When I was courting the force of nature that would later become my wife, the fact that I rode a motorcycle helped a great deal to make her see beyond my early-onset baldness. No amount of hair plugs would ever have made her recognise the worthy suitor beneath the dome better than a loud braaap braaap from my old KTM.

The lady didn’t protest too much in the end, and after a few burnouts, we rode off into the sunset together.

Over the years my KTM’s chain got a bit rusty and when we suffered a severe case of parenthood, my trusty stead disappeared along with the rest of my coiff. Fortunately, by this time we had found other ways to explore the world beyond parent/teacher meetings and hockey games, and seeing as we both love nature, camping became our way of dealing with school holidays and driving a Renault.

A few promotions later, glamping replaced camping, yet nothing could ever replace the sound of my girl squealing with delight as my other girl went braap braap.

Highlighting this fall from grace in the years that followed was the look of loving disappointment I received whenever she binged on Sons of Anarchy. The subtle glances at my over-abundance of forehead, and the soft sigh each time Jaxx mounted his steed made me long for the days she foolishly thought I was a little bit ‘dangerous’.

Something had to give, and with the tentacles of a midlife crisis caressing my elongated forehead, I did what most middle-aged men do and Googled ‘glamping’ and ‘bikes’. This time, I was the one who squealed in delight.

Running to the living room where Jaxx was busy stealing my wife’s affection, I switched off the TV and faced the woman who still revved my engine. “Pack your saddlebags baby, we’re going to Bike Forge.”

The history of my marriage and pre-bald biking days might seem irrelevant to you, but history does play an important part at Bike Forge. The venue came about as the result of owners Freddie and Toni’s passion for bikes, biking and real bikers.

About 14 years ago Freddie started collecting classic bikes and initially only had a dusty old barn in Gouda where all the bikes were stored and worked on. Invariably beers were introduced into the whole process, then a fridge, and in no time people were drawn by the atmosphere of “bikes, beer and laughter”.

On 19 March 2020 Bike Forge officially opened at its current location on De Heuvel Estate in Tulbagh, and the rest is history.

The place has a definite upmarket vibe, so no chains and burnouts, and the staff are incredibly helpful and friendly as visitors are treated to nearly everything, and sometimes more, than you would expect from some of the better winefarms in the region.

Comfortably seating 30 people inside, 24 on the stoep and another 60 under their bedouin tent, a fully licenced bar offers most of your favourite beers, ciders, and liquours (everything except ‘Disco’ drinks). They also have a decent selection of local wines, including their own Bike Forge Pinotage, to pair with your meals.

A purpose-built stage also regularly has a rock or blues band entertaining the crowd, and if you also suffer from parenthood, take heart, the venue and vibe is children-friendly. As the website says: “We don’t tolerate scum.”

It was, however, the glamping that sealed the deal for me and the missus. Bike Forge offers a glamping experience in one of three tents set in virgin fynbos with indigenous bird life, tortoises and buck freely roaming about – all while enjoying sundowners on the porch with a stunning view of the Witzenberg mountain range (snow-capped in the winter).

They also have a B&B for more home comforts, and the terrain offers space and ablutions for larger camping groups. And of course, if you love bikes, this is the place for you.

Bike Forge didn’t make my hair grow back, but it put a little braaap braaap back in our lives, so we’ll go back for sure. It has the community feel of an old-school biker hangout, but with clientele that can afford to spend half a million rand on their weekend toys.

If this is your kind of place, you can check out their website for bookings.


published 2024-07-04 20:28:49