29 Nov 2012 – 2
idea of a First Time Trip has been cooking for a while. After the
BIG Cradock to Cradock All Sexes Ride recently Sidecar Africa thought
it the right time to do a shorter more relaxed and laid back ride
to introduce some Ural riders, who are not necessarily so accustomed
to riding their sidecars, to the fantastic experience of an Ural sidecar
I have secretly been plotting (maybe not so secretly?) to get to Kaapsehoop
for quite a while now. The wild horses and some references have made
me curious and when I stumbled across the whole Adam’s Calendar
thing I was hooked – just had to get there doll.
Chrissiesmeer was comfortably enroute and having read a few things
about this part of the world was very keen to experience it before
the whole of Sandton and Hyde Park got there!
Dullstroom, well it worked route wise and more important – there
is fishing in this part of the world.
So long before we get to the fishing, let’s first pull away
at Sidecar Africa in Hennopsrivier.
If ever you want to see what happy smiles look like you must just
come and hang around on the morning a trip leaves – the poster
face of real joy!
up for departure were a fair number of the familiar faces (they just
cannot leave a good thing alone) – Jude & Sheilagh with
Leyla, Mike & Nikki with Alice (all newly painted resembling a
kwagga), Raymond and Bronwyn with Verushka, Alpha & Klara and
the super trusty Lola (she with the most miles on – hahaha!)
and Ryno and Emma with Vlad the Glad! (nobody is allowed to use the
word bad in Vlad’s company).
up for the First Time Trippers – Amanda with her gorgeous white
Agripina. Elize and Hes on Griet (Liewe Heksie’s horse’s
name – very clever) , Deon on the as yet nameless Gear-Up he
rides and Zeta on Sputnik. Nine sidecars in all.
Ryno did a rider briefing going into a little more detail to get everyone
up to speed and we swung into the saddle with our first stop the Wimpy
in Delmas. I had to smile as I overheard someone say: “You take
the Rigel off-ramp and then it’s just dead straight to Delmas”
– technically not the truth but I really got the drift as that
is exactly what it feels like. One does not ride that first stretch
for the fun – it is purely for the Wimpy burger and the knowledge
that once Delmas is behind us the ride changes.
With the Wimpy done and dusted we marched out of Delmas along side
the pylons – over the mealie hills and we keep going till we
get to the cloud factory at Matla. After that the landscape really
picks up aesthetically speaking and soon I have John Denver squatting
in my head and singing in my helmet again – what have I done
to deserve this? Country Roads take me home wha wha wha whaaaa to
where I once belong Wha Wha Whaaa…….
Bethal put an end to that. I don’t think one should say too
much about Bethal – having said that I hadn’t seen Breyten
yet. What a shocker! Between Bethal and Breyten Ry and Ems and Vlad
came to a very muddy standstill. Of course this is met with huge excitement
by everyone and a friendly farmer could not help himself – he
just had to help. The
long and the short of it was that Ryno was riding in the front and
we were all riding on a recently graded dirt road and having graded
the mud it made it impossible to judge how deep or not it was. Personally
I was real glad it wasn’t us. Lola loathes mud as it is usually
a stinky sticky business. Of course it was a brilliant opportunity
for the riders on the Gear-Ups to take out the spades!
Back in the saddle and we rode past places like Davel and Koringkraal.
In no time at all we arrived at Chrissiesmeer where the wonderful
people of St Cloud’s made us feel very welcome. We still had
time to do the cemetery run and have a well deserved drink. Local
lore (my monkey informed me of this) is that there is a grave of an
English soldier who was killed during the Anglo Boer War and every
year for the rest of her life, his fiancé would send money
for a bouquet to be put on his grave to mark the anniversary of his
death.) Also saw a head stone that reads “Here lies an unknown
British soldier” and it just made me feel so sad.
else about Chrissiesmeer made me sad – loved the whole little
place, the people, their enthusiasm, the atmosphere, the scenery and
the braai on Thursday night.
Friday morning dawned magnificently beautiful (as most days riding
sidecars are) and after a hearty breakfast we pointed our front wheels
in the direction of Badplaas. Ryno had plotted a real lekker little
route to get to Badplaas. Nothing strenuous, just gentle country riding
to loosen up and relax into the day.
In Badplaas we all fuel up for the next learning curve – turned
out little more winding than anticipated as we had to make a detour
through the informal settlement due to road works not indicated on
GPS. Must say I loved it – saw some interesting sites and some
very friendly people. Not sure who was more surprised, them or us?
Finally we reached Msoli (a place we had visited the year before with
Neil and Gary on our Badplaas weekend). It really is a very strange
experience to drive through a town that had been abandoned but still
looks if some of the people may be back just now. This time we didn’t
have Nikki to lay on the brunch at the old Country Club so we parked
on the bridge and entertained ourselves snacking and talking and just
shooting the breeze.
Next the riding would be getting a little more demanding and we were
very lucky as the weather stayed fabulous and everyone seemed to enjoy
the more technical dirt riding.
all popped out back on the tar on the R40 close to Oshoek. Descending
from Oshoek to Barberton on this road keeps one on your toes or your
tyres whichever you prefer. The road does not always bank correctly
and the turns go from gentle to mean without warning.
And so one of our riders was no longer on her toes or her tyres when
the other riders came upon the scene. Everyone had a huge fright and
the ambulance fetched the rider. I can report back that fortunately
no bones were broken and no blood spilled but a knee gave way with
some torn ligaments as a result.
Although it was very painful for the rider and everyone had a huge
skrik, we were much relieved once we received the news that she had
not been seriously injured and were to be discharged from hospital
the next morning. I have tremendous respect and admiration for this
particular rider as she is an inspiration, and really really hold
thumbs that she’ll ride again.
all this going on we rode into Kaapsehoop with our spirits dampened.
The weather did the rest of the damping – it started bucketing.
The last of the riders finally rode in just before the worst of the
magic the said wild horses appeared in the mist like real ghosts –
what a treat! Well the rain carried on much of the night and Saturday
morning didn’t dawn – it just drizzled and poured. We
also met up with the Woema people (as in the Afrikaans motorbike magazine
and TV program). They would accompany us on the rest of the trip and
Theunis would join us riding on Hari – yeah!
Early early I already got a call from Enos our guide for Adam’s
Calendar and the news wasn’t good. He didn’t think it
would be worth going in this weather. We had special permission to
go up there with our sidecars and now it wasn’t going to happen.
Yours truly didn’t take this too well and sulked a little in
her helmet. But as always, it turned out that life has a way of sorting
Having stopped just outside Waterval-Boven to bunch up and get everyone
on the same page again, I sulked a little more when I was told that
we could not go and visit the Adam’s Calendar and Stone Circles
museum in Boven. So I could see it but I couldn’t go –
apparently I’m not always gracious when not getting my way and
had the last bit of sulking between there and Farrefontein where we
got off the big road (thank goodness) and back onto our dearly beloved
country tracks. I was sulking so enthusiastically that old John Denver
didn’t even start up!
I wonder about Vlad – I do think it’s personal. There
must be a psychological term for people like me who believe inanimate
objects and machines have it in for them? Approximately 5 kilometres
onto the dirt Vlad’s swing arm broke – clean off. The
final pothole had the last say. Also have to add the pothole would
have been the last straw proverbially speaking as ole’ Vlad
has done some serious riding with his enthusiastic rider. Enough sidecar
flying and some serious Namibian desert riding to boot probably also
added to this.
Of course I had to eat humble pie and my words and my sulking –
had we gone to the museum the rest of the day would have gotten real
late. Now had we gone to the museum maybe the swing arm would not
have broken? Hmmm. See these are the things that keep me awake in
Jokes aside, the swing arm was attached in a way the Russians would
be proud of. With enough ‘blou draad’ and one of Kobus’
out of this world steel cable ties this too was overcome. I also saw
a tyre lever and another spanner in the mix but hey what do I know
just a girl! n Boer maak n plan - which really has nothing to do with
farmers and maps!
Dullies here we come – now we were ready to eat all the pancakes
at Harry’s Pancake Bar. Everyone had a real lekker lunch and
we set off to Greystone Lodge. I was riding so happily listening to
Louis Armstrong in my head that I completely passed the sign indicating
the turn off to Greystone Lodge. I think I prefer Louis to John? Eventually
also realised that I hadn’t seen any lights in my mirrors for
a while and turned round. Sorry!
fishing rods came out and in due course the lines were being flicked
across the surface of the trout dams. They tell me they did catch
It really was with a feeling of utter disbelief that I woke up on
Sunday morning realising that yet again the time had flown. It felt
like a heart beat ago that we started our journey and here we were
saying goodbye again.
Zeta had ridden on to become her own ... and our hero! Elise and Hes
had a wonderful time (how fabulous to see 2 sisters sharing the adventure).
Deon finally slept well and woke up feeling like he could ride all
day and the ‘old’ riders felt like crying in their coffee
because it was home time again.
All I know is I have to get back to Kaapsehoop – I have some
unfinished business there. So – watch this space!
Written by: Alpha Greeff