Wild Dog Adventure Riding

Riding: Plan, Report and Racing => Ride Reports => Long Tours => Topic started by: Lord Knormoer on December 17, 2014, 08:11:04 am

Title: A soul searching sojourn
Post by: Lord Knormoer on December 17, 2014, 08:11:04 am
It's late afternoon, the sun will be setting in two hours and I have two hundred kilometres to go. Ten minutes ago I was still filtering through Friday afternoon traffic in Gauteng. Breathing in noxious fumes from thousands of vehicles in various states of disrepair all competing to get somewhere. Some lost in thought after a long day, others bobbing heads to the radio and then those committed to not loose one second of online social interaction, furiously typing away on their smartphones with their cages magically steering through traffic. I hate driving in Gauteng, I'm terrified of riding a bike here. It took a mere forty minutes to navigate from my office to the wide open spaces along the N3 near Heidelberg but I can still feel the knot in my stomach.

But I'm here, the city rapidly disappearing in my mirrors, the freeway enticing me to go faster and see what lies over the next hill. I'm slabbing it, time being my challenge. I'm committed to wake up in Clarens tomorrow morning knowing I have the whole day ahead to explore so I'm on the straightest, fastest way there. But I enjoy this, it's an opportunity to let go of the reigns and let Knormoer run for a bit. I breath in deeply hoping for a fresh air induced chrysalis from commuter to adventurer. An hour ago I was still reviewing the last pages of a contract at work, in my mind I'm still evaluating the content. I realise that until I'm able to switch from work to life, my adventurous alter ego will remain suppressed.

Why am I going to Clarens you may wonder? I'm not entirely sure to be honest. The past few weeks was a mad rush towards year end. Long days and longer nights concatenated almost without separation. Eating and sleeping becoming almost indistinguishable events between meetings, workshops and commuting. I guess the idea for this ride was born out of desperation to drive a wedge into this relentless schedule to slow it down a bit before my annual leave. I woke up on Wednesday 19 November with this incredible need to escape. I remember being in the Midrand office and feeling that the walls are closing in on me, it felt more like a cage than ever before.

But why Clarens? Maybe because André, my late father's brother and only living family, lives on the way. We have not spoken since the funeral and I feel a need to connect. My uncle Hendrik, my mom's eldest brother, also lives in the area. I've always looked up to him and I plan for a quick visit. Maybe because I saw a few pictures recently posted by Jorust and other riders. I'm still not sure exactly why I'm here and I don't particularly care, it's time to let go and enjoy the ride.

A week ago I left Cape Town for Gauteng via Williston in the Karoo. My aunt and godmother turned sixty and we organised a surprise party. It was during the planning of this very party that I conceived of the idea for this trip instead of my normal arial commute to work. The Sunday after the party I rode the thousand kilometres from Williston to Sandton, parked Knormoer in the hotel basement and became a Gautrain commuter. It was a deal I made with Knormoer; treat me well on the open road and I'll not force you to perform the tedious task of carrying me to work. A week from now I'll start for Cape Town via Gariep. When I arrive home I'll be on holiday.

In my mind I run through my plan for the weekend and my heart rate increases. It may be my imagination but I'm convinced I even began to shake a little. As an adventure rider, I normally stick to dirt and back roads.  Although I'll be riding some over the weekend, I have a dirty secret. I sometimes like riding on tar and my goal is to traverse Golden Gate and a few other noteworthy scenic roads nearby. It feels like I'm cheating but the idea of a few high speed runs make me feel giddy. So you could say that my mistress awaits me in the mountains of the eastern Freestate and all that stand between us are the remaining two hundred kilometres.

I start to notice small changes in temperature, the smell of fresh air fill my nostrils. The tone of the engine appears to have changed from a monotonous drone to an angry growl. A car appears ahead and when I pass I realise I'm travelling much faster than a moment ago. For a moment I consider closing the throttle but some unseen force has taken control of my right hand. I want more and I feel an uncontrollable urge to let all the horsepower beneath me run free. I notice each imperfection in the road, I sense rather than hear each and every familiar sound radiating from Knormoer. I realise that I finally managed to expel work from my mind, I'm in life mode and love it!


Friday 28 November - R355

My plan was to finish work early on Friday and arrive in Williston before sunset. I should have known better. I was delayed at work, I got stuck in traffic and arrived home after 15:00. A quick change and other last minute items and I was on my way. Ceres via Bainskloof and then the R355 to Calvinia before Williston, 467km later. I remember very few details apart from a few snippets like the corners on Bainskloof that I entered too fast. I reminded myself to slow down and concentrate. In Ceres I filled up and realised I had not eaten all day. Red Bull and an energy bar had to suffice. Reaching the R355 I saw two travellers on bicycles. I did not stop to ask about their trip. In fact, the whole R355 is a blur. When I passed Tankwa Padstal at 18:00 it was clear that to reach Calvinia and the safety of tar before sunset, I needed to push Knormoer a bit.

I now know that I'm comfortable hitting those whoops at 140km/h but not so much at 160km/h. Maybe it was the luggage but the landings at higher speeds just felt shaky. I remember passing Stonehenge but my concentration was on the road and making sure I maintain this illusion of being control. I was acutely aware of being alone on a road with no traffic just before dark. It was exhilarating and instead of slowing down, I sped up. I refuelled in Calvinia and rode to Williston with the sun setting in my mirrors, the last faint rays disappearing just before I took the long sweeping turn leading to the bridge over the Sak river. What a ride!


Sunday 30 Nov - There be humans in Vosburg

On Sunday I rode from Williston to Sandton. I departed Williston at 5:00 and forgetting about the extra weight, I rode the first 200km with a little too much vigour. Approaching Vosburg, the GS indicated that I have another 50km of fuel and Britstown was 60km away.

I pulled into Vosberg to discover a very pretty but very sleepy little town at just after 6:00 on a Sunday. The only fuel pump, behind eight foot high diamond mesh security fences, belongs to the co-op that would be open again on Monday. Irritated with myself, I slowly idle down a dirt street in the general direction of the main road thinking that if I reduce my speed to 100km/h I could make it.

From behind an apricot tree that he's watering Oom Charles greets me. I kill the engine and greet him back. He wants to know where I'm going. I explain that I am on my way to Gauteng but due to a gross omission I'm short of fuel. He laughs while saying there's no fuel in Vosberg on a Sunday. I know but the confirmation hits me hard.

"How much do you need?" he asks. I answer and he disappears behind an outbuilding to return with a tin can and a short hose asking if I've syphoned fuel before. I said yes but not recently and take the can that he holds over the fence. As I put my mouth to the hose he stops me while climbing over the fence. For a retired farmer he's quite nimble. "Let me do it, we don't want you getting lightheaded from petrol fumes before riding this monster!"

I hold the can high and Oom Charles operates the hose. The fuel is for the generator during load shedding but the tank is full and he will refill it on Monday. He tells me about the Bull Run in Vosberg. Apparently all sorts descend on the little town. I hear that he's retired and his son now runs the farm. He also tells me that even though they experience load shedding, Vosberg is not much affected by national politics.

After adding about two litres to my tank I try to pay him but the money is waved away with a dismissive gesture. "Just make sure you come support our Bull Run next year." he says. I'm overwhelmed by his kindness and hospitality, today will be a good day.

I'll return to Vosberg, hopefully before the Bull Run and definitely with a bottle of wine for Oom Charles.

There be humans in Vosburg!


5-7 December - Soul-searching

Saturday I'm up before the sun. I soak in the view while breaking the fast with left overs from the previous night. I ride through and around Golden Gate Park which is breathtaking after the recent rains and worth spending some time in. I did not, I needed to ride, I needed to be on the bike soaking up kilometres. I passed Bethlehem again and headed out towards the N3 taking the Tierkloof dirt road outside Betlehem and joining the N3 just south of the Warden. I was riding too fast for the load I carried and now it started raining. 5km past Warden I exit the N3 heading for Vrede hoping to avoid the storm I see ahead. I realise the stings I feel on my arms and fingers are small hail stones. Still, I have this inexplicable need to keep going.

By the time I reach Vrede the rain stopped. I refuel and make friends with a vagrant called James Biggs. He left Pietrmaritzburg to look for his dad in Vrede but the house stood empty. He has no money and nowhere to go. We lunch on what the little fuel station convenience store has to offer. James is overwhelmed when I tell him to take what he needs on my account. I'm overwhelmed when he selects a juice box and small potato salad and I realise how spoilt we are. From Vrede I take the dirt road along the railway tracks past the old Ascent sideline crossing the Klipriver just before reaching Standerton. James' desperation and humility still haunts me.

From Standerton I stay on tar and manage to keep ahead of the cloud cover past Tutuka power station. While in Vrede I wondered about where to go next and called my cousin in Middelburg. It's gonna be a long night, it's been a few years. Just as I start to believe I managed to beat mother nature, all hell breaks loose and I get soaked from head to toe just before reaching Middelburg. We spend the evening catching up, drinking Tequila (to warm me up) and dining on the finest espatadas I've eaten in a long time. Around midnight my body decides it's time for load shedding. Apparently there are limits to how hard you can push in one day.

There was no plan for Sunday. Over breakfast Clint suggests we ride to Loskop Dam/Goblersdal area and find a spot for lunch. What a motley crew we made. Me with my adventure suit on the GS and Clint with jeans, black leather jacket and pisspot on his cruiser. Lunch was good, the ride was slow and relaxed and the day uneventful.

I left at 16:00 heading for Sandton and my last week in the office. I'm still searching for answers: This makes me restless and again I ride faster than I should. I exit the N4 heading for Ogies and Springs and I pass a few familiar spots that I've not been to in over 20 years. Once again I manage to avoid the rain only to get soaked just before reaching the hotel. I normally love the solitude of my room here but tonight I'll be taking something to help me fall asleep.


11 December - Leaving Gauteng

Leaving just after three on Thursday I missed the worst of the holiday traffic to Durban for the first part down the N3. All afternoon I watch a storm brewing on the horizon and just before Frankfurt it hits. A few times the wind threatens to push me off the road and I look for shelter but find nothing. For a moment I wonder about diverting to Harrismith but dismiss the thought, how bad can it be? When the rain hits I realise my mistake. Within seconds I feel water run down my back, this is no ordinary storm. Still no shelter. Then the hail hits me. My fingers and arms take a beating so I switch on the cruise control and lean forward with my arms crossed under my torso. At least the body armour will take care of the hits to my sides and back. I hear the insistent clattering of hailstones on my helmet and see them bouncing off the bike. What the hell was I thinking! I finally see a bridge I can use for cover and pull over to see the worst of the storm pass within five minutes.

I'm soaked from head to toe, I'm tired and I'm pissed off. When I start riding it's too fast, again. The potholes on this road are filled with water and completely hidden but by some miracle I miss them all. A few times I feel the rear slipping through a corner on the now wet patches of smooth repaired potholes. This should slow me down but today I merely curse in my helmet and push harder. When my phone suddenly rings through the headset it startles me. I'm spending tonight on the farm with my mother and my little sister warns me that the main road past Ladybrand was closed due to a major accident. Diverting through town would usually be irritating but I need to refuel, again. When the sun sets I ride the two spoor to the farmhouse.


12 December - Joining a group

After fitting a new rear tyre in Bloemfontein I joined a group of riders for the weekend to explore the area around Gariep. This is however a whole other ride report. I left Norvalspont on Sunday 6:00 and after two weeks away from home decided to take the shortest route to Durbanville. 6 hours later I was home. There's only one way to make the N1 interesting...

I did not often stop for photos but here's a selection from various places along the 5079km that I found memorable.

Title: Re: A soul searching sojourn
Post by: Draadwerk on December 17, 2014, 08:19:06 am
Wow. Mooi fotos !!!
Title: Re: A soul searching sojourn
Post by: halfjob on December 17, 2014, 09:06:01 am
Awsome report boet  :thumleft: I am thinking of doing exactly this and sooner rather than later, might pop in to see veldtie this friday  :deal:
Title: Re: A soul searching sojourn
Post by: DirtRebell on December 17, 2014, 10:47:38 am

Pragtige fotos, soos altyd. :thumleft:

Title: Re: A soul searching sojourn
Post by: Lord Knormoer on December 18, 2014, 09:45:07 am

I enjoyed it!!
Title: Re: A soul searching sojourn
Post by: funacide on January 29, 2015, 04:05:50 pm
Nice Trip Lukas...  :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:
Title: Re:
Post by: kanaalaapxt660 on February 07, 2015, 01:36:32 pm
Baie mooi fotos
Title: Re: A soul searching sojourn
Post by: Ysterman on February 07, 2015, 02:14:12 pm
Bliksem maar ons bly in n mooi land
Title: Re: A soul searching sojourn
Post by: Hugo on February 07, 2015, 02:20:51 pm
Baie nice, veral die 2de foto, ń plek na aan my hart  :biggrin:
Title: Re: A soul searching sojourn
Post by: Road Hog on February 07, 2015, 02:22:25 pm
more please