This was really just a connecting section to get us to KZN (Kwa Zulu Natal) and Durban where we were staying in Westville at Dirty Boy's place with him and his family, dogs and cats.....
James (Dirty Boy) had also approached me shortly after this trip was announced to offer Deon and I "unrestricted" accommodation, which meant he would not interfere in our schedule, but would be happy to integrate in any rides we wanted to do.
This was a most generous offer which I accepted, even though we have two aunts and a bunch of cousins in and around Durban, as well as Deon's ex-wife, and kids, all of who he is still good friends with.
I chose to stay with James as the "unrestricted movement" appealed to me, and he is a great guy anyway.
We left Jupiter's early morning (well, not really early, everyone was up and on the go) and hit the N2 toward Grahamstown after running the gauntlet of Port Elizabeth morning traffic.
I was amazed at Dozer..... LAWBREAKER SUPREME..... Mounting the pavements on the left of cars to get past all the idiots (2 Policemen in different Police marked cars texting!! )mummies on their mobile phones, sandwiches, makeup and morning coffee's, business men reading documents while driving, sportsbikers darting left and right, all of who were making the whole thing quite dangerous to actually compete for road space. Also changing of lanes without warning by cars and Minibus Taxis was just beyond stupid.
So I happily followed him, using the unused portion of the road for our own safe movement..... next thing I had a maxi scooter behind me as well, Made me snigger in my helmet.
We left the city limits of PE after sampling the joy of Swartkops sewerage plant and Carbon Blacks smells without any issue, bar the mad drivers everywhere.
Riding the N2, which I used to know so well was a bit DeJaVu like, some improvements that have been made over the last 10 years had me happy to see where my tax dollars had gone way back when.
We stopped for a couple of smoke breaks till we got to Grahamstown, proud of its heritage as a frontier town in the days of the Xhosa and Boer wars. I had done some of my Psychiatry training at Fort England Hospital which had the dubious honour of having had a staff member beaten to death by a patient with a bedpan years ago.
This sleepy hollow also is home to Rhodes University, where BigDom used to work as professor of Art when I met him a looooong time ago ( fact or fiction ?? ) In the days of Apartheid, Rhodes was known to be of a liberal disposition and I do not know enough to tell you more, so refer to Wikipedia or Google for more info and history.
We also took the opportunity to fill both the bikes as Queenstown was another 200+ km to go, and PE was 135km behind us.
I love these sorts of signs, usually, including this time, they make me start up the engine and drive off and find another station to fill up at. To this day I remember all the times I used to hitch hike across South Africa and this sort of sign pisses me off instantly, so no business for them.
After filling at a "Mobil" Engen station we found the well hidden Wimpy.... Dozer can smell out a Wimpy at 5000 meters.
Breakfast ordered, he went out to check over the bikes, make a call to his Colonel to extend his leave and have a smoke (multitasking at its best) and when the brekkie landed, Joseph, the incredibly charismatic floor manager went to invite him back in.
That shop has a treasure in Joseph, originaly from Zimbabwe, he really makes a difference and manages the floor like few others I have seen.
After breakfast and a Mega Coffee we set out for Queenstown, our next stop.
In the carpark I saw this survivor.
Being in the market for a 1960-66 Chevy Pickup truck, I could not help myself, and had to stop and take a pic.
Leaving Grahamstown the decay into typical African village was obvious as you moved up the road away from town..... sad.
Just before we got to the T-Junction to go left to Queenstown, I saw another one of these..... again, I love them, but they are also a sign of people's financial status. The rich get richer, the poor still have nothing.
From here the road was interesting with passes, turns, bends and changing scenery.
Riding through the Echa Pass, which I once did in 6.5 minutes as a student from entry to exit, I was surprised I have managed to live as long as I have.
We rode till after Fort Beaufort with only one smoke break.
Then stopped again.... nice spot.
And onward, stepping up the pace a bit.
Getting to Queenstown we filled up, bought more oil at Midas and then contacted AndreE for a cuppa coffee.
We had wanted to sleep over at his place originally, but the distance was too short to break the KZN destination in half.
Once again, for the international riders and readers, this is the norm in South Africa, getting fuel filled, winddscreens cleaned and oil, wheels checked.
In the total of 6200km plus that I rode, I only got one non-smiling pump attendant, and he was surrounded by smilers anyway, so maybe he was having a bad day in Bloemfontein.
Then it was off to AndreE's place just outside town where we were treated like premium guests by his wife and were fed cake and coffee, note..... two slices each. Heavenly man, heavenly.
Thanks a lot guys, that was really great.
I also loved the inside of their shop, reminding me of times growing up, going to the farm shop, just the numbers on the prices have changed, but the contents are the same. Nice to have some stuff stay the same.
Maybe my favourite bit of decor in the bar area.... every one donated on site by the wearers.
There was quite a range of sizes and styles.
Then it was time to leave again and make our way for Mountain Shadows above Elliot where we were booked in for the night. I think this was also a 600+ km day, which included a lot of old Transkei roads.
Before we left, I saw this guy, reminding me again of South Africa in summer time.
Before we left, I made Dozer come with me to get a pic of the old incinerator of the sawmill near Andre's place, I love old steel structures like this and old factories as they have many stories to tell.
After a really great rest, unwind and chat at Andre's place it was off toward Elliott via the "bottom road" which is slightly shorter, but more challenging and interesting to ride.
Just about to leave.
It did not take long before we hit the first of many roadworks stops.
Now here is an other interesting observation for the non South Africans.
Note all the Taxi's , roadworks and coned off lanes are reserved by heavenly decree by the god of dangerous drivers to be used as a passing lane. These roadworks were at the start of a mountain pass, so it was interesting watching minibus taxis duck into the "works lane" and overtake on the left, everything and then swerving back into the active lane.
We got to Elliott by about 16.30 and having stpped along the way to buy a bottle of brandy and 2 litres of Pepsi Max, and a large bag of Dorito's we were ready for our evening at Mountain Shadows Hotel.
Being in radio comms all day saw Deon and I fall into a really nice rhythm of ride, share, chat and we decided to pull over and see if we could get some food at the hotel.... No Problem said the new front desk guy, we have food.
While stopping to make the call to the hotel,I noted this guy.....Enterprise at its best.
When people buy a couple of crates of beer, shopping etc, he is the transport, for a fee.
After this we left Elliott to do the last 20km to the hotel on the top of the mountains, again, a perfect time.... sunset.
One of the great thing about the routes we took, was that it included loads of interesting roads, passes etc.
Barkly Pass was a wide sweeping, but deceptive pass, so we hit it with all the enthusiasm is would allow, Deon commenting on the radio "I LOVE MY BIKE.... IT REALLY DOES HANDLE" having owned and ridden an 1150GS for about 80 000km myself around mostly South Africa, where 1000km weekends were not unusual, or riding to Cape Town from Port Elizabeth on a Saturday morning to test fly an airplane in Cape Town and coming back on Sunday morning with my good old friend, the late Warwick Sparg at whatever top speeds we could squeeze out of our boxer engines, I knew exactly how he felt.
BMW got it so right when they built the R1150GS range, and to this day, I still rate my 1150 GS above the 1200GS that I now have here in the UK.
We were just chatting about how nice the ride had been and how beautiful the mountains were when we decided to stop for a few pics again.
Then is was on to the hotel, with dusk just wanting to push the last suns rays away, we could feel it in the change of temperature.
Last few miles and then we were there.
There is a main hotel, and then these units, where we ended up in. Perfect.
The hotel is a family run affair and even the food in the kitchen is cooked by the granny and her small staff.
We switched our booking from Bed and Breakfast to Dinner and bed, with a sandwich pack to take out.
A real farm meal was served buffet style, with seafood starters, soup and also a stunning desert to follow.
During the day they had actually had two small snow flurries, so it was no wonder we were quite chilled when we booked in and even Dozer was cold, thick skin and all.
Thankfully, grandpa had started a fire in the dining room to warm it all up.
So after dinner we went back to our room, showered, poured a drink and both of us were out cold before 10pm, with only half our respective drinks actually drunk.
Day 10 was going to be a long day down to KZN, with more crap roads and with breakfast sandwich packs which included canned fruit juice, boiled eggs and a sweety for afterwards, we were ready for a good early start.
If the bikes did not freeze over.
Hope you are still reading......