The Cape Classic Ride 2016

Words: Ferdie Botha
Images: Dieter Struben

Being a newcomer to the club I would like to firstly congratulate and thank the organisers Howard, Leslie – and whom else? – for the excellent arrangements which kept us all happy and fed, properly fed in particular…

Some vague stats: 3 days, 3 nights and on my clock 888 km of relaxed, blissful cruising on 2 wheels, the most natural and enjoyable form of surface transport invented. People would have consumed various amounts of that inevitable Saudi Arabian fluid without which the trip would not have been so easy and polluting… 22 participants at full complement and about 18 bikes of which about half were of that 3-letter acronym Bavarian make, most of the 18 being twins of parallel or inline arrangement. The non-bmw’s were mostly British makes. Jap bikes do not seem to be too popular in this club, maybe because they are not appreciated enough (or is it sukkeled with enough?) to survive more than the vaguely prescribed 25 years of age required for proper recognition. Cruising speeds were 80 – 100 for the elderly bikes and 100 – 120 for the more agile plastic types. A relatively male joke might be allowed in the light of the 2 : 20 ratio of female : male representation of the human species on this tour… old (English) bikes are like women: men are forever occupied making them happy and trying to understand their intricacies.

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All of the trip was such a joy and celebration of the good life we are privileged to participate in, with good health and working limbs which allow us to operate the controls of said 2-wheeled wonder machines… you wonder quite often whether today is the day you may come off it…

A chronological account of the sequence of events reads as follows: Partial departure from Tokai during the morning of Friday, the rest joining at Engen N7, from where the route was elected to go via Bainskloof pass. In the latter half of this wonderful sample of 18th century pass building technology, we stopped for lunch, admiring the peace in this remote place. |Soon after we arrived at the Cape Dutch Quarters in Tulbach and were allocated our rooms for the night. The visit to Freddie’s mancave in Gouda was next on the agenda, to check out the collection of bikes in various states of (dis)repair followed by a hugely enjoyable half lamb braai.

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Transport was an interesting exercise in sardineing about 15 people into the plushly appointed back of the Mercedes van.

Next morning after a huge breakfast we left for the longest day of riding to Barrydale via Ceres (absolutely packed with farm workers doing their weekly shopping) Swaarmoed pass and right onto the famous R62 to Touwsrivier Steers for a quick cuppa. Then some short N1 riding and left onto R62 again towards Montagu. We stopped at Keisie in the Burgers pass in the Koo valley for a much welcomed boerie done by Martin on a LPG gas powered skottel, admiring on his recommendation the great view of the valley ahead.

img_1006Montagu to Barrydale was a higher speed trip for most of us, to our overnight stop at Sterna and Johan’s Sandy’s Place where we had braai 2 of the tour, generously and kindly sponsored by the Murrays (Durbanville Classics). Sandy is a now deceased dog which lived with Sterna and Johan. A funny game of 30 men fighting/wresting-and-almost-never-running-with a single out-of-round ball, continually interrupted by highly throttled whistling, was commentary-droning in the background. Some people passed more comment about the results of the games in between discussing motor cycle parts and where to source the unavailable ones of said anglaic bikes over their lifetime and the lives of the people trying to understand their intricacies…

Sunday morning dawned bright and partly cloudy, but there was heavenly water to be poured on most of us later in the day en route to Struisbaai. The only near disaster I am aware of, having experienced it myself, was running dead straight in rain over a wet patch of cow dung on the road between Suurbraak (what a lovely name for your home address, if you lived there) and the N2: at least one man snaked dangerously and two other bikes had wide awake riders after crossing that patch. On the N2 a group under leadership of Neville split away to chase down more 3-lettered scrap (or ‘barnfinds’) which appeared NOT to have been hibernating in a barn) on a farm some distance away. They arrived last at Struisbaai with three sad looking specimens on the trailer.

Meanwhile, four guys left Bredasdorp on the road to Waenhuiskrans instead of Struisbaai and did a short mid course dirt road interconnection to ensure arrival at the latter instead of the former. At Struisbaai the friendly staff of the Mermaid guest house welcomed all.

img_1002{The author may be forgiven (or not??!!) for the hardly veiled slight bias displayed against a certain make of motor cycle, the reason for it being a long story of … well ask him one day if you really want to know…}

Struisbaai impressions: like most other coastal towns, this one is also a display of the wealth of the two-house people, one they live in and one which stands empty most of the time next to thousands of people in the same town who live in shacks.

Wanna mall like the cities. My question – why not just BE a small quaint seaside resort WITHOUT a mall?
Beautiful wide bay, calm seas when we were there. Almost utterly deserted on a late Sunday afternoon.

Another day of blissful riding followed by a relaxed afternoon including some exercise walking on the boardwalk, was concluded by braai 3 in the Mermaid. Great marine theme in this guest house. By now almost halfway into the night almost half of all stories had been told, almost enough beer had been consumed and all definitely must have had their fill of excellent braaivleis, salads and potato bake, and retired for the night.

Monday morning, (great to be retired ja?) after another full and delicious breakfast we filled up with petrol (what a blessing there were zero diesel stinkers among us!) and headed home, some of us via (for me) the highlight of the toured roads – the newly tarred road running from the back of Soetmuisberg behind Bredasdorp (ever heard of a soet as in not naughty mouse? Or is it a sweet one? One would have to ask the cat about that) via Elim, a town populated by internationally working professional thatchers, and Baardskeerdersbos, a small 6-legged insect which is reputed to chew on one’s beard if you sleep in it’s territory, and on into Gansbaai. Beautiful green farmlands decorated in vivid spring attire everywhere, soft hills and a quiet, good tarmac surface under the wheels. This group stopped for a last cuppa in Stanford and split up again after Hawston from where some went via Botrivier on to the final stop under Sir Slowly’s pass and others toured Kleinmond, Bettiesbaai, Pringle bay and Gordonsbaai on Clarens drive, also one of the jewels of the Cape of course.

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Most impressive bike? That one covered in patina, even every bolt and nut! How does Lukas do it? Does he never need to undo anything then? The picture below was taken in 1675, shortly after the Hollanders founded Tulbach.

Home safely without breaking down or crashing, the ever present risks if one lives on two wheels, I am a thankful new CMCC member for having had the opportunity to participate in this tour. Looking forward to the next one in Feb!