Motorcycle Group Weekend Ride to Cape Aghulas
Our second weekend Rideout with local riders here in Cape Town... The ride out took place over the Valentines Weekend (12 to 14 Feb 2021). And what an interesting ride it was!!!
Our initial organised ride-out (Karoo Weekend in Nov 2020) went extremely well. The obvious thing to do was plan the next! The initial group who came along on that ride remained intact; I take that as a good sign. This superb mishmash of people and bikes made for yet another weekend of riding, laughing, eating, riding, laughing, eating and even more… um… laughing, with a spot of table tennis thrown in for good measure.
This weekend was spent exploring a little of the Overberg Region. Diana and I met Charles and Wendy in Stellenbosch, the others followed on their own from Cape Town and Bloubergstrand when they were able to getaway on the Friday afternoon. Our route took us once again over the billiard table like, and better than most racetracks, Helshoogte Pass. The long sweepers on this road are an absolute joy on any bike, peg scrapping is sooo easy. Followed once again by Franschhoek Pass. Franschhoek is way more technical, has a few hairpins and has some sneaky corners that tighten up, always good to give yourself an extra 15% margin. This superb pass is often quite blustery, today was almost wind still though, the views off the pass are spectacular as are the rock formations and fynbos foliage throughout. As was the case in November 2020, the ‘Theewaterskloof Dam is still brim full and water lapping over the slipway. After the previous dry seasons from 2017 to early 2020 with the City of Cape Town imposing stringent water restrictions, it is good to take a longer shower these days. That being said, we are still acutely aware of the need to conserve this precious resource. And so we continued over the Van Der Stel Pass (gravel) through farmlands and down to Caledon. The ride into Kleinbaai (Gansbaai) was superb even with much more wind in the afternoon. The deep blue skies and lovely rolling hills through the wide-open farmlands (mostly grains like wheat and barley) and then through thick indigenous Fynbos for into the Bay area.
The Friday night had everyone in long before dark. The gents had a chitchat upstairs from the living area of this quite exquisite home we acquired for the weekend. Superb panoramic views over the ‘little bay’ (Kleinbaai is Afrikaans for Little Bay). The lads quenched their thirst with a couple of ice-cold beers. The ladies went for a walk along the beach enjoying the warm early evening. The first night seems to be becoming the right evening for our braai (BBQ), the local restaurant organised the BBQ for us delivering in a superb menu: Braai-Brood starter, Three Meats (Chicken Quarters, Lamb Chops and Boerewors (farmers sausage, an SA BBQ mainstay)), Apple Crumble desert served with custard and ice cream. The meal was complimented with a fresh green salad and tasty potato bake. All we had to do was braai/BBQ the meat. Warren took charge and did a superb job. It must be said though, that each and every persons got stuck in to organising meals, clearing away plates and keeping our weekend home from home neat and tidy.
Saturday dawned with beautiful warm weather which developed into a very hot afternoon. We had no major rush today, started out about 10 am after a good breakfast, and a pretty awesome breakfast it was with all pitching in. The ride was out to the Southern Most point in Africa. Cape Aghulas. Aghulas was discovered by Bartholomew Dias, the Portuguese mariner and explorer. He named the area after Saint Aghulas in 1488. Our ride out went via Die Dam where we spent some time on the gravel backroads to Struisbaai, Struisbaai harbour was crazy busy with everyone and his dog using the slipway to get boats into the water. The idea was to do a quick group pic right in the harbour with the pretty little fishing boats in the background, unfortunately not a chance of that on the day. Anyways straight into Aghulas then only a few short km away where we all rode to the Southernmost point (Oceans meeting) and did the usual touristy picture shoot a-la Ewan and Charley. The day was so hot we decided to take a ride through to Napier and have lunch there rather than struggling to find a decent spot in Struisbaai or Aghulas for our sit down. Napier is a favourite stop of ours. We had a very long lunch stop before heading back to Kleinbaai.
Overnight we visited the ‘Great White House’ restaurant for a meal. Although we had loads of food over and some meat still to BBQ at the house, we collectively decided to support the local restaurant during these dire times. A good meal, mostly fish orientated as you may imagine (Calamari, Mussels, fish (hake and yellow tail) was enjoyed. A good night’s slumber followed by our good buys after breakfast late on Sunday morning. Diana and I were able to stay another evening (thanks Dee).
The reason the Blog post is called Shark Town, Ghost Town is as follows:
Gansbaai/Kleinbaai is renowned for offering some of the best shark cage diving on the planet. The little bay is not only resident to several sharks, most notably the Great White and Copper Shark, but also to a large Seal colony on Dyer Island in the bay. In late winter and early summer (June through November) the whales also use this little bay when calving, most notably the Southern Right Whale. Orca (Killer Whale) are also regular visitors to this bay. In the 1990s the marine activity in the area transformed a sleepy fishing village into a tourist magnet with several shark viewing vessels doing very good business giving people the opportunity to view and be close to these incredible animals. The most famous of animals in the bay would be the Great White Shark growing to weigh more than a small car and can be well over 4 meters in length. Since the pandemic came upon us all, there was an immediate impact on tourism and especially this little town (one of many little struggling towns).
On Monday morning Diana and I did an impromptu visit with local acquaintances before leaving town. Annetjie and husband Hendrik own a small B&B, on this morning Gert, a dive master on one of the boats, were having coffee in the lounge. Well, the international tourism trade coming in is almost 100% where the village derives its income. Yes, I refer to a Ghost Town, not because it was empty as such, but rather that there are so many ‘ghostly quiet’ businesses… especially the row of boats off the water in Kleinbaai bares testament to this! A sad reflection at the end of the weekend! I guess in many ways we are all in the same boat (pardon the pun), however, some are more ‘captured’ by unwelcome circumstances than other… spare a thought for them all around the globe!
NB: Cage diving activities are controversial and that is best left for another blog post.
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