Tuesday, 4 January 2011

My first long motorbike journey

I have just completed my first long motorbike journey from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth about 1000 km on my '08 Ducati Monster. What a journey. An amazing experience.

My route was to take me through Bloemfontein and then off the main roads past the Gariep Dam to the Karoo Town of Cradock were I planned to overnight before heading to Port Elizabeth the next day.

I left Johannesburg under cloudy skies and I had only covered about 40km before it started to speckle my visor. The drizzle continued and worsened for the next 160 km till I reached Kroonstad. By which time I was freezing and sodden.

At the cafe in Kroonstad I must have been a real sight. Water dripping from my bike jacket, welling from my boots everytime I moved and creating big puddles on the newly polished floor. I was also so cold that I could not help shivering and shaking.

Three cups of coffee later I was ready to face the road again. The 180km to Bloemfontien was fantastic. This was more like I imagined a bike ride should be. Sun shining, warm, and dry!

About 100 km after Bloemfontein the clouds started to build on the horizon again. This was a much fiercer storm than the previous one. Blustery wind blowing me across lanes. Slippery roads that are being rebuilt, flat landscape with nowhere to hide and pelting rain. A real adventure. It was also very cold. Before the storm my bikes engine temperature was about 125 deg c. but it dropped to about 65 deg c. during the storm. Felt like my legs dropped about the same amount. Jus after the storm I turned off the N1 and headed over the Gariep Dam wall.

From here the ride again was entirely different. The cloud formations coupled with the dramatic rock formations and farm lands were beautiful. The sun was settling closer to the horizon and the shadows were streching across the horizon. I could see my shadow riding along next to me and the roads were deserted.

Well I thought they were deserted as I headed towards my overnight stop. About 40km from Cradock a man runs out into Te middle of a deserted Karoo road. Flags me down frantically. I slow down and on the side of the road I see another man standing and two bikes. I stop next to them and meet two of the local biking clan. Stanley and "Bones". Riding a Honda twin and a Boulevard these two blokes were from Cradock and were out enjoying the sunset and a sundowner on the side of the road. They joined me for the last 40km into Cradock and a cold drink at my hotel. Stanley had been to over 100 motorcycle rallys and Bones was an engineer at the local Water department.

The next morning I headed out to a sunny morning over the passes and down towards Port Elizabeth. I needed to be in PE by 1pm to collect my Wife and kids from the airport before we spent the next 12 days at my Folks place enjoying the sun and surf while they were in Toronto.

A few stops for pictures on the way and a cup of coffee at the Nanaga farm stall before.....yip....one last thunderstorm as I arrived in PE. So I arrived at my folks place soaked again.

But with a soul that was satisfied with an amazing journey.....the simple pleasure of feeling the road under my bike, the sound of it's twin engine rumbling as I stopped for fuel or the friendly waves from other bikers on the open road!

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