvarkgat" which you have heard me talk about before,
this was our "absolute-bloody-final" place, actually I had two - the beers were bitterly cold, the company was great, they were bikers after all and it had been a very enjoyable day.
Next, I think will be the Swallows Rally in Worcester, lots of the guys are going to the Buffalo Rally but I have said for a long time that I am not going to the Buff again, let's see what happens, the Buffalo Rally is 20th-22nd and the Swallows is 27th - 29th March - I haven't been to the Swallows Rally for a long time.
By the time we got home Janet was tired but happy that she had come along and that for me is a bonus.