Tuesday, 25 October 2011

SA/Namibia 2011 - Day 24 to 28. Johannesburg. Randburg. Midrand. Braamfontein. Sandton City. Brits and Beyond.

A query about how to 'read' a ride report such as this has come up. The easy answer is to choose a starting point (say SA/Namibia 2011 - Day 1. The Cape Peninsula [2011 - September]). To do this go to Blog Archive (below the picture of the three handsome guys on the right side of this page). 
In order to progress forward in time the 'NEXT' blog is found by simply clicking on 'Newer Post' at the foot of the page you have read. An on-line diary such as this always displays the newest posting at the top.

Here is an overview of the whole motorcycle ride.

Key to Markers:
Blue  = Vanrhynsdorp - Springbok - Grunau -  Luderitz.
Yellow = Luderitz - Grunau - Springbok - Calvinia - Karoo National Park - Calitzdorp - Stellenbosch - Cape Town.
Magenta = Cape Town - Swellendam - Jeffreys Bay - East London - Port St Johns - Durban - Bethal - Midrand.
Orange = Earlier solo ride in 2010. Calvinia - Kathu - Midrand - Zastron - Aberdeen - Calitzdorp - Moorreesburg.
Green = Two bike ride in 2010.  Dundee - Durban - Umtentweni - Underberg - Winterton - Clarens.

Below is a map of Day 26.

View 26th Sept: Midrand to Assen to Midrand. in a larger map

Days 24 and 25 were spent with family in Randburg and Midrand. The motorbike did not get a lot of use during this time. On Saturday 24th Meriel took me to Braamfontein in the morning and to Sandton City in the afternoon. Both places impressed me very much for different reasons.

Braamfontein is being reclaimed (if that is the correct word). Sandton City is a testament to wealth, enterprise, business, imagination and entrepreneurship.

In Braamfontein we went to a market in a reclaimed, revamped, refurbished building. It was excellent. The whole area appears to be undergoing positive change. Also Braamfontein is very 'arty' with galleries, coffee bars and even a piazza with a huge TV screen - the rugby was on.

 'Reclaimed' building in Braamfontein.

In the picture above the market is just visible at the mezzanine level. 

Inauguration of a new market in Braamfontein. Busy. Brilliant.

The Milner Park Hotel is also being revamped and is receiving a lot of care and attention. This building, on De Beer Street is one of the original buildings of Johannesburg.

Milner Park Hotel

View from a new penthouse apartment on Juta Street, Braamfontein.

A 'piazza' in Braamfontein

'Interesting' art in one of the galleries in the area.

Sandton City is phenomenal. The buildings are impressive. Every other car seems to be a Maserati, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Bentley or Rolls-Royce. Obviously there is a lot of money in this part of Johannesburg.

We visited the Joburg Art Fair at the Sandton Convention Centre www.joburgartfair.co.za . It was an amazing experience. Sorry no pics.

The following day we went north to Pretoria - to the Voortrekker Monument. It was very interesting.

Camera on car. 10-sec timer! 

Voortrekker Monument

The history and courage of the Boer nation is recorded here. The Great Trek, Zulu Wars and the Boer Wars are chronicled here. The great leaders of the Afrikaner nation are celebrated in frescos and pictures. Men like Louis Tregardt, Hans van Rensburg, Hendrik Potgieter, Gerrit Maritz, Piet Retief and Piet Uys.

View of Pretoria from the monument.

The old Pretoria - Johannesburg Road.

Day 26: On the 26th September, Chris (family) took me for a ride-out. He has a Honda XR650L, modified slightly with a 22 litre Acerbis tank and headlight from a XR650R. Also MX style fatbars and risers and a tail tidy

Coffee stop at Hartbeespoort.

"Okay let's go ......"

We were really enjoying being out in the sunshine on the motorbikes. Chris suggested that we ride through Brits and beyond as we had most of the day at our disposal.

We stayed on the R511 through the bustling town and were soon once again in fertile countryside. At one place we got the wonderful scent of citrus - lemon groves I think. We also crossed a railway line just north of Bethanie and again at Beestekraal near the Roodelkopjes Dam. Chris said that with an off-road or dual-purpose motorcycle it is possible to ride the railways. There are service roads running alongside the tracks and it is possible to get maps of such railway roads. Sounds like a lot of fun to me.

Near Assen, about 75 km before Thabazimbi, we spotted Die Bosveld Lapa and decided it was a good place to pull in for a snack.

This is my kind of place for lunch! Forget The Ritz.

Die Bosveld Lapa (obviously).

A snack on the stoep at Die Bosveld Lapa. (That 10-sec timer again!)

We turned around here and headed back to Midrand taking a slightly different route around the Dam. It had been a brilliant day's riding. 'Thanks Chris.'

Distance Today: 263 km. 164 miles.
Trip Total: 7 003 km. 4 352 miles.

Day 27: This was another special day which included seeing, and being allowed to hold, the latest member of the family - Imogen. Imo is my niece's baby.

Imo is so cute.

Chris, Em and Imo.

Day 28: Now it is the time to meet up with Mike once more and to ride the motorcycles to MotoBerlin in Boksburg. Click HERE

Back 'home' at MotoBerlin in Boksburg.

I had taken delivery of the bike in Cape Town on the 1st September. The odometer at MotoBerlin Cape Town reading was 13 007 km.

 Odometer at MotoBerlin in Boksburg.

The odometer reading at MotoBerlin in Boksburg: 20 733 km.
7 726 km recorded on the motorbike.
My Garmin 76Cx recorded 7 494 km. The speedometer/odometer was therefor only approximately 3% in error.

 Garmin at MotoBerlin in Boksburg.

The Yamaha Tenere performed excellently throughout. It never missed a beat.
Here are the Fuel Statistics (based on the motorbike's odometer):
361 litres fuel.
7 726 km.
4 801 miles.
21.39 km/lt.
60.42 mpg.

Albert at MotoBerlin kindly gave me a holdall which he had surplus to requirement. I wondered how I was going to get my stuff on the plane!

'Thanks for the bag Albert.'

Mike at the airport.

John at the airport.

Boarding the plane for Birmingham via Dubai - our version of the Long Way Round!

The SA/Namibia adventure is over. 
7 494 km
 4 657 miles.

View SA/Namibia 2011 in a larger map

Monday, 24 October 2011

SA/Namibia 2011 - Day 23. Bethal to Vanderbijl Park and Randburg.

View 23rd Sept: Bethal to Vanderbijl Park in a larger map

Sorry there are no pictures today. We set out from Bethal in very cool and foggy conditions. Even if I could have made my cold hands work the camera, there was nothing to photograph.

We routed via Nigel where we pulled in for fuel and breakfast, then Heidelburg, Vereeniging and Vanderbijl Park.

Mike was staying in Vanderbijl Park with his sister for a few nights. I was going on to Randburg to stay with my cousin.

View 23rd Sept: Vanderbijl Park to Randburg in a larger map

After Nigel and some welcome breakfast, the sun burnt its way through the fog and the day turned into beautiful Highveld weather - sunny, cloudless and warm.

After a cup of tea and a koeksuster at Mike's sister's I headed off for Randburg. It was quite strange riding 'solo' after having had company for so long on this South Africa/Namibia ride. It didn't take long to join the N1 and after paying the toll at Grasmere Plaza I was cruising the last part of my journey. I couldn't help smiling as I passed familiar names and places as the Tenere buzzed north. Glimpses of the Johannesburg skyline offered itself on my right-hand side and it was like I was actually coming home.

This was the place of my formative years, my upbringing and education. True, I had left South Africa in 1966, but I still consider this city as my spiritual home. The grin inside my helmet was tinged with sadness because my brother Robby, a true Jo'burger, had passed on a few years before and he was always very dear to me. I would, however, be catching up with his wife and family in the next four or five days.

I pulled into my cousin's place at about 13h15 to be greeted warmly and immediately offered a cold beer.

Distance Today: 287 km. 178 miles.
Trip Distance: 6 740 km. 4 188 miles.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

SA/Namibia 2011 - Day 22. Durban to Bethal.

View 22nd Sept: Durban to Bethal in a larger map

Last night we ended a very pleasant day with a meal and a beer at uShaka. This morning we were reluctant to leave Durban, but The Plan was to make it to Vanderbijl Park and Randburg respectively by Friday 23rd. So, we took the North Coast Road towards Stanger.

The North Coast Road. Mike and his machine.

The road repair programme impressed me. After Pongola, between Piet Retief and Heidelburg, there were numerous traffic hold ups due to this programme. The traffic controls at each section under repair were inconvenient but necessary. The waiting times were seldom more than 15 minutes. One of the advantages of travelling by motorcycle is getting straight to the front of a queue. Drivers, especially truck drivers, did not seem to mind at all that we nudged into a space in front of the leading vehicle. Of course we never held up anyone. When the lights changed to green we were off and away in a flash.

On this occasion we waited in turn.

Traffic control can mean commercial opportunity.

At Piet Retief we stopped for a coffee and also a few zzzzzs for me. We thought that stopping in Ermelo for the night would be a good plan.

But plans don't always work out. Ermelo was 'full'. We tried a few places and made enquiries. There was not a room to be had. The problem was that daylight was diminishing rapidly. Our policy was not to ride in the dark. The road surface state is so important to the motorbiker, and, with no highway lighting, no cats eyes and few white lines, good visual conditions is important.

We decided, therefore, to ride in the dark to Bethal!! It wasn't a lot of fun - too many dazzling car headlights and high speed 4x4s. Not only seeing but also being seen is so very important on the road. We felt, and were vulnerable. Maybe we should have just waited at a garage until dawn?

However, we did make it safely to Bethal. We pulled in to the first B&B place we saw. It was Die Groen Kooi and it was fine. Click here for the link.

We were only about 2 km from the centre of the town, so we dumped our gear and rode in to get a hamburger and a beer.

 'Cheers - we made it to Bethal.'

'Cheers and well-done.'

Back at the B&B we had a quick nightcap before turning in for a very welcome rest. I didn't even unpack my stuff.

Distance Today: 659 km. 410 miles.
Trip Distance: 6 453 km. 4 010 miles. 

SA/Namibia 2011 - Day 21. Durban.

View Durban in a larger map

Two nights in Durban - brilliant. Durban is one of my favourite places. What could be better than being in Durban and having such a wonderful place to stay in whilst we were there?

We had had a good meal at a restaurant at uShaka last night followed by a beer or two and a wonderful night's rest in luxurious comfort.

The motorbikes were safely parked in the car park underneath the apartments, and we had no intention of riding them today. The plan was: leisurely breakfast. Walk along the beach. Coffee at the Hotel Edward. Walk into the city and explore Smith Street and West Street. Amble back for a swim at Addington Beach.

My Crocs, Durban's sand.

Yamaha Police Bikes on Snell Parade.

Mike on West Street.

John on West Street.

Well what used to be West Street or possibly Smith Street.

Durban is a great city. We walked around enjoying the hustle and bustle of this interesting place.

We visited the old law courts and also the City Hall. Completed in 1910, Durban City Hall displays a fine example of Edwardian Neo-baroque architecture. The current city hall is actually the second building in Durban made for this purpose, as the first city hall was taken over by the post office. During the late 1880's Durban started expanding at a rapid rate, and it was decided that the city needed a much larger town hall. In 1903 the town council announced that they would be accepting new design submissions for city hall. The chosen design came from architect Stanley G. Hudson, who was inspired by the city hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Construction was completed in 1910 and it was considered a 'very bold and progressive design' for its time. Mike and I visited the museum and art gallery. I have taken the liberty of including some of the art here.

As you can see, I enjoy African art. I find it original, interesting, thought-provoking and inspiring. I believe in the power of art.

A different kind of art.

Somebody once ask W.C. Fields what he believed? He said, "I believe I'll have a drink!" We had a beer on the way back to the apartment.

Tomorrow we take the Long Way Round towards Johannesburg.

Distance Today: 0 km. 0 miles.
Trip Distance: 5 794 km. 3 600 miles.