Big River Ride 2018

BIG RIVER 10th COMMEMORATIVE RIDE 2018

A four-day 2,000km road trip is a wonderful way to create memories. It is even more special to do it on a Harley Davidson with a group of fantastic people like the members of First Free Chapter Cape Town to amazing parts of our beautiful country. On a bike one is acutely aware of the surrounding landscape with its ever-changing vegetation and topography.

DAY 1 Thursday 9th August.

We celebrated women’s day by leaving the Mother City for an epic adventure. We left home early in the morning in pale moonlight to gather at the Swartland 1-Stop on the N7. We came on 2-wheels, 3-wheels and 4-wheels.  For Gerrie and Monica it was a big commitment to come all the way from Ladismith to join us. Poul-Enjar was determined not to miss out due to a faulty bike and followed us all the way by car. Ammi should have stayed in bed but bravely came in the back-up vehicle & trailer, assisted in turns by the unselfish Rianna and Bruce.  Our newbies Theuns and Magda were most welcome on their first big chapter ride. We greeted one another, fuelled our bikes and got final instructions from our Activities magician, Marianna and our Head Road Captain, Mike.  After a word of prayer we set off northwards in freezing weather with a sneaky wind blowing off the snow-frosted Ceres mountain peaks. Riding through the Swartland we could see fields of new wheat and golden-yellow canola. We crossed the Piekenierskloof pass and into the fertile Olifantsrivier valley with the Clanwilliam dam gushing water to irrigate the many citrus orchards laden with juicy oranges.  Most of us stopped at Klawer and a few at Kamieskroon to refuel our bodies and our bikes. Klawer left Noel a bit flat, but he soon caught up after getting a jumpstart from Bruce. With the magnificent escarpment on our east, we continued up through Namaqualand and on to Springbok. Here and there were early signs of the veldblomme, promising a kaleidoscopic colourful display of flowers very soon. We checked in to very pleasant accommodation at the Springbok Inn. It was bitterly cold and not even a couple of gigglemasters seemed to warm us up. Nico Odendaal also kindly sponsored a round from Bloemfontein Steelwings via EFT. A tasty dinner and then we could rest our weary bodies.

DAY 2 Friday 10th August.

Brrrrrrrr! Another early start was necessary to complete a very full day. We now headed eastwards through hauntingly beautiful semi-arid landscape. We did a detour to the interesting mission station at Pella with an old Roman Catholic cathedral and a date-palm industry.  We stopped at the bustling metropolis of Pofadder with its 2-vehicle traffic jam and single attendant petrol pump for a fuel stop and tasty meat pie.  Then on to the agricultural oasis town of Kakamas with acres of fruit orchards and vineyards watered by the mighty Orange River. We did a detour to see the Augrabies Falls which even though the water was low, still proved to be an awesome sight. We saw many of the curious kokerboom or quiver trees in this region. After interminably slow lunch service, we moved on through Keimoes to Upington. In the distance we could see the brightly lit tower of the Khi Solar One thermal power plant.  We parked our bikes, checked in to the River City Inn and then headed down to the Orange River for our appointment with Sakkie se Arkie. This floating pub-barge took us cruising up and down the river while we relaxed over something cold and snacked on some munchies. A hearty festive meal was enjoyed in the Kalahari O’Hagans Irish Pub & Grill and then to bed.

DAY 3 Saturday 11th August.

Fortunately we had a more leisurely start, although this didn’t prevent some directional misunderstanding which resulted in a strafdop.  Our journey now took us south through very sparse vegetation to Kenhardt for a fuel stop along some roads that were pylreguit and then to Brandvlei. We had lunch at the quaint Windpomp Restaurant.  Final stretch was very windy and we arrived safely at our destination. We booked in to the Calvinia Hotel which was dated but comfortable. A stroll around town was disappointing with the only shops open being liquor stores and a rampant alcoholic problem in town. Despite help from Mike, Zelda was unable to post a letter in the giant postbox. Our last evening was enjoyed with a very tasty braai topped with a few rounds of gigglemasters, Eben proving to be the main culprit. Unfortunately Mr Mike got Saturday Night fever of the wrong kind which forced him to be passengered the next morning. However with drugs kindly provided by our dealer, Gerrie, he had recovered enough to complete the final stretch home.

DAY 4 Sunday 12th August.

After another country breakfast, we saddled up for the final leg of this wonderful trip. We left Calvinia to a cheering group of locals who met at the hotel for a church and breakfast meeting. We dashed past Nieuwhoudtville, stopped for a photo or two before descending the challenging Van Rhyns Pass with a steep drop and hairpin bends. We all made it down safely and stopped at the Bagdad Café. After Vanrhynsdorp we rejoined the N7 with a little U-turn included for skills training. We did a quick fuel top up at Klawer before stopping at Piketberg. Everything has an end (even though a sausage has 2 ends) so we said our final goodbyes, sad to be leaving each other, but happy to be going home. A few of us stopped for lunch. On the ride from Piketberg, through Malmesbury we could see a change in the weather, which had been clear although cold all the way. The welcome sight of Table Mountain covered in cloud came into view, but we all managed to get home dry and safe. Once again a BIG thanks to Marianna for the massive effort you put into planning the trip and sorting out all the details which made it so enjoyable for us all.

Here are some comments.

Armelle De Mey: Merci encore pour ce merveilleux week-end et ces moments inoubliables!  Huge thank you to all for this wonderful weekend!!

Liza van Jaarsveld: Lost and found day. Thanks for an awesome trip with awesome people!

Marianna en Gideon Kriel: Riding the wrong road is not getting lost, it is called "exploring"

Poul-Enjar Hansen:  It was a fantastic week. Thank u for the friendship which everybody showed me. I am so glad I decided to come, even if it was by car.

Theuns en Magda Burger: Veilig tuis na ‘n ongelooflike lekker naweek! Special thanks to all of the organizers. Ons het dit vreeslik baie geniet!

Eben en Marlize Roos:  Dankie vir 'n ongelooflike lekkerrrrrr trip. Veilig ry!

Noel Peagam:  Great trip thanks to all & specially to Marianna for organising.

Bruce Du Toit:  Once again great trip with great people ..thanks al

Zelda Newman: Thank you all. Great trip.

Riana Delport: Dankie julle amal.  Was a great trip.

Gerrie en Monica Haasbroek: Dankie almal vir onvergeetlike naweek

DAY 1 Thursday 9th August  - Cape Town to Springbok about 630km

DAY 2 Friday 10th August - Springbok to Upington about 500km

DAY 3 Saturday 11th August - Upington to Calvinia about 440km

DAY 4 Sunday 12th August - Calvinia to Home about 500km