Wild Dog Adventure Riding

Riding: Plan, Report and Racing => Ride Reports => Topic started by: Bernoulli on July 30, 2014, 12:46:58 pm

Title: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Bernoulli on July 30, 2014, 12:46:58 pm
Any excuse to ride! After a very successful venture to the wide open spaces of Verneukpan last year (that was bucket list 1) we felt the need to mount our stofskoeters (dust scooters for the linguistically challenged) and go explore something less flat. That made the choice of destination exceedingly easy. Baviaans, of course! We have done the flat, it is time for the mountainous.  

But there was a problem: In a moment of still unexplained lunacy, our leader sold his bike! He is bikeless and seems intent on remaining so.  After 5 lengthy seconds of intense deliberation as to (a)why anyone would do something so out of character, (b)how do we proceed without his formidable leadership and most importantly (c)how do we stop him from crying uncontrollably when we break the news to him, we decided to proceed with 2 participants only: the photographer (LuvOutdoors) the writer (Bernoulli).

Where better to start than at Winelands Engen on a balmy autumn Friday morning late in March.


When I arrived, the photographer seemed out-of-sorts, troubled almost. Quickly turns out that his added responsibility of operator-of -all-devices-electronic-including-matters-GPS caused him an almost sleepless night. I knew he had carefully and skillfully devised a pooratech mounting for his ageing  GPS, so why the fuss?

Allow me an interruption here. “Carefully and skillfully” in this context is woefully inadequate. I simply do not have the writing skill to do justice to the man’s skills. He is a master at all things practical, be it farming, bikes or IT - The closest I have ever come to being in the company of a real-life McGyver.

Back to the story. When attempting to upload the planned route, said ageing GPS decided not to co-operate. Several plans were attempted, none worked. And time marched on relentlessly, deeper into the night. Until eventually the (still sobbing) leader came to the rescue and offered his GPS. It solved our problem (or rather the photographer’s problem: I was soundly asleep and completely unaware of all these shenanigans going on in the deepness of the night) and it made the leader part of the trip, somehow easing him out of his uncontrolled fits of pity.

Anyway, here we were. Fuelled up, fired up and raring to go!

Over Helshoogte, on to Franschhoek and a quick stop at the top to take official leave of the beautiful Boland waking up to the already mentioned perfect autumn day.



We rode along a misty Theewaterskloof dam,


through Villiersdorp and shortly afterwards turned onto gravel that delivered us onto the R62 just before Robertson, in time for tea at the farmstall.


The R62 took us to Barrydale to refuel and 20km later we turned onto gravel with the knowledge that it is going to be mostly gravel to George, our destination for the night. Time to adjust tyre pressures.


What a glorious road to ease one into gravel! Well maintained, surrounded by beautiful landscape and all coming together on a beautiful autumn day (Or did I mention that already?) In fact, let me deal with that right here. Throughout our trip, the weather was so perfect that I (usually riding at the back) had to increase my following distance substantially. There was no wind to clear the photographer’s dust from the road!

Lunch somewhere along the road,


followed by a quick rest.


Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Mooi Rooi on July 30, 2014, 01:56:13 pm
 :confused4:  :dontknow: :dontknow:

1st bit was entertaining - Where is the rest

 :snorting: :snorting:
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Dirt Junkie on July 30, 2014, 02:23:15 pm
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: DCR on July 30, 2014, 03:21:56 pm
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: BLK on July 30, 2014, 03:26:12 pm
Still resting?
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Lem on July 30, 2014, 03:41:28 pm
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Bernoulli on July 30, 2014, 04:22:55 pm
Life is interfering.
More to follow omorrow
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Oupa Foe-rie on July 30, 2014, 04:31:57 pm
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: zebra - Flying Brick on July 30, 2014, 09:39:01 pm
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Marvin on July 31, 2014, 09:08:24 am
Enjoyed the first bit... :thumleft:
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Jakkals on July 31, 2014, 09:30:45 am
Die begin is great en ek sien uit na die ander, :thumleft:

Is julle lunch time nie al verby langs die pad nie, ons wag in spaning vir die res, :imaposer:
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Noneking on July 31, 2014, 06:32:32 pm
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Bernoulli on August 04, 2014, 09:39:53 pm
OK lunch is finally done, and we have rested well  ;), let's continue!

Shortly after lunch, we stumbled on the first wonderful surprise of the trip. I was cruising along and noticed what I thought would be a good spot for a photo. I stopped and took this.


I saw the distant road in the background and deducted that we were going to cross some ditch/stream ahead. But being in Karoo mode (expecting mostly open spaces, little water and generally nothing, glorious nothing) I proceeded around the corner to happen upon this:


A low level crossing over the Gourits!

And the Gourits was playing along nicely by giving us a substantial display of force.


Where it seems some other pawed being had been visiting shortly before. Leopard?


What could the history and hardship hidden in the crevices of this hilltop helmet be? Any one of the Southern Cape dawgs that can tell us?


Followed by an afternoon filled with blissfully entertaining gravel snakes luring us almost biblically to our destination.


Title: Re:
Post by: frans1 on August 04, 2014, 09:50:50 pm
Wow!  Can't wait for the rest to come!
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Ian in Great Brak River on August 05, 2014, 03:28:08 am
Welcome to the Southern Cape. No doubt you will return again.

Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: jaybiker on August 05, 2014, 06:59:20 am
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Bernoulli on August 05, 2014, 03:13:39 pm
Welcome to the Southern Cape. No doubt you will return again.


and again and again!
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Lem on August 05, 2014, 03:20:09 pm
Bernoulli, I believe that old kliphuisie you photographed on the Cloetes pass road has been written up by Trailrider in one of his reports..

I think he is unbanned recently, so I hope he'll answer a PM if you need to ask him.

My father, who is now 77, grew up in Herbertsdale area and went there to school, I can ask him as well. Later in life he used to drive a milktruck on this route every week to Van Wyksdorp as his first job. I'll ask him as well.
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Bernoulli on August 05, 2014, 03:23:01 pm
But first an afternoon stop at Haelkraal.


Not a major tourist attraction but the photographer discovered that it has a rather unique approach to separating the sexes in the public amenities! Imagine….
No, let us rather not go there!


Our route to George included  crossing the Moordkuil river near Botlierskop with a low-level bridge. At the turn-off, there was this sign.


The effect on us, predictable: Here we go!

Down a beautiful, twisty, steep, decline heading for the crossing, where we were stopped by this.



There was no way through, so we turned around and found another route. (Thanks, dear leader, a working GPS really is a wonderful aid!)

The rest of day 1 had no more “events” with which to entertain you. But our ride was relaxing, entertaining and refreshing. We were in the Southern Cape, on a (all together now) glorious autumn day just enjoying being in the moment.

Day 2 to follow.

Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Antonie on August 05, 2014, 04:51:16 pm
Looks like a lekker adventure!
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: gwild on August 05, 2014, 09:52:22 pm
Nice keep it coming  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Bernoulli on August 06, 2014, 02:34:01 pm
Day 2

A last picture to say good-bye to our excellent hosts! The young man in the green T-shirt turned 7 that day and was all revved up for his pirates party. (He removed the eye patch and hooked hand for the photo.)


Onto the seven passes road to Knysna.




I was searching for words to describe the experience to my wife. Meandering through the forest, criss-crossing streams, at times riding under the canopy, until I decided best would be to just say to her that this is the closest I have ever come to doing a hiking trail on a bike.

Into Knysna and the photographer uses the boredom of tarred roads to play with his camera.


Then straight to Ile de Pain for the best croissant outside of France (and equally expensive!)


A short stint on the N2 takes us to the pass leading down to Nature’s Valley, and up the other side to the lookout.


We cross the N2 to ride Bloukranz Pass only to be confronted by another futile attempt by officialdom to discourage us in our valiant attempt to ride any pass we came accross.


The signs of neglect (or should that be “non-use”) are all too apparent, but a brilliant ride nonetheless.



Another short stint down the N2 for a fuel-stop at the Stormsriver Bridge.


Whilst admiring the view, we started chatting to locals who were out enjoying a day-long ride to nowhere. Our plan was to stay on the N2 up to Jeffries and then head up to Patensie on the tar. They quickly convinced us that going via Kareedouw and then gravel to Patensie holds much more promise to seasoned gravelleers such as we obviously were (and we were not going to disagree with them!)

So we changed plan and took the road to Suuranys/Boplaas.


Stopping at the turn-off to deflate tyres, the photographer discovered he actually had to inflate his bike’s  rear.

And I learnt that a bicycle pump in the hand of McGyver can do wonders!


What a hold-on, your-teeth/tonsils/testicles-will –be-shaken-from-you, marble-infested trail of corrugations this turned out to be! I am afraid our attention was so severely redirected to keeping everything mentioned above in place, that the idea of a photograph escaped even the photographer’s thoughts.

It did not last long, though, and was interrupted by some of the surprises Mother Nature tends to conjure up to those that endure some of the curved balls she sometimes throws at us.


In the distance, crazy giants wave at us as if to say: “Continue enjoying your carefree experience, we will look after you in a sustainable way!”


And the gods seem to agree…


Approaching the end of our day in the saddle where we knew a festive braai was awaiting us, we decided to augment it with some fresh pickings from the road reserve.


Vegetarian road-kill I suppose?


Our lodging for the night, after having re-fuelled in Patensie.


Tomorrow we tackle the title of the trip!

Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: cloudgazer on August 06, 2014, 03:19:49 pm
great route.
keep it coming.
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Malibu on August 06, 2014, 04:42:32 pm
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Bernoulli on August 07, 2014, 01:20:41 pm
Day 3

Breakfast, enjoyed in the company of the locals



Before we can proceed with the serious business  of tackling the title of the trip, first a lesson in the sophisticated way to have a flat on a trip, in 3 easy steps:

Step 1: Ample warning. Remember the need to inflate rather than deflate yesterday?

Step 2: Correctly parked on a flat, clean surface with sufficient space to sit comfortably whilst doing the repair and of course

Step 3: With a tubeless tyre and a real-life McGyver on hand to finish the job before our breakfast guests could utter a sound!


And then we are off!


Some interesting rock formations on the way. (Could the geologists explain why these densely packed, very round almost marble-like constructed walls do not come crashing down at the slightest mention of rain?)


Suddenly we were there! Baviaans, that place that filled my thoughts, that I wanted to ride but simultaneously was apprehensive of doing so. I had read every report on a trip there, studied every photograph in detail. If prompted, I suppose I would be able to recite Jup’s entire thread on Baviaans from memory.  And here I was, blessed being, actually starting the ride!


I am not going to describe the route, for that you can go here

http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=120704.0 (http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=120704.0)

but here are our photos. Indulge!

















All too soon we were here.



In my mind it loomed large. It was going to be long. Upon entering I was not going to see the exit. The riding surface will be rocky. But Jup’s thread said the current water level made for easy crossing. I had rehearsed the crossing in my mind several times in the previous days. I just had to relax, concentrate and focus, and all will be OK. With all this still racing through my mind, McGyver (sorry, that should be the photographer) set off and with a slight hop, skip and jump disappeared around the corner, obviously having crossed successfully.

He set up camera awaiting my heroic appearance…


But it was not to be. I set off on the concrete surface, took the right-hand spoor and entered the rocky section doing well. But somehow things fell apart, and soon I was jumping and swerving all over the place. I sat down, stopped, had no footing and promptly dropped Margaret into the water. Going down my first thought was to cut the engine as soon as possible to limit the intake of water. I heard bubbling noises just before I could. Hell no!


By the time the photographer reached me (and it was very soon), I had lifted Margaret, and a cage was waiting for me to clear the road. I did not want to swing the engine, fearing that water might have entered, so we started pushing. But Margaret is a middle-aged lady, built for comfort, not for speed, so soon we were properly out of breath. We still faced some distance to go on the rocks in the water and then there was a slight uphill onto the lawn of the picnic area. It looked higher than Everest.

We made way for the cage to pass, and - they offered to tow me! What gentlemen! Surrounded with people like these, I was willing to take on the world!


Once on dry ground, we went through the drill:

•   Remove spark plugs;
•   Try and get water out by lying Margaret down on her side;


•   Swing engine with plugs still removed;
•   Insert one  plug in “driest” side;
•   With apprehension, push start.  And yes, she did. Dearest, reliable Margaret spluttered once or twice and then, making an unholy racket through the open plug-opening sprang to life and promptly ejected all the unwanted liquid from her innards. Most impressive was an arch of black muck from the exhaust. (Remember the bubbling noises I heard?)

Oh, and of course all of this was taking place whilst the entire contents of my topbox was hung out to dry. Water, water everywhere…


An hour later we were back on the road.

Enjoy some more of the majestic Baviaans…













I knew we were heading for Uniondale. Today was, like all the preceding days of this trip, being done in glorious autumn weather. So at some stage I fell so far back to avoid the dust that would not clear the road, that I took a different road to what was planned. The photographer saw this, and set off trying to catch me. The road was beautiful gravel highway, and I enjoyed it tremendously. After a while, I realized that there was no sign of any traffic in front of me, not even in the distance, and began wondering how this was possible. And then the photographer’s distinct triangle of lights appeared in my rear-view mirror. I stopped, and it turned out that he had a good time chasing me whilst I was completely unaware of the excitement I was causing!

We re-fuelled in Uniondale and did a last bit of gravel direction De Rust, and then, in the stretching shadows of the late afternoon, ended a perfect day riding Meiringspoort to our overnight destination in Prince Albert.


Tomorrow we head home...

Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Lem on August 07, 2014, 01:50:34 pm
fantastic read, Bernoulli  :thumleft:

yeah in April 2009 I did Baviaans after some heavy rain.

Smitskraal was deep, about halfway up the 1150's pots. I'm also a very careful rider, and at that time much less experienced. No need to risk a 2000km trip in 200meters, so I packed my plakkies. We rode from West to East.

When I got to Smitskraal I took time out, put on my plakkies & parked the bike in the water, feet down & just pulled clutch in 1st and tried to look 200m ahead! Also bashed from side to side, but stayed upright & through  :thumleft:

I'm laughing now when I look at these pics. Guess the road surface underneath will be quite bad by now, 5 years on.

that is DCR, just behind me in the pics. He sat co-driver in that Landy in the back. ...Dewald, now that you've got a DS bike, I think we must return to Baviaans!
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: DCR on August 07, 2014, 02:39:58 pm
Hey Lem, what good memories! We should definitely plan to get back out there.
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Lem on August 07, 2014, 02:48:24 pm
Hey Lem, what good memories! We should definitely plan to get back out there.

ja, daai was nog voor jou Landrover romanse...

ek onthou net jou gesigsuitdrukking die dag wat ons by Hel afgedraai het, en vlugtig gesels het met die twee manne op die Dakar & die KLR wat van Prins Albert af. Sal maar immers moet teruggaan  :thumleft:

hijack af.
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: spoedvark on August 10, 2014, 08:39:41 pm
Lekker RR! Thanks for sharing!
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: weskusklong on August 10, 2014, 08:41:01 pm
So in my kraal, gaan einde Maart daai trip doen.
Lekker gelees.
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Bernoulli on August 11, 2014, 09:11:24 am
Thanks for the responses and comments!

Will hopefully be able to post the last bit later today.
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Bernoulli on August 15, 2014, 04:38:43 pm
Day 4

Once again we woke to a beautiful autumn day.


We had breakfast, refueled and headed out on the tar in the direction of Prince Albert Road, but only for a short while. About 20km out of town, we turned left onto gravel to follow what I later learnt is referred to as the hekke pad here on Wilddogs.

Early on in the day’s ride, the GPS and us could not quite agree on which way to go at a split in the road, so we agreed to disagree. It quickly transpired that we were heading down a dead-end when we ended up in front of a farmer’s barn with nowhere to proceed to! So we turned around and went back to where the disagreement started.  Now during normal travel, something like this could be upsetting – extra distance travelled, time lost, petrol wasted, etc. But to us it was not an issue at all. We were enjoying the road, the time in the saddle and the experience that is travelling by bike. After all, it is about riding, not the destination.

And our riding was in this environment.




When we were planning the trip in the safety and comfort of a coffee shop, the leader suggested we ride this road. He mentioned that it might be “a little sandy in places” but that we should be fine.  My frame of reference, however, was that at the mere mention of the word sand, I fall over. I bravely held onto the coffee shop table and managed to stay upright. Was this a good omen?

Back to the trip. Somewhere on the road, we came upon a farmer enjoying his breakfast in the veld and chatted to him. He said that, until about two weeks ago, the road ahead was seriously sandy, but had recently been graded. It is better now, so we should be OK. He commented on the “serious machines” we were riding and wished us well. Another good omen?

And suddenly we were into the sand. Nothing monstrously deep, but enough to require us to employ the techniques required to survive (and maybe somewhere in the future actually enjoy) sand.



And we did it! Some serious snaking was involved, but we kept the rubber down. Much later I realized that I focused on the photographer’s back wheel, inadvertently practicing the “look up” part of stand up, look up and open up.  And it worked.

Now, months later, browsing through the photographs and reliving the events, I am again stunned by the simple beauty of this part of our wonderful country. Just look at this:



And yes, this is the hekkepad!









Towards the end of this gravel, we came to the Floriskraal dam.


Did you notice something unusual on the bikes?

Initially we did not, but take another look: The photographer lost his topbox!

He turned around, and not too far back, found it.


Underside bust!

Just beyond the dam wall, we stopped at the caretaker’s home, and McGyver did his usual magic.



Having now acquainted ourselves with the caretaker, we were given permission to ride onto the dam wall.



Then it was a short stint on tar before turning onto the Witteberge road. A gravel highway gem, interspersed with sightings of game.





At one stage I was riding next to an ostrich on full speed (on the other side of the fence) doing a comfortable 60 km/hr!

We refueled body and bike in Touwsriver, and when readying ourselves for the return journey to Cape Town, saw this:


A stop-and-go in Touwsriver graphically reminded us of the perils of the N1. So we decided to head home via Ceres, Bainskloof and Agter Paarl.


And so we come to the end of our road this time. The riding was varied and wonderful, the weather perfect, the company exceptional. How priveleged I am.

Thanks for reading. 
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Difflock on August 16, 2014, 05:40:27 am
Dankie vir die deel, lekker saam gery.  :thumleft:
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Laban on August 16, 2014, 09:22:44 am

... :thumleft:...
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: Mr.T on August 16, 2014, 09:02:57 pm
Going to Baviaans next weekend. Should be fun for the 4 of us.
Going to sleep over in Steylerville on a farm that Saturday night and then dirt home on Sunday.
Nice to see you enjoyed our part of the country.
Title: Re: Bucket list 2: Baviaanskloof
Post by: T Rex on August 17, 2014, 04:12:43 am
Thank you , very nice story and awesome pics !  :thumleft: