Century Run to Oudtshoorn with the Triumph Owners Club
Many of our members have heard me wax lyrical about the ride to Oudtshoorn with the Triumph Owners Club – and wondered (I am sure) what the fuss was about. Well – on Thursday 6 February I met Howard at Constantia Village and we filled up the bikes; Howard the cream R50 and me on the newly restored R69, and so it began.
Thomas joined us at the last minute (as usual) and we headed out to the N2 1 Stop via Baden Powel. It was somewhere along Baden Powel that I switched my brain into neutral and so began 5 of the most relaxing, enjoyable and fulfilling days imaginable.
From the 1 Stop 29 bikes set out – with the CMCC well represented with 9 riders. We headed off to Napier via Clarens Drive and Hermanus. Like last year Neil (Chairman of the TOC) had some magical force empty Clarens Drive for us and we had the road to ourselves – simply fantastic riding…
In Napier we had the first minor issue; some riders (who clearly are hard of hearing) stopped at the traditional stop in the town and got the hopes of the owner up about a nice payday, so the rest of us had the pleasure of seeing the look of expectation leave his face as we thundered past to the new breakfast venue, The Red Windmill, about 2 KM outside of town. After a great meal off we set – all except Martin Harris, that is.
Martin had a bit of a slip and ended up with his bike on his ankle. He was well looked after by locals but it was the end of the ride for Martin, unfortunately. We popped his bike onto the back-up trailer and took it through to Swellendam.
Martin has had 3 pins put into his foot and is convalescing as we speak – give him a call on if you like. Hope you get better quickly Martin!
An on with the ride to Swellendam, which was simply fantastic, although the R69 was missing a bit under load albeit at a respectable 80MPH. What made it even better was that those who stuck with Neil had the right idea as there were 3 stop-and-go’s and we did not stop at one, we simply timed it perfectly and hit them as our side opened for business!
The evening meal was – without a doubt – one of the best meals I have EVER eaten. We made our way out the Swellendam airfield and were entertained royally. The best pig on a spit, magnificent salads, vegetables and bread and 2 trifles not to be trifled with. I can confidently say that they have forever ruined pork for me as all other pork will be henceforth be measured by an impossible yardstick.
And so – on to Oudtshoorn through the Trudeau Pass – one of the best rides that you can do…
Kleinplaas in Oudtshoorn is fantastic – a really great venue. I recommend it to anyone; clean, neat and well equipped, with a management that gives a shit and a great swimming pool. A case in point – the bedrooms have only 1 available plug – but they have provided an adaptor that takes 2 and 3 pin plugs. I rest my case!
So to the ailing R69! We arrived about 2 hours before shops were closing so I stopped and tried to get plug caps (unavailable), condenser, plugs and plug wire (unavailable), assuming that the breakdown was electrical under load. I fiddled and farted but nothing made a difference, until early evening when one of the helpful onlookers mentioned the plug cap. Because I had not managed to buy one I stole one from a convenient R75 (Thomas would never know…) and bingo – all was right with the world. I had, however, done the amateur thing and just before changing the plug had noticed a crack insulation on the wire connecting the coil to the points and had isolated it. So the bike was fine – but was it the wire shorting or the plug cap? I am still not sure!
Saturday was a leisurely day. Some, including Howard, Swannie and Ken, went off to the George car show and Thomas and I did a ride, and a fantastic one, at that. Meiringspoort is really worth a visit as the road crosses the river 19 times. The recent floods have done damage – but kudos to the road engineers as the road stood up really well. Yes – the floating head is Thomas, sunlight glinting off his fashionably shaven scull…
Now – Howard Nason had told me about an R50 that he had seen in Oudtshoorn and sent an SMS with directions ‘ Place is called Oudtshoorn hotel and resort. House in right of entrance had a single garage on the left of house’. In spite of the fact that the hotel is no longer so named, and the house on the right has a double garage, Howard (Boetcher, this time) knocked on doors and sniffed out the old R50, which belongs to an active octogenarian (he was on a bike ride when we, on Sunday morning) made a final call at the house – and Howard has a new best friend. The bike owner’s wife is a lovely lady and we were invited in for tea – or to move in (whichever we preferred).
Saturday night was the ‘official’ dinner and we are still wondering whether Swanie’s skill with the ladies and having them in fits of laughter at the Saturday evening dinner resulted in his rear tyre been sabotaged with a nail by some jealous husband. Whatever the cause, he demonstrated remarkable skill with a roadside puncture repair in Oudtshoorn’s sweltering climate!
On Sunday we set off for Mossel Bay. While most rode the Robertson Pass to Mossel Bay, Thomas and I opted for a longer route down the Outeniqua Pass to Victoria Bay for breakfast, and then managed to avoid the freeway all the way to the Santos Express in Mossel Bay.
The Santos Express is an interesting experience – you actually sleep in an old railway carriage. Mossel Bay is also wonderful – a most benevolent climate, the kindest sea and a truly fascinating town centre. Those of us who shoot past and head for Knysna and Plett are missing a trick…
As evening fell Howard was already looking pissed (or confused)… and Swannie had his mouth open – for a change!
Of course we had time for 1 more ride – so the 3 beemers set off for Gouritz Mouth and a surreal experience at ‘Oranje by die See’, or Vlees Baai as it is otherwise known. Word to the wise – dont go there…
So – why was this trip so fantastic? Firstly, because it is a rare privilege allowed us by the TOC, and for this I must thank Neil – really appreciated. Secondly, because it is a rare opportunity to live side by side with some good mates and our best friends – our old bikes! And thirdly because it is a chance to connect with a simpler time and a simpler life, when machines were machines and we were young. It is a chance to feel that youth again, really feel it, because, for 5 days that is just what we are…
See you next year!