Road Tripping is not so much about the destination as it is about the ride. Taking roads less travelled, stopping often, going nowhere slowly.
So when I saw the BMW 1600GT standing on the press fleet, getting no love, I decided to take it out for a Road Trip!
Our route started in a town called Philadelphia. A small town with a beautiful church. If you ever have the chance, the Pepper Tree Art and Coffee shop is well worth a visit! Our travels took us via Klipheuwel to Stellenbosch and our first pass of the ride – Helshoogte!
Helshoogte Pass is one of the oldest in South Africa, and dates back to 1854. It traverses the Jonkershoek and Simonsberg mountains. The pass has been upgraded several times and the views of the Simonsberg and famous wineries stretch from mountain to mountain. The road levels off before the final approach into the settlement of Pniel, where the pass ends. A slow ride through this town will take you to the T-junction next to the wine farm Allée Bleue where we turn right on the R45, riding past several more historic farms, dating from the 1600’s, heading towards a little piece of France called Franschhoek. Franschhoek has a plethora of restaurants catering for every taste and every budget, but if you are on a bike we recommend the Station Pub and Craft bar for a laid back atmosphere and a good meal. The local wines are excellent and we highly recommend picking up a bottle or two before taking a picture at the Huguenot Monument – an Instagram must.
Franschhoek Pass must be in the Top 3 when it comes to the best bike rides in South Africa. This long, steep and dramatic pass with its variety of scenery was South Africa's first properly engineered road. During weekends city folk stream to the pass on bicycles, motorcycles, skateboards, cars and SUV's to enjoy it's sheer magnificence.
With the blood well and truly pumping we ride past Villiersdorp and keep following the R45 towards the Overberg. This is an area you can truly get lost in, with so many road tripping options ranging from the Southernmost tip of Africa to the quaint fishing village Arniston and a myriad of routes and places in between. A quick stop at Dassiesfontein Farm Stall on the N2 near Calledon was a must, before we head through Caledon to a town that featured in the David Kramer song “Boggom and Voetsek” - Napier. We meander further through the green farmland to Bredasdorp and to our rest stop for the night – Sam’s Cottage.
The BMW K1600GT is a supreme touring machine. The inline-six engine is as smooth as butter and with 118kW (160hp) and 180Nm on tap it is no slouch either. Wind and weather protection is top notch with the electrically adjustable windscreen and grip and seat warmers. Even when we encountered a few drops of rain, we mainly stayed dry. All the latest tech is on board and even the pillion gave it top marks.
Having said all of that, when we arrived at our destination we realized that the last couple of kilometers were gravel road. This was not a problem, taking it slowly, but had it been raining hard and the road surface was muddy, it might have been a different story. As good as the K1600 is, one has to wonder if the more versatile GS, even if you are going to ride 99% tar, might not be a wiser option given that we live in South Africa where gravel and bad roads are common. This is literally the only critique we could think up and the condition of South African roads is hardly the BMW’s fault. What a sublime riding machine.
Sam’s Cottage is the perfect hideaway if you want to get away from it all. This historic little cottage has been lovingly restored and is totally off-grid, so no loadshedding schedules to worry about here. The small house is named after Sam Baardman who worked on this farm before retiring to Bredasdorp. Sitting on the stoep with the braai fire lit (wood supplied) and sampling a glass of Franschhoek wine we watched the Zebra graze as an eagle called overhead, the perfect ending to a wonderful day.
Total km: 230km
Lunch and coffee for two at the Station Pub incl Tip: R290
One bottle of La Petite Ferme Sauvignon Blanc: R140
Fuel Cost fot the day: R370
One night’s accommodation for 2 at Sam’s cottage: R800
Riding the passes and dancing under the stars: Priceless.