Wild Dog Adventure Riding

Riding: Plan, Report and Racing => Ride Reports => Topic started by: BrandsiekBrak on December 16, 2018, 07:10:36 pm

Title: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: BrandsiekBrak on December 16, 2018, 07:10:36 pm
Ben 10 Eco Challenge discovery:

This whole Adventure expedition started in early October when SWAMBO was taking me home to fetch my Pajero after dropping my bike off for a service…

On our way home, we noticed a sticker on the top box of a KTM 1050…the sticker read “I completed the Ben 10 Eco Challenge” …

“What is the Ben 10 Eco Challenge?”, SWAMBO wanted to know…
“I don’t know…”, I replied
After asking my dear old friend Google….
“It seems to be an Adventure challenge that requires you to visit sign boards on top of 10 chosen gravel passes in the Eastern Cape, and complete this within 7 days”, I told SWAMBO
“That sounds interesting, we should do this some or other time”, SWAMBO replied

Ben 10 Eco Challenge locked in:

Fast forward to early November….and our holiday plans for early December was not panning out, luckily nothing was set in stone…
‘So, what are we going to do for our holiday early December?”, SWAMBO asked one fateful afternoon.
“I don’t know…but I think I need to go where cell reception is little and nature is a lot…”, I replied.
“What about taking on the Ben 10 Eco Challenge with the Pajero?”… SWAMBO laid the seed.
“Well, it should be a lot of fun…wonder how it would be to do it on the back of my GSA beast?”
SWAMBO then suggested I contact Aaklige Attie and find out if he and his family would be up for the challenge, then the 2 SWAMBO’s can party in the Pajero, and Aaklige Attie and myself can play with the bikes.

Next day I ring up Aaklige Attie and briefly enlighten him on the Ben 10 Eco Challenge, as well as tell him about SWAMBO’s plan.
Later after he checked out the Challenge set out on the Mountain Passes of South Africa website, he gives me a call….

Aaklige Attie with a sarcastic tone, “ This does not seem like the sort of thing that I like doing on the back of a bike…”

My sarcastic tone, “I feel you bother, also not the type of thing I like to put my bike through, but SWMBO has her heart set on this, thus as a supporting husband…I am willing to make an exception in order to make her happy”

Aaklige Attie (sarcastic tone): “I hear you my friend, and seeing that I was your best man at your wedding, I will once again stand by your side on this one…”

My sarcastic tone:  “Thank you bother, will be nice to have another one suffering through this thing in order to keep the wife happy, but hell…if the wife says that that we have to go Adventure biking, we should not dare say no…even if we don’t want to…”

Thus it was less than a month to the planned week of starting the Ben 10 Eco Challenge, and we found accommodation in Rhodes at Walkerbouts Bokhuase, and we started gathering more information from whatever sources we could.

Expedition party expansion

A few days later I spoke to my father, FrancoisTz, and told him about our plans for this holiday…and he sounded intrigued, so I asked him to think about it and let me know.
He mentioned it to his SWAMBO, and left for work….
Later the day he gives me call…
FrancoisTz, “I told Natasha about this plan and left for work, when we met for lunch she decided to do the challenge. But not with the Landy…she wants to do it on the back of her own bike!”
My reply: “That is wonderful! As long as you guys know that we are not going to a SPA, but it will be a hard working holiday for the body and a relaxing experience for the soul”
FrancoisTz, “We understand it as such, and will have a look at the website and watch the videos”
My reply: “ Great stuff, and don’t worry about being new to the Adventure riding scene. Attie and myself will be there the whole time, and we do not leave anyone behind.”

Aaklige Attie, also decided that his 16 year old son will be joining us on the back of his Honda 250 Rally.
So we had a nice group of bikes, and the SWAMBO Pajero at the back.
Ben 10 Eco Challenge was set to be done during the second week of December.
Everyone will gather at my place in Bloemfontein on the Friday, and we will set off for Rhodes on the Saturday….

Group as from this point:
Myself with 1200 GSA A/C (some riding experience)
Aaklige Attie with 1200GSA LC (some riding experience)
FrancoisTz with 1200 GSA A/C (Newbie)
Rynhard with Honda 250 Rally (Newbie)
Natasha with 650 GS (Newbie)

Lizanne, my SWAMBO, with Pajero 3.2 GLX (very little 4x4 experience)
Jana, Attie’s SWAMBO, will join in Pajero and has good 4x4 experience

Quick over view of gathered information:
1)   Mountain Passes of South Africa, wealth of information with regards to how and where to access the passes. Videos give you a good over view of the passes.
2)   Recent videos on You tube, good idea of recent road condition
3)   Forums, some useful information and scattered recent experiences
4)   Safari4x4 in Bloemfontein, recent information on some of the passes

General consensus on passes:
•   Passes are ridable/driveable if conditions play along
•   Bastervoetpad pass is not for the novice rider, and should be approached from a west-to-east direction, but not in the rain
•   Ben McDhui is tough but you will need to find out about current conditions at Tiffendale Ski Resort.

Preparations on vehicles started and regular phone calls kept everyone in the loop of the preparations.
Aaklige Attie’s excitement could not be controlled any further, and the Oosthuizens arrived the Thursday in Bloemfontein…
Thus we braaied, drank Rum, and laughed while waiting for FrancoisTZ and Natasha till Friday afternoon.

Everyone found themselves in Bloemfontein on Friday (7 December 2018), ready to depart on Saturday Morning for Rhodes.
Plan is to do Joubert’s Pass on Saturday, out side Lady Grey, on the way to Rhodes…

Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: Ri on December 16, 2018, 08:30:22 pm
The things you do for SWAMBOs...

This looks pretty epic, definitely subscribed :deal: :sip:
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: Casting from Turd on December 16, 2018, 08:30:50 pm
Bliksem daai ding is Aaklig jong.

Ek ry sommer saam
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: BrandsiekBrak on December 16, 2018, 10:56:19 pm
Journey to Rhodes starts:

Plan for the day was that Aaklige Attie and Myself ride our machines to Rhodes
Rynhard, Jana and Lizanne tow the Honda 250 behind the Pajero.
FrancoisTz and Natasha tow their bikes behind their Defender.

At Lady grey, we would take the bikes off the trailers, and head over Joubert’s Pass, then come back and get the trailers again and onward to Rhodes.

Plans change...

The day started nice and early, and for the first 50km all went according to plan.
I discovered a nasty rattle in my gear box of the GSA, and outside Reddersburg decided to check the filling bolt of the gearbox…

We found a single metal shaving and very low oil…decided to swop the GSA and Honda. GSA would be towed to Rhodes and along the way we would get new oil and flush. Then drain the gearbox, flush it and put new oil…then check to see what happens

Rynhard was tagged into the riding seat of his Honda, and followed his dad on the road the Rhodes.
I took the Pajero driving seat, with the GSA towed behind.
Attie then rode for Aliwal North in order to get his hands on oil for the gearbox.

He made it to Auto Zone 10min before closing time…

Aliwal North had us take some lunch, and one of the guests at the restaurant we had lunch went on to share with us his experiences of the Eastern Cape gravel passes…

He was adamant that if there is a little bit of rain, we will not be able to ride over Bastervoetpad Pass. He was also convinced that the GSA’s were too heavy and won’t be able to handle the pass if it was wet. He was however convinced that the 650 GS and 250 Rally were the only bikes that would be able to make the trip over most of the passes…

After a long explanation of the difficulties and wet conditions of the passes from this informant, I replied to his concerns with:
“Thank you Sir, but you don’t need to try and convince us any further…We are already going to do the pass (Bastervoetpad)”

Shortly after this, his wife’s stories became interesting, and he started listening to her more atently and left us to our only conversations.

Due to my bike acting up with the gear box, we decided to skip Joubert’s Pass today, and head to Rhodes and change the Gearbox oil…And here I was all dressed up and driving a cage..

End of tar, and start of Gravel travel:

The tar road stopped at Barkly East on the way to Rhodes, and the 2 bikes were already making their way to Rhodes when the 2 towing vehicles went through Barkly East.

FrancoisTz’s GSA was fed up with traveling on the trailer, and we had stop every 10km to either fasten the tie down straps, or replace them as some of them boke.

The gravel road between Barkly East and Rhodes is about 60km, with surfaces changing from compacted, to corrugations and loose gravel. But this road is not too bad if taken at speed, and the road is wide enough to enable you to travel at 60-80km with ease.
The scenery is very beautiful, and it is not necessary to speed past everything.

Soon after coming into Rhodes, we found the Walkerbouts Bar/restaurant and had a couple of cold ones

Side note time:
From the start we did realise that Bastervoetpad pass would be a tricky peace of road, especially with 3 novice riders…
Thus the plan was to keep an eye on the weather, and tackle Bastervoetpad as soon as there are a few dry days in order to bake the trail.
The rest of the passes were not really that reliant on the weather, and the weather forecast had a couple of wet days planned for us

Rhodes information gathering time:

As the Rum was flowing, the locals were interested in our Quest…
Most of the locals were of the opinion that Bastervoetpad should not be attempted this week, but this sounded like loser talk to us…and we kept on asking and talking..

(Finally, we found the right information that we were waiting for)
The owner / manager of Walkerbouts was of the opinion that Bastervoetpad is easily doable, and that the right time would be the next day (Sunday 9 December 2018).
According to him, it has been dry for the past few days and thus the route will be dry.

After a few more cold ones, we agreed that the best time would be the coming Sunrise…

Changing Gears:
After taping my GSA gearbox oil, and evaluating the oil…it seemed to be that the oil was long overdue for change and no more metal shards were found.
A little flush, and enough oil…the gearbox felt better than ever

All set for early morning departure
And my mood had drastically improved from earlier the day when I had to put my GSA on the trailer

Planned rout for the next day:
•   Take road from Rhodes, back towards Barkly East
•   Take the Bokspruit / Riflespruit road
•   Link up with the 393 road towards Eliot
•   Turn onto the Bastervoetpad Pass road, just before Fatcanni Pass
•   Bastervoetpad Pass
•   Turn onto tar road near Ugie, and ride to Eliot
•   Afterwards we could either go via the 393, or Barkly east to Rhodes

No problem!!!! ….. Or maybe the riding Gods may become angry with us  :peepwall:
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: TinusBez on December 17, 2018, 05:45:50 am

We did the surroundings a few years' ago. Couldn't do Ben Mac (snow) and since read there is a (service) road mmm.
Bastervoetslaan (for me at least) one of the most beautiful scenery around. There is that first bit that can get tricky especially after rain. One spot on that pass that reminds me a lot of Paradise pass in Lesotho near Malealea - view just goes on forever.
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: BrandsiekBrak on December 17, 2018, 07:47:52 am
I will take your word on the views from Bastervoetpad, as we did not get to appreciate the views for more than 100m in any direction

I will work on the story for you, and share with you the trials and trails
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: mike gs on December 17, 2018, 07:54:35 am
Awesome RR, keep it coming......Rhodes is so special

Sent from my SM-T561 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: BrandsiekBrak on December 17, 2018, 09:44:41 am
The Bastervoetpad Pass day…the “voetpad” part is literal

The day started off very good, the sun was out and we were all very excited.
Last few bike preparations, like taking of screens from the GSA’s. These Beasts look really mean with their screens taken off.

FrancoisTz allowed us to take his screen off as well, even though I did see that little glint of worry in his eyes.
Tyres were deflated, and coffee was had.
The Pajero ‘fun-wagon’ was stocked, and everyone was ready for a great day of riding.

Bastervoetpad is reported to be dry, and current weather conditions did not inform us of any other sinister change

The expedition group left Rhodes, and the games started off easily.
Road from Rhodes to the Bokspruit/Riflespruit turn off was dry and we continued on a leisurely pace of 40-60km/h.

This road continues until it meets up with the 393 road between Moshesh’s Ford and Bastervoetpad.
Even though this road has some deep erosions and smaller loose rocks, it rides easily and only had a few wet spots.

We came across a quarry next to the road, and there was a large muddy pool. Shallow enough not to have water enter the GSA’s air intake, with deep enough mud to cover the bike’s under parts with a "protective mud layer".

After some of us had our little fun, the group moved further along this road, shortly after getting on the 393 road again we realised that the Pajero ‘fun-wagon’ was far behind. So we stopped and waited…and waited…

Eventually I turned back and went searching…luckily found them just around the next bend…the 2 SWAMBO’s laughing their asses off…

Apparently…they came across a couple of sheep in the road and decided that they were in the mood for some farming….and as fate would have it, they had the perfect herding vehicle at their disposal in the form of the Pajero ‘fun-wagon’….
Thus with Co-pilot Jana as the gate keeper to the one farm, and pilot Lizanne as shepard, they convinced the sheep that the grass is greener on the other side of the fench…

My question to them: “How do you know that you put them on the right farm?”
Their answer: “Shit…did not think about that, but sure they can figure it out”

Group all together once more, we continued onward to Bastervoetpad Pass’s Western entry point, we did encounter a couple of muddy sections and water pools on the way…
The warning signs were probably there, but what is a little bit of water when it has been dry for days beforehand…

Bastervoetpad Pass western entry point…

We all stopped and had a great talk and laughs, and noticed that the heavens are sweating on us, and it appeared that there is a lot of mist around the mountain peaks….

We concluded that this should not be a problem due to the “FACT” that it has been dry for a couple of days before hand….so we donned our rain suites and climbed our beasts, pointing them in the directions of Bastervoetpad Pass….

Pajero ‘fun-wagon’ pilots finished making their coffee, and shortly followed us.

The first few kilometres were wetter than we expected, but HEY…it has been dry for a couple of days according to our respected local informant…and this is the best time to attach Bastervoetpad Pass

Rocky Road is not just an Ice-cream flavour…

We found ourselves on the cement bridge that marks the official start of the Bastervoetpad pass…
It is a relative steep climb, with a couple of plateaus to allow for bike parking, and every time you think you are close to the top, you find another little climb.

It is a nice technical climb in the wet with big rocks, and lots of wheel spin…no problem if you have some experience…..did I mention we had 3 novice riders with us…AND for an added benefit…

FrancoisTz did purchase new rear rubber for his GSA a few months back from a reputable place, the guy convinced him that the combination I had suggested (Mitas E-07) was inferior to the only tyre he had available…and that this tyre that he had available has been specifically designed for off road conditions and the tread pattern clears mud very well….this amazing tyre is the Metzler Tourance Next

Due to my mistrust in the above information and advice, I brought an extra rim with a used Mitas E-07 on….which Aaklige Attie and myself suggested putting on FrancoisTz’s bike at our comfortable level area in front of our accommodation the previous night and again the morning before departure…but why do things the easy way..

Think the promised grip and performance in the wet was maybe not installed during this specific tyre’s manufacturing, and after a couple of falls, slips and burning clutch…we swapped the rear wheel of FrancoisTz’s GSA with the one we brought with us…luckily we only needed to put the bike on it’s right side on the rocks, and change the wheel in the mud….easy is not fun though.

After this change in rubber, things went a little better for a while…

After many falls and walks up and down the hill of Bastervoetpad and picking up bikes, we did reach the top…the heavens did provide some lightning for added effect, and the mist and rain provided some relief for us from possible over heating

Due to the “perfect” conditions on top of the mountain, we almost missed the summit marker…but did find it for the photo opportunity.

The organisers of the challenge do go through the trouble annually to erect their own boards, but these do get stolen/blown away at times, thus my advice is to take a picture at the origin summit markers and not only look for the challenge boards.

At the summit it was decided that we will take the same route down, as we came up…..shortly after we changed this decision and turned around to go down the other side…

“It has been dry for days, and now is the right time to conquer Bastervoetpad”
"We came all this way, no use in turning around now!"

Bastervoetpad Pass was not happy that we were disturbing it’s shower….

Luckily for us, the ruts were deeper, rocks were bigger and drop offs were higher…and best of all the riding surface was slippery and tended to accumulate on the tyres when going slowly making sudden stopping impossible…hell…even the Pajero had these issues and the ‘wagon’ lost the ‘fun-‘ portion.

After a few hours and lots of stops to pick up bikes, Aaklige Attie and myself decided to split up the main jobs:
•   I would guide the other 3 bikes down and sort out any issues we encounter
•   Attie would guide down the Pajero

A few hours later the group was back together again and the mood was not delightful, we realised that we were averaging 2-3km/hour…

At 16h00 we all have had enough, and the realisation dawned that we still had 14km to go before we are off the pass….an ‘executive decision’ was made that we would leave 3 bikes on the mountain (Rynhard, Natasha and FranciosTz). They would get in the Pajero and Aaklige Attie and myself would ride our bikes down the mountain and head home.

We can return the following day with the bike trailers and recover the bikes, but currently we needed to get off this mountain pass…or spend the night in the elements.

The rest of the road was slippery and traction was a luxury not afforded us too often.
The river crossings were not too bad, and bikes were not drowned.
The tar road trip towards Eliot was not the best one Aaklige Attie and I have ever had, and hypothermia was starting to rear its ugly head by the time we stopped in Eliot.
The 2 of us waited at a filling station in Eliot, and got our hands on warm coffee…

The Pajero rescue vehicle drove into Eliot and Attie and myself left our bikes at the local police station for the night.

Pajero fully packed with 7 people, and everything wet and cold, we recovered from hypothermia with aid of the heater and made our way back to Rhodes in the dark and rain….

All and all, our perfect time to conquer Bastervoetpad pass turned out to be a relative disaster…but hell….Aaklige Attie and myself completed Bastervoetpad in the worst of conditions, and the Pajero performed well throughout
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: Ri on December 17, 2018, 10:58:10 am
Geeeeee!! Glad no one got hurt and nothing got broken!!

Well done on conquering that Bastidvoetpad! And you got the worst over with first :thumleft:
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: BrandsiekBrak on December 17, 2018, 01:26:04 pm
Return to Bastervoetpad…

So…the previous day 5 bikes and 1 Pajero left Rhodes for Bastervoetpad Pass, 2 bikes made it off Bastervoetpad, but only the Pajero made it back to Rhodes under cover of darkness

It is day 2 of our adventure, and we need to go fetch all the bikes before we can even think of carrying on with the Eco challenge…

We set off from Rhodes with the Pajero, Defender and 2 trailers, armed with a plan of action…
We will approach Bastervoetpad from the Eastern slope. The defender is a short wheel base, and has a smaller turning circle and better off road tyres. The single bike trailer is easier to manoeuvre in the single vehicle pass…

Plan was simple….take the defender and single bike trailer up Bastervoetpad pass for the 14km till we find the bikes. Load the 650gs on the trailer and tow it out with the Defender. Attie will ride the Honda 250 off the pass, and I would ride the remaining GSA off the pass. When we are off the pass, the 2 bikes will then be loaded on the trailer behind the Pajero. Then we will head to Eliot to gather the GSA’s left at the police station, and head back to Rhodes…

With plan in hand, we left Rhodes and turned on the 393 crossing Fetcanni pass and Barkly pass, through Eliot and onto Bastervoetpad…the day seemed nice and warm with only a few clouds to be seen in the sky…

The gravel roads were nice and hard, with only a few wet spots, and we made good time with the cars and trailers.

Aaklige Attie and myself were in our riding gar when we climbed into the Defender, and FrancoisTz took us up the pass to go and recover the bikes… like rescue divers being taken out to see by boat to go and perform their duties…

The metaphor of rescue divers is not merely chosen at random… for when we closed in on Bastervoetpad Pass the heavens opened up again, and we once more found ourselves in the rain, mud and Mist on the Pass…

In the back of our minds we were all worried that the bikes might be buried by mudslides, or that there may be a lot of water damage.

Bikes in the Mist…

We found the Honda first, just as we started to get worried…still standing on its side stand as Rynhard left it. As this would be one of the bikes to be ridden down the Pass, we drove around it and went up further the pass towards were the other bikes were left the previous day.

To our delight, there was no mud slide. And the bikes were still stuck in the deep rut, where we left them… and best of all, they started easily and we were able to get them out of the rut with little effort.

The Defender and trailer were turned around, the 650 GS loaded on the trailer and fastened securely. I climbed the GSA and Attie started the Honda.

Our now newly formed convoy was ready to move down the pass, we moved slowly due to the 4x4 nature of this pass and the loaded bike on trailer following the Defender.

An hour later we were of the pass, and quickly loaded the other 2 bikes on the 2 bike trailer behind the Pajero….Attie and myself were once more soaking wet….but the rained eased up when we reached the end of Bastervoetpad Pass.

We headed to Eliot Police station and found Aaklige Attie and my own GSA’s waiting.
We once more donned our riding gear and made our way to the 393 gravel road towards Rhodes.. this gravel road makes the distance between Eliot and Rhodes 90km.The other road via Barkly East puts the distance at 130km.

It being once again 17h30 in the afternoon,  we opted for the gravel road. And took off towards Rhodes. As the sun set, we all made it safely home.

Another challenge raises its ugly head…

50km from Rhodes on the gravel back, I discovered that my GSA had no rear brakes. But seeing that we were chasing the setting sun… I gunned further with front brakes and engine braking.

The next morning Attie and myself investigate the problem….
My rear brake reservoir was empty, and no reason was obvious at that moment, after a brake fluid donation made by the friendly Pajero…. the problematic leak was found, and after stripping the rear of my GSA…the scope of the problem was established…

Braking bad news…

The brake line transition point / elbow was cracked and every time I stepped on the rear brake, brake fluid would squirt out through this crack and the system loses pressure.

Thus, we needed to have this fixed and thus the day’s riding was called off, and a much needed rest day announced.

This meant that a couple of cold ones will be taken, and we set off for Barkly East to find a brake and clutch place to make us a temporary connection, or at least try and find someone who can do aluminium welding

Foot note time:
There is a local guy and his son in Rhodes, who have a small workshop and are willing to help where and how they can. We were able to get copper washers from them, but my particular problem was out of this workshop’s scope.

Braking good news…

After visiting a couple of shops in Barkly East we found friendly guys who was able to do aluminium welding and understood what we wanted, he also suggested we go have breakfast and cold ones while he does his thing..

An hour later we were on our way back to Rhodes with a welded brake coupling, and new copper washers and braking fluid

We quickly reassembled my GSA, and the braking system was back in play…

FranciosTz and Natasha used the rest day to visit Tiffendel resort with the Defender and scouted the top of the mountain and local knowledge for the coming bike ride the next day.

Armed with new information and another fixed problem, we braaied and chatted the night away, excited to start the next day and continue chipping away at this Ben 10 Eco challenge

The difficult Pass has been conquered, thus the rest of the trip should be a breeze from here on out...

During our Bastervoetpad difficulties, FrancoisTz and Natasha had decided that due to there skill level, they will rather tackle the rest of the Eco Challenge with their Defender and leave the biking for us...
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: m0lt3n on December 17, 2018, 01:57:51 pm
nice adventure you guys had!
I also did it wit TinBez in the dry which was easy. What stood out for me is the great scenery from Bastervoetpad pass, its never mentioned but its top stuff. I have done a fair bit of riding and cant think of anything better.
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: BrandsiekBrak on December 17, 2018, 02:58:36 pm
Also think that Baster should be easy in the dry, would like to go and have a look one day if ever I am in that area again.

If you have some riding experience, then it is not too bad in the wet
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: TinusBez on December 17, 2018, 06:47:06 pm
Also think that Baster should be easy in the dry, would like to go and have a look one day if ever I am in that area again.

If you have some riding experience, then it is not too bad in the wet

Bring home the message of trying this pass in the wet especially on a big bike. Sure a few well deserving beers were had that evening. Makes me feel taking my 500 there will most certainly be cheating.

With that rain I'm patiently waiting for Wartrail (Lundin) pass. Heard it was in pretty bad shape.

Makes me want to pack up and head for Rhodes this.  :sip:
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: TinusBez on December 17, 2018, 06:55:26 pm
Like so.
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: Highsider on December 17, 2018, 07:31:53 pm
A group of us are attempting the Ben 10 in less than two weeks time.  I have previously ridden all the passes but never “in one sitting” so to speak.  My last attempt earlier this year, with a group of very experienced riders, was thwarted by snow and ice and the TTT was reportedly under 1m of snow!
You’re at the mercy of the elements but if your timing is perfect and Lady Luck is on your side, the Ben 10 is not beyond most rider’s reach. 
Will do a RR on our ride in Jan.
In the meantime, keep it coming!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: BrandsiekBrak on December 17, 2018, 08:01:15 pm
Also think that Baster should be easy in the dry, would like to go and have a look one day if ever I am in that area again.

If you have some riding experience, then it is not too bad in the wet

Bring home the message of trying this pass in the wet especially on a big bike. Sure a few well deserving beers were had that evening. Makes me feel taking my 500 there will most certainly be cheating.

With that rain I'm patiently waiting for Wartrail (Lundin) pass. Heard it was in pretty bad shape.

Makes me want to pack up and head for Rhodes this.  :sip:

Wartrail was a surprise to us, as no big mention was made with the little research that was done... but this is jumping the story ahead

Lundean Pass is however different from the Wartrail portion of Volunteershoek Pass
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: BrandsiekBrak on December 17, 2018, 08:05:15 pm
A group of us are attempting the Ben 10 in less than two weeks time.  I have previously ridden all the passes but never “in one sitting” so to speak.  My last attempt earlier this year, with a group of very experienced riders, was thwarted by snow and ice and the TTT was reportedly under 1m of snow!
You’re at the mercy of the elements but if your timing is perfect and Lady Luck is on your side, the Ben 10 is not beyond most rider’s reach. 
Will do a RR on our ride in Jan.
In the meantime, keep it coming!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Snow is definitely a whole different ball game!

I agree, that with lady luck on your side, most rider can tackle and complete this Challenge

Safe riding in a few weeks, know our excitement was still building during those 2 weeks before the ride started
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: spoedvark on December 17, 2018, 09:30:43 pm

Bucket list: Ben 10 Eco Challenge added.

SPOED  :snorting:
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: BrandsiekBrak on December 17, 2018, 09:55:20 pm
Challenge continues…

Bikes fixed and we are ready to tackle a new day…
The plan was to meet up with FrancoisTz and Natasha in front of the place they stayed at

As we came around the bend, we saw 2 bikes standing in the road, with eager riders awaiting us…
FrancoisTz and Natasha had a talk the previous day, and decided to continue tackling the Challenge on the back of their motorbeasts…

Thus our expedition group was back in force, and today was going to be a shortish ride with the plan to complete a couple of the passes…

Planned route:
•   Ride Naude’s Pass up to the summit, and take a photo
•   Turn on to the Tenahead Tiffendale Traverse (TTT pass)
•   Ride to Tiffendale, and conquer Ben McDhui
•   Go down to Carlisleshoek pass board, take a photo.
•   Then turn towards Volunteershoek Pass
•   Complete the day with a ride back to Rhodes

Expedition team visits Naude’s Pass-tures

The ride along Naude’s Pass route is rather relaxing on the bikes, and the hard rocky surface runs easily. It turned out to be a little bit different in the 4wheeled vehicles, but with deflated tyres this is not too bad.

A leisurely pass was followed and the most difficult portion was the sharp hairpin bends that see you climbing for the summit between the first and second Tenahead boards, 20km left and 10km left respectfully. This is a 10km stretch of road that rides nicely with lots of 1st and 2nd gear changes…

We found a couple of shepards being propelled forward by single horse power beasts, and well as some wild life.

The views from the top of Naude’s Nek were breath taking, and the Challenge board was still in place

Tenahead Turn ahead…

The turn off towards Tenahead lodge, and the start of the Tenahead Tiffendale Traverse (TTT) can be found on top of Naude’s pass, roughly 25km outside Rhodes.

We started on the TTT, and from the start some mud invited my GSA for some bath time and to add some UV Protection on the metal and moving parts…others opted for a ride around approach.

3km from the turn off, we found ourselves at Tenahead Lodge. I rode their rocky driveway in both directions, just to make sure the people we knew we were there…and I did not want to startle them by just walking through the front doors.

We had a relaxing coffee, and deck sitting…and admired the lodge luxuries.

Onwards and later upwards, after some single events of downwards…

The road from Tenahead is quite rocky at times, but the ever so often wet ground is not sticky or slippery that much.

A few small river crossings, and unavoidable mud puddles made this initial portion a quite easy run.
A few kilometres down the trail, saw a small miss step by the baby GS and she went down on a rocky descend…she then had an ABS and throttle misshape and dived for the bush next to the road.

Natasha was a little banged up, but all parts still moved and were attached the main frame.
The baby GS had opted to lose some weight and wanted to stay behind and graze next to the road, until we could come fetch her later the day again.

Natasha then continued the rest of the day in the Pajero, as we carried on with our set out plans.

TTT spoiled us with some beautiful scenery and steepish climbs, and a lot of lose rocks guaranteed that our back wheels travelled many more miles than our odometers led us to believe.

The sun was not leaving us today, and our ATGATT filled with salty water faster than our sweet water flowed from our camelbacks.

The TTT is roughly 27km long, and takes a good time to complete if you want to keep your front rims from developing smileys…

The TTT challenge boards can be found on either side of the traverse, and the traverse comprises a couple of smaller passes.

The Ben of Ben 10 Eco challenge…

From the TTT board we headed up to Tiffendale Ski Resort towards a much deserved cold one, and some food.

From the Tiffendale bar we could see the switch backs of Ben Mcdhui, and the sign post.
After a small lunch and an encouraging word from Caption Morgan, we set to off to climb to the top of the Eastern Cape.

FrancoisTz opted to stay behind with Natasha in the comfort of Tiffendale bar, thus it was the SWAMBO Pajero and 3 bike to start the climb

Ben McDhui switch backs are not too steep and the real challenge comes from the large amount of loose rocks that make up the largest portion of the road surface up the hill…the Pajero did not seem to both too much with this fact and it climbed easily to the plateau a few hundred meters from the top.

On the bikes we attempted another strategy, called aim and throttle. Idea being to use the wide turning areas on each switch back to aim for the next turn, and then give good throttle to climb…this worked well up to the initial plateau.

There we found a good rocky step, loose soil and rocks in front of this step convinced us to rather walk the rest of the way to the Ben McDhui summit board.
The convincing came in the form of no traction on the back wheels equating in no turning of front wheel

Climbing to the top in riding gear takes a lot of effort, but is worth the trouble.

Riding down Ben McDhui is equally interesting, compared to ascending it. But we all made it safely down, and Captain Morgan was waiting to congratulate us.

Carlisleshoek Pass runs deep….

Due to the Baby GS still grazing next to the road on TTT, we opted to take Carlisleshoek pass back to Rhodes and fetch the bike

Carlisleshoek Pass is steep pass, that had the GSA’s revving high in first gear as we descended to Rhodes.

The first portion is not bad, and the road is well maintained due to being the main access road to Tiffendale Ski Resort.

The steep portions are cement road portions, that assist with a controlled descend.
3 of the bikes enjoyed the road so much, that they rode past the Carlisleshoek Pass challenge board. And after I stopped at the board, Aaklige Attie came back searching for me. The Pajero also joined us in a photo opportunity…we would return the next day in order to produce a photo of Rynard in front of the boards as well.

After the steep descent and everyone safe in Rhodes, FrancoisTz and Myself set out with the Defender and single bike trailer in order to bring the grazing Baby GS back to it’s stable in Rhodes.

The Baby GS was so lazy after its extended grazing, that it did not want to climb on the trailer under its own power, and we had to use man power to convince it on. Strapped in place, we headed back to Rhodes and ended the journey as the last sun light went to bed.
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: BrandsiekBrak on December 20, 2018, 04:08:55 pm
Right Honde... ek was bietjie besig by die werk die laaste paar dae

Het darm nou weer tyd om die storie uit te brei
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: BrandsiekBrak on December 20, 2018, 04:15:38 pm
Lundean’s wartrail….only for Volunteers
It is Day 5 of our Ben 10 Eco Challenge timeline, and we have some work to do

2 of our Expedition members are out of the challenge, FrancoisTz and Natasha.
They will spend the day relaxing, and getting their things ready for the lass road back home.
Natasha is walking straight again, though with some difficulty.

It is Rynard’s first long bike trip, but the Young man is doing exceptionally well. He is struggling to stay awake at night, and the morning awakenings are slightly slower than the previous days.
He has started listening to our advice, but you do find some time to still let him realize that he doesn’t know everything as of yet…

But the advantage of inexperience, is that he doesn’t know what might go wrong….only that his dad, Aaklige Attie, recommends LOOK UP AND THROTTLE OUT of most problems

Plan for the day:
•   Leave Rhode toward Barkly East
•   Roughly 30km down this road, take the Lundean’s / Wartrail turn off (At Moshesh’s Ford)
•   Follow this road up to Lundean’s Pass
•   Track back to the 4 way crossing
•   Turn towards Volunteershoek Pass / Tiffendale
•   Complete Voluteershoek Pass
•   Glass of Courage at Tiffendale Resort
•   Track back to Rhodes via Carlisleshoek Pass

Now Aaklige Attie and myself realized early this morning that we were not getting into our riding zone, our MOJO was not kicking in this morning. Thus, it will be an easy ride and we should be able to complete this route by early afternoon….

Rhodes Roads….
The road out of Rhodes was till a pleasure to ride, and the road surface is hard…2 days ago a guy in a big machine remodelled the road surface around 10km outside Rhodes…so we had nice loose earth and pebbles to play with for a few kilometres.

After the second metal bridge on this road, we reached the turn off to Lundean’s, and this short pass went nice and easy.

We encountered a farmers and his pack of dogs on the back of his bakkie, one of these dogs was a Horse of a Great Dane….who did not appreciate the deep rumble that is the 1200 GSA…
As I was ridding behind the bakkie, this Greatness Dane was minding his own business…When I passed the bakkie…all of a sudden a whales head moved into my peripheral vision displaying his large dagger teeth and showing off the inside of his throat….luckily the cattle rails were high enough to keep me out of his reach….the same scenario apparently played off later when Aaklige Attie went past the bakkie

Lundean’s Pass….
The first portion of Lundean’s Pass is fairly nice riding, up to about 4km from the summit.
This point is marked by a small streamed, and then the technical portion starts…I did mentioned that Attie and My own riding MOJO was lacking today?

Seeing that I was already picking crap lines, I decided to sharpen my slow technical riding skills and continue on with the crappie lines till the top.

2km from the summit we asked the guard station if we may proceeded  to the summit, they agreed and up we went. The road continues with its rutted nature, but it is still fairly ridable.
Close to the summit we initially passed the challenge board, and took some pictures with the original pass board that was lying on the ground.

On our way down, we did find the challenge board, and documented it as well.
Back to the cross road, and of to Volunteers pass.

Wartrail and Volunteershoek Pass…
A day or two ago, someone told FrancoisTZ that Volunteershoek Pass is a very Beautiful pass….and he was not lying…

Approaching Volunteershek Pass from the bottom, we were treated by spectacular trees and small streams, a couple of time I just stopped to take in the scenery.
We found a beautiful spot under some big trees where a table and chairs were cut out of big logs, and had a sat down and admired our surroundings.

Then we passed through a farm gate and the war trail started to climb the towering mountain, steadily at first…and at a bend we met the farm owner coming down the trail, very polite guy and adamant that his farm is not for sale…so we should not try to buy pieces of it with Ass-to-ground approach that some bikers take

He however did not inform us about how drastically this steady climb is about to change…a few switch backs from our meeting site….and we found ourselves in the middle of a war with this trail

The trail suddenly and violently increased its angle of ascend, with some loose rocks and earth…..and sections of tyres placed over very bad spots on the road….

Now in the 50 meters from seeing the tyres, we first had to believe in what our eyes revealed about the road ahead (this was a short interval of time, as you do not dare stop due to fear not being able to pull away again due to the steep angle of climb)…and then lots of videos started flashing through our minds where we saw people riding over tyres, though we never took in the finer details of this skill and those tyres were always on level ground…..what the hell is to be done?....shit, I am on top of them already………

Tyre Talk session
These tyres are intended to give added traction to 4x4’s when crossing these rutted or loose surface.
They are all fastened together, and filled with dirt in order to aid the 4x4’s wheels over them, with the added benefit of weight pushing the wheels on to the tyres…

Currently though, most of the tyre did not have dirt in them due to being washed away during the rains. And this makes them crumple in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways…
Added to this; even though the 1200 GSA is a heavy machine, the weight is not enough to aid in gaining traction on these tyres while moving over them…thus the back wheel once more travels much further than the odometer would like you to believe…

Trail wars continue…
Both Attie and Myself decided to open the throttle and see what happens, and after much back wheel movement and placing the front wheel in the tyres with the least amount of dirt in order the anchor the bike better…we made it through this section of tyre road…  notes made and lesions learnt

These lesions were hammered home with many more tyre sections on our way up, this road climbs sharply for a short section…. At the start it is roughly 1900 meters above sea level, and at the top you end up at roughly 2500 meters… this give your fore arms a very good work out

Do to the slow strong climb in 1st gear, my Air cooled GSA needed a few minutes of rest and cool down period at the top

This road is maintained by the local farmers, and at the top of the road is a donation spot to aid in the road maintenance … and the views are stunning from the top.

This is notably not the summit point, and we needed to follow the road further, and do a few short climbs to reach the summit point which is marked by another Challenge board that has not yet blown away.

On the a fresh High altitude Captain Morgan..
We followed the Volunteershoek road till it brought us to Tiffendale once again, and a cold one was much appreciated.

After a few laughs and thirst quencher, we head once more down Carllisleshoek pass… got Rynard his challenge photo, and headed down to Rhodes for the last time this week

Back in Rhodes, we tapped FrancoisTz and Nastasha’s fuel for our bikes, and made our way to our accommodation… good day of riding done and dusted
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: BrandsiekBrak on December 20, 2018, 04:43:55 pm
Last night in Rhodes…
All the local passes done, and only 3 left to complete the Ben 10 Eco Challenge… we decided that it is time to move on, and frankly we were tired of the road between Barkly East and Rhodes…

So this last night will be spent Braainng and laughing together, FrancoisTz and Natasha would start heading home in the morning

Shortly after getting to our Rhodes Accommodation, Rynard informed us that for some or other reason the Rum was once again gone, and that there was only 2 drinks left for Both Aaklige Attie and myself…. thus the Rum hunt started

Now this hunt revealed some good information to us:
 - If you run out of rum, you will only find it at the open bars at a steep price
 - The best shop to buy some essentials in town, is not actually in town. In the next door township there is a shop called “Mamas Shop”, at the top of the hill.
    The prices are very good, and their variety is worlds apart from the I town shop that everyone advised us to visit.
 - Secondly, “Mamas Shop” has a liquor store / department as well. If whisky and Brandy are you poisons of choice, you will find a wide variety of choices here as well… there was even a Johnny Walker gift box with tumbler glasses.
 - Mamas shop is also the warehouse for Beers in all of its forms

Beers in hand, and some other essentials, we departed from the friendly township and tackled the 1.5km trip home… by working sparingly our driving juice made the whole trip home.

Star light and wood fire
We had lots of laughs and enjoyed the last night in Rhodes.
The stars are amazing, and the night is quite… unless you were our neighbours

The plan for the next day was set forth...
•   Head to Barkly East for the last time
•   Head down to Eliot via Barkly Pass
•   Take the road through Eliot and conquer Otto Du Plessis pass.
•   At the tar road, head to Lady Grey
•   Before entering Lady Grey, shoot over Joubert’s Pass to complete the Challenge
•   Find a place to stay in Lady Grey

Last riding day of the challenge to follow

Apparently it was also decided, naturally by an open, honest and fair elective process, that my forum name shall be changed from "Lycan" to... BrandsiekBrak.

Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: Highsider on December 20, 2018, 04:51:21 pm
Keep it coming....

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: BrandsiekBrak on December 20, 2018, 07:49:42 pm
From Rhodes to Reaches…
Thus the last day of the Ben 10 Eco Challenge has arrived, and we woke up early and packed up all our things in order to leave Rhodes in our dust.
The youngster Rynard has had a tough but good week, we needed to apply some speed today and it is going to be long stretch…so we load his bike on the trailer with the plan that he will ride the passes and commute in the Pajero in between…. The SWAMBO’s are also getting to their breaking point with the corrugations…. But they are up for the last haul

Route plan:
•   Head from Rhodes to Barkly East with the 396
•   Take the tar through Barkly pass to Eliot, using the R58
•   Turn onto the R56 to the access road for Otto du Plessis
•   Ride Otto du Plessis pass towards Barkly East
•   Then turn onto the R58 towards (tar) towards Lady Grey
•   Roughly 20km before Lady Grey, turn onto Jouber’s pass
•   Ride Jouber’s Pass, complete the challenge, and over night in Lady Grey

We contacted Miller’s Wooden Cabins in Lady Grey, and they provided us with accommodation for the night (very nice place, will post details later on)

This route ended up being 300km for the day, with slightly more than half being gravel

Rhodes to Barkly East…
What can I say about this road, mostly the same than previous travels. Thus we will skip this…
It took around 1hour to cover this 60km stretch, and we sad to leave Rhodes but glad that we did ot have to ride it again today

Barkly East to Eliot…
This is a 65km piece of good tar, and the Barkly Pass is apparently a high accident zone. No accidents were had, not even the bowel type.
We stopped at the official Barkly pass board with the elevation indicated, officially took a photo. We had unofficially done this pass around 3 times this week, but never took a picture.
We did not see the Challenge board, but these things have a funny way of findings new purposes in these regions.

The R56 from Eliot felt like it kept on for ever, though it only lasted around 30 – 40km, before we turned off on to the gravel heading to Otto du Plessis

Otto du Plessis Pass…
There is a long easy gravel road running through farms and along planted farm lands. This road is travelled by anything from tractors to normal cars. The intermittent sheep or cow makes life enjoyable.

After the first mountain range bends, there is a split in the road. Here well camouflaged by a tree growing around it, you will find the official traffic board indicating that in order to travel to Barkly East via Otto du Plessis Pass – you need to keep left.

If you fly past this overzealous tree-board combination, you will have a second chance later when you find yourself in Eliot again.

Luckily we did see this indication, and we did take the left sided road…. Thus Otto du Plessis agreed to our date in the bush, and we glad to be given the opportunity to ride her. The Pajero followed suite, with trailer in tow.

A few more farms to pass through, and the mountain forest opens for us, beautiful streams and over growing trees made this a fun ride up to the maintain head.
This is not a technical ride, and most cars and bikers will scale it easily and quickly…. This is however until it rains a lot, then it will be a more interesting ride / slide.

Once again the views from the top of the pass is utterly amazing.  And this Challenge board is still present at its post.

A little descent from the summit, and we found ourselves amongst the farms once more. These roads are official regional roads, and are well maintained.
Thus a little wheel spin when you go over the ‘middel mannetjie’, but other than that it is 5th or 6th gear road surface. Just look out for the occasional aspirant rally farmer or taxi racer.

We made it to the tar, and turn towards Lady Grey

Joubert’s Pass to Lady Grey…
Our fuel was low-ish, but we did not want to turn to Barkly East first, and then ride back and past our current location…. Thus we took a chance and hoped for the best with regards to Fuel consumption and climbing angles.

The tar road towards Lady Grey is pleasant, the winds towards all other directions are not pleasant.
40km of pointing one direction in order to go another direction, and we found ourselves on the gravel for Joubert’s pass.

Joubert’s Pass road surface is a hard gravel surface with occasional “wake-up” loose sections, it takes around 10km of gravel ravel to get to the foot of Joubert’s pass.

Somewhere along this road, I made a little miscalculation and found myself going straight over a turn and ended up in the bush next to the road… but at least I was awake once again…and I realised that being a Bush pilot is not my future career.

The Pass itself is a narrow single road criss-crossing up and over the mountain, you need to keep an eye out for other vehicles on the pass as there is no real passing points on this road other than a few switch back plateaus.

Summit made, named ‘Hemel op Aarde”, documentation was made of the challenge board still standing proud on its designated position. Ben 10 Eco challenge was officially completed within the stipulated time period.

The track down the mountain towards Lady Grey is similar to the one with which we climbed the mountain, and it levels out around 5km before Lady Grey.

The Lady is a tramp..
Lady Grey has a few more tar roads compared to the other town we have visited in the past week.
And with new fresh Rum, we went on to our overnight accommodation at Miller wooden cabins.

Miller’s wooden cabins is a relatively new set up in Lady Grey, and our host were very friendly and made sure that we had everything we needed for a good night rest.
There are a few newly built log cabins, with all the essentials needed.

The one designated for us, had a wonderful hot tube that is heated with a wooden fire in a stainless steel oven set in the water, now real danger of being burn – unless you wilfully try.
The hot water and new rum made us relax fully, and a wooden fire was made in order to have a great event closing braai.

The people in the neighbouring township were also elated that we finished the Challenge, not sure how they knew or who they were. But their music and party could be hear faintly in the distance throughout the night and even through sunrise.

The next day will find us in the road back to Bloemfontein, and a few days later the Post Adventure blue will set in
Given the week we had, we did some planning in order to not accidentally end up on another pass going home

Miller’s wooden Cabins are owned and run be Felicia and Jan Miller
Felicia 076 897 9116 / Jan 072 658 9242
e-mail: millerwoodcabin@gmail.com
They are very well priced, and for what they provide you will be pressed to find better.
Both have a love for bikes, and will go out of their way to accommodate you... even on extremely short notice.

Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: mike gs on December 20, 2018, 08:21:39 pm
Lekker RR meneer. Spent a week in Rhodes last Xmas riding some of those passes, it is a must visit place.

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Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: JMOL on December 21, 2018, 08:09:34 am
Soos Spoed se - Bucket List trip.

Het nie eens geweet van so 'n challenge nie.
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: Ri on December 21, 2018, 08:47:15 am

Very enjoyable writing and lovely photo's - thank you for the effort! Much appreciated  :biggrin: :thumleft:
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: Aaklige Attie on December 22, 2018, 08:03:40 am
Ek het sommer nou weer lekker saam gery! Dankie Brandsiek!!
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: BrandsiekBrak on December 22, 2018, 11:34:45 am
Ek het sommer nou weer lekker saam gery! Dankie Brandsiek!!

Vir jou is dit BrandsiekBRAK....jy mag maar die "meneer" uit laat
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: Spokey on December 23, 2018, 06:58:10 pm
Such a lekker trip and story, thank you for the read. This is a bucket list trip of mine, my little KLR wants to do this, I am happy to tag along! The intention is to get another motorcycle and do this with my son.
Title: Re: Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Challenges were had
Post by: BrandsiekBrak on December 24, 2018, 06:25:33 pm
It is a good bucket list item

And with good riding experience, it is not a week long event.
But there is a lot of things in the surrounds to be seen and done, would recommend spending the time and traveling around the area as well

Due to our problems, we missed out on some of these things