By: Dave Abrahams
Slanghoek Valley – A convoy of more than 80 gleaming motorcycles rumbling into a small country town with a full police escort is always a stirring sight. But when each of them - with one exception - is being ridden by a lady, now that is something special.
The first annual ladies-only Rally in the Valley, held at the beautiful Slanghoek Mountain Resort near Rawsonville in the Cape Boland at the weekend, attracted close to 100 riders, on just about every possible type of machinery, ranging from teenagers on scooters - some of whom had ridden over the top of Du Toit’s Kloof pass from Cape Town to be there - to 1300cc sports bikes, hard-core adventure riders, big tourers and a preponderance of big, gleaming big V-twin cruisers.
Most were from the Western Cape but at least one - Catherine Anne Hougaard - had come straight outta Benoni on a BMW R1200 RT lent to her by a friend who thought Hougard’s own F650 GS would become something of an endurance test on a round trip of more than 4000km.
BIGGER THAN EXPECTED
There were even two three-wheelers – a beautifully customised Harley trike and a Can Am Spyder - among the bikes that gathered early on the Saturday morning for the mass ride into Worcester, a turn-out much bigger than expected by the local authorities.
They were met by Traffic Service vehicles, blue lights spinning, at the first intersection and when convenor Linlee Solms joined the senior officer in his car for the ride he was busy on the radio asking for backup.
Sure enough, at the entrance to the town they were joined by two more ‘cop cars’, one crewed by a pair of broadly grinning young ladies in uniform who took great pleasure in blocking off the town’s main street as the riders formed up for the procession through the town - by which time it seemed the entire population of Worcester had turned out to cheer them on.
Their destination was the Institute for the Blind, the rally’s designated charity, where they were welcomed by a live rock band - all residents – belting out biker favourites such as Unchain my Heart and Mustang Sally.
Solms presented a member of the institute’s board, who introduced himself simply as Ray, with a cheque for an amount ending in an indecent number of zeroes, and offered to take residents for short rides around the grounds on the bikes.
The 133-year-old institute undoubtedly has an official motto - probably something incomprehensible in Latin - but the residents’ unofficial catchphrase is more of an in-joke: “Seeing is believing, but feeling is for real!”
Dozens came forward for rides, many running their fingertips all over the bikes - and almost getting scorched on hot exhausts in the process – to learn what they ‘looked’ like.
The rides were still going on when it was time for the Bike Brag – with one prize for the prettiest bike under 500cc and another for big bikes, judged by celebrity guest Willie van Niekerk, director of the Breede River Valley chapter of the Harley Owners Group.
The winner in the small-bike category was Lauren Cloete’s Kawasaki 300R Ninja, festooned for the occasion with fairy lights and wings (for the rider, not the bike!) while Denise Veugelers’ magnificently customised Harley-Davidson Fat Boy Special took the prize for the larger machines.
Back at the campsite, the riders relaxed with a cold one, walked around the stalls, which featured a huge variety of bikegear, bling for girls and their bikes, a tattoo artist – who, by late afternoon, was on his 16th customer of the weekend – and a surprisingly eclectic music mix from DJ Kim the Shark Lady, ranging from Frank Sinatra’s live recording of Mack the Knife to Bonnie Tyler’s I Need a Hero.
MASTER CLASS IN BOOTY SHAKING
After a long, leisurely and largely liquid lunch, it was time for the games. Only seven ladies tried their hips at the hula hoop; but nobody was in the same league as Zandile Malaza, who gave the girls a master class in booty-shaking, to a chorus of cat-calls.
The rodeo bull was much more popular, although nobody stayed on it very long in practice. In the final, however, Malaza’s spectacular ride had to give best to the Ninja Fairy, Lauren Cloete, whose equestrian experience helped her to outlast Malaza by a vital few seconds, albeit at the cost of lacerated palms and an injured finger.
A scratch team called LLL plus Friends held on to beat the ladies of Harley-Davidson Tyger Valley in the final of the tug-o-war but, as rallies go, it was a quiet, laid-back affair, totally without aggro.
Nobody got silly drunk, although the ladies put away an amazing amount of beer - they drank the bar dry at least once! – and there was no revving of engines or riding of bikes into the swimming pool.
BUFFED BODS AND A SHARP SENSE OF HUMOUR
The party got a little rowdier, though, when the evening’s headline entertainers, Coverboys International, took to the stage in the main marquee with buffed bods and a sharp sense of humour - both very necessary in their line of work. The Coverboys also got into the spirit of the rally by donating a magnificent original painting to the charity auction, which raised a further R10 000 for the Institute for the Blind.
Sunday morning was, of necessity, much quieter as the ladies, many nursing monumental hangovers, packed their bikes for the ride home; the talk over much-needed coffee “for the road” was all about “next year”; for these ladies, being a woman on a motorcycle no longer means riding alone.