André: BMW R1200GS
The Moose: BMW R1200GSA
Fox: BMW R1200GS Triple Black
Dgener8: Truimph Tiger 1050
Cycad: BMW R1200GSA
Esiotrot: Aprilia Pegaso 650
Mags: BMW R1200GS
Vinkie: BMW R1200GSA
Incorrigable: BMW R1200R
Swallow: Harley Davidson 1200 Sport Custom
Busafreak: Kawasaki ZX14
Elouise: Kawasaki ER6F
xBlommiex: Honda CB600 Hornet
Desimaal: Yamaha XT1200 Super Ténéré
Colyvon: Honda CBF600S
Cagers and Cages:
747: Slow little cage of some description
Aquaman: Fast little cage of some description
Kroonvaal Engen 1-Stop
Kroonstad Shell Ultra City
Thursday, 9 August:
We all left for Oviston, early the morning of Women’s Day. It was incredibly cold and would remain so all weekend long. Man alive, that we did not all freeze to the road must be some kind of miracle! So, the groups decending on Oviston were:
Fox and Moose: On their own mission via some other Freestate dorps.
Swallow: All alone from Jeffreysbay.
Cycad: All alone from East london area.
The rest: All from the Grasmere Engen 1-Stop.
Did I mention it was cold?
Apart from freezing all our parts off, the ride was enjoyable. We made reasonably good time, except for waiting for a long … LOOOOOONG …. really, very long time for our breakfast at the Steers at the Kroonstad Shell Ultra City. By the time our breakfast arrived we could call it brunch! They had some excuse about a tour bus also arriving at the same time, but man alive, these guys turned a fast food joint into a slow food joint. By the time we left we must have lost at least an hour.
Did I mention the cold?
We remained in good spirit though. Typical bikers. We were all irritated by the long wait for breakfast. We were all suffering from the low temperature. We were all having fun riding and bragging about how cold exactly we were. I think Blommie won as he was riding with a summer jacket up to Kroonvaal, where 747 loaned him his winter jacket. He must have had the most fun freezing his stuff off.
The first time I saw double figures for the temperature was after noon and then for only a short time. I can easily say that this was the first time ever that I rode with my winter gloves on during the midday period. For most of this ride I thought may heated grips had packed up as I could not feel them working at all.
Did I mention the cold yet?
After a piccie stop on the Gariep Dam’s wall, we faced the last 50km or so to Oviston. We met up with Swallow close to town, found our accommodation. During booking in we were faced by a few surprises! What Siloam Village in Oviston describes as a bungalow, is in fact a dormitory containing many, many bunk beds, none with any bedding. We had somehow missed the fact, during the booking process that we were booking into a place that caters for school tours, i.e. no bedding, no towels and very little private accommodation. Fortunately some of us managed to get into the main house (call it teacher’s area) so we had private rooms and minimum bedding. The rest of the guys had to make do in a dorm. Some did bring bedding and towels, but mist never got that memo so we were without. The manager of the resort managed to loan some bedding in town and Aquaman drove into town where he bought a few towels. All in all, we were now sorted. Apart from this misunderstanding, Siloam Village is not at all a bad spot for a day or so and the food was beyond reproach. I enjoyed the stay here.
Dgener8 and Desimaal's bikes at Gariep Power Station.
Vinkie's GSA below the Gariep Dam wall.
The group on the Gariep Dam wall.
Our back up vehicle. Not much space, but at least it could keep up!
Did I mention it was cold?
Some of the team rubbing hands, discussing their frozen fingers.
Friday, 10 August:
A group of us decided to go for a “round the dam” ride. Cycad decided to visit a friend in the area and Dgener8 and Swallow decided not to ride with. Dgener8 loaned his bike to Aquaman who joined us for the ride around the dam. We followed the R390 from Oviston, through Venterstad to Bethulie. On the way we crossed over the Gariep River via one of the longest road and rail cobined bridges I know off. It measure just over a kilometer. We stopped for a piccie opportunity on th ebridge before riding in Bethulie for a garage pie and Coke break.
We then followed the R701 from Bethulie back to the Gariep Dam’s wall. This time we did not cross the river on the dam wall, but rather lower down on the road bridge next to the Eskom Hydro Electrical Power Station. When you look at that dam wall, from this angle, it becomes almost scary, thinking about all the water that it holds back.
From here it was a short and enjoyable 50km run back to Oviston. The ride was very nice, but spoiled a tad by a severe wind that was building over the area.
On the long road/rail bridge.
Gariep Dam Wall from the road bridge directly downstream from the wall.
Saturday, 11 August:
In fact, on Saturday we could not ride at all due to the powerful wind. One or two of us did brave the wind, but they did not go far. It was just to darn unpleasant and dangerous. This did not bug most of us as we enjoyed just hanging around chatting and getting to know each other better.
During the night the wind got worse and it started raining, so most of were wondering about the possibility of getting extra leave to stay longer. None felt like the ride home in that terrible weather.
Sunday, 12 August:
Thankfully, the weather cleared up and on Sunday morning, time to hit the road back, the rain had stopped and the wind was down the manageable levels. We were all a bit sad as we packed, loaded and said our goodbyes. Fox, Swallow and Cycad went their way toward the Eastern Cape. Blommie made for Hartenbos and the remainder of us, aimed for Gauteng. It was a hard and difficult ride in the cold and the strong winds, but we all remained in good spririt as we rolled the rubber homeward bound.
All made their respective final destinations safely and soon the 2013 event was under discussion on the Think Bike forum. I will certainly do it again and I hope more Think Bike members will join up this time.