Meandering Around Harties

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

Meander (noun): a journey that has no particular direction.

I love the word meander. It suggests such a relaxed manner of doing things, whether it be thought or deeds or a journey; a river that meanders across the countryside is not in a desperate hurry to get to the sea, a motorcycle ride that meanders, in the same way, might have a final destination but there is just no hurry to get there.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

Of course, the joy in this lack of haste is that you see so much more than if you were speeding along. Now, speeding in itself is great – a motorcycle comes alive dynamically when it is pushed – but you can’t have both at the same time and sometimes, it is great to throttle back and take a look around.

I might have lived in Johannesburg for 20 years, but there are still pockets of Gauteng that I have never explored fully, even though they are popular motorcycling destinations. Hartbeespoort is one such area. Oh yes, I have passed through and alongside and stopped for refreshments at one or two places but these moments have never built up a full picture of the place.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

That is why, when the big boss at ZA Bikers told me he had entered me for the Rotary Club of Hartbeesport’s Amazing Race-type event, in and around the area, I wasn’t entirely dreading it. As it turned out, it was a really good morning’s ride and, if the threatening weather kept attendance down, it didn’t dampen our enthusiasm.

Joined by fellow ZA Bikers scribe Dave Cilliers and photographer Bjorn Moreira, the premise was simple: get a clue for a destination, ride there, perform a simple task, get another destination clue, ride there, etc, etc.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

Now, most of this wasn’t challenging in any way – playing snakes and ladders, which was one of the challenges at Chameleon Village, has never been the most cerebral of games – but what was great was exploring the area in more detail than I ever have.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

The area is rich in interesting restaurants and hotels, one such being the Van Gaalen cheese farm on the R560 running away from the dam, where they specialise in Gouda cheese. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as Gouda is a Dutch cheese and the Dutch, as we all know, have a long history in South Africa but finding a dairy that makes the cheese on our doorstep, so to speak, was a pleasant surprise.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

Simon Fourie hosted the start and finish at the Hartbeespoort Holiday Resort in his own inimitable manner; live music, food stalls and enthusiastic Rotary Club members officiating both there and at all the stops along the way, which included the V8 Roadhouse, Venue Hotel, Femsus Pub and Grill and the aforementioned Chameleon Village and Van Gaalen restaurant and dairy. All in all, an interesting voyage of discovery.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

My transport for the event was the large and imposing BMW R18 Classic, which adds a screen and soft panniers to the recipe of the standard R18. Long and low, you ride on a mountain of torque which makes for relaxed cruising and the chassis is sufficiently competent and sorted to be entertaining when the roads twist and turn through the hills. Just remember to budget for new footboards every several thousand kilometres, they being liable to scrape on the ground in anything but the mildest of cornering.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

Somehow, the rain held off for the duration of the event but the overcast skies and threat of rain meant that many people who would normally have attended this worthwhile event erred on the side of caution and stayed home, which is a shame but understandable. We get so used to planning events such as these with impunity, assuming – correctly for the most part – that the weather will be kind, it is unfortunate when it doesn’t play the game. As the money raised by the Rotary Club is going to underprivileged children, it would have been nice to see a large turnout but there is always next time.

For more information on upcoming Rotary Club events visit: rcbh.org.za

Harry has been obsessing about motorbikes for over 45 years, riding them for 38 years and writing and talking about them for 13 years. In that time, he has ridden everything from an Aprilia to a Zundapp, from the 1920s to the 2020s. His favourites are the ones that didn’t break down and leave him stranded. While he loves the convenience of modern bikes, he likes nothing better than getting his hands dirty keeping old bikes running, just as long as it’s not by the roadside! Old enough to know better and young enough not to care, he knows you don’t stop riding when you get old, you get old when you stop riding.