2019 Annual Winter ride to Sutherland

Carl Koch's picture

2019 Annual BMW Club weekend run to Sutherland

A special thanks and recognition to all the what’s app contributors whose photos I have used.

Group 4 Off road Intermediate on the way out and Group 3 on the return home.

It was that time of the year for the annual winter run to Sutherland and after having done it for the first time in 2018, it was a run I was not going to miss.

I opted to join Group 4 (Dirt) which would be led by Garry. By the time the bookings for this group closed we were up to 31 folk on 24 bikes.

After the recent rains the weather forecast was very promising with a cold dry weekend to look forward to.

The Group gathered at the Winelands 1-Stop from 07:00 onwards on Saturday morning and after the briefing which given the size of the group was an important and safety requirement. Brian was allocated the task of riding middle of the group as an intermediate sweep while Numo and myself took up sweeper position at the back of the group. Thanks to the Club we were all give a commemorative badge to add to Top boxes and panniers.

The route took us over Du Toits Kloof to Ceres via Slanghoek for a pit stop and refuel. From there we ascended Gydo Pass passing Op de Berg to where the tar ends at the entrance to the Cederberg. After a stop to deflate tyres we tackled Katbakkies Pass and descended down into the Tankwa and on to the famous Tankwa Padstal for lunch.

Since time was on our hands we had an hour for lunch and as briefed by Garry we would leave at 12 noon.

 Prior to leaving the Padstal at noon I checked to ensure the parking area was clear and the group were all ahead of me on the way to Ouberg Pass. Little did I know that Sarel had parked his bike out of sight and opted to do a toilet break at the leaving time, so he got left behind.

We were not 10 km down the road when we spotted 2 of the group stopped on the side of the road. Stopping to assist we found that they had a puncture and between them did not have a compressor. (See if you can spot the guilty party in the video clip). Using my compressor we found the leak in the back wheel, when the next lesson was learnt, its great having snotties and the tools to plug the wheel, however the glue has a age limit and will evaporate over time even if never opened. (something for us all to bear in mind, Check you glue supply before the trip)

It was interesting to note how many bikes came past us while we were reparing the wheel with out stopping to make sure we were OK. Hats off to the young lady in the SUV that did stop.

Puncture repaired we were back on the road to catch up to the group. At the first T junction I was a bit surprised that there was no one waiting for us, luckily I knew we needed to take the right fork and soon met up with the rest of the group who were waiting at the turn off to Ouberg Pass.


As for Sarel once he came out from his pit stop at the Padstal realising he had been left behind took off in hot pursuit, flying past the 4 of us busy fixing the puncture. Unfortunately he went left at the T junction and we did not see him again until that evening in the Hotel Bar, seems he met up with Geoff’s group along the way.

Ouberg Pass was the highlight of the days trip and being the first time I have ridden it, I road up with caution. The road was not in a fantastic state with plenty of loose stones and wash a-ways to contend with, however we all made it up without incident and the view from the top was well worth it.

From the Pass it was on to Sutherland and check-in to accommodation with a cold beer waiting.


That evening as they did last year the folk at Juipter Lodge came up trumps and catered for a lovely evening and meal which was enjoyed by all.  

As it had been a long day at around 10:30 a few of us made our way back to the Hotel with a stop-off in the bar for a night cap around the fire.






Next morning with fresh temperature of 1 deg and over breakfast it became evident that most of the group were opting to ride home along the tar, Net result a few of us joined Wouter with Group 3 for the dirt ride home.

The group met at the Total garage and were briefed by Wouter regarding the route home and the need to stay focused and look out for the person  behind you given that we were in excess of 20 bikes.


The plan was to head off along the R354 and then turn right onto the R356. Heading down the R354 I noticed a number of bikes waiting at a turn off to the right, after stopping I realised that it was not Wouter but an independent group taking the alternative more technical route through the Tankwa. Unfortunately some of our group took the turn and started following the riders. Once David the sweeper joined us we discussed alternatives and decided on Francois and myself going after the bikes that had followed the other group and meeting up at Tankwa Padstal, while David and the rest of Groups 3 continued to meet Wouter at the turn to the R356.

Within 10km we caught up with Jackie and later with Stan and another rider who had opted to stop and wait for the group at a T junction, bringing our group up to 5 riders.  Looking at alternative routes we decided on taking a straight forward road that traversed the Tankwa and joined up with the R355 Middlepos road and then on to Tankwa padstal to rejoin the rest of Group 3.

The road was easy going although badly corrugated in sections. This was my first time riding this route and is definitely an alternative if you want to miss out Ouberg and Gannaga passes.  After a number of stops for photos, a chat and drinks we arrived at the Padstal and re-joined the rest of the group.


From the Padstal we headed up over Peerboomskloof pass stopping at the old stone houses for photos and then onto the famous Katbakkies pass. Once off the dirt it was onto Ceres via Op die Berg and Gydo Pass.


 Once in Ceres we all stopped to inflate tyres again and for the smaller bikes to refuel. It was at this point that we heard the sound of metal on metal and when turning around was horrified to see Jackie and her bike lying in the middle of the road having been hit by a car.

Immediately our FOS training kicked in and while Wouter took care of Jackie we secured the area and guided traffic around the scene. I then took on the task of taking photos of the scene and vehicles involved including number plate and licence disk. Unfortunately the other driver became very defensive and refused to share details, since the police and ambulance had arrived we left the those details to the police to obtain. Once Jackie had been checked by the ambulance crew she was taken to the local hospital to make sure she was OK. After discussions with Wouter who was going to stay with Jackie while David took care of her bike the rest of us bid our farewells and headed off home.

Arrived home safely just after 17:00 having done 785km door to door over the weekend.


Happy to report that Jackie checked our OK and was soon on her way home.

 Some points to reflect on:

  1. In a large group buddy up with someone in the group who rides your pace and the look out for each other making sure you leave and arrive at stops together.
  2. Good idea to make sure you are self sufficient when it comes to minor repairs and punctures. Make sure your snotty glue has not all evaporated.
  3. If you see guys on the side of the road working on a bike do not just assume they are OK stop and see if you can help.( At least 5 bikes came past us without stopping)
  4. You are responsible for the rider behind you, this tends to get forgotten too easy. If you are not the last rider in the group be patient and wait at the intersections.
  5. If you are unfortunate to be the FOS remember your training, do not move the bike unless it is in a dangerous position or the rider is trapped underneath and then if you have to take photos first. Our group was a bit to keen to lift Jackie’s bike to make sure it was OK it was moved before photos could be taken and the police wanted to know why the bike was moved.

Looking forward to Sutherland 2020.

Embedded U tube vidios below








Carl Koch's picture
Joined: 2018/02/18

Just updated with another U Tube clip.

Joined: 2014/02/13

Thanks Carl .. a really good trip report !


Jackie Wiese's picture
Joined: 2012/02/26

Thanx Carl for an excellent trip report and allow me to add the following:

(1)  Acknowledgements:

(a)  Thanks to our Ride Leader, Wouter & Sweeper, David for all the preparations made & planning done. As it is voluntary/love of the game - the hours spent is truly appreciated;

(b)  Donford Motorrad Stellenbosch for making Arlen & the back up vehicle available for the event and

(c)  All the club members for making this yet another memorable event - kaggelhout vir die winter!!


(2)  Observations:

If instructions from the Ride Leader are not adhered to, the ride is spoilt for every one and safety is compromised.

As a number of club rides have been done over many years, this one will undoubtedly be remembered as the most undisciplined experienced to date.

To make a contribution to be considered for future rides - Riding Etiquette 101

(a)  "You are responsible for the rider BEHIND you" was reiterated by the Ride Leader at nausea (prior to & during the ride) but seemed to be regarded as a joke as it was not implemented by the majority of our group.

(b)  Unfortunately some riders fixate on the rider in front of them.  Please note that you are NOT responsible for the rider in FRONT of you, and is not supposed to keep up with him/her.

(c)  The comment was overheard repeatedly that "it (responsibility for person behind you) doesn't work". Quite right as it was not applied nor taken seriously in our group.

I was passed on numerous occasions with riders disappearing into the distance. On the way to Touwsrivier I stopped & waited for 10 minutes before the next riders arrived & they also promptly disappeared leaving the Sweeper and myself to arrive unaccompanied at the rendezvous.

(d)  You are supposed to be checking your rearview mirrors all of the time & the moment you do not see lights behind you, it is your responsibility to slow down & if necessary to stop until visibility is established.

(e)  If this procedure is applied correctly the whole ride is supposed to come to a standstill (ripple effect) so that the Ride Leader can take appropriate action if and where needed.

However, if you are not prepared to take responsibility for the rider behind you, consider refraining from participation in group rides as it affects the safety and enjoyment of all riders.


3) Recommendations:

3.1  Stopping at intersections:

Consider applying Andyman's routine in future, i.e.

(a)  The Ride Leader nominates his Wingman (person riding directly behind the Ride Leader).  No rider is allowed to pass the Wingman nor the Ride Leader.

(b)  At intersections the Wingman stops, as indicated by the Ride Leader, gets off his/her bike and waits until the Sweeper arrives before departing.

(c)  Ripple effect as the next rider behind the Ride Leader then becomes the Wingman & procedure repeats itself.

(d)  Result:  No chaos, lost riders nor need for flags, stickers etc to identify the group.


3.2  Riding on gravel:

(a)  As some riders prefer not to ride in dust, keep your distance & switch lights to high to improve visibility.

(b)  If necessary to stop, choose an incline or long straight road as you can see the lights in a distance.


3.3  Regrouping:

To be done more frequently to stretch legs/refreshment break. Often the last riders to arrive virtually had to depart again immediately.


3.4  Group Riding - 20 Motorcycles plus

Consider splitting into two or more groups, same etiquette as above and to regroup at intersrections, rendezvous etc.


Life is a journey enjoy the ride!!!



Wouter de Vos's picture
Joined: 2015/08/25

Great trip report Carl!

Thank you again for assuming responsibility like you did when things went different to what we had planned and worked towards!

Committee: Chairperson / Ride Leader

Andyman's picture
Joined: 2007/06/22

Carl, Jackie,
Thanks for the trip report, the photos and the comments.

And your words are quite sound.
Glad you are ok Jackie.

Anyone can ride a bike fast....   But can you ride your bike real slow???

Charles Oertel's picture
Joined: 2007/04/14

Regarding Jackie's comments and the difference between the age-old issue of waiting for the rider behind at intersections:

  1. It is no use wishing everyone would do the right thing all the time.  There are too many factors at play:
    • FOMO
    • Uncertainty over who needs to stop and wait when a bunch of riders arrive together.  Everyone tries to "not be last" and assumes someone else will do it.
    • Not wanting to hold the group up (and that stupid rider behind is sooo slow).
    • Uncertainty over whether this is just a curve with a side road, or a turn that needs to be marked.
    • Uncertainty over who is the sweep
  2. If a given strategy continually has failures, rather than blaming the participants we should change the strategy.
  3. Andy's strategy works well and is one I have used with success:
    • The ride leader eliminates confusion by pointing out who must wait where.
    • It is easy to know who the current sweep is - it is the guy who waited at the last turn (or it is the dedicated sweep nominated at the start of the ride if that is how you want it).

Committee: Webmaster / Ride Captain

Joined: 2017/03/13

Many thanks Carl, wonderful application and observation of the training from Andy.  

Every point made by Jackie 100% valid. 

This is valuable feedback which should be utilised further by the club, we don't need to wait for incidents or accidents before implementing procedures and training. 

Safety and training is non negotiable when it comes to the club activities. 

I wish to see minimum requirements set for certain groups rides much like scuba diving, I will not take an open water 2 diver on a wreck penetration dive if he hasn't done the training even if it's within his dept limit.  

Committee: Secretary/ Ride Leader

Andyman's picture
Joined: 2007/06/22

Whenever I do a trip, I split the group into another peleton or even another as soon as it reaches increments of 18 or more.
Prefer groups of ten.
Each has a dedicated ride/peleton leader, and a dedicated sweeper.
Both are immediately safety officers as well.

A 'newly' appointed ride leader does not necessarily need a route course, they just stay 500M to 1km behind the peleton in front so they keep in touch.
This makes everyones rides much more enjoyable.
Those larger groups string out, and so rests stops get long and riders get irritated.

It makes re-grouping quicker, easier and everyone has amore rel;axed, uncrouded ride, with far less pressure upon leader, sweeper and all in between.

The stopping to at turns of my No:2 is mandatory and works perfectly.
If a rider does not want to be that No:2 they simply wave the next bike past.
If someone loves being No@, they simply come back to that slot, time and again.

I have never had a medical incident requiring medevac on any of my trips because form 15H00 I am watching each rider for signs of fatigue and I impress upon everyone to hydrate.
I also slow the pace down closer to the destination to ake pressure off rear-enders to 'keep up'.

I do not tolerate testosterone, ego or allow one person to spoil the enjoyment of the whole.
I have and will ask a doos to leave the group and go on their own way- discretely and not publicly.

I'm so keen for those who did the ride leader training to lead rides and some of them are registered on my next ride to Greyton to be mentored and to lead the second peleton.

This worked well on the Durbanville Paarl beginners ride.

The wingman of any ride/peleton leader is a great asset.

I love riding wingman, and mostly with Geoff, we make an excellent team.
The wingman is there to serve and any turn well executed that keeps a group on the same piece of road together is a good one.
Wingman riding is very fun.

This should all be really re-iterated to the ride leaders of next year's mass club excursion to Sutherland.


Anyone can ride a bike fast....   But can you ride your bike real slow???