We are meeting up with a local motorcycle rider today!
Actually, it's a friend of a friend whom we were introduced to online; we've never actually met him before. He lives out in Port Elizabeth, which is about 80 kms away from where we are right now. We asked where we should meet him and he told us he'd come to us, because there's good riding roads where we are. Oh okay, cool!
We are given the co-ordinates of a hotel closeby, so off we go! Crossing the Kabeljous River
We arrive 20 minutes later. Judging from all the bikes out there, I think we're in the right place!
Helmets line the tables and there are burnout marks on the ground. Definitely the right place! :)
We don't have to wait long. Jacques has brought another motorcycle friend, Phillip and quick introductions are made. We all grab drinks and get to know each other. Jacques and Phillip are both competition enduro riders and hardcore bikers. They know a lot of the people at the hotel bar and we listen intently as they reminisce about epic tales of races and group rides, hilariously raucous stories of drinking and partying at motorcycle hangouts with names like Angie's G-Spot and Ronnie's Sex Shop!
And this is in the first 10 minutes of getting to know them! I ask if they've had breakfast yet...
Jacques says, "I know just the place", and we suit up to head out
Uh oh... they're both riding big KTMs... You know that if guys show up to a ride on KTMs, then shit's about to get serious!
We swing our legs over our overloaded, faux-dual-sport BMW street-bikes. I'm feeling a bit nervous now...
We take the backroads up to a town called Patensie
The landscape is covered with citrus orchards and tobacco farms. Much different than the Karoo Desert we left back in the Western Cape.
Brunch at a restaurant in Patensie. Too busy talking to take pictures of food, but I had a delicious springbok venison pie!
Game meat is not very popular in North America. Lamb and duck are considered very adventurous for a lot of people back home. I'm finding South Africa's love of all meats, tame and wild, to be much more aligned to my taste buds!
We get to know our hosts a bit more over a sit-down meal. Phillip asked, "How do you guys all know each other?"
"Oh, we were introduced by an Australian rider, Matt, who we befriended when we all carried our motorcycles on a sailboat past the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia many, many years ago!", I explained proudly.
And then Jacques told us he met Matt on a motorcycle trek in Nepal, days before the huge earthquake hit in 2015. Jacques is a doctor, so he spent his time there giving aid to people hurt after the disaster.
Wow! I thought our story of how we met Matt was cool... Jacques' "How I Met Our Friend Matt"'s story was much more interesting - epic, tragic and humanitarian all at the same time!
After brunch we climb back on the bikes. Jacques is trying to find the entrance to this great road he wants to show us, he stops to ask for directions
We find the road, but this is where the tarmac ends and the gravel begins.
I pull over to air down our tires. Meanwhile, Jacques and Phillip stare at us with bewilderment. They're not letting any air out of their tires.
I explain/make excuses that we're carrying a lot of stuff on the back of our bikes so we need to run high pressures on the road. I'm feeling very newbish.
They still look at us like we've got three heads. "Well, if that's how you BMW guys do it...", Jacques says with a huge grin on his face.
Ooooh. Shots fired! So that's how it's going to be, eh? :D
As expected, the KTM guys leave us in the dust. Not because they're on KTMs, but because we are slow...
We're taking a gravel road through the marvelously lush Elands River Valley - Winterhoek Mountains to the far north of us and Elandsberge Mountains just to the south of us. The views are breathtaking! I radio Neda, "*THIS* is what we were missing! I love it!"
We pull up behind the KTMs at the side of road. I joke to Jacques, "Why are we stopping? Do your KTMs need repairing?" :)
Jacques points out to the valley below, "Scenic break!" And it *is* very scenic!
Of course, Neda is very interested in the flowers, she walks over to take pictures
Good thing she doesn't have a tankbag on her bike, or this valley would be missing half of its flowers.
This is a Pincushion Protea. It's cousin, the King Protea, is the national flower of South Africa
One nice thing about traveling with other motorcyclists is that there's always time to take pictures of the bikes!
And now we have pictures of the both of us!
Phillip takes a selfie with the Canadians
Okay, paparazzi time is over, back on the road
Neda is up on the pegs as we ride the ridge overlooking the valley
Compared to the competition enduro riders ahead of us, we are moving at a snail's pace. Phillip drops back to make sure we are doing okay and tails us for a bit.
After a few kms, we start to get comfortable with the tires dancing over the marbles underneath us and our speed picks up. Normally, we do around 60-70 km/h on gravel. But to keep up with Jacques' pace we actually hit triple-digit speeds on the straightaways! We're flying! Neda gives a whoop over the radio. We're feeling pretty proud of ourselves.
And just then Phillip overtakes us like we're standing still.
In his left hand he's holding his cell phone and he's taking a video of us. I nod at him and then notice: he's also smoking a cigarette in his helmet!
Seriously? OMG, we are so slow...!!!
One of the many farms in the Elands River Valley
Rolling hills around us, gravel spitting behind our rear tires, we are having a great time!
We stop for a break at a Farmstall called "The Mooooooo"
Jacques says, "I know this isn't a Starbucks, so I hope it's okay for you BMW guys..."
oooooohh, low blow... :)
Inside, we grab some refreshments. More examples of South African humour on the walls
The sign above the jug of brooms reads, "Mother-in-law's vehicle" in Afrikaans. :D
They make their own cheese in the valley here, it's supposed to be delicious. But we're just here for a quick drink.
Of course, Neda makes a friend
More jokes over drinks in the shade.
The KTM guys joke about how slow we are.
In return, we joke about... how slow we are...
Good times with biker buddies!
Back on the winding gravel road, heading back to Port Elizabeth now
We are staying with Jacques for a few days at his place in Port Elizabeth
Jacques pours us all some drinks in his mini-bar out in the back yard, the good-natured ribbing continues on into the evening
What a seriously fun time we had! This is exactly the kind of ride that we've been craving the last couple of days. We're so grateful that we met up with local riders who could show us the good roads in the area.
We also got to push ourselves a little bit out of our comfort zone. A little bit of excitement, and a whole bunch of laughs!
Thanks to Phillip for the video. Hope you enjoyed your smoke break! :)