The morning mist just hung heavily in the air during the ride to Franschhoek. We were surrounded by grape vines, some noticably absent os grapes, some so full it looked as if the vines would just collapse. It was harvest time and smell of fermenting mash filled your senses. An acquaintance of Kinga’s had arranged a place at a beautiful winery, the Chamonix Wine Farm. Arriving early we got a special tour of the Marco Polo lodge. The lodge was filled with stuffed mounts that the owner, a big game hunter, had acquired. The Marco Polo lodge was named after the Marco Polo sheep found in central Asia, which hung over the main fireplace.
As our cottage was not ready yet, we changed in an amazing suite just off the main hall. Yep, this was a place for the rich and famous, the room and views were breathtaking. Storing our bikes, the manager graciously drove us down the hill to where the wine train would begin. The train looked like a cross between an English double decker bus and an electric trolly. The men running the train were amazing and joked continually with us as we shot photos and sampled the wine they had given us. With a toot and a chug, off we went to the first winery.
What could be better than a ride in a wagon, pulled by an old orange Massey Ferguson tractor through the wine fields, to the immense white block of buildings that housed the tasting area. The young girl who brought our wines had a very cool haircut, and was very knowledgeable and just fun to be around. We sampled 4 of their best wines, with ample pours, which showed us just the direction this wine tasting day was going to go.
After ambling through the grape fields back to the train, the next stop was a winery with four samples paired with four wines. The other guys finally arrived and met us there. We hit a couple more stops, drank plenty of wine and headed back up the mountain to our little cabin in the clouds, (read place where groups or the rich and famous crowd stays).
One of the guys started a fire for braai as soon as we got back. After more wine, like that’s what we needed, the braai was on serving up a delicious meal of lamb chops and sausage. We were all way over done by the time we finished eating and all stumbled to bed, this place had four separate bedrooms.
Early in the morning the mist was so heavy it was like a light rain. We all packed up and went out seperate ways, us heading back to the coast about 100 kms from Wilderness. We were going to finish our ride along the coast heading back to Capetown. Riding south we headed for the southernmost point in Africa. This point is special as it’s the dividing point of two oceans, the South Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Indian Ocean to the east. The coastline is rugged here and the winds were making the surf pound the exposed rocky coastline.
We stopped for a couple day a got a small apartment in Hermanus. This beautiful village had a coastal trail to walk above a spectacular rocky coastline reveling the best of California. I had injured my right medial maniscus again a few days ago, making me hop to the beach and just sit and enjoy the view. I had to rest that knee to continue safely.
After a couple days we headed to the home of Christopher Venter, aka “The Blind Scooter Guy”. He has an most inspirational story of overcoming obstacles. Thanks to my mate, Sam Manicom, this meeting, and friendship, happened. But first was a ride to Betty’s Bay, and the Stoney Point Penguin colony. This is home to the Jackass Penguins, named for their donkey sounding bray. After several photos and avoidance maneuvers on the bike, we continued the ride north along the Whale Road. This road tightly hugs the coastline as it is built directly into the cliffs. A national park insures the coastline remains free of development. For almost 30 kms, this road twists and turns above the jagged rocks below with the South Atlantic ocean pounding the rocks. Above, the jagged rocks cling to the mountains, piercing the bright blue sky above. One of my favorite rides I’ve been on, so good, we rode it twice. We even stopped briefly at a coffee stand set-up at a bend in the coast, allowing you to sip a cappuccino while dangling your.legs while seated, over the sea, from a rock wall.
Several years ago, Christopher was riding a Vespa scooter from Durbin, South Africa to Dublin, Ireland, with three other mates. This was being done as a fundraiser for children hospitals. Part way through his trip, he became ill. After seeing several doctors, his Illness remained undiagnosed. He finished his ride and soon after, immediately became totally blind. It seems a virus had invaded his system, possibly around Lake Malowi, and area ked the white receptors of his eyes, making him totally, and forever, blind.
After a short session of self pity, he picked himself up, and reinvented his life. At the time he was engaged to a wonderful woman, that went on to become his wife and partner, and they now have a son. He does inspirational talks around the globe, and Ted talks. He writes for Traverse Magazine, a wonderful motorcycle publication. He has a mate, Big Mike, that rides him as a pillion, testing new bikes. What can I say, he is one of the most amazing people I have ever had the opportunity to meet.
On the second night Kinga joined us and also had the chance to meet Christopher. We all had a wonderful time sharing stories of travels.
On Saturday, Kinga had a meet and greet, Q and A session at the Capetown BMW dealership. For an hour, questions came her way. She did a great job answering the questions with enthusiasm and wit. Good job, Kinga. The next day there was a 200 km breakfast ride into the wine country. It was well attended and the three of us had a blast meeting so many really cool riders. A special thanks to the club for picking up the tab of us three travelers.
After the ride, the three of us headed south toward the Cape of Good Hope for a few days, but that begins the next chapter.