Africa Bike Week™ 2018

  • National Event

East London was buzzing yet again with Harley-Davidson enthusiasts during Africa Bike Week™ 2018.

The main stage was packed every night and when the music for the young got too much for the older ears, the Harley-Davidson Hospitality Bar and Jack’s Bar were the place to go for late night partying.  There was no shortage of food stalls which with plenty of variety to satisfy every taste bud and fast, friendly service. Vendors at the Village Market did well - particularly the kiddies train carts that saw numerous grownups squeeze themselves into half cut drums for a midnight ride.  

ABW will not be complete without its customary Bike Show and competitions.  A highlight of the event was winner Stacy Moore who simply "popped in for a visit" - and then took home the Harley-Davidson® Street Rod™ with its new High Output Revolution X™ engine at 9000 rpm. Stacy commented that she was “Over the moon excited.  Can't wait to take it for a ride.  Thanks so much ABW for this amazing opportunity”. 

The Custom Bike Show was a treat for those enthusiasts who admire unique paintwork and craftsmanship on their Harley-Davidson® motorcycles.

This year we experienced the Eastern Cape in its true colours with clear skies and strong winds that whipped the ocean waves into a frenzy.  The fire department rolled up every so often to douse the non grassed areas with a fine spray of water to control the sand.  Not that the weather was noticed as long as there was good music, great food and fellow biking enthusiasts to enjoy it all.

Nora-Jean, a Harley enthusiast from Gauteng, gives us her perspective of Africa Bike Week below. This is just an extract from a longer series on her entire East London adventure so visit her fun, online blog to read the full story! 

Mike De Kock was our appointed ABW photographer who captured the spirit of the event.

Angelique Dermit




With thanks to Nora-Jean for the article extraction from her Blog: 

"To be honest, I wasn’t wild about going to Africa Bike Week™.  So once again Andy needed a juicy carrot to entice me to go … that carrot was four nights at Morgan Bay Hotel after the rally.

Now Morgan Bay Hotel has a special place in my heart because I still recall parts of holidays spent there with my family when I was just two, and again when I was four.  I’d wanted to go back there for years.  Initially, we found that the hotel was fully booked, but Andy called the hotel directly, and did some sweet talking, with the result that although at first they reaffirmed that the hotel was full, they made a plan to fit us in.  I was delighted – even if it meant we had a small back room.

Only on confirmation of Morgan Bay Hotel did we book for Africa Bike Week. We were to stay at the Osner Hotel in East London, directly in front of which was the rally site.  Um, in retrospect not such a good idea unless you plan on partying until midnight to the live music … from Jack Parrow, through Third Degree, Undertone, some 22 other bands to The Parlotones… which we didn’t.  As it turned out we could quite happily party in our room where the music was almost as loud as down in the rally grounds.  Fantastic for some, but I’d have preferred to stay further away.

Quite a large number of Johannesburg H.O.G.® members had signed up to go down for the rally, some taking different routes in smaller groups.  Frik, Dean and Trevor were going to ride all the way down in one day, and so did Eric and Stephanie (Steph preparing herself for the Iron Butt in October).  Andy and I were to join the main group, which was going via Bloemfontein, where we’d be hosted by the Bloemfontein H.O.G.  Chapter for the evening, and we’d do the remainder of the trip to East London the following day.  This was to be my firstly seriously long ride on “Scarlet”, my Harley-Davidson® Softail Heritage® Classic – I’d only been to Clarens on her before this.

At the pre-ride brief, which neither Andy nor I could attend; Andy was given the honour of being elected as the pack leader for our group – some 20 odd bikes.  As he said later, miss a briefing at your peril … you will be volunteered in your absence!

I mean, how difficult is it to lead a pack of 20+ bikes through traffic, compared with being responsible for 140+ passengers in an Airbus 320?

Anyway, the pack was due to meet at the dealership in Sandton…

On a week day…

At 8.00 am for 8.30 am – i.e. peak hour in one of the busiest business centres in Joburg.

Several members of the group didn’t think this was such a good idea, and planned to rendezvous at a garage en route out of Joburg and meet up with the pack after one of the toll gates, but as Andy was pack leader, we were pretty much obliged to meet at the dealership.  The traffic to the dealership was horrendous and I was relieved to get there in one piece, after one vehicle had threatened to side swipe me on the way.  As it turned out, the majority of our group had met elsewhere, and only 7 bikes left from the dealership. 

ABW here we come!

After the dodgy start to the day, things improved and we enjoyed a really good ride down to Bloemfontein.  Craig was following in the back-up vehicle with a trailer, on which was his bike so that he could ride once in East London.  On arrival at our Bed and Breakfast in Bloemfontein, Andy and Wessel were dispatched in the back-up vehicle to purchase drinks.  After making the drinks purchase, Andy got into the vehicle and attempted to drive off.  Much to his disgust the vehicle wouldn’t move, and after a number of attempts he mentioned this to Wessel.  Wessel pointed out that it might help if the vehicle motor was actually switched on!  And this was the man entrusted with leading our pack!!  He would no doubt be penalised later!  On return of the pair, we proceeded to take over the B&B parking area and enjoy a couple of drinks before going to the rugby stadium where the local H.O.G. would be hosting us with a braai (barbecue).

Big thanks to the Bloem H.O.G. for their awesome hospitality – it was appreciated by all of us.

We were on the road again by 7.30 am the following morning, with some 580km to cover, via Aliwal North, Jamestown, Queenstown, and Stutterheim to East London.  There were three stop-and-go’s (where roadworks only allow for one lane of traffic either way), before Aliwal North but we were lucky not to be held up for long at any of them. 

Stutterheim, on the other hand, was a different story – there was a stop-and-go in the town, with the result that traffic was grid locked, and not moving at all.  Eventually Andy guided us between ongoing and oncoming vehicles, including some huge trucks, to the front of the queue, where we waited until the all clear was given and we set off again.  Phew.  That wasn’t pleasant.

We were very happy to arrive at our destination in East London at about 3.30 pm and bomb shelled to our rooms to freshen up before meeting up on the Deck for a welcome gin and tonic.  By now the live music was in full swing across the road.  We took a walk around the stands, and were very pleased to see Anthony, the Harley-Davidson® Dealer principle from Durban from whom we’d bought both our bikes.

There was a really good vibe, with bikers converging from all corners of SA.  The music was pumping, and there were numerous stalls – I think the most popular was the Jack Daniels Tent!

A small group of us joined Frik and Elize for an enjoyable dinner at The German Taste Restaurant, before all the single guys set off for the Jack Daniels Tent, and the rest of us dispersed, Andy and I to the Rally Site to listen to the music.  We were later joined by Stephanie and Eric – Stephanie was on a high from having ridden all the way from Joburg in just over 9 hours. 

Tired from a long and enjoyable day, although the music carried on for an hour or so after we went to bed, we went straight to sleep.

East London

The next morning a bunch of us walked along the beachfront to the Wimpy for breakfast before setting off with the Joburg H.O.G. members to Morgan Bay for lunch, after stopping for a visit to the Kei Mouth Motorcycle Museum just before the turn-off to Morgan Bay. 

This presented me with my first challenge on the bike – we overshot the turnoff to the museum, necessitating me having to do a U-Turn – which I managed … agonisingly slowly … thanks to everyone else for their patience while they waited for me. 

I’m not sure if all Harley enthusiasts are like this, but I’m really struck by the kindness of most of the Harley riders we know.  While I might feel hugely embarrassed by my current (and I say current, because I’m determined it’s not going to last) inadequacies, everyone assures me that they’ve all been in the same place themselves.  They’re all very encouraging.

Back to the museum … gosh, whatalotofbikes!  We lost count after a while – all shapes, sizes and brands.  I wanted to see if they had a Moped … like I had at college … many many years ago.  I went to Salisbury Polytechnic in Rhodesia (as they both were then), and used to get teased by the guys when I had to pedal the bike to get it going.  Indeed, there were a couple in the museum – different colour, but very similar otherwise. 

Next stop Morgan Bay and then back to East London where Frik and Elize had organised a cocktail party for us all on the veranda of their lodgings up the hill from the rally. 

While at The Deck at Morgan Bay for lunch, there had been a prolific show of hands in support of a ride to Port Alfred the following morning. In the end it was just Craig, Frik, Andy and Corky who rode.  Thankfully Elize wanted a companion in the car, so I offered to join her … I say ‘thankfully’, as the road conditions and the wind made for a very unpleasant ride for the guys.

On our return to East London, it was time for Andy and me to bid our farewells, as we set off for Morgan Bay for the next 4 nights.  The Rally was going on for one more night, which we’d decided to skip.

With thanks to Nora-Jean for the article extraction from Blog post: