Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tulbagh Breakfast Run

Just when we thought that we should pack away our sunscreen and flipflops and take out our raincoats and heaters, then Mother Nature turns around and bowls us with a yorker between the legs. On Saturday, amidst shorter days and lazy sunshine she threw in a bonus summer day, complete with high temperatures and late afternoon southeastern wind. I was asked to join a Saturday morning breakfast run, and although I was hoping to get more gravel riding in towards another destination, I eventually gave in and joined a group of 12 bikes for a morning ride to Tulbagh. The group consisted of 3 adventure bikes, 5 cruisers and 4 speed bikes. Thinus, the leader of the pack had a new BMW S1000RR and what better way to share in his excitement than to do an accompanied "exibition flight" while he introduced his new wheels to us, the road and whoever else was interested?

We left Melkbosstrand at about 8h20, driving towards Malmesbury, Riebeeck-Kasteel and finally to Tulbagh where we had our breakfast at the Reader's Restaurant on 12 Church Street. In the short 20 minute section from Riebeeck-Kasteel to Tulbagh the temperature changed from 22.5 degC to 28 degC. After breakfast we decided to split up, most of the guys going back via the Bains Kloof Pass and the 3 "more adventurous" guys turning west hitting the gravel. Our aim was to get closer to the West Coast where we were hoping in finding cooler weather, but with limited gravel roads near Tulbagh this was basically also our only option to get as much sand as possible for our return section back home. With two GPSes and a map we left for Gouda where Ettiene filled up his KTM. We would find that neither the GPS nor the map would really take us where we wanted to go, but eventually we did most of the way to Darling on gravel. Roodt was taking the lead and myself and Ettiene was taking the dust, but every now and then the KTM was getting a bit impatient and overtook us leaving us eating dust for desert. I have to admit, despite my loyalty to BWW, the KTM 990 Adventure S looks like it belongs in the dirt and makes the BMW look like  a commuter bike for rich people. Not that I consider myself rich, but like some people who buys SUV's for traffic congestions to and from work I felt like BMW's F800 was a bit similar in that respect. Too nice to get dirty. The sound that the two exhaust pipes makes on the KTM also made me wonder if BMW can really compete with KTM on looks and charisma when it comes to a more offroad looking bike. I wouldn't know which one handles the best on off-road terrain, but the KTM definitely looks better. Anyway, I think with my short legs I would look like my 4-year old son on my wife's mountain bike if I had to turn in my GS for a KTM.

Even though we probably took three completely different roads than what we had planned on the map, we really enjoyed our ride and stayed on gravel for most part of our trip back to Darling. That is one thing I like about being able to do dirt roads, you really see places that the people in cages or the speed bikes and cruisers never see. It is like an adventure discovering new places, and the best for me is when we find river crossings with small bridges. It is then when I really feel like I am somewhere out there away from all the noise and day-to-day worries.

From Gouda we went back to Riebeek-Kasteel then headed towards Malmesbury where we refreshed ourselves with something to drink. The temperature was reaching the mid-thirties already and once again I was glad that I recently bought a summer jacket, although by now it looked like I have played with it in my son's sand pit at home. Nevertheless, we felt good and excited for taking undiscovered roads all the way to Darling. We stopped quite a few times to confirm our location, but strangely enough with a map and GPS we were never sure if we were on the right road. The road from Malmesbury to Darling caused for much excitement as the gravel had already turned into loose sandpits in some places. I remember riding this road a couple of month ago when it was just graded, but this time it was definitely a different ball game. It seemed as if Ettiene's KTM was again leading the pack and once or twice we really felt as if we were floating on air when we crossed  the little sandridges running along the road.  Even though we stayed on the hard sections of the road it was inevitable to cross loose sand all the time and once  appearing from the dust I saw Roodt running along like he was walking on hot coals while trying to stabilize the bike underneath him. I don't have that privilege, my legs are too short and I had to stay upright no matter what. We did eventually arrive in Darling unhurt and there we were riding up and down trying to find the street leading to the West Coast Road. Fortunately the majority of the streets in Darling are not paved either so it also counts as "off road" I guess. When we finally reached the West Coast Road, we stopped for a while and took some pictures, participated in some more bike talk like bikers all over the world usually do and planned our next trip, or at least planned to stay in contact via email until our next trip.

Although we were all heading back to Blouberg, Ettienne left first, followed seconds later by Roodt and finally when I had my iPod in my ears and my gloves on my hands,  I followed suit. Even though I was doing about 140 km/h hoping to get to the beach in time for a quick kite surfing session, I couldn't catch up with the other two who were obviously doing the same speed as me if not more. What a great day. I was expecting a boring road trip to a breakfast venue and eventually ended up having a pleasant day with great guys sharing the same interest than me...biking!

When I reached home the fun didn't end there. The wind was good for kitesurfing and what better way to get rid of the dust than doing it in the ice cold refreshing waters of the Atlantic? Thanks Mother Nature, you really spoiled us. What about the rest of the weekend.....?


  1. Thanks Manie. What a great ride! The sandy Darling road caused a few anxious moments, but the ride was great. It seemed like Ettiene played around while we were trying to stay on top ☺. A brisk 150 km/h GPS speed saw us home in no time. Thanks for a good ride report.

  2. Yeah, I think that is because he let his tyres down and we didn't. Anyway, I think my sand riding course was paying off. It was on a similar road where I had my first fall but this time I was doing quite well. Touch wood for the next one!!