BL # 14

OK, let’s start just write up.  If I don’t start now, it will take weeks to do (and it did).

Those of you following/reading/enduring my ramblings on Facespace will by now be aware of Erwin and my epic scoot trip over the Dec holiday.

We started off buying 2 scooters for the trip – Erwin got a licence first and then shortly following that a (black with red decals) Yamaha BWS 100, with his first ever experience on a, scooter starting the bike after he had paid for it already. I myself, struggled to find a BWS also, so I got a blue Yamaha Nitro 100 – essentially the same engine and gearing, but more european styled vs the Jap styling of the BWS – both with around 7hp – woah nelly!

I started plotting a route inland up to Port Alfred, where we would meet up with friends of ours for new years.  If you were to follow the main routes, it would add up to just over 800km one way – so roughly 1600km return; but we were not planning on following the main routes, we are adventurous, we are daring, we are not afraid to follow the roads less travelled and we are keen to do what few have tried before us, plus we are semi scared of going on the National roads with 101cc scooters that can’t do 100km/h…uhum not scared, that’s not the right word, we aren’t scared, we are considerate towards other road users. yes, that’s it. So, the route we mapped added up to around 2000km round trip excluding in-town run abouts.

Erwin pulled through to my place late afternoon on the 26th Dec, on a flippen hot summer day, to find me with my scooter pulled right into my lounge, so that I could pack it under the aircon.  I finished packing my bike, we filled them with fuel and 2 stroke oil and we put the bikes in the garage ready for an early departure.  We got some pizza take out and went home to discuss the maps/routes that we will be venturing on.  Within 5 minutes we changed the whole route as the coast seemed a better option riding up, loads of people out and about with the added benefit of the cool ocean air to keep us from drying out like old biltong in the summer heat.

Initial trip route - OK, I deleted the original - but this is the rough outline - the original went past Grahamstown etc.

The morning of the 27th, we had alarms set for 5 am and abruptly got up, strapped remaining things to the bikes, had left over pizza and by 6:01am with the holiday smell of sunscreen fresh in our nostrils, we were parked outside all ready to go and without fail the two scooters rung to life with the deligtful ‘rin-tin-tin-tin’ sound that only a two stroke can deliver.  We decided to skip the Hugenot toll road and tunnel and to head over the Nuwekloof pass which was an excellent idea untill we hit the worst mist that I’ve seen in a while with visibility no more than 10 meters.  The mist so thick that we got soaked from head to toe, visors all fogged up, the pass actually becoming tricky with the tight bends and slippy road markings, but we pushed on to a beautiful sunrise on the other side.  Right next to the Worcester mall my bike started screaming at the top of it’s lungs, suddenly sounding like a 250 2-stroke MX bike, and, like it’s owner it seems my bike is allergic to Worcester and like a lizard sheds it’s tail to fool predators, or its owner that loses his arms when entering Worcester, my scooter decided to shed its exhaust to ward off two tone Honda Ballades, leaving us with a massive headache as the this year for the first time 27th is a public holiday and by that account all shops are closed.

Scooters all packed up and ready to go.

time to go!

Luckily all of Worcester did not get the notice of a public holiday and after a cup of McD’s coffee and a whole helluva lot of phoning around, we starting just riding around trying to spot a place that could help.  We pulled into Midas (one of the places that went unnotified of the new government constituted public holiday) and one of the sales guys there directed me to an exhaust place that was open. We headed off to go and find Millennium Silencers, where Freddy and Freddy had a look and sorted out my exhaust in an hour with some of the finest welding this side of Richard’s bay.  We lost 4 hours to this mishap, but bless you Worcester and your lack of respecting public holidays for getting us up to speed again.  We quickly sped off away from Worcester, before my bike decided to shed a wheel or lights.

Freddie and Freddie fixing my scooter

We had a fairly uneventful ride to Robertson and then on past Bonnievale through the stunningly beautiful Trudouw’s pass, but ran into fairly heavy rain outside Swellendam. We packed rain jackets and emergency ponchos, but funny thing, we never even considered stopping, rain is just water (and in the words of Derek Zoolamder: “water is the essence of wetness”) so we got a little wet. We headed out to Buffeljagsrivier for a roosterkoek lunch and to refuel our machines.  Our plan was to head towards the coast from here and then head up to Stillbay – a plan quickly forgot as we hit the turnoff only to find that the roads leading to the coast are all dirt roads – not something we liked the idea of as tiny wheels and dongas, tiny wheels and stutterbumps and tiny wheels and loose gravel by our calculations does not like one another.  So we turned back to head off to Suurbraak and around the back way to Heidelberg. Around half way to Heidelberg, on a stunning ride, suddenly we hit a dirt road again – wet, muddy, clay, and in our way.  So we decided to just go for it.  Erwin kept a pretty tight following distance and got completely covered in tyre spray from all the puddles, but we made it to Heidelberg in one piece.  From here we had no choice but to go for the N2 dash all the way to Still bay – long, tiring, boring and just as you think you are over it, you get the turnoff – great! except that from the turnoff the damn town is another 30km’s! aaaargh!

Via Suurbraak on a slippery wet dirt road

Heidelberg quick stop to make sure all the bikes' bits are still on

Our lodgings in Stillbay was pretty basic – a maids room in the back that a woman had put us up in – a bunkbed and the use of the bathroom in the house.  But I can tell you as tired as we were from that first leg, I would’ve slept in a field under the scooter.

We met up with Barry and Friede-Marie and later Conrad joined us for a brief night out to Puffies (yes you read right), where someone actually recognized us from seeing us on the road close to Worcester earlier the day, before turning in and passing out.

Early mornings was the name of the game and the 28th followed suit.  The destination for the evening: Knysna.  Pretty smooth sailing – all N2 dash with a quick stop and a chill sesh under some trees next to the lagoon in Wilderness.

We went out in Knysna for a early-ish dinner and then to a place called Zanzibar and saw CrashCarBurn playing there.  The crowd was way younger than us, but for all intent and purposes that did not stop us dancing a bit.  We were however under legal obligation to not even look at the girls without parental consent; you had to be 18 to get in the club, but 18 looks a lot younger these days…  We were staying at Highfields Backpackers in a 6 bed dorm room with 4 other guys and 2 German girls, one of which decided she’s bringing a boy back to the room in the early hours of the morning for some fun – can you say AWKWARD!

We packed our stuff, (by now not nearly as neat or organised as we started off) and pointed our bikes in Jeffrey’s direction, but my scoot felt slouchy, so we pulled into the Yamaha workshop to get an opinion – Willie (the motorcycle guru) there was on top form and super friendly and within an hour had sorted out the weights on my centrifugal clutch as they were starting to wear down from riding only at top speed over long distances.

Accelleration sorted, we headed for J-Bay.  Around 30km outside Plett, you jump off the N2 and head onto the Nature’s valley road – wow!  Stunning scenery, great twisty mountain passes and even some shade under the massive trees.  We head over to the Bloukrans Pass side, which were according to a massive sign, closed for traffic due to rock falls or something of that nature.  We, along with 4 cars decided that that will not stop us from an adventure and so we tresspassed a little.  The result was the most beautiful road I have ever ridden a bike on; overgrown with trees and rockslides covering most of the road surface in some places, it felt like driving through the streets in ‘I am legend’ or like a fantastically-eerily quiet land forgotten by civilization.  Absolutely priceless!  With the scoots we had no problems getting all the way through, dodging tree branches, rocks etc. and out the other end and so we kept on the R102 most of the way up to JBay.

Nature's Valley

Heading into Bloukrans

The overgrown Bloukrans pass - typical section...

JBay in summer is known for a surfer lifestyle, boardshorts, bikinis, slops, loads of people.  The place has a buzz to it, a typical holiday town vibe that unfortunately reflects in their driving style, and fortunately in the sun bronzed legs all round.  Erwin has been a couple of times and so he led the way to Island Vibe backpackers where we were lucky enough to get our own dorm – schweet!

We had a couple of beers and a pretty good in-house dinner (spaghetti Bolognaise – no idea how to spell it) and turned in fairly early. By now our bodies were starting to show signs of weariness from spending between 5 and 7 hours a day on the scoots. My denim shorts – normally supremely comfy – now from sitting on the seam on the hard little seat, felt like I was sitting on a picket fence… not so much fun, no.  Shorts 1: Coccyx 0.  (Just in case you thought I was talking dirty… “The coccyx commonly referred to as the tailbone, is the final segment of the vertebral column in tailless primates.” – in afrikaans known as your steakie, so there).

The 30th was the final stretch of the first half of the journey (see, I’m a ‘glass half full’ kind of guy) with another roughly 230km to go, a lot of which will be N2 and not the nice clean cut N2 Capetonians are used to, this includes a single lane, bumpy, pot holey, rural looking N2 section.  Anyways, we made quick work of the road to P.E. and then after we filled our bikes headed for Nanaga ‘padstal’ for some roosterkoek and a quick break.  If you haven’t yet been, it is worth it to hop in your car right now, no matter where you stay, and make the drive down there for a fresh roosterkoek with salted farm butter, soft cheddar and apricot jam.  Mouth watering on the keyboard as I type this – oh my!

Heading back to the N2 after refuelling in PE

Between PE and PO

Roosterkoek!

Lunch on the Nanaga lawn

We stopped off at some friends in Bushman’s river and got treated to a beer by Francois and Elsabe at a smallish pub with a stunning view overlooking the river.  The drive there (IN A CAR – oh yes, now you’re talking) was pretty schweet and the AC made it especially enjoyable, plus the added bonus – no wind noise for a bit.

Port Alfred quickly drew near and as we passed the sign that says ‘Welcome to Port Alfred’, I did a big air punch and yelled just a little inside my helmet, possibly a girlish sounding happy shriek sound, so I was amped that the helmet kept it all (well, most of it) inside and to itself, except for a bit that reached a cow or two that was standing within earshot and that was the story of the first time I’ve seen a cow look worried and intimidated. True story 😉

We found Nikky’s place and was welcomed by a whole crew of relaxed looking holiday-goers.  I have never been so ecstatically happy to get off a motorcycle albeit a scooter, as this emotion for me normally is for when I hop on; but the bum was sore and the road was long.  Quick meet and greet, semi unpacked, boardshorts engaged, beer in hand the feeling settled in – we have arrived! In one piece.  Alive.  With 100cc scooters. 1000+ km’s. BOOM!  The rest of the day was spent frolicking in the water, laying around, chatting, going for a boat ride with Nix’s dad and transitioning from scoot mode to holiday mode.

Port Alfred - at last!

Golden moment

Sunset boat cruise - From left to right: Bronwyn, Lindsay, Nikky, Fiona, Erwin, yours truly and Jonathan.

The 31st was just beautiful – waking up without an alarm, cheerful pleasant people up and at-em downstairs, the day started off with a breakyand coffee around the table and then moved on to whole lot of relaxing, swimming, watching ‘New Girl’ and trying our luck on the Pumpa Bike.  It starting feeling like a ‘real’ holiday and this is just what the doctor odered after a piercing 2011.

Mid day we headed to the mall and did some shopping with the girls, well, Erwin bought suntan lotion, I bought sweets and we bought some other less important things for new years also.  The girls focussed more on food (Jonathan planned a ‘potjie’ for new year’s eve), and was patiently waiting outside the shop by the time we had explored every isle in the shop.  And by patiently I mean a little annoyed, but still smiling.

Back home we had some refreshments and decided it was time to get the Pumpa Bike going – if you don’t know what it is, google that thing – it is not as easy as those people make it look!  Erwin imho was the winner of the day, making it all the way over the canal to another jetty and most of the way back. the rest of us was just not feeling the rhythm or the ride…

We would have a bit of a dressy new year’s do at the house and then possibly go out to a nearby club after 12.  Dressy poses a problem when packing has to conform to what you can fit into a scooter fitting luggage setup.  So I wore a button shirt and my shorts and brushed my teeth really really well.  The girls were up to the challenge and was looking lovely.  So we had new years, good food, a little bit of shuffeling, loads of laughter, a little ad-lib karaoke and good company.  We hit the club, and was happy that no one at the club hit us… as there, it was frankly on the cards.

Linz hopping on the Pumpa-bike

Friends...uhum

Shuffling a bit

New year's eve

The first was mostly spent lazing around, random banter, watching TV, swimming and chilling in the sun – excellent.  What a place, what a kick ass group of people!

On the morning of the second we set out, sadly leaving the Nix residence (which have now become home in a very short space of time) around 7am heading for our first stop on the return journey – Eersterivier to visit the Kemps.  This as far as riding goes is quite a hectic stretch as we have to go all the way past PE, past Jeffreys and then all the way to Eersterivier (as mentioned somewhere earlier in the post, around 25km from Kareedouw).

Heading back towards home, the first thing you notice is that a 50km stretch feels like it continues on and on for 75km… not a good start.  The first stop for the day was nice and early for a pie (not your average garage pie – this is prime pie – packed to the brim with big beautiful chuncks of meat and a juicy -not at all soggy – filling, covered in a golden brown soft and slightly mallible but flaky pastry, and some or other fancy juice at Nanaga farm stall, before tackling the horrible N2 again.

Going on my petrol guage and based on the assumption still, that Erwin and my tanks are identical in size and that our bikes are fairly similar ito consumption, we turned off the N2, to rather head through Uitenhage to keep the ride interesting and to escape the post new years traffic madness on the N2.

Luckily these little Yamaha motors are very reliable, as the road is bad, and kind of follows a dodgy route past a couple of informal settlements where we don’t really know the area well enough.  After quite a bit of riding on  this little road, we hit a massive hill climbing straight ahead for what seemed to be the better part of a kilometer. Around halfway up the hill, I overtook Erwin had a quick glance in the mirror to see him pulling over.  Doubling back I pulled up next to him, “hy’s leeg ou” (‘it’s empty man’) is all he said and hopped off to start pushing – he was right, which was weird – as my scooter is normally a little more thirsty than his and mine is still running.  I decided to be a sport and switched mine off and starting pushing my bike with him – comeradery is good in a situation like this – it keeps spirits up and moods light…plus, it would be very boring sitting at the top of that hill waiting for him for the next 45 minutes.

We took the distance between telephone posts as marks and pushed 1.5 lengths at a time – not that we are lazy – just because it was a helluva hill, a scorcher of a day and we were pushing bikes, with all of our baggage still on it.

….eventually, we made it to the top of the hill (later referred to by a local as ‘the dominator’ or ‘eliminator’ – who knows!?) and hopped our scooters, delighted to be able to free all the way to Uitenhage – wich is as you guessed it only around 2 or 3km downhill from us.  We pulled into the first Engen filling station and filled both bikes.  Erwin finished first and his scooter sounded to life with the ‘rin-tin-tin’; I closed up my tank, paid the attendant and hopped on, pusing the starter motor the little engine swung eagerly – seemingly excited by a fresh batch of unleaded fuel – just to be let down by a lot of swinging and no actual starting.  My motor was dead.

We tried a couple of things, ran up and down the road trying to run start an automatic 😦   A couple of attempts/ideas came about – everything from following a guy on a miraculously-still-running scooter to Dispatch (a neighbouring town) to go and look for help at a bike shop of a friend of a friend to stripping the bike ourselves with our limited arrangement of tools checking anything and everything. Establishing we still had spark, a local also blew into the carb, to see if he had miracle breath or something else.  Over this daunting period of around 5 hours that we sat there, we saw loads of random Uitenhage sightings – loads of wheelspin, extremely helpful people with a little to very little mechanical know-how,  a good looking girl in a summer dress on a motocross pit bike with a pink motocross helmet, goggles and pink motocross boots that pulled into the shop next to us, and some other random things that will take up too much time to mention.

When a bike breaks down in Uitenhage on a public holiday and you've tried everything else... nap.

So I phoned one of my friend’s dad (oom Leon – whom we would be visiting in Eersterivier that evening), and he said that CK (his one daughter and our friend) have since moved to Uitenhage and would be heading back home later that day.  She was rad and organised a couple of her freinds to come rescue us with a bakkie, and to take us to their place until she was there.  The world is a very very small place, and so we ended up staying one street from where my mom grew up, very close to her high school, right next to her old church – even ran into my old Business Economics teacher Mrs Duvenhage right next door to CK’s friend’s place.  As I said, the world is a very small place, and almost too small for comfort.  Had a lekker braai and a kuier with CK and her bf – Thomas, whom took us in and made sure we were set until we could figure out what to do with the return trip.

We were exploring all possibilities of fixing, possibly shipping, renting a bakkie etc when Stiaan dropped me a message to ask how the trip is going.  I replied with a :”it’s not going currently” to which he offered to come fetch us.  To put this into persepective – Uitenhage from Stellies is a 7 – 8 hour drive – that’s a lot.  Would have taken us 3 days with the scoots.  We toyed with the idea and decided that that would be it – a friend in need is a friend indeed and one who offers to drive that far needs to be rewarded.

Stiaan would head up the next morning after a couple of meetings with a trailer to load the bikes on.

Massive dissapointment fell over both myself and Erwin that our trip has come to such an unforseen end – so abruptly.  So we decided to stretch it for at least another day with Stiaan included.

We woke up the 3rd with very little purpose in Uitenhage – and wandered down to the mall – I say mall, but it is more a couple of shops on the same premises and had a Wimpy burger breakfast with Wimpy coffee – always a winner.  A couple of silver Polo’s had me borderline heart attack and had me diving for cover – (you suck non-number remembering brain) – all cars here have EC plates – sheet! anyways…

We bought meat, liquor and sweets and strolled back to CK’s place, chilling there till the time Stiaan was outside to collect.  Stiaan dropped in fairly late, so we strapped the bikes, and headed for Eersterivier, Erwin and Stiaan inside and myself on the back with my helmet on so that I could listen to music.

Bikes loaded and strapped up

Leaving Uitenhage

We pulled in way after dark with the Kemps and company on the balcony, massive fire blazing, and got welcomed with a hug, a handshake and a drink to follow suit.  I had a laugh when Stiaan told me that he physically had a glass of red wine in hand before he had met anyone – that’s the beauty of hospitality.  This turned into a late night (or early morning) of sitting and chatting around the table, something that we used to do back in the day at Eersterivier over Dec holidays – topics are always interesting; stars, Egypt, God, angels, love, giants, planes, secret weapons, antigravity – you name it, we discuss it.  Eventually though, the four or five people left at the table calls it a night when one or more is asleep at the table and turns in.

Early morning at the yellow house - Eersterivier.

All that was left was heading home on the 4th.  I hit the first stretch on the back of the bakkie – listening to songs, and playing on my phone and we swopped spots after a Wimpy stop in Riversdale.  Erwin on the back, with the smell of suntan lotion in the air and Stiaan behind the wheel, scooters trailing behind, we set off for home.

Bucketlist # 14: Travel an extensive amount of km’s, exploring SA on a small engined bike with a friend or friends. Check.

…even if we did not make it back on the bikes, we had an epic adventure and still love the scoots.

*Sidenote – my scooter is still in the hospital – Piston and rings cooked.

**and some of the photos are ‘borrowed’ from either Erwin or one of the girls.

 

Edit – My scooter is fixed and going better than ever.  New piston, rings, sparkplug cap and clutch weight rollers.  Here’s a photo showng how ‘gaar’ the piston was.

A Good example of how a piston should not look.

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About nox

I am a Product and or Graphic designer... During the day I specialize in mostly MAR design but when night falls; and the curtains are drawn....magic*

2 responses to “BL # 14”

  1. devin says :

    This is the most amazing thing i have read in ages. Big ups for going on this epic small bike adventure! You inspire me!

    • nox says :

      Shot, thanks Devin!
      Super fun trip for sure, epic and crazy, but fun!
      I’ve since stopped writing on my blog, well, not really stopped, just forgot – caught up in too many other things I suppose. But the adventures continue.
      Next time I’m in CPT, I’ll pull in for a coffee at the mancave.
      Cheers

      Francoin

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