Friday, July 15, 2011

Winter Rally - Day 1


Friday Morning 15 July, Harley Davidson Tyger Valley:

This shop is all a bike shop should be. Lots of bikes & merchandise, friendly staff and even a coffee shop to bide your time while the wife is doing real damage to your credit card...
(wait, shouldn't that be the other way around? )

Something I noticed on the previous Harley Rally already was the amount of lady riders on Harleys. In fact, in this group we started off with more lady riders than men.

Out of the city and traffic we headed for Du Toitskloof Pass and we really started to settle into the ride. This bike rides like a dream.

The Du Toitskloof Pass was completed in 1945, until then the main route to the north was via Bainskloof Pass near Wellington, through Michelll's Pass, and then through Ceres to Sutherland and beyond. Some 500 Italian POWs interned in Paarl provided some of the manual labour to build the pass. At the end of WWII, most of the POWs returned to Italy, and the pass was completed using local labourers.

The historic Du Toitskloof tunnel.

This pass used to carry heavy traffic so in 1984 construction on the new Huguenot Tunnel began. This new and modern tunnel would run under the mountain cutting out a huge portion of the pass and shortening the route by 11km.  The new tunnel was completed in 1988, leaving this portion of the pass as an alternative route with much less traffic - perfect for bikers.

Just check out the scenery!

At Nekkies more riders join our group. Chance for a quick chat and introductions.

From Nekkies we ride to Robertson where the Breede River HOG Chapter recently opened their Club House. What a nice spot!

This might be a Harley Club house, but some Wild Dogs also made their mark.

I also spotted the collage I made after the previous Rally on the wall:

Soup, Sherry & Vetkoek to ward off the cold before we hit the road again. Robertson - Aston - Montagu.

From Montagu we ride through the Kiesie Valley and over Burger's and Rooihoogte passes to link up with the N1. This beautiful area is known as the Koo.

Burger's Pass (or Koo Pass) was built by Thomas Charles John Bain (1875-1877).

Divisional Councilor (Montagu) Piet Willem van Hesland Burger improved the pass in 1943 - 1951, completing the construction with a gravel surface and inproved gradients. He was honoured for his continued efforts to improving the road when it was renamed Burger's Pass at the official re-opening on 18 May 1951. The pass was tarred in 1960.

Looking back into the Keisie Valley from Burger's Pass:

I am told that during spring this is a froth of pink and white fruit blossoms. I have to come and have a look in a couple of months.

After ascending Burger's Pass you ride over a small plateau before riding up Rooihoogte Pass. Rooihoogte Pass has some very steep curves and a tight hairpin bend, perfect for bike riding.

The view looking back:

And the mountains in the distance gave us a constant reminder that we are heading to Sutherland - in the middle of winter!

A quick stint up the N1 takes us to Matjiesfontein, the famous English Karoo town with its splendid museum, Hotel and other historic buildings.

The Lord Milner Hotel, an authentic vestige of Victoriana, still operates like in it's days of past glory. Firefly and I really would have liked to spend more time here.

What an amazing town. There is so much to see! Firefly and I decided that a trip to Matjiesfontein is a MUST in the near future.

But for now, we had a different destination...

It was late afternoon already as we snaked along the last 110km to Sutherland.

And finally our destination for the weekend - "The White House":

How apt for a gathering of American bikes.

We were among the first to arrive...

...but not for long.

With the formalities out of the way the party could get started.

Cold? What cold?


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