TG Newsletter: CHURCH STREET
(6 February 2014)
Most towns in South Africa owe their existence to the building of a church, usually the Dutch Reformed Church. The practice was to have the first or main street lead straight to the church, hence the name Church Street. In Afrikaans it is Kerkstraat.
I was on my way to ‘that’ rally. You know… ‘that’ thing that most households have. You either have it in a form covered in hair, pointy ears & a whisking tail. You might have it as an anatomical part of the person that runs the household. OR it might be the complete biological form of the person standing next to the person already mentioned here.
So, before I get all ‘katty’ – let’s focus on the trip.
I was planning on leaving 4am on Friday morning, 7 February. The trip was 1150km one way & I only had 3 days. I needed to get down to Steytlerville as quick as possible, having the most fun I could squeeze into 3 days. My fun started on Thursday when our farm was surrounded by protesting masses, burning trucks, stoning cars & dancing through the night. Yes, in Africa we dance when we are unhappy!
I delayed my trip with an hour & GPSed another route through the back-dorpies of the North-West. I left in rain………
But summer rain is pleasant & by the time I got to Derby I was already sweating. Probably cause I got stuck in mud looking for Church street. Derby’s neighborhood only has dirt streets & with all the rain, they got a bit slippery.
On my way to Ventersdorp, I passed a place called Kerkskraal, but the gate was closed & I could only see ruins left in the field.
As everything was still wet, there were sparkles all around. All you could smell was wet African farms!
I stopped for a Wimpy coffee in Ventersdorp, & as always there were more metro cops in the streets than civilians. Ventersdorp is where they keep the mould for spietkops.
The next town that had a Kerkstraat was in Bothaville.
At Allanridge I was staring at the pink foam on the dam, when I saw a very yellow stick in the road. At last minute I realized it was a snake – A HUGE SNAKE! There was no way I could miss it… phah-phah… My knees still covering my ears, I saw in the mirror the snake scramble away in the grass.
I guess in a small town like Allanridge, the different species have to multi-task. “It’s the chicken’s week off. Who’s crossing the road this week?”
Odendaalsrus, this be a town where many a racer has rest his weary bones after an exciting day at Phakisa Racetrack. Knowing that World Superbikes are coming back, I imagine the town is a bustle getting everything ready.
I found Church Street in Welkom & struck a pose, feet up on the handlebars. But Brom needed to take a rest & decided to lay his lady down on the soft lawn, maybe not so softly. Add shrieking voice here… followed by a soft *PLOMP*.
After roping in at least 4 spectators to help met lift the Brom’s ass, I did a bit of dusting off & struck a smile again.
This was the only sign board I could find even though the street was quite long.
I stopped at the garage for a quick byte & met up with a couple doing a long trip down to the coast & then off to the Slaapstad for their son’s birthday.
They had a gift for me, a Biker’s bible!
They also gave me those lekker hugs – those ones where you can feel how much they care. I could stand there for the rest of the day hugging them, but I think it would look a bit weird… & I still had a long way to go.
As we left town, the cops pulled us over. We had to turn back as they were busy with line-dancing classes in Brandfort. With a tank hoesing only 200km I was crossing my toes that I would make it to the next garage.
I decided to get off the highway at the first off-ramp & ended on a stretch of road where I didn’t see another soul. I guess they all entered the line-dancing competition???
As I was taking off my helmet at Brandfort, I heard a little two-stroke screaming down street. Not too long & an auntie came ‘steek’ing it past me with a helmet NOT tied on her head & another one over the handlebar. She hit a pothole in the road & her legs went flying past broomstick height, one hand holding the deksel on her head, the other pip rolling down the street.
She quickly turned around, picked up the pip & went on her way again. Soon after I could hear the whining of the two-stroke again. This time the yellow deksel was on a small head on the back – holding on for dear life.
I was still smiling at the spectacle when an Oom in a Kombi parked next to me, asking me why I’m taking kiekies of their badly kept signs. When I told him about my trip, he switched off the car & offered to play photographer.
How different the street in a big city is. In Bloemfontein nobody offered to make any form of conversation. All you could hear was hooters, tooters & sirens.
The next stretch to Colesberg was just over 200 clicks. It was touch & go if Brom would make it. I filled up at the last pump leaving town & slowed down to no more than 100km/h. This must be the most boring stretch of road in SA, & then rolling it up at 100km/h… I was dying!
I galloped into Colesberg, gooied Brom full of juice & made my way to the Horse-n-Mill, a well-known pub for the two wheelers. It was past 5pm & there were still a good 3 hours left of my trip. So I did what most beer guzzling biker chickens would do. I ordered a cold one & topped it up with a single room.
I met up with some boere, local town peeps & an onnie or two. They just finished a big school athletics meeting & everybody had a shade of pink. Apparently beer relieves any degree of sunburn.
As per always on my way to this specific rally – I bumped into its name-sake. He was a damn good bartender & it seemed like his ‘been all over the world’.
I woke up the next morn, brewed a cuppa & had a look at my padkaart. There was more than enough time to get to the rally, so I scribbled in a few detours.
Colesberg didn’t have a street sign. Maybe they only role them out after 8am? As proof, I took a kiekie of the street – name or no name!
A few kays out of town I turned off onto a dirt road. Even though there was no Church Street at the end of this loop, I think praying to stay on top of the mud & sand made up for it.
We all find our peace in different places. With my feet on African dust, watching our yellow sun rise over the vlaktes – peace filled my binnegoed.
How could I not… CAT Stevens!
“Now I've been happy lately Thinking about the good things to come And I believe it could be Something good has begun…”
I weaved over a koppie & found the most beautiful scene running past me. This is Africa – WELCOME!
A few kays later I stopped for a quick dop… Oros was all I had.
I wanted to unpack my tent & stay there for the rest of the day. I probably would have… if I had anything to nibble or sip.
I left tracks behind me, but there were so many marks I still had to leave ahead. So, on we go!
My last stretch before I could hook up with a beer & some old friends… It was 60 kays of dirt road through the Karoo. Sweeping over the narrow roads, I felt the purr of the wheels rumble through my hands. There’s a quietness about the Karoo that is immense. I had to stop & listen…
Nobody around, I decided to go for a ‘Skinny’-dip.
Sometimes live throws a draai in our way. So put your weight on the outside peg & open throttle. You might fall, but at least it will be spectacularly!
The last of the Kerkstrate!
At last, I could fill my gut with spiritz!
Charley Cooper, debating the correctness of consuming ‘green’ beer at a rally.
We chatted to well into the evening, braaied, & dopped ‘n klein bietjie.
I left the next morning just past 4am. It was a long way back & this time I had to make it in one day.
I watched as the sun woke the air, riding with only the nightjars paying any attention to me.
I was really making up time, when I ran out of petrol 30kays from Colesberg. It was before 7am & there was no one on the road.
I belled Charley, but he was still in bed. I then belled Howie Zowie, but he didn’t answer. I would have to sit & wait till one of the guys caught up with me.
Next mo’ a bakkie with polieste pulls over & asks if I need help. I tell them about my petrol penarie & they quick-quick phone the vang-wa that was minutes behind them to go buy me a few litres of juice. There were about 10 guys dressed in blue, weaponed to the knees. All I wanted to do was ‘soek kak’ with somebody – ANYBODY! There was no way anyone would touch me. I’ve never felt so save in my life!
Along my way home I hooked up with Couzin Markham for a coffee. A bit later I found Howie, June & Clause for a beer at a small garage. An old couple that just came from church was sitting in their kis-klere next to us, enjoying our banter… until… Clause stood up! He still had his rally t-shirt on. I had to explain to our German friend that he had to wear the t-shirt inside out in public.
The three of them made their way, as I filled up Brom’s small pens. But the auntie in her church best came asking me very concerned why my friends are not waiting for me???
It’s hard to explain to people that riding siels alleen is siels lekker!
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