By: Aidan Harper
Montagu, Western Cape - More than 500 Harley-Davidsons will descend on this resort town on the western edge of the little Karroo from 18-21 February for the 10th annual Route 62 Rally.
Route 62 is a tourist route that meanders between Cape Town and Oudtshoorn and is a pleasant scenic alternative to the N2 highway; it’s also the longest wine route in the Western Cape.
The Route 62 is the longest continuously running Harley-Davidson rally in South Africa and has taken place each February since 2007 with riders from all over South Africa and abroad making the annual pilgrimage to Avalon Springs resort in Montagu.
The rally was originally organised by the Cape Town Harley Owners Group and is now run by the Free Chapter Cape Town. Chapter director Bruce Du Toit explained that a "free chapter" is a group or club on its own and is not affiliated to any dealership.
He said: "There were no Harley-Davidson rallies in the Western Cape in those days so we organised one in 2007 for the local Harley owners".
The 2007 rally was so successful that it became an annual event for Harley riders country-wide and that this year includes 42 international participants from countries such as France, Poland and Italy.
Du Toit added that all proceeds after expenses would to local charities in the greater Montagu area.
"In the past nine years we have given back over R600 000 to various charities including an old age home, a crèche, Friends of the Hospital, SPCA and the RAD Foundation - an organisation providing projects to keep local kids off the streets.
In 2015 we gave the RAD Foundation marching band instruments such as drums, bass drum, trumpets, trombone, shirts and drumsticks and practice pads to the value of R20 000. The Free Chapter Cape Town organised a ride in May to handover the various items".
This year rallygists can enjoy wine from local estates, a tattoo artist, a dealer and workshop, sushi bar, bike wash, food stalls and more.
Thursday night entertainment kicks off with DJ Squeek playing some retro tunes at the Calypso pool area where mineral rich hot springs and plunge pools reach up to 43°C.
Friday sees an out-ride to Tradouw Pass and live entertainment starting at 4pm back at Avalon, with blues rock outfit Crimson House. The band claim to be "grassroots, soul lifting, foot-stomping, heart moving audio candy, built on a brotherhood that will outlive the timelessness of music they create".
Emcee for the duration of the rally is community radio presenter Ian Ward who will keep you up to date on the activities. Following Crimson House wil be Acid Blues featuring local music legend James Kibby and finally Empire Alight fronted by Mark McCree.
Saturday's entertainment promises to be just as exciting, kicking off at 2pm with the Harley games which are designed to challenge your riding skills to the limit and are great fun.
After the games comes the serious and most competitive side of the rally; the bike concours d'elegance (Karoo Style Bike Show) where the bikes get judged in various categories including best standard production bike, best custom bike and best bike on show. The evening closes with dinner, the obligatory speeches and award ceremony and closes off with local rock outfit Haywire.
Although the Harley Owners Group events at Avalon Springs Hotel in Montagu are closed to the public, there will be a huge public participation event on 20 February from 11am, as all the bikers ride from the resort and drive with a full police escort through the town and proceed along Montagu Main road, which will be closed to general traffic.
This is the highlight of the Route 62 Rally and locals and tourists alike line the streets to watch the gleaming chrome in a rolling thunder of V-Twin engines pass by.
The mass ride is a much anticipated annual event for the people of Montagu who welcome this spectacle back to their town every year. The mass ride will end in town and the public will also get a chance to havev a closer look at the chrome, custom paint and bodywork as the group congregate on the Montagu sports field. Entry is free.
On the street near the Montagu Police Station from midday until 1pm, motorcycle fans and bike enthusiasts will be treated to an extreme 'foot-up' motorcycle show by the internationally acclaimed Le Riche brothers, two of South Africa's most successful stunt riders, with 13 South Aafrican titles as well as multiple wins in competitions in the United States.
Spectators can expect some nail-biting 360 degree bike rollovers, 3.5m high undercut ledges and full crowd interaction.
A word from the organisers: "Ride loud and ride proud but above all, ride safe."