Robertson – The fourth annual ladies-only Rally in the Valley at Silwerstrand resort just outside Robertson was a roaring success, too much so for some of the riders, who didn’t make it to Worcester for the mass ride on Saturday morning because they were still in their tents sleeping off the effects of Friday night’s party.
Those who did, however, brought the sleepy Boland town a standstill as they rumbled through the streets to the Kaleidoscope blind community centre, the designated beneficiary for the 2017 Rally in the Valley, hosted by Lady Bikers SA.
There they formed a human chain to transfer a huge donation of essential foodstuffs and toiletries, sponsored by JTI, to the centre’s store. And then the fun started, as some of the riders started their bikes and lined up to give the residents rides around the extensive centre grounds.
We take the wind in our faces, the vibration and the swooping from side to side for granted, but the expressions of awe and wonder on the faces of these first-time pillions reminded many of the rallygoers just why we ride motorcycles.
With the formal part of the rally done and dusted, it was time for a leisurely ride back to the campsite for lunch, socialising and games. Well, leisurely for some, anyway; we latched on to the back of a very professional group of BMW riders who were soon cruising, in perfect staggered formation, almost exactly at the speed limit.
She Who Must be Obeyed had only one complaint about that exhilarating ride down the R60 to Robertson – it was too short!
Soon the bikes were parked in the shade of the resort’s trees and the ladies got down to some serious partying, in between lunch from one of several food stalls, trying on bike-related jewellery, laughing at each others’ choice of T-shirt slogan (my favourite was one that read, “Witches used to ride brooms - now they ride bikes”) and swopping stories about their rides to the rally.
More than 270 entries
The 2017 Rally in the Valley was the biggest yet, with more than 270 entries from all over South Africa, such as petite sixtysomething Ria de Klerk, who rode her BMW R1200 GS - alone! - from her home in Pretoria across the Northern Cape to the Atlantic, took a sho’t left and rode down the West Coast to the rally, arriving with an impressive 2500km on her tripmeter.
By the time she gets home she will have ridden 5000km - and she reckons that’s just a jaunt in the country compared to her previous safari, an 8000km ride to Malawi and back.
A group of about a dozen survivors and supporters from Cancervive were doing their best to live up to the organisation’s mantra, “Celebrate life!” – although they were no match for Lauren Cloete of Icarus Chase and the Boob Tube team, who won the tug-of-war contest for the fourth consecutive year.
Celebrity blogger, stunt rider and track racer Skinny van Schalkwyk was a quiet inspiration with her understated persona - until she got on a bike, giving the ladies an impromptu stunt show on a Harley-Davidson that she’d seen before, let alone ridden.
Then things got really loud, with live music and a cowgirl themed line-dance party, interspersed with cheers and applause for the winners of the concours, judged, appropriately, by She Who Has the Casting Vote, and more than R35 000 worth of raffle prizes.
All too soon, it was Sunday morning, time to pack the bikes and head home, with heartfelt hugs all round and promises of “next year”, when ladies from 17 to 70, will be drawn together again from far and wide by their common love of motorcycling.