Kind ❤ Karoo

24 – 27 September 2020

We can travel, we can travel with in our country’s borders … 

That was probably the next best thing since lifting the ban of purchasing alcohol and cigarettes . . . legally.

What a year, I know … just like you , I was also living in this covid time.  A story that will  be told generations from now. People will read about this time and think, how did the world stand still? 

But 6 months down the line we are alive, we are healthy, wiser, more grateful, we all know ‘’a guy’’ who can get stuff, and the next season of Master Chef will have a lot more entrants.

Many people missed many things, but 1 thing I missed a lot was just getting in a car or on a motorbike and disappearing for a few hours or a few days.  

I guess for some of us, the wide-open spaces of dirt, endless blue sky and silence is something that our souls long for. To get to the place where you inhale peace and exhale worry. That probably sounds very  dramatic … but until you have stood on a mountain pass overlooking the Karoo, you won’t understand this feeling of fullness and emptiness all at once.

As soon as we were levelled down to get access to exit our street pavements to travel, we decided the time is now. 

We put together a quick 4day Karoo road trip, making sure we slept somewhere else every night. This is one of my favourite ways to holiday… you just see so much more, and it has an extra element of adventure in it. 

We quickly roped in our parents as well. Being in lockdown has been hard on a lot of people. While our parents should have been making memories, with their children , grandchildren and travels… they lost time. 

So the decided trip was mashed together , 2 x vehicles (neither one being 4×4… this has to be stated for the record😊), 6 people, 4 days, 3 nights, 1200kms to cover, and many, many dirt roads. 

We left the Thursday morning, headed out over Bainskloof pass, we made Calabash at opening time for a cup of coffee.  It wasn’t long and then we were through Ceres, onto Op-die-berg where we grabbed our dinner menu at the Spar. I was quite impressed with the shop considering the location. 

Headed towards the gravel, the turnoff reading Tankwa Karoo, came closer like a hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day

Katbakkies Pass stays one of my all-time favourites. It has many good memories for me, and this is where the world switches off… 

Down to Tankwa Padstal we stopped for a quick lunch, it is great to see that they are very busy, with some familiar and friendly faces. Finishing up, we headed out for our last stretch for the day.

Just after Padstal there is a turnoff which heads in the direction of Sutherland. It is a lovely road, for people who are weary for the dust and dirt. 

Entering Sutherland, I had booked a house for us called, “Jack the Karoo’’

It is a very nice house, modernised on the inside but the old style look and feel still kept on the outside. 

We made a fire and did some good old South African cooking on the grid. 

The sun rose the next morning,  as we went for our morning run in the direction of Fraserberg. The air so clean, I could feel my lungs burning. Not so used to this fresh fresh air.

We packed up and headed out back the way we came, except turning towards Tankwa again, we turned left, towards Merweville

This town is one of my ‘’bucket list’’ towns. Driving through the Moordenaars Karoo was beautiful. I don’t think I have seen a place like this. The only place a I can semi compare it to that I have been to is the Richtersveld in a way.

We stopped on top of Rummelkop pass for breathing and photo oppurtunites. Wow… its stunning. 

I was driving with my mom and daughter in the one vehicle and my husband with his parents in the other vehicle. Having walkie talkies to keep the communication alive. 

Driving this pass was interesting for my mom. She has never ridden so much dirt before and also never tackled passes like these before. Not to mention her cigarette quota was definitely maxed by the end of Rummelkop pass. But will we do it again? hell yeah!

Getting closer to Merweville, I could see the Church stick out above the town. It always amazes me how these small towns, that are almost forgotten, have the most beautiful churches. 

We stopped and had a lunch at the ‘’Boek Klub’’ , apparently a Tv series was filmed here as well, relating to this name.

It is a very cute restaurant. If you are going  this way make a point of stopping and supporting this local business.

Pushing on towards Leeugamka for a quick trip down memory lane. 

My father-in-law grew up here. After many moons, it was only right to drive by memory lane to see the remains of what once was his childhood home. 

That night we slept on a farm called Abrahamskraal, outside of Prince Albert. 

It is a beautiful farm, my first ever bike trip as pillion was to this venue. So many ‘’braai stories’’ have come from this place. 

The décor and setting has been done in a way that definitely preserves the heritage of the family that owns this farm.

Aunty Hestie, welcomes you with the same warmth as the winter sheets on the beds. We had such a good time here, within minutes you feel that you are home.

After a good nights rest, we went for quick run around to make sure stretched legs for the day in the car again. The air amazes me. Its hard to explain being 1500m above sea level and the effect it has on your breathing when you live so close to the coast. 

We had a quick breakfast, leftovers (best road trip food ever!) 

Headed into Prince Albert, quick stop at the Spar for reinforcements and then my highlight, Swartberg Pass. 

My mother and daughter have never been up here before… so it was something  I wanted them to experience. Photo’s don’t do this place justice. We crept up with little Mahindra Mouse (which has proved to be more than capable to handle mountains)

We had faded out the old favourites as the cd’s were packed back into its pouch. There was just the noise of the engine, and aromas of fresh air. My daughter flung half her body out the car window. don’t think she has ever experienced this sense of freedom and peace before. Snapping away, taking pictures, giggling and laughing of how awesome this place is to her 

Swartberg Pass is beautiful and you climb about 1000m height in 14kms

If you are afraid of heights and cliff edges, then this might not be your kind of thing. Keep in mind it’s a perfect example of life… the only way to get to the other side is to go through, even if it scares you.

Dropping down on the other side of the pass we twisted and turned until the engines stopped at Kobus se gat. We gathered our thoughts here, had a quick snack and missioned onwards

Just after Kobus se gat we took the gravel option towards Calitzdorp. This is a beautiful road, with even more beautiful views. The ‘’spekbome’’ and aloes grow bountiful here and the look like they pour down the mountain sides. Everything is very green, and we even spotted a family of giraffes peeking at us over the tree-tops

You can see this area has had sufficient water, I could easily live here, but the voice on the walkie talkie from the other car brings my day dream back to earth… ‘’Vrou, ons kan nie in elke dorp wat jy van hou, n huis koop nie!’’ 

Coming out in Calitzdorp , towards Ladismith we took the turn off for Seweweekspoort. The river here crosses the poort 28 times. (yes , we counted) 

The mountains tower above us, as we drive through it. Breath taking. My mom said a very true thing, she said travelling through places like this remind her of how small we really are … it keeps you humble and grateful.

We spent the last night on a farm in Seweweekspoort. Lovely secluded flatlet on the farm. 

We gathered the wood for the last nights Karoo Fire! We laughed, a lot.. carefree.. no talks of covid or its side effects. It was just easy to be carefree for the first time in months. 

Next morning we went for a hike on the farm, going over the hill we spotted kudu , and the spotted us and quickly disappeared into the surroundings.

Packing up, we knew today we are homeward bound.

Hitting the tar we headed to Diessel and Crème in Barrydale, it was definitely a selling point for the trip to my daughter. Milkshakes all round! Great ending to a fantastic 4day road trip

Getting home, unpacking and there is just no place the dust didn’t get into you almost don’t want to have the car washed… its means the roadtrip is over

On the Monday morning when I woke up, the first thing that crossed my mind is… ‘’okay, where to next?’’ 

Just for the record, no Mahindra or Hyandai Creta was injured during this journey 😊

The way back …

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It’s definitely been a while, maybe close to 18 months that I last rode my own motorbike. it seems silly and nonchalant, but sometimes our own minds are the only things keeping us from something we really love doing.

When my husband said I have to ride my own bike on Sunday, I knew it was coming, I couldn’t hide behind the comfortable seat between his back and the topbox. He just wouldn’t let me have my way. In my mind I headbutted him a few times, repeatedly and shouted to him ”are you crazy?” like a five year old having a full blow tantrum, but the only words that came out of my mouth was, ”Okay!”

I have been avoiding this day for so long, since my dad passed away, I decided to park my bike physically and emotionally, as it was something that I did to honour my dad and couldn’t help but think of him every time I would ride as it was a passion I shared with him. Every time I would get on my bike in the past , and get to my first destination or stop I would usually WhatsApp him a picture or two to make him jealous of my adventure. He used to love reading and listening to my stories after we got home, from ”another bike adventure”.

So subconsciously I couldn’t actually ride again…

Getting dressed yesterday morning, as I put my bike pants on, my hands were shaking so much I couldn’t even get the Velcro to close properly, maybe I was coming down with a bug? that would of been great, because then I would have an excuse to sit this one out.

Not having my glasses either, I was using impaired vision as an excuse as well. Have you ever been so full of excuses in your life!

My husband wouldn’t have any of it. He just kept saying ”you will be fine, don’t stress” , in my mind, I headbutted him again!

Getting on my bike, looking at the handlebars and electronic little dashboard , I hit a blank, I couldn’t remember how to use any of the little buttons in front of me.

I put the ignition switch on and the familiar sound of the idling engine of my ducky came to life. I dropped to first gear and pulled away. I was still shaking like a leaf , as I went through the gears. By the time I reached the R300 the nerves had settled and I was still on my bike, like it was yesterday.

We took a ride through Strand and had a waterhole stop at Pitstop in Clarens drive, yes they are open and serving cooldrinks and snack foods for passer by’s.

While the boys were getting our cooldrinks, I hijacked a table in the afternoon sun and lit a cigarette (for the nerves you know .. )

I thought about the last half hour or more, and my dad.

My fears of heartsore of the loss of my dad had kept me from doing something I really loved. So I needed to find my way back the hard way. Being left with no other choice than just to ride.

The time in the helmet yesterday was with him. and I know I cant just send a WhatsApp pic to make him jealous anymore, but I can share the memory of it.

After a quick drink with the boys, we put the helmets back on and I pleaded for something that resembled gravel.

We headed through Stellenbosch on the Klipheuwel road and turned into Hoopenberg road for some dirt.

Aaaaaahhhhh heavenly dust everywhere. Some cows, some sheep, some trees, some sand patches, Yes I even welcomed those !

When we got home, I took my sunglasses and helmet off, and went to look at myself in the mirror… eyes red from the dirt and fresh air, cheeks filled with dust, But oh boy, I felt alive again.

We all ride for different reasons, and the thing that gets us on the bike or takes us off the bike is different for everyone. Yesterday I didn’t ride the Sani pass – but in my heart it felt like I just completed a Dakar Rally.

So Dad, you and me and my helmet have many roads still to ride. I will honour your memory by carrying on..

Sorry it took me a while to find my way back

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West Coast ( The Karoo of the Coast)

After a very busy few months of planning and wedding things to do, we finally were able to get a few nights away at (Dwars)Kersbos in the West Coast. Here we would celebrate our mini-moon.

A lot of people would have bought the airplane tickets long ago already and have the airport taxi ready. Carel and I aren’t really bothered with airport queues and long flights, as neither of us have the patience to sit still long enough.

We both love this country despite what news24 says, we still believe in the simple beauty that our country has to offer and therefore we kept our mini-moon local. And what is more local than the Westcoast.

We booked into a self catering apartment in Kersbos, this is a newer development beach area just on the outskirts of Dwarskersbos.

We headed out via Hopefield, we like this way out, as the R27 is just soooo straaaaiiighhhht and boring.

We stopped at the Plaasmol outside Hopefield. We have driven past this place a few times but now we had the time to stop, so the car came to an abrupt halt.

Lovely family run farm, with a rustic kind of store which has been turned into a bar.

We pulled our seats up close to the bar, being the only ones there. We ended up spending time with the bar tender learning the history of the farm and what they do etc. if you are ever in the area. Do not drive past this place. They are just outside Hopefield on the left and is noticeable from the little airplane in its front yard.

After our book in at Kersbos with Sallie at the Tumble in , we went on a hunt for food. With only one local superette and a pizza restaurant on the side of the road, our endeavours for shopping left us with limited choices. We didn’t mind as too many options leads to too much wasted time.

We visited the superette, spent about twenty minutes dawdling through the rakkies-of-akkies and then walked out with a 2ltr coke. I just roll my eyes, this happens often.

The locals said that the pizza is good, so who are we to argue. We stopped at SEE KAIA and ordered pizza. To our surprise the prices were so good and the pizza was amazing.

Grabbing the pizza and beer we headed for the beach to enjoy the sunset of the West coast.

Moments like these are priceless when you think of how much people spend to see what we did, with nothing but a pizza in a cardboard box and a few beers. Painted skies, was a live colourful show with the crashing waves to add the sound effects for free.

The next morning we headed to the beach for a run, being a bit tired from the heavy week I can guarantee you that we definitely weren’t doing a Bruce and Elana sprint. The sea life from Kersbos to the right along the boundaries of the farm are amazing. There is no pollution on the strand, only here and there a fish skeleton and a friendly seal coming out of the ocean for his morning yoga.

After a quick breakfast we headed out . Inland Bound.

When there is a dirt road, Carel gravitates …. On the bike or the car. The poor Hyandai was tested to its limits and we headed towards Elands Bay. Traditionally we stopped at Elandsbay hotel for a leg stretch. Here as in the rest of the raw parts of West Coast… don’t expect the fancy, the beauty is in the simple and friendly people that live there.

We jumped back in the car and headed out to Redelinghuys. I have never been to this little town before. So pretty and simple. It reminds me of a really old version of maybe Matjiesfontein and Sutherland.

The Church that burnt down recently is in state of demolition or repair. I couldn’t really make out if it was being further torn down due to irreversible damage or the attempt at restoring had commenced. The droning of heavy duty machines was the only noise that echoed through this little peaceful town

We headed towards Aurora, which is via gravel road from Redelinghuys a quick dust cloud over the mountains and then we arrived. Don’t sneeze and look for a tissue or you will mission right through this town and never notice its quaintness. As in every one of these little towns, the old churches stand out like a rose in a thorn bush.

We had a quick cooldrink as we strolled around the roads there. All this history hidden in our beautiful province.

Carel said it was time to join in the fun in Velddrif , being Friday afternoon , we checked into the local joint, Riviera pub.

We had a good visit with local residents. The chats are as if we have known each other for years. Within minutes you feel welcome, that is just how these people operate. Everyone greets eachother and smiles. They say it like it is in the best Weskus slang, and you embrace the whole of it. Good people live here.

We missioned off to another stop in Laaiplek. Die Vis Vlekhuis. Lesson learnt here… when in Laaiplek don’t order normal food, rather stick to what they are good at – Fish!

We ended off the day with a fire blazing and dreaming of our own plot at the sea one day. ‘’Eendag as ons groot is’’

Another beach run, day 2 seemed to go better on the legs on the sand. And then a quick brekkie and to the other direction we missioned

St Helena Bay, what a pleasant surprise. We ended up joining in the fun at the local Saturday market and had lunch in the middle of it. Ladies singing from a little amp, craft markets, people dancing. . . an unexpected time.

From here we headed out until we couldn’t go any further with the car. Brittania Bay, we had to turn the car around when the gravel road became to sandy for us. On the bike Carel would of still taken a chance, slight resemblance here to Kleinsee’s sand missions 2 years ago which became more a walk than a ride.

Back to Laaiplek , this time to the old hotel for a drink. We made it in time to celebrate our 1 week married life survival.

Back to our apartment we went , fire burned, we braaied and finished in time to catch the sunrise over the ocean. We missioned down to the sea and went for a long walk. Feet in the water…

Its on mini break aways like this where you realise that you can get along with the smaller things in life. You can always smile, and enjoy a stranger’s conversation.

Like the Karoo, and the Tankwa for me this part of the West coast has a peace that it brings over you, whether you intended it or not… it’s kind of the West Coast gift.

Tankwa Teaches Humility

(

Tankwa Tented Camp Overnighter : 07-08/July 2018)

‘’Afgeval, seergekry, opgeklim & weer (verder) gery!’’🎵🎶🎵– Tannie Jackie

On Saturday morning, as group of friends we met at the Klapmuts BP garage for our Tankwa Tented Camp overnighter. As the group came together, we knew it would be an interesting affair. We had a combi camper with the bike trailer, a little Jimny on steroids and a Mahindra. These were our vehicles on the trip. The rest of us parked our GS’s next to eachother and in the distance we heard Martin’s Honda arriving. Making sure we all knew well in advance that he would be the one who would keep us all on our toes. So here we were – 23 people, different modes of transport, different occupations, different dreams, different ages …. Yet in the next 24hours we would become friends.

A smartie box of sorts we suited up after a quick briefing, and headed straight for the gravel after the N1 turnoff. We headed left and decided that tar wasnt in it for us today. We took some detours via farms, and after the rainfall the fields are beautifully green, and the roads are hard. Awesome riding conditions. In the distance I saw the first water crossing, not having one of these experiences under the belt, and with Carel no where near intekom range, I just reminded myself. ‘’when in doubt – throttle it out’’ .. the rule applied and with great success, I must of face another 10 of those in that morning. I felt like a kid at a mud throwing party, it was so much fun. Back on to the tar it wasn’t long until we hit dirt again. With all the legs that had been stretched now, and the group finally finding its rhythm after a few lost ducks in another man’s pond we were snaking along the roads.

Arriving in Ceres, I was sopping wet. My ducky was covered with mud and here and there I saw a resemblance of what she was this morning when we left home. With my holey bike boots, my socks were wet – through and through. I hoped it would dry soon, because the cold on Gydo pass was waiting for my wet legs.

Carel gave us 2 options going up, one group could go straight to the Katbakkies turn off and the other could take the Touwsriver turnoff and do some sneaky surprise road. The group then split on Gydo pass. I followed Carel through this road. We went through 3 gates. Here and there we had to meander the bikes through some narrow entrances and the loose sand was very forgiving. The landscape was amazing. Its amazing what a little bit of water and a lot of snow can do.

We came out at the edge of the road near Katbakkies turnoff. Through the farmers gate we exited onto the tar. Katbakkies, hier is ekke !

I had been without comms most of the day, by now I was really at peace with the silence in my helmet, and knew that this was just going to have to be one metre infront of the other.. I love this pass… its just one of those roads where I lose my heart everytime. It humbles me completely and brings me to a point of overwhelming gratitude. Beauty endless !

Coming to the top of the pass, you are with in arms length of touching the white patches of snow that are still on the side of the road after last weekends sudden white decent.

We met up at Tankwa Padstal. I got off and instead of high fiving myself, I dusted off my pants, I earned the wet toes, and dusty visor – that was epic.

Meeting up with my parents and friends everyone was in good spirits sharing their story of the ride so far. A cold one was necessary to clear the dust stuck in between my teeth, probably because I was smiling all the way.

We headed to Tented camp, parked the bikes just in time to make it to the bus for the sunset cruise. Speechless this left me.

We climbed off and all walked up the hill. We listened to stories of the Tankwa. Can you believe this area only gets 30mls of rain annually – yet they are smiling. And we complain about grey water and a bucket system.

We took a few minutes to take this all in.. sat in silence. I am sure each one of us were sharing a moment with the sun that was going down, as the last peak of yellow sank, so did those private thoughts. We were given a game drive with a difference as we visited all the Africa Burn artwork that was still around. It is fast becoming a natural art studio in the desert. Whatever you consider normal, it is a flipside when you enter the Tankwa, and to embrace this, will give you a sense of peace.

Elzebet and her team made sure we had heated blankets in the tents and a warm meal. This makes you feel like home… ‘’Pap, smoor en vleis’’

The party relaxed and everyone climbed in and ensure a good time was had… one by one the weary ones started disappearing to the tents, admittedly I was one of them. A day on the bike makes me long for naps, nice long ones.

Sunday morning we got up nice and early and went for a long walk into the Tankwa veld to go and experience this sunrise…

Same as the night before, its like watching fine art in movement.. Tankwa does humble me, in a way that is indescribable.

After a good breakfast, we started getting ready. Carel gave the signal that we could all come home in our own fashion. So all decided which direction they were heading into and the group did a quick split.

I decided to head out with the one vehicle. My mother being the driver I knew I could give it a bit of stick. She would catch up.

I left the other riders and hit the Tankwa highway. I went over one of those awesome invisible bumps at quite a speed, and with that my body went airborne instantly all that was on my bike was my hands, having no comms I was swearing and singing to my guardian angel as my feet came down and hit the pedals too hard, knocking my bike out of gear. A quick recovery – find it – find it – find it – got it ! I am reminded that you should never ride faster than your guardian angel can fly.. in my case as fast as my mother can drive, Ha ha ha..

We met in Ceres just after 12 and then the wait began. Next bike in was Carel… and then it was a stagger.

After 2 minor incidents, all the ducks were in the pond, arms and legs attached. We did our meet and greets and headed back to the flat mountain and real life.

It is hard to get back into my car, walk into an office and pretend like this weekend didn’t leave its mark on me. Stopping in a pass like Katbakkies, alone, no phone, no human and no animal. All I can hear is the soft idling of the engine. I was so overwhelmed by how big it all is and how small we actually are, the warm tears turned ice cold as they rolled down my cheeks.. a year ago I didn’t even own a bike, or even dream of this reality. It is because of grace that we can do this awesome sport called adventure biking. May we stay humble in our travels, giving thanks as we go along.

A special mention ….

Andreas ‘s dad joined us this weekend, was a father son special date. It also seems that this wont be the last

My parents joined, a first and very special occasion … now they don’t only read about it on my blog.. but can live one too.

Oom Neels, for once again having to borrow a bike on the morning as the yellow bug didn’t want to ride… and for always being on top of it. Even in tough situations.

Elanza, for being a rockstar pillion and falling graciously !

Tannie Jackie, for her wisdom and handling her incident with a smile

Phil, for his optimistic, humbling attitude when the camper decided to rather want to stay in Tankwa….

I salute you !

‘ROCK-PAPER-SCISSORS’ – Greyton

(Dayride – 19/05/2018)

It’s been a while and the “Groot Trek” is over, the dust has settled on the home front and our feet are itching to just get some km’s on the tyres. Carel and I made a date with our bikes to finally go for a mini ride on Saturday. We had some good friends who were also eager for a dirt day and without much effort we had ourselves a ‘’ breakfast ride – gone long’’ again.

With only one firm arrangement in place, being the meeting point on Saturday morning we knew that whatever way we were going it would be 2 things, Beautiful and Fun. That was enough for me.

From the Bp Garage we exited and met up with Neels at the Strawberry farm near Somerswet west as the yellow 1150 decided she wanted the day off and Neels was to have a day out on an 800. In true fashion he took this pleasant surprise with a grin on his face and we headed to the N2. Quickly ascending Sir Lowry’s Pass, it wasn’t long until our turn off onto the Appletizer road. From there we turned tar to dirt onto the Highlands road. Considering its been a while, I didn’t even give my famous kopwurm time to have a chat, I voided it as I was hungry for this dirt and beautiful landscapes that comes with it.

The area of Grabouw is lush and green after the rains that we have had. The earth looks alive again, the aromas and smells that you get through the open visor is fruity and fresh. It’s almost like drinking a good wine, without the hangover.

Coming back onto tar we headed left to Ecology Farm. Here we sat in the garden, amongst the protea bushes and had hearty breakfast. This venue hasn’t been around very long, but is worth the stop. Here they farm with proteas and have a protea nursery too. Anyone who knows me well enough, will know here I felt at home… ‘’fynbos blommietjies is my hart’’.

After breakfast we headed in the direction of Karwyderskraal, just after the turn Neels led us off onto dirt again. Never riding here before, I was too busy trying to make calculations of how badly I would see my ass today than to even look at the signboards of the roads I was turning onto.

The landscape in this area is breathtaking. Beautiful and stretches as far as you can see through your helmet. Carel started subtly prepping me for a road through the comms as a friendly warning. I only heard every second word, and wondered what the peptalk was about, and then it came… I looked down the hill, it was steep, and at the bottom some of the guys was already waiting for me – to have my turn. Loose rock here we go… tick tock, tick tock. Arriving with the rest of them in one piece, I thought to myself, I am alive and so is my Ducky so I guess we did ok. Just as I gathered my witts again Carel started with is peptalk, seriously. Then I looked up, and here was a narrow loose rock path, and we were going up ! big girl panties on and I stayed sitting and jiggled up there. Getting to the top, if I wasn’t shaking so much I probably would of jumped off the bike and high fived myself.

Alive and kicking I caught up to the group. We stopped to have a moment and I was grateful that I don’t always know where I am going before the time, because if I knew I was going to have to face that I probably would have avoided that road completely, yet here we are testing and flexing our confidence muscle all the time. I love it (maybe I should get a plastic ….??).

Coming out onto tar near Genadendal we made our way to Greyton, this would be our turnaround point. We popped into the restaurant 1854 for lunch. The menu is mouthwatering and the atmosphere is very chilled. We had good food and the boys did some Ale-tasting. The air changed from 27 degrees and we knew our winter sun would be leaving us soon.

Leaving Greyton we did another detour onto dirt and ended up somewhere on Van der Stelspas. The road look a lot different than the last time I rode it. It is so much prettier in this season. It’s so green and fresh.

We turned back onto tar at the Theewaterskloof dam. What seemed to be a quick zip through Franschoekpass ended up dropping into Franschoek as the sun started setting, painting the skies different shades of magenta and yellow, framed by black silhouette of the mountains.

Perfect ending to another good day to be alive.

Sometimes the best days are the ones where you just go where the road leads you. And having good friends to do it with makes it a forever epic adventure.

‘’Rock-Paper-Scissors’’

Porterville Beaverlac Overnighter  : It’s never about the destination, Always about the Journey

24-25 February 2018

‘’Come and fly the skies where black eagles soar, and hike the paths of the leopard once more.

Come and climb the rocks where the baboon often play, and spend time at a rock pool each day.’’

The best thing about a weekend like this is the fact that very little planning is necessary, the hardest part is making place on the bike for a tent. We met for sanity sake at the Engen in Plattekloof, knowing that by now we all are au fait with this garage as a meeting point. Stefania’s bike decided to break the ice and trend for our relaxed ride and was so relaxed it just didn’t start. We ended up detouring via Vredehoek, with Carel jumping like a kangaroo on the motorbike freeing downhill in town. Here you place your hands over your eyes and remove one finger, just because you cant look, traffic in town, freeing down hill with a tempermental motorbike is a recipe for …….. after a few attempts the little ninja took, and the engine roared making its awakening presence known.

Now we were all awake, ready … from the N1, it was a quick dash through traffic to the N7 and the country side commenced just outside Durbanville turn off.

The previous nights rain had left the fresh earth smell hanging in the air, accompanied by a cool breeze which was welcomed as I rode with an open visor. It was literally a few gear changes and the dirt was under my tyres already. Admittedly a few minutes later I wasn’t feeling it. Neels says I have a Kopwurm.. I am starting to think he is right. After a few serious chats with this KopWurm, I decided that he lost and Jani won the round and put my fears and doubts in the dust behind me and just embrace the day.

I placed myself at the back with Andreas when we entered the Haaskraal road, so that I could flex my confidence muscle a bit more. Looking down my speedo was reading 90kms per hour on dirt and I was standing. KopWurm – you lose!

We took a refreshment stop at Du Vlei Padstal. The hot chocolate here is one of my favourites and shortly after stopping, the warm sweet beverage found its way into my hands.

Carel once again turned us off the tar, soon we were on Delsma Farm road that goes through to Gouda. This dirt road was a pleasure riding and we ended up coming into Gouda and then turning right towards Porterville. With the stop and go’s it wasn’t too much of a hold up and we entered the town soon enough to make the local butchery in time. We all peeled into the local butchery, the owner recognized Carel, and before we knew it half a cow was being sliced into steaks, with some complimentary braaispice for our barbi in the valley. Pitstop for cold beverages and then we headed out, exited Porterville we took the turnoff to the right, Dasklip / Cardouw road to make our way to Dasklip Pass, the one that would drop us in the valley at Beaverlac.

Some more dirt under the tyres and soon it turned to a now neatly tarred pass. The narrow pass trickles along the mountain side, making ascent quick. We stopped at the grid, to take in all the beauty below us and saw the path in the distance that we were on just a few minutes ago. We now understood why Carel made sure we had a cold beverage. Here we saluted and high five’ed each other for a good day to be alive and healthy.

The drop to Beaverlac commenced, it is a quick descent of sand, and loose rock. By now the comms had died, and the Kopwurm too. In 1st gear I spluttered down the mountain like a snail clutching to a wet rock. I got down, in one piece and so was my bike

Beaverlac is a natural heritage site in the Grootfontein Farm, it is hidden in the Olifants River Mountains and is situated in a 5000 hectare secluded valley surrounded by the Ratel and Olifants Rivers.

We all unpacked and set up camp at this beautiful camp site with in minutes bike gear was replaced with shorts, tshirts and barefoot as we made ourselves comfortable around the fire where Collen had already set up for us. With Bernie and Pi, his 2 precious bulldogs came with to be our brave body guards for the evening.

Sitting around the fire, I can say that a year ago, I didn’t know any of these people and here we are spending such a special time in such an amazing place sharing stories and dreams. We all have different careers and yet our idea of a good time is this. I have learnt that doing trips with people who enjoy what you enjoy, there is never admin.

The evening ended as we all found our way to our little cacoons for a well deserved rest

The next morning we ventured on a hike to explore the beautiful landscape followed by a refreshing swim in the rock pools of Beaverlac. The rock pools are beautiful and clean and a relief for all campers on a warm day. By lunch time the fire needed to be extinguished and the tents packed up for our route home again.

Carel didn’t hold back on the route and dirt and dust was there again. We made a few detours on a few farms, accidentally on purpose. Not one of us minded, as a good day is a good day, lost or not. We went past the Misverstand dam. And then did the long stretch of dirt before Riebeeck Kasteel. We entered the tar there for a quick trip through the pass to Malmesbury. Here we said good bye. As we hugged each other the dust lifted off our jackets as a sign of another successful day.

… when you were a child at a funfair, and you stood in the queue at the tornado, your hands used to shake as you held the ticket out to the conducter. You proceeded with caution onto the contraption that would spin you around and upside, and you would scream with exhilaration. When it would come to a dead stop you would hold onto the railing while you get off again with adrenaline pumping. And the first reaction would be.. ‘ lets do it again’ –

Monday morning when I opened my eyes… that was the words I uttered.

#addicted

Lambert’s Bay Leaves us Longing

[Bmw Motorrad – Lambert’s bay overnighter – 10 & 11/02/2018]

Waking up on a Monday morning after a weekend like the one we just had, it feels almost insignificant to have to get dressed in clean clothes, drink coffee from a dust free coffee mug and put on a computer to download emails and enter the adult world of a routine based day. Just yesterday we were covered in dust, never minded by bad hair and dirty clothes, yet the feeling was one that money couldn’t buy and the thrill was child-like. Today we adult again.

On Saturday morning we were summoned to the Swartland Engen garage where we would meet our travelling friends. These meeting points on the first day of a trip, are never the same. You shake hands with strangers, try to make note of the names you don’t already know, and in your mind you have already forgotten them as your craving for coffee takes over with the first sip of some warm java. With that in mind you already know that when wishing each other farewell tomorrow afternoon, we will already be old friends.

Geoff was our leader for this trip. I have never joined one of his trips before, but his legacy had left me curious and excited for the dirt road ahead of us. Obviously we had chosen dirt with a touch of sand. We headed out and just past Moorreesburg we stopped to deflate tyres to prepare for the gravel and sand. Uncle Ewert stepped off his new lady in red, GS1200 (it was her maiden voyage to dirt) with a slight nervousness as he removed his gloves. I noticed his excitement and slight nervousness as he had never taken this lady on the dirt before. With words of encouragement and motivation we readied up for the dirt. Roads were beautiful with open fields, blue skies filled with cotton wool clouds. As the dirt moved under the rolling tyres his lady became comfortable with the new texture on her rubber and Uncle Ewert was dancing in the seat. It was a good day

At Picketberg, Carel noticed his sprocket had lost its teeth completely and had to make a quick dash back to Paarden Island in Cape Town while I had to pillion with Geoff. As we exited Piketberg garage the comms unit died, and I knew Carel was quickly approaching Cape Town with a bike that was in need of 911 treatment.

The dirt road took us from Citrusdal to Clanwilliam. To be pillion with Geoff was an absolute party. His skill level is amazing, and the bike – oh well.. need to get one of those ! *wink*

We filled up again in Clanwilliam and then made our way back onto dirt en route to the N7 via Bulshoek dam. Admittedly, now when Cape’ies see water they want to stop and bottle it to take home. The specks of water we saw on this road made us all breathe a heavy sigh of relief in our helmets knowing the seriousness of our current situation at home. We stopped at the turn off at the N7 and noticed some of our fellow riders were slightly delayed. Geoff turned back to find them and we used this opportunity to stretch legs. Finally on line with Carel, he was very quickly making his way back up the tar from Paarden Island to join us again at Klawer.

With one or 2 altercations all our riders were safe. At Klawer we stopped for a well deserved lunch and some cold liquids for dusty throats. I heard Carel’s 800GS coming into the parking lot and was grateful, all the chickens were in the nest again. Now we could have a peaceful journey to our destination at Lamberts Bay

The last stretch of dirt from Klawer to Lambert’s bay was tougher than hoped for. Geoff warned sand, and until then we hadn’t had much. The road was loose and everyones average speed slowed a little with the wakening of it.

Safely at Lamberts bay hotel we checked in and met up with the group that road the tar. Everyone shared stories of the day and the reunion had commenced.

Our bus fetched us and the bikes rested as we piled in for dinner at Muisbosskerm.

‘’ FOOOOOOODDDDD GLORIOUS FOOOODDDDD’’

The setting, priceless … painted skies with pink, yellow and blue. The aroma of seafood filled the air. The conversation and atmosphere was joyous. And you take a moment to embrace all of it and realise again… grateful and blessed to have a good life.

Many people would probably not grant themselves this treat if it wasn’t for events like this, yet we all deserve this spoil and sunset.

With tired bodies we piled back in the bus like school children after an SOS camp, excited, loud, and tired and headed back to the hotel. Some die-hards proceeded straight to the bar, while the rest seeked a quiet room and pillow.

Sunday morning we did some exploring of the town at sunrise as the seagulls replaced the alarms just after 4am. Lambert’s bay is a little fishing town that is known as the ‘diamond’ of the West Coast popular for its amazing seafood, bird life and beautiful beaches.

We met for breakfast, geared up and ready for our adventure homeward bound.

We headed inland again and took the Cedarberge route on the dirt. The road was as expected beautiful, dusty and endless. We rode through some valleys that had recently had fire and the smell of burn still lingers in the air.

Stopping at Cedarberg Oasis was a welcomed visit. Legs stretched and some ventured into the pool for relief of the days heat.



Shortly afterwards we geared up for the last time. Next stop would be Ceres.

The road from Oasis to Gydo pass is one of my favourite dirt roads. I enjoyed the quick exit of dust and sand as we entered the tar.

Over Gydo pass the evidence of remnants of a fire show and looking down, dam levels are low.

We said our farewells and well wishes at the garage in Ceres where tyres were pumped up again, tanks filled and gear dusted off. Reality kicked in, and we were homeward bound. Yesterday morning we were, some friends, some strangers. Spending time on roads like these, makes you grateful for the guy in front of you and the guy behind you.

Thank you Geoff for taking us crazy ‘ies , it was an epic adventure.

It really isn’t about the destination, it’s all about the journey. A trip like this makes that quote such a reality.

Sitting in front of the computer today, with your favorite coffee mug, dressed in a clean shirt and well groomed hair. You have flashbacks of yesterday and realise… it’s a good life with dirt and 2 wheels !

Once in a blue moon – 31 January 2018

Once in a blue moon…

“She used to tell me that a full moon was when mysterious things happen and wishes come true.” S. A. Thompson

The monthly BMW Motorad Club meeting is usually held on the last Wednesday of every month and just so happened that this time it was held on the last day of the first month of this new year. We were spoilt with a special phenomenon of having to share the evening with the Super Blue Blood Moon. There is a strong possibility that in our life time we will not bear witness to this amazing natural event on any calender.

We met at the club house as usual and the reunion began as most of us haven’t seen each other since our end year function in December last year. The year started in full force and it feels as if we are really only touching ground now. After the catch up and banter with friends we sat down for an informal meeting just to get all the formalities out of the way. Admittedly I think most of us were already distracted because we knew there would be a ride involved, a beautiful rising moon and a yellow setting sun, with an unknown destination.

Getting our fifteen minute departure alert, everyone scattered and filled the parking lot, as helmets were being put on, jackets buttoned, the atmosphere was one of excitement and joy. Age not applicable, as it we all share the same passion. Here you realise again, no matter how small the dream, it does come true.

We headed out with Neels as the ride leader. Soon we ended up passing Durbanville hills wine estate. Looking back it was a sight that gave me goosebumps. The headlights of the motorcycles lit the tar like Christmas lights on a lifeless tree. What a sight, with the yellow rays of a setting sun on our beautiful Table Mountain. Dreams come true.

Our surprise destination was Bloemendal restaurant on the hill. This restaurant has been closed for a while. As we headed up the hill, the last of the sun was kissing the ocean good night and the moon started taking her place in a dark sky.

Everyone made way to the opening in front of the empty building. Picnic blankets were spread out on the dirt. Champagne glasses, treats and snacks devoured, while the silence was colored in by laughter and an excitement in the breeze.

Having Oliver join us last night again, one local word has resonated with him, ‘’Lekker’’ – Oliver, this top night we would consider to be ‘’Flippin’Lekker’’

“Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.” ― J.K. Rowling

So we all share in this child-like excitement for the natural beauty, dirt roads and challenges.

May last night’s ending of the month only set the pace for your own February .

‘Ciao’

‘’ Barrydale and Beyond ‘’ .. Where breakfast ends with a pink Sunset

[BMW Breakfast Ride to Barrydale with Neels – 21/01/2018]

The reality of the day is still lingering like the dust on my rims of yesterday’s ride. The Duckling and me have been in a steady relationship now for about 8 weeks, but we keep our bonding time limited to approximately 200kms at a time.

Seeing Neel’s name on for the Sunday breakfast ride and planning a visit to Barrydale for the infamous milkshakes at Diessel & Crème, I suspected my relationship with lil’ducki would be a bonding experience.

We met at the Engen as per usual. We had our meet and greets with the other like-minded souls and were introduced to Oliver who is on a 5 month cross country sabbatical on his Triumph. He comes from Switzerland and has chosen South Africa to be his destination of choice for conquering roads and country side. Well, a feather in our cap for this one. When Neel’s had a few minutes to gather his thoughts over a BAR-ONE (breakfast of champions), the glint in his eye appeared and the smile broadened and I got nervous. I immediately assumed my assumption of tar and 400km’s was a distant memory. Once again : Assumptions … Oopsie!

We headed out and were soon enroute towards Bain’s Kloof, I took my place delicately at the back of the group. To best describe my approach to this pass would be like an elephant on a bicycle in granny gear trodding up a hill…. You have the picture.. that was me.

Oliver’s opinion of our Bain’s Kloof, ‘’it reminds me of Switzerland’’ .. well done Thomas Bain, you did well!

Through the pass we headed towards Worcester, Carel says, here we can ‘lepel’ it, being at the back and having riding the small sister amongst the big brothers, I felt I was doing the ‘lepel’ thing quite often.

We headed towards the Hex River and turned left towards the direction of Nuy Valley. Here the tar ended and the gravel just happened to fall in front of us. I just smiled in my helmet, ‘’ Ja Neels !’’ being an absolute amateur at gravel and dirt, and now riding in a group, my heart was pounding in my throat all the way down to my heels resting on the foot pegs. Besides the sound of my heart beating, my eyes and soul managed to take in the beauty around me, understanding this wouldn’t be a place I would of just happen to pass by if it wasn’t for this moment. Grateful for these seconds and minutes we stopped to put our feet on the soil just to ensure the dream was in actual fact a reality.

Soon we reached tar and made our next stop Diessel & Crème in Barrydale, which was in actual fact the destination. Yet it felt like the cream was already over my lips as I had my dessert on the gravel roads. Soul was fed already, now it was the tummy’s turn.

If you still haven’t visited this heavenly venue… you will not regret the outing. If you want to see grown men become children again, just show them the milkshake menu. Here we shared banter and got to know each other better. The milkshakes were gratefully received on starving bellies and the meals monstered down. The heat was on us and refueling was necessary for what was still coming.

Before we left I noticed Neels eyeball his gps quickly and decided to chuck my caution to the wind and to wing it as he would expect me to. ‘’Jani, hou kop, Bly Los op die Fiets’’ … and that was it.

Tradouw Pass, another Mr Bain design. You never disappoint me. Beauty in cliffs and valleys, rock and fynbos.

From here the turn off for Malgas came fast. Some more treats in dust and dirt. A quick stop for water on the empty farm road left us with a beautiful and welcoming surprise. Giant water drops falling from an open blue sky onto thirsty ground and flustered cheeks.

A quick and welcoming leg stretch on the Pont over Malgas and straight to the Malgas Hotel for necessary hydration. Sitting under the massive tree, the wind swayed the leaves back and forth as a comfortable manual aircon. I stay humbled by these moments. In the norm of it all, we rarely appreciate the cover of a tree or even the leaves moving due to a soft breeze. Days like this, you find refuge under a tree around a table with good company.

Back on the road we tackled the last stretch of dirt towards the Bredasdorp turn off. With a longer than planned leg stretch, our Captain got a flat and we all used the opportunity to get a free BMW workshop lesson on how to change a tube, tyre and detox in 30 degrees sun at the same time. luckily spirits were still high and the sun was starting to say its almost time to say good night.

The last stretch went fast. It was Bredasdorp, Napier and Caledon. Last fill up in Caledon I wondered how I would dismount my duckling… with effort. I felt like a lego man with a 90 degree body as I came off. All I could do was laugh at myself, there weren’t words that I could physically speak that would describe what emotional or physical state I was in at that stage. It was all surreal to me.

The weather changed from heatwaves and beating sunrays to a pink sunset that painted our skies for the last stretch home on the N2, coming over Sir Lowry’s pass, two things filled my being. Grattitude and humility.

People ask how long does it take to really get to know someone, it took 580km’s in a few hours to turn strangers into friends…

With a glint in his eye and a naughty smile, you can be sure a breakfast ride with Neels will be something you will never forget.

#learningtofly

I get it !

When Carel asked me a few months ago if I wanted to tag along on the motorbike, so he could go fetch something at Donfords Stellenbosch, I remember scrambling through my clothes cupboard looking for appropriate motorbike attire, but nothing in my floor cupboard would have been appropriate anyway as I exited the house with a casual jacket, jeans and some uggboots – ‘’ ankles, Jani, we like them whole’’ is all I heard, as my mother’s voice subconsciously whispered in my ears. As men usually find themselves distracted in a motor vehicle or hardware store, distracted and lost in Donfords was no different I would of imagined for him, and I ended up entertaining myself – familiarizing myself with names, models, clothing, padding, helmets – gloves and boots. All of a sudden I felt like a zit on a models face. Such elegance and class, but yet the posters against the walls showed a lifestyle that I had already started living, except it was on foot and on every trail I had time and petrol money to get to.

My interest peaked, but I moonwalked myself backwards out of the display room, as I wasn’t dressed for the occasion at all.

After that I think it was downhill skating for me, first the jacket came and then the helmet, the intekom, the gloves, the pants, the socks, the boots, the inners , the buff… it was as if I walked myself through gumtree and came out the other side as an overall well-dressed pillion of off road BMW GS riding.

I haven’t been doing this – ‘’SIT STIL EN BLY STIL’’ pillion task for that long, and already it is all over me, even I get withdrawal symptoms if the black fat pants haven’t been on my body for a while and I haven’t heard the sounds of velcro and zips and an exhaust pipe that is unique when it starts. The sound of it already is an automatic signal to the brain, suit up and now it’s party time.

We toured quite a lot this year – we have visited some beautiful places, From Seweweekspoort to Malgas, the Diamond coast, Vioolsdrift and the Cedarberge just to touch on a few, I am still learning to sit still, but the idea of a possibility of my own bikes exhausts sounding the alarm of an instant adventure definitely tweaked in my soul. I need to earn these bragging rights now too.

So my partner in all things fun assisted in finding me a suitable fit. The BMW 650Dakar. Have you ever seen this bike, she is beautiful and after 2 quick visits on the grass just so we could make our acquaintance was all that was necessary to brave the open road.

I get it Guys ! I do now…

They say 4 wheels move your body and 2 wheels move the soul. Well, I get it now. Riding pillion is an awesome treat. Riding your own bike is an adventure.

I am very much an amateur and this piece probably doesn’t warrant a report, but I get it now. The smiles I usually witnessed through the visors of our friends on trips, I am sure was visible under my visor yesterday as well.

My daughter pillioned with Carel yesterday, while I was riding my own bike. This was her first long ride, more than just a ride in the suburbs. On our way to school this morning in the car, chucking along in traffic, she mentioned … ‘’ mommy, you know hey, being on the bike, I wasn’t scared at all, I was free ‘’’

So I guess I am learning my rights now too…

#learningtofly