Give Gas to Malgas…. Gee gas na Malgas

Points: 14

Give Gas to Malgas…. Gee gas na Malgas

Unacknowledged for writing I humbly put pen to paper to both share the wonderful experience of a few weekends back and also to encourage others to possibly try something similar. By way of introduction, I’d simply say that I joined the club some 2 years ago having been introduced by some very good friends all who are club members and naturally own BMW motorcycle. I recently upgraded from a 1200GS to a 1200GSA lc. Although I’ve been biking since the 80’s I only recently bought a dual purpose bike, and I’ll never turn back. Nevertheless, let me tell you about our recent trip. The plan was to get away and explore some good condition gravel roads thereby exposing my riding partners to some off-road and allowing them to realize why they own dual purpose bikes. Earlier this year my brother, my son, and I did a weekend trip which was pretty much the reverse of this trip but because of time constraints we missed the excitement of the off road section. This made me hell bent on planning a trip to ensure that we got to see what we initially missed out on.


Let me introduce the team (from left to right):

Myself, Greg, aboard a 1200GSA lc, my brother PJ riding a 1200GS and a friend Edsel riding a Triumph 1200 XCA (poor guy).

Okay to give those who don’t want to read the entire trip report a quick summary: -

  • Total distance about 800km, 200 of which was on gravel

  • Experience required? very little the condition of all roads are excellent.

  • 2 nights out relaxed ride with plenty of great scenery

  • A multitude of eating and accommodation options on this trip which can influence the budget.

  • Kit required very basic minimal tools and a compressor

Now read the report!


After having hatched the plan to do the ride I began the planning and accommodation bookings. The trip was relatively inexpensive costing us each about R1700 all costs including fuel, refreshments accommodation and food for the duration of the 3 days. This can very easily be brought down by taking a cheaper accommodation route and just as easily be chased up by riding faster and allowing more time for drinks stops.

Okay, so the Friday morning arrives and after having done what I consider a good job of building enthusiasm and excitement we eventually got to meet at the Engen just outside of Strand. After a brief introduction we hit the road and soon found ourselves on the picturesque Clarence Drive. We soon settle into what must be one of the best motorcycle route in the Western Cape. Made even better by the ideal riding conditions and the fact that it is a working day. This brings me to the point of, how do so many bikers manage to ride on Fridays? Do these guys not have jobs?

Kleinmond is our first stop, not that we need to stop but breakfast is as good a reason as any to stop. Sandown Blues Restaurant makes a really good breakfast with a view to die for.

(view from Sandown Blues)

Leaving Kleinmond we made our way through Hermanus and eventually said goodbye to the traffic and once again embraced the country roads towards Birkenhead for a mandatory beer stop. Not that we needed a reason but we convinced ourselves that our throats were rather dry and needed some Honey Blonde Ale to sooth them. The Birkenhead Brewery is situated just outside Stanford and on a fine day has a wonderful view over the meadows with the mountains in the distance. A very relaxing atmosphere with the lush green lawns and the sound of fountains trickling onto ponds, something that we as Capetonian are no longer familiar with.

Mount up and hit the road towards Bredarsdorp via Gaansbaai, Franskraal and Baardskeerdersbos. Now we are really well and truly out of town and have very little traffic. The roads are in excellent condition and we have a chance to give the bikes a squirt. The almost 100km wizzes by in a flash and before we know it the urge to lubricate our dry throats begins to prompt us to stop at The Black Oyster Catcher. Rather than try one particular beer we opt to try their 5 craft beer taster. Aside from an impressive menu they have some really great wines as well. With some careful planning one should reach The Black Oyster Catcher by lunchtime where you can enjoy their famous burger or something a little more special. This with their wines or Craft Beer is a pleasure to enjoy. Unfortunately, on the day we arrived they were preparing for a wedding and only catered for a limited menu, but let’s not forget that we actually only stopped to clear out dry throats. While were enjoying our craft beer a chap from Hermanus arrived on a GSA apparently to buy a bottle of his favorite wine. Imagine he travelled 75km to buy wine, gets one thinking about the silly reasons we all come up with in order to get on our bikes and take a ride. Nevertheless, this poor chap parks his bike and having taken 3 steps from the bike it falls over. Fortunately for him there are bikers nearby and we rally to help him lift the bike whilst at the same time teaching him the trick of parking the bike in gear to avoid the forward downhill roll which caused the fall.

(5 Craft Beer taster and Black Oyster Catcher)

Leaving the Black Oyster Catcher, we scoot through to Bredarsdorp where we prepare for the gravel road, checking tyre pressure and refueling. We depart from Bredarsdorp and after the 6km of tar on the R319 we take the gravel road towards Malgas. This turn off is well signposted and can be found just before the Karsriver which you later cross. The gravel is in exceptionally good condition and offers a super ride for riders who are new to gravel. All three bikes are on 70/30 tyres and manage very well on the road at speeds between 80 and 110km/h. If one is not on the lookout for Ouplaas one will simply miss it. Other than the odd ostrich one now gets to experience the little Karoo’s breathtaking beauty. Peaceful and serene leaving a plume of dust behind us we travel through the area. One warning though there are a few potholes that can easily catch one out if you are not watching for them. Some of these stretches of road are as straight as an arrow and get one thinking why does the speed-control not work on endure mode? Unfortunately, Edsel has an encounter with fixation as he negotiates a tight low speed turn and gently rests his bike on its side in a ditch. No damage other that the obvious blow to his pride, we help him lift the bike and get it out of the ditch. Almost 70 km of good gravel brings us to the Trading Post at Malgas. A quick stop to see what they have and ask the locals for directions to our overnight spot.

Having done some research, I came across the following regarding the roads in the area: - “Whilst a    4 x 4 is not necessary, care must be taken, do not exceed 60 kmh. Make sure your spare tyre is inflated. The 200 yards to Tides is quite bad but perfectly ok for normal cars if you take it slow. It is however not suitable for boat trailers. Okay now for my version: -  Whilst a car is not necessary, care must be taken, there is no real need to observe any speed limit nor is there a need for a spare wheel if you are a biker. The 200 yards to Tides is quite bad but perfectly okay if you stand and take it slow. It is however not suitable for boat trailers but as a biker one would not be towing one anyway? This stretch of road is littered with lose rocks is very steep and narrow and does take some caution.

(The tides)

We are told that the Boat House is the place to eat. Because they specialize in pizzas we take the advice of the locals and decide to have a pizza and some liquid refreshments for our evening meal. First we head down to our overnight spot to check on the facilities. We meet the host who shows us to our self-catering unit. We unpack and wash some of the dust off before leaving for the Boat House restaurant. Easy enough to find but unfortunately we are once again out of luck. The owners have decided to close for the evening as they have plans of their own. Imagine as a proprietor here, in CT you simply write a note in Chalk on the noticeboard outside your restaurant and disappear. Humm? Well this happens is the bundu. Well there we are miles from anywhere and very few options. A quick deliberation and we make our way back to the Trading post where we stock up on sufficient goodies to ensure a good braai and enough lubrication for the throat. Back down the rocky road to the Tides and a chance to get out of our riding gear and enjoy good company around a braai fire with a few beers and a chance to reminisce on the day’s activities.

Saturday morning found us making an early start partly in search of coffee and partly because of the excitement of riding again. The morning was somewhat overcast and the air was sticky with moisture that had blown in overnight. We freshened up and packed ready to roll.

After negotiating the rocky road from the tides up to the main road which would take us to the Ferry (Malgas Pont), we found ourselves enjoying the quick trip over the Breede river on the man powered ferry, something I’ve wanted to do for years. The road from Malgas to Witsand seemed longer than expected. This good condition gravel road was much like the previous day with the only difference being that the guys at the back became caked with dust due to the moist sticky air. When we stopped at Witsand the usual shake and pat down had no effect as the dust had packed on well and truly, so much so that we needed to clean the lenses of the lights as it was impossible to see a turn signal and the headlights operated on approximately 40%.

(Crossing the Pont at Malgas)

Witsand was full of activity, far more than expected when we arrived and we soon discovered this was due to a fishing competition that was taking place on the weekend. We sat down to a hearty breakfast at the Piri Piri Restaurant enjoying lavish amounts of coffee that our bodies strangely desired. Off to the local petrol station where we filled up and pumped tyres for the tar that lay ahead. Leaving Witsand we headed towards Heidelberg we had an opportunity to stretch the bikes legs and put them into a full gallop. An absolutely beautiful section of road with long twists wide open and in great condition. Joining the N2 we turned left and soon joined the road to Suurbrak. This gravel road was a lot tighter than anything we had experienced the previous day but was well managed without even reducing tyre pressures. By now we realized that we were in for some rain but this was no problem for the guys who maintained high levels of excitement and energy. Soon we joined the tar at Suurbrak and turned towards the Tradouw Pass. This pass must surely be one of the most scenic in this country some long winding bends and some tighter corners we took it in our stride. The weather had now closed in somewhat and we were experiencing some light rain which did not help the dusty bike but rather made things worse turning the dust into a thin layer of mud on everything. Absolutely important to anyone who ever rides this pass is to stop at the lookout point three quarters of the way up. The views from this point are outstanding. One can see the river winding its way through the gorge way below, truly breathtaking. Back on the road and we pass over the Tradouw Pass. Suddenly the rain is gone and we find ourselves in bright sunshine albeit with a bit of wind.