Swellendam, Southern Cape - Most motorcycle rally names are simply the names of animals, following the trend set by the first Buffalo Rally in 1969.

An exception is the Swallows Rally, which is named after the host club, Swallows Flight, while the Elephant Rally should really be named the Polar Bear, since camping outdoors is mandatory and the rally is held at the end of January each year in the Bavarian forest.

Which brings us to the first South African Bear Rally and Expo - because in this case BEAR stands for British, European and American Racing, a motorcycle association founded in New Zealand in the 1980s by the late John Britten, better known as the designer of the amazing Britten V1000, a motorcycle so ahead of its time that the rest of the world has yet to catch up.

The Bear Rally is a gathering exclusively for riders of motorcycles built in the western hemisphere, and will be held at the Swellendam showgrounds from Friday 19 to Sunday 21 February. Which is not to say you can't go on an Oriental bike - but you'll have to park off to one side in an area known as the "rice paddy".

Rain no damper for female bikers

There will be a larger-than-usual number of trade stalls selling accessories, aftermarket spares and 'bike bling' specifically aimed at Bear bikes, a wide variety of food and drink stalls, a massage and tattoo 'pamper area' and a mini-cinema showing bike movies.

Entry is R350 per person at the gate, which gets you an armband allowing you entry and exit throughout the weekend. Camping at the site is free but for those who "don't do tents" there is plenty of accommodation available in the town. That, however, you will have to book separately.

You'll be able to join in outrides on Saturday morning - just be back in time for the mass ride through the town at noon! - and shine up your Bear bike for the Concours d'Elegance on Saturday afternoon. There will be live music - biker rock and smooth blues, mostly - from 2pm until late on Friday and Saturday.

British, European and American bikes are different, say the organisers, and their riders are not mainstream. They don't want to fit in, because for them biking is about the ride as much as it is about the destination, which is why the Bear Rally has been carefully sited where a number of iconic biking roads intersect.

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