Proud stockists of Ural sidecars & spares

Yearly Sidecar Convention
5 - 8 March 2015
Klein-Kariba ATKV Oord, Bela Bela

As always I need to emphasize that this is indeed my own private and personal little Trip Report and Convention Record. Not just because the format of the convention was ‘adapted’ slightly but also because I would be riding out later on Thursday after the group had left as I could only fetch my monkey at 3 in the afternoon.

The best made plans of mice and men and don’t forget sidecar riders – well yes - as I’m about to take my beloved Narki out of the garage, the power goes out, but we are load shedding proof so never fear my face doesn’t even change. Garage door sorted I back Narki out (actually I reversed her out as backing out sounds very American!) and to my dismay there is a long line of what I’m hoping is water from where she stood to where she is now parked! Not! Turns out it is petrol running from the overflow above the carburettor and it is overflowing as a result of the needle getting stuck – hey I sound like I know what I’m talking about! I don’t it just sounds like that. I haven’t even left and the story
is already getting long!

After a number of panicked calls to Isaac (I am very spoilt as I always have someone cleverer than myself with me when I ride) I manage to make it to Skyview. The problem seems to have been solved until I fill up and the petrol starts pouring out again. Thank goodness for Alberto and Felix at Alberto’s Auto Repairs. It takes them exactly 10 minutes to solve my problem and finally I’m on my way.

An hour later than planned I collect my little high school monkey but this also means we get to sit in the Pretoria N1 traffic in temperatures exceeding 30 degrees!

Thankfully this doesn’t last forever and we start picking up speed. Now it is us and the N1 between Pretoria and Bela Bela.

Maybe because one usually travels this stretch of road in an air conditioned vehicle with all kinds of things to keep you busy it is only when we ride there on Narki that I realise that this entire stretch from just after the PPC factory and the Bakwena N4 split all the way to the Bela Bela/Settlers off ramp is one long level, straight piece of road with almost no horison! I kid you not – how is this physically possible? It is like a geological space warp – everything looks the same in whatever direction you look and this carries on like I say till one gets to the Bela Bela off ramp.

Having been released from the space warp we head off to Bela Bela for a well deserved ice cream and some fuel. I am happy to ride into Klein Kariba before dark and it is so good to be greeted by so many familiar smiling faces!

The group had a splendid ride with little trouble and a lekker breakfast at Beestekraal. They arrived at Klain Kariba just after 2pm – lucky feeeshes!

Thursday evening we all kuier on the stoep at the Restaurant and it’s a whole bunch of happy monkeys and riders who retire to our different ‘huisies’ – vishuisies, berghuisies, houthuisies, tenthuisies, even a penthouse for the Ecksteins – everything just not a caravan.

Friday morning dawns all African – clear and beautiful with not a cloud in the sky.

Today the plan is that we all ride the same route, but at our own pace. We are encouraged by our organisers to make little groups and find our way to Vaalwater, our lunch destination, all by ourselves. This got off to a slow-eish start, but eventually it seems like most sidecars have flown the nest.

Had to smile out loud – as we leave Modimolle in our particular little group we find the other groups bunched up into one group again. It would seem that reading the map proved to be interesting and challenging – actually that’s just a very pc way of saying the map didn’t exactly work. So all those of us reliant on snail/paper maps and directions as opposed to GPSs got a little lost.

Off we went and the rest of the days riding was done in a fluid group that kept rearranging itself which was a very nice way to do it.

Adele (1 of the few Retro’s in SA) had a flat tyre. This was interesting as she does not have a spare and our (i.e. all the Tourists and Gear-Up wheels) are bigger than hers. So no prizes for guessing the outcome – Adele rode with one big wheel and 2 Retro wheels. She was really cool about it and said it made riding in the loose sand even more exciting!

Some of the other groups saw all kinds of exciting things – buffaloes and sable antelope being darted and woken up and and. Cannot say I saw anything remotely that amazing, but it was a beautiful ride. Unfortunately the Tarentaalstraat Pass is closed currently, but hey no worries, we just rode on and on and came in to Vaalwater from the Melkrivier side.

Lunch was good – some real lekker Hamburgers with very cold drinks and shooting the breeze on the stoep at the Vaalwater Hotel and Pub. Sometimes it’s good not to get too caught up in what a place looks like from the outside.

Driving back we passed the Geluksfontein Goat Cheese Farm and decided to turn off for some Melktert for pudding. Turns out all the Melktert is finished but we can have some ‘bokmelk’ shakes. And man I put on my ‘stoute skoene’ and even tried a little Brandy Shake – like a goaty Don Pedro! Very good.

Riding back through Modimolle we decide to take a trip down memory lane. My sister and I were born in what was then still Nylstroom. We went to have a look at the house where we lived. Could not really see anything and I thought that it was better that the place had a new name now because the little dorpie we were born in really does not exist at all anymore. Modimolle does not resemble Nylstroom at all.  I laughed out loud in my helmet when I saw what they’ve called the shopping mall – Modi Mall – just loved it!  The road between Modimolle and Bela Bela is a pleasure and we get to ride ourselves into lightness again.

Friday night we have our very own Lapa at the waterfall and a feast of braaivleis and paptert and salad to keep everyone happy. Man the Brocolli and creamy sauce was out of this world!
Hey it’s Saturday and we get to ride on our sidecars again! Today is an ‘every rider for him/her/itself’ kind of affair and it’s interesting at breakfast to hear all the plans and missions.

Some plan on doing very little and others have quite elaborate plans. Anyway this is where I can only write for me and my little fandamily. We head into the direction of the Ziplines. We arrive to be told that we could only maybe be helped round 1 as we had not made a booking. That was middle of the day and not quite when we had in mind to do this, so we put on all the kit again as we were now going in search of the Nyl Zyn Oog.

Somehow this becomes another mission incomplete as we cannot get to it and it would turn out that it isn’t anything spectacular to see – more like a marshy vlei. Ryno and the monkeys lumped into the same category as the heads of Knysna and the pearl of the Paarl!
No worries, we have identified another point of interest on the trusted GPS – the First National Tree! Of course we have to go and see what that is/looks like! So all you see is dust swirling where we were as we head down the road. The scenery is very beautiful and the riding is fantastic. We get to the gate of the Shakama Lodge and open the gate as we are following the GPS and it is telling us to go in there. I am feeling a little nervous as the 2 spoor concrete strips are disappearing up and over the hill with absolutely nothing in site.

 The Lodge is situated 3 kms into the property and we ride along very beautiful scenery. I’m still nervous because not everyone loves sidecars as much as we do. Finally we stop outside the Lodge and a young man comes out and introduces himself as Shaun and asks if we are part of the group checking in? No we say, but could he tell us where the First National Tree is?

He looked at us like we came from another planet. Maybe if we had arrived by car it would not have sounded so strange, but having arrived by sidecar and now asking to be taken to the First National Tree must have been a little like asking to be taken to his Leader? He has never heard of it or anything like it and has absolutely no idea what we are talking about.  So that’s the third blank – nada, nothing! I can now say that I know what nothing looks like – it’s a helluva nice road in a very beautiful place ending at a very impressive lodge. Oh and we got to ride the Zebrasnekspas!

We had made plans to meet up with some other sidecar folk at Shangri-La for lunch. So off we trundled. It would turn out to be stranger than our morning’s ride.

Shangri-La is an oasis. The gardens are spectacularly beautiful and the little chapel quaint. The food and the company are good and easy and we are really enjoying ourselves. Every now and again a person dressed like they could be a wedding guest wafts by. As we approach 3 o’clock the guests and the intensity of the outfits increase until we finally have the bride floats past as well – all in champagny creamy splendour. We wish her all the best, and start getting ready to go. Lo and behold if another bride does not sail past our table!

Now we are curious of course – it must be a double wedding! Nooo says the manager, not quite, it is a wedding with 2 brides. No funerals, not 4 weddings, just 1 wedding with 2 brides! It took me a little while and I needed some help from my friends to figure that one out! What can I say it’s hard to be dof…..

And on our way home to Klein Kariba we even had few drops of rain fall on us.

Saturday evening we get to ‘kuier’ a little more and I just cannot believe the weekend is over when we start saying goodbye to faraway friends again.

On Sunday morning we are a bunch of 7 sidecars heading home the way they came on Thursday. It is a glorious ride. The sun is behind us and there is a little cloud cover so we get to ride like Israelites. The early morning light is beautiful.

We get to Beestekraal and once again a splendid breakfast is had! Final goodbyes are said and so it ends – another Sidecar Convention has been convened.

Thank you Sidecar Africa it was a real good one!

Written by:  Alpha Greeff

On Saturday Ray & Bron, Marius & Maureen and Jaco paid a visit to Loebies Guest Farm.

Ray Eckstein writes about his Waterberg Mugging

I was rightly concerned when I had to complete an indemnity form when entering Loebies.  Chap called Moses deftly removed my specs and whilst still holding them in his left hand covered half my face with his jaws. 

Moses was two days old when found by police at Klein Kariba last year in the flood aftermath.  He is a Cape Clawless Otter. 

Annel said Moses would love to swim with me in the pool.  The lions of course only cuddled with Annel.  There were leopards that licked our hands, hyenas, a caracal, a serval and other creatures.

Mad Moses squeezes into guests’ beds whilst still wet, steals ballpoint pens and jumps into the pool with them.  When told ‘Moenie!’ he covers his eyes with his little hands.  He loves to play with the other animals, including the big cats.  Unfortunately the grumpy older male lion removed half his tail two weeks ago.

Moses was the first to greet the Urals upon arrival.  I am now suffering a serious psychological disturbance called ‘love’.

Zeta Brand writes:

On Saturday I chose to set out to the Thaba Kwena Crocodile Farm with Kobus and Tes.  It was a short ride.  They feed the crocs once a week on Saturdays at 14h00 so unfortunately we were too early to experience this. 
It is a very scary experience to be up so close and personal (or rather not personal as they have the coldest most unemotional temperaments I think of all creatures).  Camps are well maintained and guide Girly was very knowledgeable.  They have a camp with 2 – 3 year olds, they are bred for the sole purpose of becoming handbags, shoes or belts.  There is a huge enclosure where the oldies while their time away, their skin are too hard and the meat to tough, so I guess they’ve been saved by the skin of their noses?  Each camp has an Alpha male, the boss in this camp is Battle Axe, he is 27 years old, lies in the same spot everyday and when he moves the others run.  In another camp they keep breeding kwenas.  The boss-man here is Bekkie (mouth) he had a piece of his jaw bitten off, hence the name.  Breeding takes place from September after which the eggs go into ‘hothouses’ for 3 months.  The eggs are very delicate and if turned upside down or handled without care the embryo mutates and you can end up with a two-tailed croc ...  there is a Siamese twin embryo with 2 heads!!! 

Tes bought herself a stuffed little one which had to be transported back on the Ural with great care.  It was strapped onto the luggage carrier at first but in the end Tes ended up with it like a little baby in a box on her lap.  It caused quite a bit of consternation with the gate guard back at Klein-Kariba as she ran away when she saw this.