BMW Bike Fest 2012 - Grahamstown
- Thurs 26 Apr to Tue 1 May 2012
- Overnight in Plett at Julie's parents there and back
- N2 (mostly) there and back
- Stayed at Antique Silk in Grahamstown - superb!
- Mr.Badger won a BMW Waterproof Luggage Roll for being the bike with the highest mileage
- Julie and I came 5th in the gymkhana
Day 1 - Thur 26 Apr - CPT to Plet
Early start - Julie likes to get to her parents early. Prospect of rain means no clever offroad routes or R62 - just barrel down the N2. Funny though, since we never ride the N2, it was quite a change and not at all unpleasant.
Baden Powell drive has a disproportionate number of cars with only one working headlamp. The sunrise over the mountains is spectacular.
Julie really enjoyed this leg, as she is used to doing it in the bakkie and she just loved the way the bike lets her overtake at will and never get stuck in traffic. She was all smiles when we got to Plett.
Julie's mom really laid on the dinner, and after I stuffed myself brought out a delicious lemon pudding.
It stormed and rained all night.
Day 2 - Plet to Grahamstown
Rain stopped. We decide not to ride with rain gear on.
The weather cleared, except for the thunderstorm in my head when we went through the f#$% Tsitsikama toll. For Julie and me, R72. For a car, R36. For a combi with 4 passengers and a trailer with 2 bikes, R36. F#$%!!! I was determined never to pay that toll again, and you will see how later.
We get to Grahamstown around 3pm and go straight to our cottage at Antique Silk. Marion and Sid welcome us. The place sleeps four, and the fridge has a litre of milk, and we are told the coffee, sugar and rusks are bottomless - just ask for more when you need it.
Soon, Julie's cousin Wendy from Jo'burg arrives. She and her husband Tony rides a 650 GS, and they came down in a combi with a trailer. The combi is great - it means we can go to the functions at the 1820 Settler's Monument by car rather than in riding kit.
At the monument, registration is efficient and easy. The goody bag has a beautiful blue golf-shirt with a great design. Wild horses could not keep Tony away from the vendor stalls (I think it's a Jo'burg thing). We buy long-sleeve tops from Wild @ Heart, and Greg Beadle's book Bike South Africa (which paid for itself ito usefulness during the trip because it has interesting route descriptions and a 115-page detailed road map of Southern Africa). The book has many pictures of people we know (like Wayne and Jo').
The opening ceremony involves firing of various cannon outside the monument, by some fellows in period costume. Quite entertaining. Little did we know that we would be running into their friend in Fort Beaufort tomorrow.
Day 3 - Hogsback on tar
Wendy is a novice and recently had an incident on gravel so did not want to ride gravel at all. Tony has just recovered from broken ribs and sternum, so did not want to take chances. Since I get enough dirt riding in elsewhere, I was happy to ride tar and lead this group.
Our route was to Fort Beaufort via Ecca pass, then on to Hogsback via the Hogsback pass. Even on tar, on a straight road, the group was riding at under 80km/hr - this was going to be a long day.
The plan was to have breakfast in Fort Beaufort, and to visit the museum and Martello Tower. As we got there the museum opened, and we were held captive by the curator Moose, who highlighted all the interesting things on display.
There are only two of these in the world apparently, and this is the only one not at the coast. Next stop Hogsback.
We rode through beautiful countryside, then up the Hogsback pass which is just awesome.
At hogsback we had tea and scones at the Arminel - the hotel Julie and I stayed at on our honeymoon almost 22 years ago. The waitress serving us had been working there for 23 years so was there when we were - funny, I couldn't remember her...
After tea we had to rush back to Grahamstown - the gymkhana starts at 3, and we had just enough time to make it if I can keep the group moving at the speed limit (which thus far they only occasionally managed).
This is a fun event with great prizes. As a twist, it was for rider and pillion only, not single riders. Unfortunately only 10 bikes entered - none of them road bikes, even though the event was designed for them. Julie and I entered (of course), and I was most pleased that Julie was prepared to compete with me - she even spoke about possibly entering herself with me as pillion, and from past experience this means that next time that is what we will do.
The first event was a slow race, with penalties for putting your foot down or riding over the tape. Points awarded for slower times over the course.
I had registered first, so Julie and I rode each event first. This was a disadvantage as we could not learn from others. At registration, a youngster named Craig discovered that he needed a pillion. So he called his mommy. His team was called 'Craig and Mom'. Over the competition and during the Fest Julie and I got to know this family from the South Coast - great people, all of them riding. Craig and Mom came second overall. Mom and Dad also did well.
The last event for the day was diabolical: pushing the bike backwards up a gradient through a course of cones.
There were different strategies, and since we went first we did not have the benefit of seeing how other options work. We elected to have Julie pull the bike from the back, while I steered and balanced. At one point we were pulling against each other, and our time was very slow overall. And boy were we shattered after that! Next time we would do it like the people in the picture - a person on either side of the bike. Also, if Julie and I were on Brenda Buttercup the whole thing would be a lot easier.
A father and son pair whom we had met en route to the Fest: the son was young (12 or so) and offered himself to be a pillion for anybody in need of one for the competition. Being small he would be almost unnoticeable, but this event would have been a struggle.
By this stage Craig and Mom were tied third, with Herman (from Country Trax) and his pillion Mandi (our 'Mundi') in the lead, and Julie and I fifth.
The finals were held over for the next day, and we started in the same positions as we finished the next two events:
- Basketball: the pillion has to drop 3 balls into 3 buckets along a course, with a time limit (we got 2 out of 3, as did most others), and
- Egg and Spoon race: the pillion is carrying an egg and spoon in each hand, while the rider negotiates a timed course. I accelerated too enthusiastically out of the final turn and we lost both eggs and were disqualified
Herman and Mandi won, Craig and Mom came second, and I forget who was third overall.
Mr.Badger wins himself a prize
BMW had sponsored a number of prizes, many of them giveaways for various attributes, like 'youngest/oldest combined age of pillion pairs' (can you believe that for a few minutes Julie and I thought we might be in with a chance (for the youngest!)). There was also the oldest bike, the furthest distance traveled to the fest, the smallest lady hands, and the one Mr.Badger walked away with: the highest mileage. The nearest rival to Mr.Badger was Brenda Buttercup, and then another hopeful who thought he had a chance with 123 thousand km. (Brenda is at 127, and Mr.Badger at 172).
The luggage roll is perfect for my needs. In fact, I put the togbag with rain cover that I was carrying on the back seat, into the luggage roll along with a whole lot of other things that were jamming up my tank bag.
Naturally, being the owner of a waterproof bag means that now I will never end up riding in rain again!
Day 4 - Bathurst and Port Alfred on dirt and tar
You know it's going to be a good day when you wake up to a sight like this:
Breakfast planned in Bathurst (nearby) with Julie's Aunt and Uncle (cousin's parents) - with Julie and I going via the dirt route, and the cousins staying on tar (R67).
This dirt road was pure fun - not too difficult, but interesting all the way. For a while I rode behind Julie, and was proud of the perfect lines she rode. She is really coming along.
All too soon we were in Bathurst, having breakfast with the family and browsing the shops and book fair. Turns out the book fair was a way down the road, and Julie and I were taking strain walking in our heavy GS boots. So we flopped down on the grass and let the family continue.
We saw an older couple embark on the same road, carrying helmets and whatnot. I tried to warn them to bring their bike, but it is an 1100RT so not happy riding down that dirt road. We had a long chat with Don and Jackie McDonald of Hermanus. They were members of our club but cannot make meetings and only occasionally ride with the club when we go that way.
They won the highest combined age prize, and we ended up bumping into them at every stop on our way back home. The rest of our route with the cousins was on tar to Port Alfred. Since we are very familiar with that town we did not dally and made our way back to Grahamstown via Kenton-on-sea and a road that ran along various game reserves.
It was a good decision:
We saw many animals and stopped a few times. We got to Grahamstown just in time for the start of the gymkhana finals. Chatting to the other competitors, we all had to cut our rides short in order to compete, and perhaps this event can be moved to later in the day.
The closing function
Again the blues band set a festive mood. The food was better and more plentiful. The current superbike series in SA leaders on their 1000RRs were presented and autographed posters. More generous prizes were handed out, sponsored by various suppliers including our own Wild @ Heart. There is a bike-towing device that has just been developed, that tows a big bike by the back wheel (so it rides behind the bakkie on the front). Two people presented themselves to get one at a 10% discount, and one of them won the lucky draw of a free 'BikeBuddi'.
Day 5 - back to Plet
As we leave Grahamstown, Julie remembers that we have not inflated our tyres from the day before. Luckily I carry a pump, so we fixed that at the N2 onramp overlooking Grahamstown.
Breakfast at the Nanaga Farm Stall - where we run into Craig, mom and family again. A very chatty breakfast. Nice people.
We avoid the mind-numbing Humansdorp stretch by turning off at Jeffries Bay and riding parallel to the N2 on the R102. Good decision - the road is fast, interesting, and has low traffic. We see a lot of vervet monkeys and a puffadder.
Typical South African - the sign to Bloukrans pass is crossed out and says the road is closed. Julie does not want me to take her there. Heart in mouth we go anyway. Get some comfort from a convoy of bakkies on the same road. But they turn off at Coldstream and we get to a mound of sand blocking the road. But there is a gap through onto the pass. Julie says that when she went through, she thought the whole pass was going to be rough dirt.
The pass is beautiful, and made more interesting by moss and rocks on the road.
As you come out of the pass, cross the N2 and go through Nature's Valley. This way we missed the toll road altogether and had a fantastic ride! Julie and I were jubilant.
Soon we were back in Plet having lunch with Julie's parents.
Day 6 - Plet to Cape Town on the N2
An uneventful trip - Julie and I just sailed down the N2. Once again a great trip to a superb event.
Unfortunately the BMW Motorcycle Club Cape was not at all well-represented. However, this will change next year: the event is scheduled for 21st March at Goudini Spa - so pencil in that weekend. Our club is the host.
Finished this trip report at last - we had a blast!
Great report thanks Charles.
Nice one Charles. I wish I'd been there. Next year for sure.
Think your report owes you a trophy...well done great reading.
Baie dankie vir lekkerlees report.
Dis met baie nostalgie dat ek dit lees. Ek is in Fort Beaufort gebore (in die hospitaal oorkant die Martello toring). Die FB museum is baie groter en interessanter as wat mense dink - hy lyk maar so vaal van buite... Een van die klein kanonne op sy voorstoep kom van ons plaas af (ons plaashuis en skuur was 'n oornag-fort in die Grensoorlog se tyd).
Ons het ook eenkeer die "poor man's game drive" naby Alexandria/Kenton gery (die naam kom daarvandaan dat jy tussen klomp wildplase deurry sonder omte betaal...) sien http://www.bmwmccc.org.za/kariega-ecca-bathurst-die-ooskaap
Het julle die Woody Cape roete gery (Alex tot by Boknes), deur 'n ongelooflike stukkie woud en al langs die see? sien http://www.bmwmccc.org.za/woody-cape-alexandria-cannon-rocks-boknes
Eisch, ek verlang na daardie wereld!!!! Daar is baie paaie en elkeen het iets besonders.
Yes, Julie and I rode that stretch from Alexandria past Woody Cape when we did Baviaans (she was pillion in those days). We still remember the beauty of that road with fondness. Woody Cape has stong memories for me - during the PE to EL ski race you come in at Woody Cape for an overnight stop, and the surf is usually enormous and difficult to negotiate on a surf-ski. Did it when I was 16 and 18.
Sounds like a blast.
I think next year's date is much better as it doesn't clash with all the April long weekends.
Now I have had time to read it, nice report Charles.
Brought back memories of my little stay in that little town.
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