Another thing about valley life is the bikers.
Our valley is the ‘in’ road to the most amazing off road routes through the hills far out into the wilderness, where riders from beginners to experts can test their skills against the hills, bends and river beds.
My husband, John, has always had a motor bike since he was old enough to ride one.
He spent his teenage years in Pretoria and one holiday, he and two of his friends rode their 50CC motorbikes from there to Durban. That is an adventure for another story !!
When we lived on the Bluff, he said to our son Siddhartha that if ever we moved out into a place where he could ride ‘off road’ he would get him a bike to have fun with.
Well, you can imagine Sid’s delight when his dad kept his word and, soon after we arrived in the valley, in 1992, he got his first off road bike…an IT 175 Yamaha.
John swapped it for his XJ 650 Yamaha.
That bike brought him many hours of joy as he and his mates explored the valley and other local areas. There were no cel phones in those days, so it gave us a few grey hairs if he was out too long !!!
He has since had it restored by a friend in Jo’burg, and now it looks amazing in its former glory.
Sid moved up to Centurion at the turn of the Century and he and his mates had great fun on the ‘rides’ up there.
Since he moved back here a couple of years ago, he has reconnected with old biking friends.
Our next door neighbour, Hein, has been riding these hills for 40 years and his place is the hub for advice and repairs. Over the years he discovered all the routes through the valley, and it is these routes that the riders explore and expand.
They spend hours riding in the valley as they did in their teens, re – riding the old routes and cutting new ones through the thick ‘bush’. Some new fellow bikers have come into our awareness and they join the ‘gang’ on a regular basis. I reckon the boys go on a ride at least once a fortnight. I am forever mending tears in the riding gear !!
A few years ago, the property at the end of the hill was sold, and they started a bikers parking spot. This at least lessened the noise, as, now, instead of riding past our property in to the valley, the bikers drive down and start up their bikes from there.
Our boys ( well, men between 20 and 60 !!) sometimes spend the whole day in the valley, riding and testing their skills. There are some ‘lighties’ who join them, and are grateful to learn from the more experienced riders.
Most rides go smoothly, but the lads are very brave if they have mishaps, usually having the sense to let go of the bike as it tumbles. We hear hair raising tales of failed steep climbs, river bed ‘slips’, and grazed bodies from the nasty thorn bushes that catch them.
It’s a bit like deep sea diving, it is best to go with a ‘buddy’ or two.
Along the way, some Africans have built Shebeens and they are grateful for a cool one as they sweat it out on the way. It is in these gathering places that we learn what is really going on at grass roots level !!
We are very fortunate that they have built in microphones and headphones for their cel phones in their helmets, so we can stay in touch, and Sid often sends us amazing photos of the valley where hardly anybody goes.
They often tease me about riding with them one day. Hmmmm – have you felt the weight of those bikes !! How they manage to maneuver these beasts so easily always amazes me. It keeps them fit, and, for a while, they are carefree – pitting themselves against their two wheeled wild horses, and Nature.
Another reason we love our valley life.