Cape Town - Lady Bikers South Africa must be doing something right. By the time the fourth annual Rally in the Valley was officially announced, there had already been more pre-entries (231 to be exact) than the total attendance at the 2016 edition.
And South Africa’s premier women-only motorcycle event has gone from local to nationwide to international, with groups of women riding into the Silwerstrand venue in the heart of the Breede River Valley this year from Durban, Johannesburg, Polokwane, Bloemfontein and the Garden Route, and serious interest from ladies as far away as Australia and Texas.
The recipe, on the face of it, is simple. By creating a testosterone-free zone where women who ride can enjoy the social side of motorcycling without feeling intimidated or, worse, patronised by male bikers, ladies who wouldn’t dream of riding with a club or attending a mainstream rally have been encouraged to hit the long road.
Each year so far there have been women who’ve arrived saying that this was the first time they’d ever ridden their motorcycle without a male escort – and their sense of liberation, self-confidence and achievement is plain to see, as is their whole-hearted acceptance by more experienced riders.
But there’s more to it than that. While the ladies can party with the best of them, and compete just as fiercely to win a silly game, there’s none of the posturing that permeates mainstream rallies, no engines revving and no wheelies. By rally standards, it’s a remarkably laid-back affair.
The 2017 edition will open at 9am on Friday 24 February and close at 10am on Sunday 26 February, at the Silwerstrand Holiday resort on the R60 just outside Robertson, and is open to women only, on any make of motorcycle, scooter, bicycle, helicopter, or hot-air balloon.
It will include live entertainment (anchor sponsors HOG Africa and Harley Davidson Cape Town will have their Harley Legends entertainment truck on site), a full bar, food and merchandise stalls, a charity auction, a bike concours, prizes for the oldest rider, the longest ride and the best-represented club, and of course a mass ride.
For many, the highlight of the inaugural Rally in the Valley in 2014 was at the start of the mass ride through Worcester, as a (woman) traffic officer looked down the row of assembled riders and unwittingly paraphrased Roy Scheider as she radioed HQ to say: “You’re gonna need more cops.”
For 2017 the Rally in the Valley has chosen Cancervive and the Institute for the Blind in Worcester as its beneficiaries and the mass ride on Saturday morning will end at the Institute where residents will be offered rides on the bikes.
The registration fee for the weekend is R350 per person, which includes all the usual badges and giveaways but does not include accommodation. There you have three choices: you can go old school (strap a tent to your bike and just pay R50 for a spot for the weekend) cool school (rent-a-tent for R160 for the weekend, which will be erected for you with two mattresses in it by the time you get there, or you can go glamping in off-site accommodation (there’s a list of option on the website).