PE, the long way there and back

Points: 12

Day 1, Monday 18 Feb 2019

We started our day the way everyone should start their Monday morning, packing and kitting up for a biking holiday! The purpose of the trip was to visit Midnight MCC in PE, Mike’s old club, who held their meeting on Wednesday night. To get there, we tried to fit in as many mountain passes as possible. Ed, Mike and Wes constituted our small flying squad for the week ahead.

We all met up at the Engen Winelands outbound on the N1 for brekkie at 08:00. From there, it was a short dash north to Du Toitskloof Pass, Slanghoek valley, and Michell’s Pass before stopping in Ceres for fuel. We continued up the R46, then cut through Hottentotskloof Pass back to the N1 where we back tracked a bit to find the R318 for Rooihoogte Pass and Burgers Pass before Montagu. Continue along the R62, and you’ll have spotted us heading for Barrydale where we were looking for a spot of lunch. The obvious choices to stop in Barrydale are the institutes of Diesel and Crème or the Country Pumpkin, but as we rode into town, we spotted tour busses disgorging tourists outside these establishments. Today was not the day to be spoilt by bustling crowds, so we pulled into the Dung Beetle Pub where we were all delighted at their service, friendliness, and food. 

After lunch was done, we had to shrug off the afternoon weariness because it was back towards Tradouw Pass next. We were blessed by the traffic gods for sending everyone to work as we had this glorious ribbon of tarmac to ourselves! Suurbraak saw us go by before we hit the N2 and on to Riversdale.

We stopped at a bar to test out our “happy go lucky” approach to our tour. We each got onto the Google and searched for places in town. After a few phone calls, our accommodation was arranged. We checked into Nostalgia, a quaint little cottage with a very welcoming owner. We arrived there shortly after 16:00 before getting some braai supplies from the local Spar and chilling by the fire… rustig.


Day 2, Tuesday 19 Feb 2019

We woke up and set out at an easy 08:00 and had breakfast at a Wimpy at the end of town. I was unexpectedly awoken by the sweeping bends through the gorgeous forestry of Garcia Pass. We carried on North on the R323 through Wapadskloof Pass before hitting the R62 before Ladismith and continuing along to Huisrivier Pass, a favourite of mine with its high-speed corners at the beginning and end, just before Calitzdorp. We had to pass through Oudtshoorn to head down the N12 where we found a few stop-and-goes, but we managed, and by the time we reached the famous Outeniqua Pass, we had a clear passage with hardly a cager in sight! Man, what a pass, with its wide shoulders, creamy smooth tarmac and clear views!

Through George it was, and along the coast to Sedgefield. That stretch is heavily monitored with traffic cameras. What was interesting to see, is how the surviving trees of the devastating fires in the area in 2017 have continued to grow. There is a distinctive time line of how tall those trees were back then, below the line all the branches and leaves have succumb to the fire and smoke, but above the line is hope of green growth. In Sedgefield we stopped just off the main drag at Sedgefied Classic Cars, a dealership with the most extraordinary archive of motoring history…and it’s all for sale. We kept on having to wipe the drool off of Ed’s chin.

A short way on in Knysna, we had lunch at Tapas & Oysters before visiting The Motorcycle Room, all on Thesen Island. For anybody that hasn’t been to The Motorcycle Room, it is a must! At the last count, there were 142 assembled and restored works of art. From the cheap and cheerful 50cc’s that everyone learnt to ride on, to collectable stars of Hollywood movies.

From here, we headed for our overnight stay at Santini Lace in Plettenberg Bay. We arrived just after 16:00, settled in, then headed straight for the coast where we admired the views from The Lookout Deck. Wes went for a dip in the warmer side of our coast before joining the others for some cold ones, then the food, we all have different meals, and they were phenomenal.


Day 3, Wednesday 20 Feb 2019

So without us knowing about it, there were labour strikes in Plett this morning. We tried to get some breakfast at a shopping centre and after each getting a coffee and waiting around, the owner informed us that they simply didn’t have any ingredients, so coffee was on the house.

This was actually a blessing, because we carried on the N2 for a bit until we got to the Craggs and a little padstal called Bread and Brew. What a delicious standard breakfast, nothing fancy, just farm fresh, quality ingredients. A few hundred meters after the Bread and Brew, we hooked a right onto The Old Cape Road (R102), taking in the Grootrivier Pass, and Bloukrans Pass. This road is not suitable for cars though. It is a much slower paced road going through forested valleys of superb beauty. The roads are hardly maintained, with overgrown vegetation and small landslides obstructing each side of the road, leaving effectively a one lane road with sharp corners and very bumpy tar. In other words, a very rewarding ride on the bike.

We got back onto the N2 and stopped at the Stormsriver bridge for a bit of a photo opportunity. From Stormsriver, found our way back onto the R102 and continued East until we got to the notorious Thornhill Hotel for a beer to pay respects to all the past shenanigans here. Carrying along The Cape Road, and Van Stadens Pass where you get a fantastic view of the Van Stadens Bridge that the N2 runs over. In the early afternoon we arrived at Hunters Retreat, an old hotel where we set up base.

From there, it was a 20min ride to Barneys, another famous haunt of the locals. We each had a home cooked pie of gigantic proportions and ate ourselves into a stupor. We headed back to Hunters shortly, where some of us had a much deserved afternoon nap before Tony (the man who got his Midnight Colours the same night as Mike some 37 years ago) picked us up to take us to the Midnight MCC Clubhouse for their weekly meet. Mike had a good catchup with all involved, and we all had a jolly time of it all.


Day 4, Thursday 21 Feb 2019

Today was our longest stretch of the journey, a distance of some 500km over areas we weren’t entirely sure of the status of road works, potholes, and all those lovely things Souths Africans have to think about.

We were up and rearing to go at 07:00, and decided to get some miles under our belts before breakfast, which was held at a Wimpy stop in Humansdorp. We stayed on the N2 for a short while longer before heading North on the R62. This side of the R62 has plenty straight sections with good visibility and vast landscapes, and like in space, it is easy to feel very small and insignificant to the magnitude of our planet around us. A short distance after Haarlem, Mike was fulfilling his duty as the vanguard by clearing the path of any stray Guinea Fowls. As one of them got confused, then ran and took off into Mikes way. I think the beak, oil cooler, and screen took the brunt as a cloud of feathers erupted over him!

We continued towards Uniondale via the Uniondale Poort. We stuck North onto the R339, then took a left onto the R341 to De Rust. Between De Rust and Oudtshoorn, we had to contend with stop-and-go roadworks, but we also got to admire the vivid shades of red of the cliff faces and hills just to the North. Back through the important hub of the Karoo, Oudtshoorn, then down the R328 and over Robinson Pass, after which, we stopped for lunch at Eight Bells. A popular biker rest point with a scenic garden and a great menu.

We carried on down to Mossel Bay, and then stayed on the N2 to reach Albertina and our final overnight spot of the Albertina Hotel at 14:30. We kuiered with the locals in the bar, and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the

Courtyard outside. Once it was a suitable time, we had dinner in a time machine of a saloon that took you back to the 19th century. What a wonderful experience.


Day 5, Friday 22 Feb 2019

We wanted to get an early start in the morning, so we ordered our Farmers breakfast and coffee the evening before and settled our bills already. The morning came, and we had our bikes packed and when the saloon opened at 07:15, our breakfast was ready and waiting for us.

Just before 08:00, we hit the road Jack, and followed the N2 past Swellendam and turned off at the R319 going South to Bredasdorp. After filling up our bikes, we stopped by the Bredasdorp Shipwreck Museum (R25 entrance fee for SA residence) on Independent Street and spent about an hour looking at all the memorabilia recovered from shipwreck sites along the southern coast in the area. A current estimate is some 250 ships have met their fate along this stretch of coast over the centuries, making the area known among sailors as the “ships’ graveyard”.

We left Bredasdorp for Napier and Standford along the R316 and R43 respectively, clearing the short pass of Akkedisberg Pass in no time. From Stanford, we took the Whale Coast to Hermanus where we stopped for some refreshments and to rest a weary butt. Then it was off to Kleinmond and Rooi Els, along with a lunch break at the famous Drummond Arms where we had to share space with those strange cyclist training for some big event…Weirdos!

We took in the glorious Clarens Drive in our stride, although, we did have to start contending with the inevitable traffic that you’ll notice increasing the closer you travel towards Cape Town. This was now the last stretch of our journey, so we had to be a little more guarded in case any of us lose concentration. We brushed past the beaches of the Strand before jumping back on the N2 and splitting our own separate ways to go homeward bound…

Quality road trip blokes. Thank you gentlemen.


« January 2020 »


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