Proud stockists of Ural sidecars & spares

Yearly Sidecar Convention
4 - 6 March 2011
St Augustines, Modderpoort, Clocolan

Just the idea of going to our annual Sidecar Convention is already enough to make my little heart sing. However, I think I should get this off my chest and out in the clear right from the start.  It had been decided by the Sidecar Africa people to move the venue to a wonderful place called St Augustine’s between Clocolan and Ladybrand in the Eastern Free State. Now this is where my confession becomes relevant. I don’t like the Eastern Free State, I adore it, I am so in love with it it can be distracting. There now I feel better and I don’t have to explain or apologise for any exaggerated enthusiasm about the rides in that part of the world.

We left early Thursday morning to get there a day early, set up for the convention and also because it’s fun. This was the first convention we took our children or monkeys along and we had decided to ride all the way from home – roughly 400kms. Once Sasolburg stops lingering in your nostrils and no longer lurks in your rear view mirrors, the journey becomes a heavenly affair of rolling grassland, pastoral scenes with sheep and cattle dotting the fields and beautiful light lilac tinged horizons meeting majestic open skies with inspiring cloudscapes. Told ya I cannot speak about the Eastern Free State without getting carried away! Once I’ve spotted the first sandstone fence post I know we’re in the land of milky clouds and honey coloured fields!! I just love love love it! It makes me sing in my helmet – I never sing in the shower it’s far more fun in my helmet.

First stop was Heilbron, for fill up, leg stretch and a very decent breakfast at OJ’s right by the garage! (OJ being Heilbron registration in days gone by). Next stop was the Monument and Feesterrein at Vegkop. Once Ken Dalgleish arrived on Friday we got some fabulous background on what happened at the Battle of Vegkop – he always succeeds in making the facts come alive!  Just after the Vegkop monument we got onto some grand Free State dirt roads. Their dirt roads are as good as many other provinces’ tar roads! What a pleasure – at one point one has a 360 degree view of the surrounding rolling hills and dales and it literally feels if you are riding in heaven. And in the far distance one can see the Malutis as they become a constant presence on the left horizon.

Just before Lindley we’re back on the tar and now riding for our next destination and fuel stop - Senekal. We’ve Googled Senekal and we now know it has a Wimpy!! What would we do without Wimpy? Everybody is smiling real broad when we stop for a Wimpy pit stop.  I think one of the real joys of riding out and away to one’s destination is that it gets progressively more beautiful and impressive as one drives further. This makes travelling 400kms to our destination in the Eastern Free State unbelievably easy and if it wasn’t for my aching backside I would have wanted to carry on riding my Ural forever.

Not far out of Clocolan we found the The Haven, a really good road side tea garden, curio shop, delicatessen and beautiful setting.  Seeing as we’ere just around the corner from St Augustine’s, we had a good coffee and tea with Sonja and Coetzee, the people who initially planted the Clocolan Tractor Show idea. This is one excellent road side stall, from beautiful dresses to pickled asperagus. An absolute must if you drive in that part of the world.  We arrived in the afternoon at St Augustine’s. What a wonderful place. From backpacking and camping facilities to luxury rooms in elegant sandstone accommodation – utterly fabulous.  At this stage I was already impressed with our accommodation and we had not even had dinner yet. Well my heart was won with little individual Bobotie pies – what a splendid meal we had on Thursday night. This basically set the tone for the rest of our stay at St Augustine’s.

Friday morning was spent getting things together and by lunch time we were really looking forward to greeting and meeting old friends and fellow sidecar riders and monkeys. Friday night we braaied and kuiered. During the night there was a little rain, just enough to settle all dust and Saturday morning dawned dry but overcast enough to keep things cool. In other words, perfect riding weather. We all got together for our rider briefing at 8h00 for our mass outride and set off to Ladybrand, where those who needed filled up.

The scenery along the route to Tweespruit where we had breakfast was just perfect. Ray Eckstein climbed onto the roof of the local pub to take some awesome pictures.  We had a hearty country breakfast, complete with ‘skilpadjies’ and got going to Excelsior – for those who wanted to visit the gallery displaying some of Father Claerhout’s work.


From Excelsior the R703 to Clocolan is just the most perfect little tar road. It felt like I was riding in my own movie again and now you’re going to laugh when I tell you the sound track. ‘You fill up my senses’ by John Denver was playing in my heart as that is truly what I experience when I ride those Eastern Free State little roads (and big roads) as the scenery just fills my entire being with joy! And it really does fill up all your senses – it’s a feast for the eyes, you smell the grass and the fresh air and poplar trees, the air we rode through was clean and fresh and John Denver in my head!

We arrived just about perfectly on schedule in Clocolan where the sidecars featured on the Show agenda. At 12h30 the sidecars took to the arena and after some flying the car and waving, adventurous members of the public were monkeyed around as well. Grant had a real race with a huge John Deere tractor. There was Bobotie and Bobotie and a little more Bobotie for lunch and one could watch a team of oxen being spanned in and go for a ride on the oxwagon.

However time does not wait, and we had our Sidecar Games commencing at 15h30 at St Augustine’s.  What fun, Jacquie had set out a course to ride with cold drink tins placed just far enough apart for a sidecar to fit through. What looked very simple turned out to be a little more difficult than most anticipated. Amanda got so excited and enthusiastic that she managed to overturn her sidecar! No harm was done and after a collective gasp from the crowd everybody exhaled again, Amanda got dusted off, and her sidecar put on all 3 wheels again and it was business as usual. There were 2 clear rounds and team Paul & Salome and team Vic & Marianne went into a ride-off. Paul impressed us all and went on to win.

Our next event involved jousting a toilet roll with a mop handle! The rider was not allowed to use his clutch while the knight/monkey had to collect toilet rolls with a mop from strategically placed positions. This caused much laughter and Alpha almost lost her little monkey Klara, who luckily fell into the sidecar while Salome was not so lucky. Her rider got a good whack with the mop handle!! Ray and Bron made this exercise look like a piece of cake, cleaning up and finishing with all 4 toilet rolls on her mop handle – well done team Eckstein!

At supper on Saturday evening it was time for prize giving. Paul and Salome got a beautiful little sidecar donated by Tim from Cape Sidecar Adventures for winning the course, Ray and Bronnie got a set of brushes for cleaning Verushka for their efforts in the Toilet Roll Joust and Jacquie received a lovely Sidecar Africa flask and cups in a special travel bag for being games mistress and also winning the Darwin award. Ken Dalglish recieved a prize for being the most travelled (and loved) sidecar member.  The Rood team, Hanneli and Wynand got a prize for best kept secret and last but not least, The Johan prize was awarded for the most Beautiful Sidecar at the Convention. This year it was decided to ask a completely non-partial person to choose his favourite sidecar. Johan, manager of St Augustine’s and his 2 sons took their duties very seriously and after much deliberation, this special prize went to Nic Loveday and his monkey Thalita for their beautiful, authentic black CJ.

We kuiered and laughed until the tears rolled on Saturday night and just had a fantastic time catching up with and spending time with dear sidecar friends whom we don’t see often.  Sunday morning it was with warm hearts that we bade our friends a fond farewell. We had a wonderful weekend convening with our sidecar buddies at St Augustine’s and it was time to head home, or on to our next destination for the lucky Nelspruit contingency for whom the convention had just been the first leg of a 2 week sidecar holiday – lucky feeeeshes!

Thank you to Ryno and Zeta and Isaac at Sidecar Africa for a most memorable Convention! We’ll be back!