Meet the legendary "Old HOGs" of Clearwater
Early in 2014, Pieter van Niekerk and Ron Harding decided to start riding every Wednesday, and to invite anyone from the H.O.G. Clearwater Chapter to join them! Pieter was the Patriarch of the Old Hogs and is known as a legend within the biking fraternity.
I asked Pieter to write, in his own words, how the Old Hogs started and share some experiences:
My name is Pieter van Niekerk. My friend Ron and I decided to ride our Harley® motorcycles every Wednesday. It was all due to a chance discussion between two old friends - little did we know it would grow so quickly into a new venture that would enhance the lives of so many Harley-Davidson® owners who wanted to ride more often.
My wife and I had by then concluded a quest to ride the circumference of Australia on a motorcycle, and after that I decided that any ride would be a breeze. We decided on Wednesdays because Ron was still doing 30 km on his bicycle every Tuesday and Thursday. Quite a feat for a 77 year old!
We agreed that the only rule was that there were no rules, no destination and no pre-planning. We got onto our bikes and rode wherever the road took us.
We normally left early in the morning and returned home about lunchtime, having ridden between 300 to 500 kilometres.As we rode we mapped our route on H.O.G. Clearwater Facebook page, and in no time we had quite a following: they followed us getting lost, stuck in a corn field, chasing after a beer truck and many other follies that seemed to follow us around.
Some days we lost track of time, and getting home very late one afternoon after chasing our tails for more than 500 km, we encounter Ron’s wife, tracing our route. She was concerned that he was lying in a ditch somewhere and was looking for an accident scene, as wearily we got home to some hostile domestic scenes.
At least we got home - not like another friend who failed to go home and eventually when he got the courage to do so, found his wife had divorced him.
Over time, we also completed several rallies together. Once Ron left for home on his own, and did 1000 km on one go. The next day he did another 600 km.
We were eventually joined by others and gave our troupe a name, “The Old Hogs,” complete with a badge. Lady Riders are welcome and some of the younger generation of women riders joined us in the knowledge that the Old Geezers were safe to be with. We even imparted with some knowledge and wisdom on how to ride. It entailed not looking at the speedometer and opening the throttle.
Some of the younger generation even took sick leave or found an excuse not to go to work in order to join us on a Wednesday ride.
Sadly my wife and I moved to greener pastures in the Southern Cape for me to concentrate more on writing. We left some very capable people like Derick Brits behind who, together with the likes of Ron and Joe, has taken the Old Hogs to "new heights”.
Pieter left us in September 2015 and moved to Stilbaai. We still visit often and many Old Hogs stop over when they are on Road trips. Always a lot of fun and laughter at these get-togethers.
The weekly Wednesday riding continued. Come rain, hail or shine we ride every Wednesday at nine (that’s if we remember and weather permits).
Many of the older, true bikers come from the Superbike groups and they feel that a more relaxing cruise is now safer. They love open country roads, beautiful scenery, meeting people with the same passion for riding and off course they adore owning a Harley-Davidson. For the majority of people, if you are eventually allowed to buy a Harley-Davidson by your spouse, many years have passed and you are no longer a young man/woman. In your mind you become “young” again.
Our unwritten “rules” are simple:
- Your ride - your Harley-Davidson - needs to be fueled and ready for some hard riding (on average our Wednesday rides are between 150-320km – I did 60 000km in 2 years).
- You must have fun
- You will believe and abide by the Old School biker rules – Respect, Honesty, Honour, Loyalty, Integrity, Trust, Courtesy and Charity.
- You need approval from your spouse that you may be home late as we do get lost.
We do not ride because it is fashionable to do so. We ride because it’s adventurous, fun and the freedom you feel when you are exposed to the elements. There is a bond between these brothers and sisters whom all have the same passion for riding a Harley-Davidson.
Every Wednesday morning the cheerful Old Hogs gather at the Harley-Davidson Clearwater Dealership to meet up with their friends to take a ride into the countryside. The venue is never known and is decided while we ride or just before we leave – new venues are welcome. A weekly “Old Hogs on the road” picture is taken before we depart. Smoke breaks and comfort breaks are important and we make sure we don’t miss these…(Ouderdom??) A lot of wisdom is shared between the Old Hogs and we regularly solve all the problems in our Country – ok then!!
The Old Hogs support the Clearwater Chapter rallies and rides but we also do our own adventure trips such as the Kruger Game reserve ride, the Battlefields in Natal to mention a few – Roel Strausebach and Barrie Peters normally arrange these. All our adventures are documented and posted on Facebook on the H.O.G. Clearwater Chapter page.
Bethany House gave me a call a while ago where they were having a shortage of Powder milk for the babies and the Old Hogs collected money between themselves and we delivered those promptly. We were also asked to drop off some blankets donated by the Clearwater Chapter members which we did. There were lots of tears, when the “Ouma’s and Oupa’s” held the little babies and toddlers – awesome days which we will never forget.
As a visitor that rode with us said on social media (yes, we're pretty slick on social media):
“I can’t remember when last I had to concentrate so hard for over 300km. These Oom’s don’t play, they.. (very descriptive word). You Toppies are like the tannie with brandy over her Xmas koek – awesome! #Respect!”
In closing, the Old Hogs are a group of H.O.G. Clearwater members who have achieved what they wanted in life (near or on pension) and now only want to ride with like-minded friends who have a similar passion for Harley-Davidson motorcycles, having fun and a weekly laugh.
An Old Hog is young at heart and has a minimum of 55 years of life experience. He or she is an experienced rider, believes and lives Old School values, loves open country roads with beautiful scenery, enjoys meeting people with the same passion for riding and of course they adore owning a Harley Davidson. Everyone is welcome to ride but to be patched you'll need an ID or Pensioner Card to seal the deal) :-)
To those that will be riding in the coming weeks - Enjoy, have fun and keep safe out there!!
- Author: Derick Brits
- Contributing Author: Pieter Van Niekerk