Proud stockists of Ural sidecars & spares

Waterberg Weekend Trip: 4 - 6 November 2011

I have been suspecting something for a while now, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

On another perfect Friday morning, not long ago, a bunch of us sidecar riders got together at Sidecar Africa, to leave on our Sidecar Waterberg Meander.  We are now becoming accustomed to our special Sidecar Africa send-off. Bacon rolls with coffee or tea and some home baked cake! This time it was a splendid velvet cake supplied by Jude and Sheilagh who had a birthday recently.
Time to don helmets, jacket, gloves, buffs etc and pose for some pics before the excitement of engines being started takes over.
Seven sidecars and a two wheeler turned North along the R511 to get the tar section out of the way. One of my favourite smile in my helmet moments, is the derelict Tavern/Shebeen along the road called – Werk met Lus – what can one say? At Greens we turned off the R511, hit the dirt and the whole day lit up. This sand road would lead us to the metropolis of Leeupoort, home of giant chickens, where we fill up sidecars, rejuice monkeys and riders and eat at least one ice cream each.
This stretch of road was so much fun that being stung by a wasp did not even change my face! Nothing Cooling Burn Gel and sympathy cannot fix. We did a very short stint on tar – more like a little jiggle to get from the Leeupoort road onto the Rooiberg road. I never actually thought that such a place exists, Rooiberg that is. I thought it’s just another of those sign posts to things that you never actually see or encounter e.g. Witklip, Rietfontein, Donkerhoek etc etc. I kid you not, we had to slow down to 60km as we were passing through Rooiberg. It was not particularly red and the mountain was not particularly near, but like I said, we actually drove through Rooiberg.
Next point of interest – real interest as it involved lunch was Rankin’s Pass. The road from Rooiberg to Rankin’s was very sandy and our friend on the two wheeler had to have all his wits about him. The sidecars handled really well through the loose sand. The word Pass is quite misleading, and I still do not know who or what the Rankin in Rankin’s Pass is? We did find a nice spot to pull into the shade and have lunch. I love padkos !
It was during our padkos lunch that a very windswept Dennis and Jana, who had come from Louis Trichart on the Nameless One, joined us and Dennis said one of the local farmers had suggested we take the route that goes beyond Rankin’s Pass through to Bakker’s Pass and finally comes out in the road between Lepalale and Vaalwater, just outside Vaalwater as the intended route had lots of roadworks on it. What a fabulous succession of sand roads and beautiful vistas!! Thank you to that friendly farmer.
This brings me back to the start. Guess what the s in sidecar stands for? Well I found out this weekend, or let me rather say it’s a lingering little suspicion that I’ve had for a while – come on you know…. It stands for SAND!
You might as well substitute the side in sidecar with sand and there you have the true little beast – a sandcar! These Urals just love sand, they devour sand, they surf, they slide, they slip, they smile their way through sand. And the Waterberg sand roads turned out to be perfect examples of what the sidecars like for breakfast, lunch, dinner – you name it, they just eat it.
Wow, now that I have that out of my system, we can continue on the ride. We all filled up at Vaalwater’s Zeederbergs, depleted the Spar of their Tornado ice creams in 20 minutes flat, stocked up on ice and departed for our accommodation at Waterberg Cottages.
To get to our cottages we took the Melkrivier road out of Vaalwater, turning at the 24 Rivers until we got to a sign that said Charles Baber’s Bonsmara Stud and Waterberg Cottages. The road got progressively more 2- track and sandy until we passed through a gate into another world. The one moment we are travelling through real Bosveld terrain and the next we’ve entered a spectacular English Country garden, magnificently beautiful. It is one of those colonial gems that have been loved and tended to for longer than one generation. What joy! The oldest part of the homestead dates back to 1929 to give you an idea.
On Friday night we had an awfully civilised little storm that left Saturday morning jewel like and dust free. No words can describe the anticipated joy and happiness I feel when I get onto Lola on a morning like that.
Our first stop on Saturday morning was the tiny thatched church built from Waterberg stone and designed by no less than Sir Herbert Baker. It is called the church of St. John the Baptist, is situated on the 24 Rivers farm and has been in use since 1902. Very quaint and made the English Country garden in the middle of the African bush easier to understand.
From this little gem of a church we turned towards Tarentaalstraat. The road took us past Geelhoutkop, which the early pioneers used as a ‘way station’ in the old days. Tarentaalstraat is a pass that was used from 1912 onwards to drive ox wagon from the low veld onto the plateau. The original pass was used prior to that and runs in a parallel kloof to the west. Tarentaalstraat owes its name not to the common old bird all of us know, but rather to the discoverer of the route who was unfortunate enough to have a complexion that was likened to a ‘tarentaal’ or guinea fowl. Poor man.
In the old days the ‘touleier’ would crack his whip at the top of the pass to hear if there was any other traffic on the pass before commencing the trip up or down. Heavily laden, these wagons would be pulled by up to 10 pairs of oxen! And there we went flying down with our 750cc Russian horses! Real magic.

Lunch on Saturday was a good old sidecar padkos picnic on the side of a sandy road in the middle of the Waterberg under some huge old blue gums. Birgit made taking a nap on their sidecar, Alice look real easy – still not sure how she managed it. Mike had a little nap and the rest of us did what we always do – talk about how much we love our sidecars!
The loop that we had completed was about 200km of perfect sand roads for the day and we headed for Vaalwater to fuel up and ended up at the Hotel where we had milkshakes, cold drinks even ice cold beers. Not long and we were heading for our cottages where we could swim, and even play something closer to Folley Ball than Volley Ball.
Saturday night was shared in happy company and before we knew it we were saying goodbye to Tes and Kobus and Dennis and Jana on Sunday morning. They were heading back to Rustenburg and Louis Trichart repectively. The rest of us decided to ride back via Thabazimbi as we could find breakfast there as it was too early on a Sunday morning to find anything open in Vaalwater. It was a real pleasant ride with the air still relatively cool. Riding on the road between the game farms is always special with the excitement of spotting game and just enjoying the bushveld scenery passing by.
A Wimpy breakfast in Thabazimbi made the reality of being on the return leg a little better. At Greens we did our last fuel stop as well as all saying good bye to our riding buddies on their 3 wheeled Russian steeds. Again we depleted the ice cream – this time it was the soft serve at Maxi’s.
Bronwyn lost a helmet on the home run, but luckily no harm was done and we were all in agreement, it was a real sidecar weekend – fabulous, filled with laughter and some heart warming and spirit lifting riding.

Written by:  Alpha Greeff