Canopy tour 26 April – 3 May


At last 8 bikes and 11 people confirmed to take part in the tour. Accompanying us was Chris & Lindie in the Peogeot Boxer towing the trailer as backup and Deon & Lynn that only rode along up to Oudtshoorn.



                        The group before take-off at Atterbury Shell. High spirits


The bikes partaking was 3x RT’s with Johann & Marisabel Strauss, Johan Maree & Nick Sendall, 2x 1200GS’s with Abe, Sue & Tammlynn Coetzee, 2x 650Gs’s with Trudie Maree & Elaine Barkhuizen & a RS with Richard & Ann Szalek.


Our route took us to Bloemfontein then via Koffiefontein to Beaufort West for the second night, three nights at the Dijembe Backpacker’s lodge in Stormsriver, the 6th night at Graaf-Reinet and the last at Ladybrand. Seven days of biking totalling more than 3250km’s through parts of South Africa’s most popular scenic and routes.



The passes


Of all the passes ie Swartberg, Naude’s Neck, Bloukrans, Outeniqua and many others the Swartberg and Bloukrans will be remembered for different reasons.


The Swartberg Pass through Meiringspoort is incredibly beautiful and it is a shame that one has to travel by vehicle through it. The majestic mountains and up to 6x crossings of one single river, each with its own typical name is just too much to absorb in one passing. That pass asks for at least a day where one can stop, get out of your vehicle and just sit quietly listening to the emptiness of this beautiful paradise. A compliment to the roads department of the area for keeping the standards up and safe. We did not see a piece of paper or litter anywhere and the halfway stop and ablutions were splendidly neat and kept-up. Someone actually suggested that one should ride the pass without a helmet to feel the mountains around in totality.


A recent landslide scene in the Bloukrans road reserve. Johann & Richard in the fore ground


The Bloukrans Pass on the other hand is a completely different story: Being the original route through the Tsitsikamma forests between Sedgefield and Stormsriver this pass is presently closed for traffic and only passable with bikes – at one’s own risk. Due to the newly built N2 up the hill the use of the original pass with its numerous hairpin bends at very slow speed it came being used very little by passing through traffic. Hence the derelict and allowing to fall into disrepair. A number of landslides also resulted in the pass not being able to be used by 4 wheelers and at places on the inside of hairpins one can see that the ground is actually sagging and making ready for a landslide in times to come.

The scenery is however tremendously beautiful and it will be a sorrow day when one cannot go down the pass anymore to experience this wonderful piece of old road engineering. Although understandable that the new N2 tollway uphill is taking the full strain it is just maybe possible that the local parks board allow some sort of concession to people who still want to venture down memory lane.


Outeniqua pass between George and Uniondale is again another experience where you venture up the mountain in long sweeping bends ideal for biking, up into the cool mountain air that takes you away from the coast with its typical smells and aromas. Back into the inland that inevitably takes you closer to home. A feeling that usually brings a feeling of nostalgia that the trip is over halfway and that we’re on our way home!



The Ride


Some of our mates had other commitments in the area and had to split away to their own destinies while the others carried on the chosen route only to be re-joined after a day or so. Every time a pleasant experience to meet up again with people that we haven’t really known well before the trip but in this short time became a close knitted bunch of bikers who all looked out for the others and were always there to lend a hand when it was needed. Never was there a token of unpleasantness amongst the bikers and the end came just a bit too quick for everybody.



            One picture says a thousand words…


We usually rode in staggered formation where the leader set the speed. It was allowed to pass when one wanted to clean barrels somewhat and that usually happened in far outlying stretches of road where one could see so far into the future that it had to happen to get away from real life. Chris and Lindie in the Boxer tagged along at the rear trying to keep up but also enjoyed the ride at their leisure.


In urban areas we always adhered to the local speed limits where possible. At one instance I the leader at the time was stopped by officials claiming I was speeding. They were friendly and we had a few good chats and laughs. Richard even challenged them to their laser’s accuracy and went back to set a stable 60k/h GPS speed. Arriving at the scene the laser was spot-on – also at 60. Well, that cancels that argument of speeding. They said I was doing 71km/h in a 60 zone. Well I didn’t argue and accepted my fine of R150 with grace but was still annoyed by the rules. The law says that we get 10km/h grace when caught speeding so they were only stopping “offenders” from 71km/h as in my case. As I personally can walk faster than 1km/h I feel it is not fair to fine me R150 for a speed of 1km/h. Or is there something wrong with my reasoning?



Anybody recognising this bum?


While still in Bloemfontein Johann Strauss suggested we take the Koffiefontein/Phillipstown road to Hanover rather than the boring N1 with (what we learnt later) the many Stop/Go detours that would’ve taken up a few hours of idle waits. This suggestion took us on another road of life that none of us expected could happen to us. More later.



Zipline Tour


The highpoint of the trip was the Zipline in the Tsitsikamma over the Kruisriver where one slide on a Foefieslide 8 times across the river. The longest slide being just over 200m long. At the beginning everybody looked forward to this experience but when our bus that collected us from Dijembe lodge stopped in front of the building and our group got out and saw the harnesses, gloves and helmets they had to don some got very quiet. The funniest jokes came out only to show/hide the little fears that are creeping up. It takes a walk of about 7 minutes to reach the first slide and then most where quiet when the instructor explained the rules and safety principles. Tammlynn refused to slide first and first wanted to see someone else do it. The dice fell on her father Abe who just couldn’t wait to go.




Lindie after the first slide: “I tried to scream, but nothing came out…”

            Trudie coming in for the landing



            Nick Sendall enjoying the ride


            Tammy’s perfect landing

From the second slide everybody’s confidence rose in bounds and leaps and the chatter and jokes never stopped after that. At about the 4th we insisted that the first were not good and wanted to do everything over again. This from people too scared to say a word in the beginning!. The best landings was performed by Marisabel, no doubt.


Most of us complained of sore stomach aches the next day.



The lodge, the dog, the singer, the stick and… Marisabel


Abe, Sue, Tammy along with Richard enjoying the slide show.


The second evening at Dijembe in Stormsriver we all decided to arrange our own braai around the campfire on the premises. At the time I loaded everybody’s pictures to the laptop where possible and had it running as a slide show for the evening. Everybody spent some time at the show while others braaied, drank, talked (mostly nonsense) and others just being quiet and enjoying the cool coastal evening. At one time Chris and Abe tried to outwit each other with their respective knowledge of old rock, folk and pop songs and singers.

            Jerry the Singer


Early the evening we heard the sound of a guitar somewhere outside the perimeter of the stand and then a male vocal song followed the cords. Wow, that sounded good! Richard, being only Richard, jumped the fence in the direction of the singing and came back with a male living body holding a guitar. The offer; the man will sing for us as part of his usual evening practise for no fee at all, only his glass had to be kept to the brim. What a bargain, a singer doesn’t have a lot of time to drink when he sings! I think his name is Jerry, and he did a splendid job that evening.


Then there is the dog called Tiger. The lodge dog that is friendly with everybody that visits the lodge and his stick – a piece of log about 40mmdia and 100mm long that he brings to your feet to throw. If you don’t respond quickly he will bump you with his nose to attract attention. This never stops. If he is not happy with the way you throw he will choose another person. So he came up to Marisabel where she was sitting about 3m to the left of Jerry the Singer. While Jerry was tuning the strings before another song Marisabel picked up Tiger’s log and throws… WaKlang! Straight on the soundbox of the guitar. Jerry the Singer, nearly off his chair with shock. And the poor dog looking for his log further away!


Marisabel never took another throw that trip…



The dinner at Armagh


The last evening at Stormsriver we decided to dine at the local Armach restaurant. I took the liberty to SMS the participants as they were al over the area not to buy hamburgers as we will dine at Armagh. The ladies polished and the men spitted as best they could. As only some of us have visited the restaurant earlier no one really knew what to expect. We all decided to stroll down to the place – biking is sometimes a nuisance, but only very sometimes. Our tables were set as per previous booking and all took their places and ordered something to wet the throats before dinner. Now, I must explain this restaurant is not the normal steakhouse or Spur. The choice on the menu is very limited, although ala cart, short and sweet, only two pages, including desserts – but very tasteful for the buds that like something different and spicy at times.


We did not reckon with our friend in the group, let’s call him “Anonimous”.


As all were looking and considering the choices Anonimous called out: “This cannot be the whole menu. Where is the rest?” We all burst out laughing, realising there is no hamburger or any similar on offer! Anonimous then decided to order Malva pudding as starter, main course and dessert. Poor Ano! The waitress realised his predicament and they negotiated a dish that pleased him somewhat – linefish (dry with no dressing), rice and salad. Upon arrival he removed the salad to a small plate and we helped him devour the salad while he enjoyed the fish & rice.


The “Toll Gate”


Just before Koffiefontein after an enjoyable straight stretch of riding we stopped at a narrow bridge over the Riet River for a leg stretch and waiting for the backup to catch-up. Richard being Richard and never seize to exploit any situation started stopping all traffic passing us claiming that a new toll gate is being opened at this spot and payments are being demanded. All motorists saw this as quite comical and enjoyed the joke. But then

            Richard waiting for his payment – the Zoll!


there was one other. A cart pulled by two mules came trotting down the hill and Richard couldn’t resist this opportunity. The driver tried to stop them and make a u-turn but these mules were on a mission and wouldn’t budge. They stopped right where Richard were waiting for them! The driver could not pay the R1-00 toll fee due to lack of funds but then offered Richard a zoll as payment. A BB zoll, not grass.

            Chris & Lindie looking on


One motorist even enquired whether we are the secret police on a mission! Must have been the “Think Bike” yellow jackets giving the “secret” away!



The short fall and the high fall


The first morning before breakfast at Dijembe after a good night in the tent Ann got dressed and was in high spirit. We decided to ride the Bloukrans pass that day and she couldn’t wait to get going. As usual she was dressed properly as a biker but there was just one flaw… She wore Harley Davidson boots. Being as she says the closest she will ever get to a Harley with Richard a stern Beemer rider. Now these boots have leather soles and are more for the looks as for ankle support – but she looks quite sexy in them high heels. That morning with the dew still wet on the pillion pegs and Richard anxiously waiting for her to get on behind him her one Harley slipped and down she is on the lawn. Bones in the light! Not long enough though for more people to enjoy the fall nor getting wet on the dewed lawn and she is up this time properly and blushing.


Tammlynn on  the other hand had a way different fall.


From the beginning Abe and Tammy was set to do a bungy at the Bloukrans bridge – being the highest bungy in the world! Their jump was supposed to be after the Zipline and we all were anxious to see her do that fall after her frightful experience at the slide. The video they brought with after their fall showed Abe doing a graceful swallow dive into the river gorge. Tammy well… shame poor Tammy. Even while she was being tied up for the jump she changed her mind. But then there is no mind changing allowed. We could hear her calling “NO NO I don’t want to go anymore” but the helpers with her arms around their necks just moved her closer to the jump pad and very polity undid her arms and gave her a gentle shove over the edge.


Oh, that scream!!! Much better than the scream at The Zipline



The suicide


On our way to Beaufort West on the second day all the bikes stopped at Petrusville to fill up. As Chris was still OK Richard suggested he push on as we will catch up soon. Time was running out and we still had to cover some 315 km’s to Beaufort. As I was the tour leader and usually in front with Abe doing the occasional sprint past to clean the barrels it was a certain act of God to sent the Boxer in lead.


Nick, Chris and me waiting at the scene for the roll-back to take tha Boxer away


Two km before Phillipstown with Lindie driving, they suddenly saw a man came running towards them in the oncoming lane from the front and just before they passed the runner the man dived into the front of the moving Boxer. The runner was thrown about 13m to the left of the shoulder and 50m back from where he came. Very dead and broken. At first Lindie was so shocked she asked Chris what se must do now and he said she should stop, they’ve been in an accident.


The Boxer afterwards.


The Police and other members of the small community were on the scene very quick and upon recognising the victim stated he wanted to commit suicide and all tried to sweet-talk him out of it.


That day he succeeded… and poor Chris sits with more than R30k damage to his Boxer with radiator and full frontal wrecked. The Boxer was lifted onto a rollback back to Gauteng for repairs and we called on our Isuzu to come down to hook the trailer and complete the trip.


Such a waste of life and good money!



Next year?


Why not the Route 62 from Worcester to Stormsriver and the Canopy Tours in the treetops of the Tsitsikamma Forest? Without the suicide though!



Halloooo? Anybody there????