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Author Topic: Ostrich run  (Read 303 times)

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Offline Robin Brown

Ostrich run
« on: November 25, 2010, 03:08:57 pm »

A weekend of racing ostriches
An annual event run by Ulysses has now added an offroad event

THEY say the adventure only begins once the traveller is offcourse or in an area that is unfamiliar.
Added to the adventure is traversing an area where the GPS keeps reporting a “partial road” with not a sign of a track.

In spite of all this and my new title “The navigator” who is always lost we all had I am sure a great time thanks to our entrepid leader –not Dr Livingstone I presume- but Phil Searle.
Standing on the road from Vanwyksdorp to Ladismith in the sauna like heat cracking foul jokes while Mark battled to again repair Brigits puncture and the locals just kept racing by dousing us in grey powder dust. The only thing that kept us all going was the knowledge that at last we knew where we were and where we were headed.
Even the spectator baboons high on the overlooking hill spent the time laughing at our antics.
It was also a great time to reflect on a weekend of some of the finest offroad gravel travel available in the Western and Eastern Cape.
Our last leg from Oudtshoorn to Ladismith via Vondeling and Vanwyksdorp two specks of dust on the map with one small shop a handful of houses a church and a restaurant named the Barking Frog was definitely made for adventure bikes as the road threaded its way along isolated valleys and through a myriad of gates.
Suddenly we rounded another tight bend and approached a small farm on the banks of the Gouritz River followed by a tricky river crossing over millions of round rocks – like riding on ball bearings – followed by a breathtaking climb up the opposite bank.
The remaining group of 10 offroad adventurers Jo, Phil Mark, Brigit, Rob, Julie Tony, Dave, Jan and Robin took a well deserved breather and photo stop before heading further into the unknown,while Phil kept reassuring all that it is definitely a popular and well maintained road.
The last two stops and checks were with a goat herder and finally a well work wooden arrow pointing towards Vanwyksdorp.

At last even the navigator knew where we were as he had assumed – a bad thing to do on the Ostrich Run – that the last leg would have been from Calitzdorp up the Rooiberg Pass and not along a road carved by Voortrekkers over 100 years ago.
The road now features in detail on my GPS.
Puncture repaired, baboons side show over, our last tube used we raced for Barrydale and a cold beer for some and a petrol stop for the slower navigator before heading home.
As most trips go the weekend started off in rain as the group of offroad and onroad Ulsyseans met at the N1 One stop, were briefed by Phil, leaders and sweepers chosen and we set off – first stop Ceres via Du Toits, Slanghoek valley, Wolssley and Mitchells Pass for the first petrol stop.
The rain cleared and all again set off up Theronsberg Pass to the Touws River turnoff where the road runners separated from the dust buggers possibly thinking they may never see the dust ones again.
And was it dusty. Less than a kilometre in the run I was on radar as the dust had filled my helmet, fogged up my sunnies and the DR was riding on its own navigation.

But what a great run with only one slight mishap and Rodney decided the corners should be wider and more flowing as he took to the bush and later we discovered had broken his toe.
With no more drama we all reached Matjiesfontein and Phil decided to leave out the Constabel Seweweekspoort leg and cut across to Laingsburg and then enter the Poort.
After negotiating a bit of loose gravel which must have tested the less gravel travelled fellows we swept through the Poort and back onto the tar at Zoar and then onto to Calitzdorp for lunch and  a frostie.
Here some of the gravel crowd changed their minds and went with the road runners while a slightly smaller group rode the great winding tracks through Groenfontein , Kruis Rivier and Matjies Rivier before hitting the tar several kilometres before the start of the Swartberg Pass.

Here the group was fascinated by the tame meerkats from the adjacent game farm that wait beside the road for titbits.
The night at Kleinplasie in Oudtshoorn highlighted by the excellent braai put on by the locals saw some hit the sack early while the tougher crowd saw the early hours in over yet another drink.

Saturday morning after an excellent breakfast we again split the party into road and gravel with a further few dust busters deciding to stay on the tar and buy spray on dirt from one of the Landrover or BMW dealers while a number cut the run short to watch the rugby.

Again the gravel travel was great fun over great terrain through the Rust en Vreded Vally to De Rust on through Meirings Poort to Klaarstroom and then on the really fast but roller coaster road to Willomore.
We stopped at Vondeling a ghost station along the way for a photo shoot and headed to the local hotel in Willowmore for food and drink.
After a boring run through to Uniondale and a quick refill we took off into the Kamanassie and what a surprise.

Again the valley snuggled between the Outeniqua and Kamanassie Mountains has a great road threading its way for at least 100 km exiting at Dusseldorp the Mission town close to Oudtshoorn.
Here Phil had another quick surprise and a slight test for the less initiated into steep climbs and descents on rough terrain as he suddenly turned off to Eagles Falls and holiday resort where the Searles had previously spent some time.

After several refreshments to calm the nerves and Cathy ready to fall asleep on the couch it was time to put a leg over the saddle light up the fire and head for Dusseldorp and dinner at Kleinplasie.
And along this road I was fortunate to see one of those once in a lifetime sights. We rounded a bend and on our left a couple of 100 ostriches were racing along and with the wind blowing the dust was following them.
It was one of those National Geographic type photos that will remain etched on my mind.
Again Kleinplasie excelled with a great dinner and again some took to the hay while others saw the clock strike 12.

Sunday came far too quickly and we all struck off for home with some of us spending the day looking for the correct road as the navigator followed the partial road home.

Photos to follow