Brrrr... Blisterbutt 2018

Chapter Organiser: 

  • National Event

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Blister Butt is an annual cold weather endurance ride, arranged by H.O.G. Johannesburg Chapter. Riders aim to complete 1 000km in 12 hours during the coldest time of the year and travelling through the coldest parts of the country to test their riding endurance.  As with most annual events, a core group of evergreen riders turn up for the ride and the numbers are added to as first time riders join each year to take on this cold weather riding challenge and add their name to list of this elite group.

As standard practice for a riding event such as this, planning starts months in advance and is preceded by a reconnaissance ride close to the event itself to confirm the latest state of the route for the ride. The Ride briefing, often referred to as a “Geesvang” is then held a few days before the ride.

For the first time, the route and destination is presented to the riders, and road conditions and any potential hazards are discussed. Tips and advice on endurance riding, including how best to dress for the cold, planning for the route and fuel stops, food and eating during the ride, and safety issues are shared by some of the more  experienced riders with the group.

Riders then form ‘pockets’ of between 2 and 6 bikes with riders of similar riding style and expectation for the days riding. These small groups have an easier time negotiating the route and at potential bottlenecks like fuel stations. Overall the ride and unexpected happenings are more manageable as a group and provide the safety and comradery of a group on the road. Riding styles also differ and safety on the ride is emphasised as it must always be the top priority.

For the 10th anniversary of this event, the chapter events team planned to revisit the original destination of the inaugural blister butt, Colesburg.  A scenic route along the borders of Lesotho was planned and with recent cold spells which had swept through the area, expectations of some white tops to the mountains as riders passed was a real possibility.

Riders arrived at the starting point from 5am on the Saturday morning for a cup of hot coffee, final checks before the days riding and some discussion on final tips. Riders then had their odometers recorded before departing at 06:00.

Starting out in the cold and dark, riders seemed more Michelin Man than Harley rider as they rode off. What followed was a story of some ice cold bodies, freezing fingertips and toes and visors misting and then freezing up. As the sun rose a thick cold morning mist reduced visibility drastically and soon enough riders were off the main roads and experiencing the reality of small towns… like finding no fuel or that the one fuel station had closed, etc. Blister Butt is all about all of these and other challenges that provide the backdrop for the memories and stories riders look forward to sharing after the ride together through some of the most remote and coldest areas of our beautiful country. It is also what so many of the riders return for every year.

As an extension of the KiDs blanket run, riders were asked to distribute blankets in some of the smaller towns where the distribution of blankets from the main ride may never reach. To the delight of the people and children in these remote areas, the riders were able to provide a very welcomed gift during this cold period. At the end of the day, many of the riders reported that they wished that they had even more blankets with them to hand out.

And so some 10 hours after setting out, the first of the riders started arriving at their destination, in the small town Colesberg. Besides being one the towns which experiences some of the lowest temperatures in our country, it is a historic town that was started during the gold rush in South Africa, and a central trading post for early settlers heading north from the various coastal posts.

After checking that all riders were in safely after the ride, everyone gathered for an evening was packed with congratulations, the sharing of their riding experiences, awarding of certificates and gifts, a welcome hot bath or shower, additional celebratory drinks and a traditional South African “braai” (barbeque) dinner.

Exhaustion meant a good night’s sleep for all, before greeting the Sunday morning for breakfast, before the home trip of about 630km back home to Johannesburg.

  • Article submission:  Craig Urquhart
  • Photographers:  Jose Robediero, Marchell Van Niekerk, Dean Addison
  • Editor:  Angelique Dermit