Story by Hein Jonker
Have you ever tried to get the most out of trip and weren’t sure where to start? That’s exactly how I felt a few weeks ago when I started to plan this trip around Lesotho, the first Motorcycle Tour hosted by Bike Talk.
Although I’ve organised many breakfast runs and other events in the past, putting a tour together would take me outside of my comfort zone and I couldn’t wait. Deciding on a date, a route, where to refuel, where to stay, where to eat, who to speak to, putting emergency procedures in place and making it interesting all at the same time was a daunting task to say the least. Then came the planning for accommodation, meals, fuel, and toll fees to help tour participants with their budgets. Done!
I decided to keep the numbers at an easy 15 people with a support vehicle on standby should something go wrong. We had a healthy mix of bikes on the tour; from a Suzuki Burgman 650 scooter to BMW GSs and K1300S, a Harley 1200 Sporty, Honda VFR1200X CrossTourer and Fireblade, Suzuki Bandit 1250, Kawasaki 636 and ER6F, Yamaha Fazer 600 and so on.
So early morning on Friday 5 April 2013 we left BP Oasis at Cato Ridge, just outside Durban, on a trip of note — an easy 1600km in 3-days. We decided to have a quick breakfast at the Mooiriver Wimpy, a refuel in Harrismith, and a stop for lunch the Blue Donkey in Clarrens. This was a well-deserved stop as most of us were getting thin, and hungry … and grumpy! Once filled and refreshed a few of us enjoyed the road to Fouriesburg while others chose to follow at a more moderate pace.
Next stop, St Augustines Lodge at Ladybrand for our first over-night stop after a long day and very rewarding day in the saddle. St Augustines is famous for its rich history, breathtaking scenery and warm hospitality – www.saintaugustines.co.za
Some of us decided to get up early on Saturday morning to watch the sunrise, while others chose to sleep in a little until I decided to send all a wake-up SMS at 5am … just for fun! After a hearty breakfast we hit the road to Hobbhouse, Weppener and Zastron for a grand selection of the country’s best looking potholes. A word of advice, if you are inexperienced, pick an alternative route as this resulted in three of our riders hitting the same pothole bending their rims in the process. Here is the team of people at a tyre centre in Zastron, who helped just before closing time, to get two of the rims levelled out.
Needless to say, the ride continued to Sterkspruit and to this day I will not know why they gave this place an Afrikaans name when it was clearly not an Afrikaans speaking town. Eish! So over the border and Orange River we went, leaving the Eastern Freestate and its potholes behind, and onto the brilliant roads of the Eastern Cape. A quick stop for refreshments and refuel in Lady Grey, through Barkley East and the Barkley Pass, then on to Elliot and Ugie for our second over-night stop. Another 400+ kms done and dusted. Passing through these small EC towns I just can’t help but feel like a longer stay-over. There’s so much to see and explore, fantastic people to talk to, listening to their stories and just absorbing the beautiful surroundings that GOD has given us to enjoy. Next tour is already on my mind! But this time I’m taking my wife with, she has to see and experience what we did.
In Ugie and arriving at the Clarendon Guesthouse, we were greeted by this same “small town” hospitality that you won’t find anywhere else. From the outside it does not look like much, but step inside and be taken by surprise; this place is so beautiful – www.clarendonguesthouse.co.za
That night, for supper, we went to the local Sports Club and a few of us decided to help out in the kitchen to speed things up a little. We were hungry again!
Very early the Sunday morning a few of us decided to go and test the 40km road from Ugie towards Mthatha through the Langeni Pass and back. Cold yes, but wow, what a piece of road! Well worth the excursion, don’t skip it when you’re in the area. With most of the trip behind us, and after a good breakfast at the guesthouse, it was back on the road again for the home stretch through Maclear, Mount Fletcher, Matatiele and another stop-over for lunch at the Wimpy just outside Kokstad. Here you can see some riders pulling amps, and yet showing excitement of an awesome trip and new friendships cast in stone.
By now we were eager to get home, rest a little before taking on a new week. Before I forget, we had a few lady riders on this trip, allow me a moment to take my hat off to you girls. Well-done!
These few words can never come close to the real thing or even start to describe our experience of this trip. These photos are but a fraction of everything we saw, touched, tasted and experienced.
The full album is on our Facebook Page –
Thank you to each and every one who joined me on this trip, you are an awesome group of people; you are family through and through! Until next time …