Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ride to Nowhere

The invite said something about "a nice leisurely ride" and "a great outing for those of you with partners who are scared of you riding fast". The whole idea behind the trip was to give Noelene some experience for her trip to the Transkei later this year and the planned distance was estimated at 350km. The route, well, to "nowhere", "as we are not sure which way the wind and sun will carry us".

I was looking for something to do on Sunday seeing that my family was in Johannesburg and what better way to kill a Sunday than a bike ride? I was up early, too early in fact, but decided to have a coffee at Carlucci's before I would meet up with the rest of the gang in Plattekloof. The thought of going to Carlucci's came a bit late, otherwise I would've thrown in a breakfast as well. Besides, the plan was to eat somewhere along the way, so the empty stomach would only be empty for a short while I hoped. After finishing my coffee while reading about Julius Malema who is now singing "kiss the boer, kiss the farmer" (oh please save us from that), I met up with the guys at the Engen garage as planned. Geoff, who organized the trip was amazed to see so many bikes, 15 in total. He was expecting 4 or 5. But the more the merrier and off we went to a place called "nowhere".

Fortunately the road wasn't really that unplanned, we were informed where we were going to ride and have lunch. I was rather pleased that I came along because two of the roads Geoff mentioned I had never been on before. Always fun to explore new roads. We got onto the N1 in the direction of Worcester. Crossing the Du Toits Mountains via the Hugeunot Tunnel or the Du Toitskloof Pass was not debatable. Bikers take the pass. At this point the ride was still going rather slow, afterall, it was  ride for the "easily scared partners". At this point I knew that I made the right decision to do the ride, the pleasure of riding in a group and the thought of seeing new places is exciting enough. After the pass Geoff stopped for a while just to make sure that all the ducklings made the first obstacle. Before we started we realized that we had 3 paramedics in the group, so at least we were covered should somebody overshoot a bend or two.  Before Worcester we turned off onto the Rawsonville road (R101) to get to the Slanghoekpad (Slanghoek road). This road I've never been on before and I was amazed at the beauty of the surrounding area. On this road is where Goudini Spa is. This was when I realized that riding in a big group like this does NOT allow for sightseeing and taking pictures. I was a bit disappointed, because the road was really beautiful. So were the Slanghoek Mountains as well as the farmlands. Sigh.

The Slanghoekpad ended where we met up with the road that comes from Wellington going to Ceres (R303). I have done this road before when I crossed the Bain's Kloof Pass (one of my first posts). We stopped at Ceres again to take a break and a leak and to make sure everyone was happy with the pace. From Ceres it was a long and straight road (R46) to Touws River. It was here where I used my iPod the last time, but this time there was no time for iPods and riding in a group makes it much less boring than doing it on your own. We met up again with the N1 and headed south for a few kilometres before we turned off onto the Koo road (R318). Here one of the riders developed problems with his sprocket and decided to head home rather than do the rest of the trip towards Montagu and Robertson. Yet again I was totally disappointed that we never stopped to take pictures, because this road was also new to me. (If I can steal some of these guys pictures just to show you). Another fantastic route in between the mountains, right in the Karoo. On this road we went down the Rooihoogte pass as well as the Burger's Pass, with the Koo Valley in between. Here the temperature climbed to 30 degrees Celcius. A few kilometres before Montagu my fuel light came on. I would learn later that at this stage most bikers had their fuel lights flashing. With more than 80 kilometers left on the reserve, we easily managed to get to Robbertson to sit down for lunch at The Dros.

We just finished our drinks when one of the guys mentioned that he had to be back in Cape Town before 5pm. It was already close to two and with no orders yet taken, three of us decided to skip lunch and head back home. OK, this meant that I have had nothing to eat the whole day, but I also wanted to get home early because I wanted to write my post before I go fetch my family at the airport. We filled up and left for Worcester. This road (N15 or R60) I've done many times before, so it was just riding to get back. The wind at places was throwing my head around but the weather was perfect and I was not complaining. When we reached the Du Toits Mountains again, we knew there was only one way to get to the other side, so we took it. At the top we stopped to have a last look at the view over the Paarl Valley. I am sure at this point the rest of the gang was still waiting for their order in Robertson. Closer to Cape Town we split up into our own directions and I stopped at my house at 4pm. Distance on the clock: 500.1km! Strangely enough I wasn't really tired, but my neck was a bit sore because the wind slapping.

My final thoughts on this trip. I definitely will do this road again, much slower and stopping for more  pictures. Although the trip was supposed to be "leisurely", we sometimes did speeds of up to 140 km/h. Still slow maybe for many, but when I ride at that speed, I tend to miss the beauty around me. I still prefer my 200km trips where I see everything around me and get time to explore and take pictures in stead of hanging on to my handle bars for dear life (OK, it wasn't really that bad). The ride was still good and I know the idea was to give Noelene her mileage, so I cannot complain about the reason behind the huge distance with limited stops. Besides, I met some great people and this was my first introduction to the Cape Town BMW club. I will definitely be riding with them again soon. I also swopped contact details with some new biking buddies and we are planning on doing some trips ourselves soon.


  1. Dit moes lekker gewees het - ek's groen van jaloesie! NS. Dis nogal moeilik om die regte skerm/helmet verhouding te kry om die windfors en windgeraas te minimaliseer.

  2. Glad you enjoyed the ride with us. The purpose was to get time in the saddle but also to up our average speed - hence the "fast ride" at times. Personally I prefer a slower pace. Please join us when we do a off road trip. Lots of photo opportunity and chance to meet more friendly folk.
    Erica (BenG)