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 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.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Freedom Road, the ride home and a message for the Christian Motorcycle association

This photo by Divi, the club President was taken shortly before I left on Sunday morning, not only was the tent too small for me but it was a mission to fold up and put back in the bag, there is an instruction leaflet but you need two hands to fold the tent so eventually I had to get Frank to hold the leaflet for me! I managed to get it sorted out after a bit of a struggle.
I got back onto the wonderful Bredasdorp to Caledon Road but it wasn't quite as enjoyable as it was on Friday, I was too cold and therefor not as relaxed, the corners felt a bit wobbly so I took it a bit easy until I warmed up and got my mojo back. I didn't want to run out of talent on some tight corner and end up in the wheat.
I took a different, longer route home, actually ended up doing just over 400kms but it was a great ride and I was man alone on roads that I hadn't travelled before, isn't that the way it should be?
Halfway between Bredasdorp and Caledon I took the R326 for 29kms to the N2 and stopped for a very welcome coffee and breakfast in Riviersonderend, feeling much refreshed I pressed 21kms to the Stormsvlei turnoff to Bonnievale and Robertson where this picture was taken. I was impressed by the large number of succulents growing wild in the bush.
Robertson to Worcester the R60 is one of my favourite roads and I ride it fast, 180kmh enjoying the wide sweeps and the smooth surface and most of the motorists move aside - fabulous stuff!
Worcester to Wolseley, they have greatly improved that road and the road-works are almost complete, Wolseley to the Nuwekloof Pass is now an absolute pleasure with double lanes most of the way so it is easy to pass the 18 wheelers. From the Pass to Hermon I rode at an angle leaning into the gale force wind blowing over the road, 17kms of that battering and then it was through to Riebeek with the wind now behind me.
After Riebeek I stopped to take of my jersey and my full gloves, feeling quite warm and I had long ago got my mojo back, having an absolute blast. I was home by 12h30 after a breakfast and two fuel stops, tired (more from lack of sleep) and stiff but happy and ready to do it again, I think this time the Swallows Rally on 23rd March and it's only in Worcester, close by.

To the Christian Motorcycle Association if any of you read this, it was an enjoyable rally but mostly because we make it so. I have a couple of suggestions, some of which you may take note of;
- A beer tent. I know that you guys don't drink alcohol but we do and we all go downtown to the pubs and restaurants, if there was a beer tent we would stay on site more.
- The food stalls were great, some really good food but there was nowhere to sit and eat, you can't stand and eat a greasy breakfast. That big empty area between the food stalls and the main tent would be a very festive area if you put in some seating, maybe the wooden bench and table sets.
-The music! There is nothing wrong with gospel music every now and then, it has it's place but not all the time! The main tent was empty the whole weekend except for the couple of hours for the prizegiving, the dreary music drove the people away, what's wrong with good Rock? Liven things up a bit and you'll get more people.
That's my opinion, I'd love some feedback either from the CMA or from other bikers who go to the Freedom Road Rally.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Freedom Road rally 2015

Breakfast at the False Bay Wimpy was good, by the time we pulled in it was 10h30 and we had been on the road for almost two and a half hours.  Twelve bikes and sixteen people had left the meeting place, which this time had been at the Langebaan air force base, and at which there was some confusion, but we got out on the road on time. I must confess that I did not enjoy the route very much, heading down towards town on the N1, across on the R300 to the N2 on a Friday meant dicing with traffic which was heavy and which made it difficult for us to stay together but eventually we enjoyed breakfast together.
From there we climbed over Sir Lowry's Pass, enjoyable curves and fast straights but we fought with people who did not want to move over, almost simultaneously Jannie overtook a woman on the left as I passed her on the right, she seemed agitated as if she didn't know that all she had to do was pull over slightly to let us past.
We found a pub in Caledon and gathered for a beer, Divi our President said that he and Jannie who were both on CBR's were going to go ahead on the fabulous 80km road to Bredasdorp and they would wait for us outside the garage, I was not long after them after my two beers, both of which which seemed to improve the big red machine's cornering abilities.
Caledon to Bredasdorp, what a fabulous road! Most of the people who read this will know it? A great surface, wide shoulders and long sweeping bends, 180 to 200km/h means that it doesn't take long to get to Bredasdorp and I soon found Divi and Jannie;
relaxing with their bikes waiting for the rest to arrive. From there it is 30kms to Struisbaai and we arrived to find that our camp site had already been set up, what a bargain!
We were teamed up with "Knights of the skies"  an air force club from LangebaanWeg and they had carried our kit in a bakkie, not only that but they had arrived early and had erected all of the tents.

By the time that I had pumped up my mattress and had tried to put it in the tent, which was ridiculously small, it had started to deflate! I was longer than the mattress and it didn't fit into the tent, apart from that I slept on the ground for both nights.
But this is rally - right?

The first thing that the Meeulanders and the Knights do is light a fire; "Ons gaan NOU braai!", the guys are organised and they concentrate on relaxing and socialising. Good meat is on sale as is decent food, Frank and I ate a really good Eisbein and chips that evening, we needed to get our stomachs lined for the party that was to ensue!

Willie found a new friend, "Rocky" who stayed with him for the weekend.  As was usual our "village" had a comfortable Gazebo set up to keep us out of the rain which was a brief problem during the early hours of Saturday Morning.

My good friend and brother 'cois (Soy) a solid biker, and a genuine nice guy, as are most if not all of the club members.
The weather was not all that good on Friday evening, the wind blew and we had a little bit of rain but the party raged on, this was what me and my brother Frank are born for; and we partied on into the early hours, even after everyone else had gone to bed.
Christian Motorcycle Association Rallies are notoriously boring, sorry guys if you read this but it's true. By 03h00 we had nothing else to do but to call it a night! But fear not, I have some suggestions, I will let you know how you can improve the rally, stay with me.
I was awake early on Saturday morning, mostly because I was sore and stiff from sleeping on the hard ground, my mattress, which was smaller than my tent and smaller then me, had deflated during the night!
I was in search of a greasy breakfast, I visited the CMA coffee tent at 07h00 and then saddled up for the short ride down to Cape Agulhas.
It was cold as I rode along the coastal road, the ozone aroma of the crashing waves was fresh and incredibly intense, invoking memories of seafood excursions along this coast in years gone by. I was hoping for more incredible seafood later but for now I was in search of a memorable breakfast and I found it!
The Southern-most restaurant was barely open as I parked outside and strode in, "Bring me coffee and your best breakfast" I grunted as I sat down, still feeling rough I was the first one there but others soon arrived, the breakfast went down singing hymns.
The mass ride was soon to pass my way but I did not feel like joining in, instead I would take photos along the road and follow along,
I parked the big red machine, which is incredibly photogenic anyway, in a convenient spot and waited for the mob to arrive.
The run ended at the lighthouse at the southernmost tip of the African continent, which I learnt from a speech by the local Mayor is 166 years old, still in its original condition apart from some renovations but the original structure remains unchanged - "Ho-hum, time to move on."
I must mention that after a quiet, rather boring, babelaas day I went to have a late lunch at "Seagulls" pub and restaurant, I chose a strategic seat and ordered a glass of white wine, I had the most amazing filet of Yellowtail with chips and salad, the freshest I have ever had,
strategic because I could watch the young waitress with the short denim mini-skirt flouncing around the tables, I could see my motorbike parked below, I was a happy man, loose on the land and having an absolute ball!
Here is "Seagulls", she may still be there but even if she's not, the seafood is fantastic. 
Saturday night back at the campsite was somewhat quieter, we went to the main tent for the prize giving but we were not involved except for Frank who got a prize for the oldest rider, well done my buddy!
Who at any rally has not seen Frank rolling his own smokes? Often he has been asked for some of those by younger people who think he is rolling something more interesting!
I was up early Sunday morning, because I was sleeping on the ground! It was bloody cold at 03h30 and I stuck my head out of the tent, mainly because I wanted to straighten my legs. I lay on my back and looked up at the stars which were incredibly clear and bright, as I lay there contemplating our universe and my place in this massive spectacle I thought "Ah fuggit." and went back to sleep for a while.
The sounds of others packing their stuff reminded me that I must have slept for a little while and I made my way slowly to the ablution block and then to the CMA coffee tent for a cup of hot deliciousness, even though it was Ricoffee.
By the time I left the site it was 06h50 and I was looking forward to a different, if slightly longer way home, I wanted to take Janet for lunch so I had five or six hours, plenty of time to explore.
The temperature was 5,5 degrees celsius as I roared out of the small town, I was happy and looking forward to the day, I will tell you about this and my suggestions for the CMA to improve their rally in my next post - happy man signing off.