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Offline westfrogger

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A few days out of Cape Town
« on: October 27, 2012, 09:39:32 am »
One bike, a few days in hand and no firm plans. Ah hell, let's head east. Haven't been there for a while. And that's pretty much how it went.

With Cape Town being wedged into a corner and surrounded by a few mountains the immediate route east is somewhat limited. The Ns are boring, and full; so opted for Ceres via the Bains Kloof Pass. The next plan was Swartberg Pass, which I had only seen the southern part of. So I aimed for Prince Albert, which seemed a reasonable place to overnight. My ride followed hot on the heels of the rain, but I had good weather all the way. Being Mister Smartass I naturally strip the linings out of my jacket in ride with ventilation mode in the Yes Please position - not smart: fekking cold in the Karoo. Blue skies though.





Laingsberg was fuel, a quick lunch and a glance at the Vloed Museum. Next in line was the infamous you-will-die stretch of the N1. With eyes glued to the speedo I headed out of town, expected a paparazzi of speed cameras and traffic police. No. Not far from Laingsberg Central is a sign that proudly claims that it has been so many days since (I should imagine fatal) accident, and then lists the previous record. The numbers were 0 (last night, that morning?) and 11. That's a record folks. 11 whole days that the spatula was needed for. Be proud of that.

I wanted to turn around and take a photograph. Should've really, because as I crested the very next blind rise I find myself staring into the cold eyes of a Merc/BM/Audi/Polo driver. In my lane, next to some innocent driver in the correct lane and closing in on one another at around 240 km/h. Ah yes, the yellow line ... I think I will ride there for a while. Whoooosh.

Who needs coffee.  :lol8:

Then there was the truck and double trailer ... overtaking another truck loaded with cars. Yellow line and hold on (or don't actually - relaxing works best!) for a double whammy of displaced air. You'd think these folks would back away when they see oncoming traffic. No. I pull off at the next funny sign (the Karoo is peppered with 'em) ...



Now for those that have ridden/driven there go make some tea. The rest of you who spend far too much time behind a computer surfing the Wild Dogs site: the Kanniedood stretches (there are several) are short stretches of road where they have laid narrow strips of tar across the road. So when you drive your car over them they make a bit of noise, and supposedly wakes you up before you kill orphans and kittens travelling the opposite way. Now on a thumper you don't hear them at all. This particular one was just after a bend in the road, which I thought a little pointless because those that were sleeping found themselves in the bushes before they made it to the noisy strips ... (and while we are being clever, let's reduce the speed limit by 10 km/h).



All things considered the N1 stretch was actually quite pleasant. Very little traffic, and enough room to evade the ones trying to kill me. Boring scenery, but gets better with some Dire Straights in the ears (whoops, giving my age away now). Plus Prince Albert had cold beer and some fine lamb chops. No pictures of either, you know damn-well what they look like.

Next up was this Swartberg thing everyone keeps on yabbering about. I mean, how amazing can a mountain pass possibly be?

 

Offline superten

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Re: A few days out of Cape Town
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2012, 11:54:00 am »
Beautiful Pics!

It is time.
 

Offline westfrogger

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Re: A few days out of Cape Town
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2012, 09:42:50 am »
Thanks superten. Nice bike  :thumleft:

The Swartberg Pass. People talk about it, which is generally a good sign. I've seen a few photographs and have driven up the Oudtshoorn side a good few times. Sure, it's nice. But is it really that spectacular? I was about to find out. Bike packed, cats fed (don't ask) and slowly ride south to find a sign saying ...

Road Closed.

Okay, I don't mind heading through Uniondale (or Oniondale, as my wife refers to it); but I had my heart set on the fun side of the Swartberg. "I never saw the sign, officer." And off I went. Good road, with some indication that there had been a little rain over the previous few days. Then just ahead the rock walls on my left and right simply close up ahead of me. A sign of things to follow. I ride across two drifts - one under a few centimetres of water, which I understand is unusual - and the slow climb heavenwards begins. And from there on it quite simply gets better and better.





Although hot at the bottom the temperature drops steadily as I climb. It feels alpine at the top (Teeberg). Clean cold air, and exceptionally good visibility. A few signs of some water runs here and there, the road was in pretty good condition (I am used to the Cederberg, which gets clobbered when it rains). I only pass another human being once in a blue moon and generally have the place to myself. Good thing too, otherwise they might think I need medication when they hear me whoop. I now understand what the fuss is all about. In retrospect I can kick myself for heading down into Die Hell. Next time.



^ was actually tempted to have tea here.





The world was greener than I expected it to be on the south side, and a ride through the Red Stone Hills was a tempting prospect. Pressed on to the next mountain range. Having never been there either, the obvious choice was to skip the Outeniqua Pass and traverse the Montagu Pass. Magic. Just missed passing a train in the folds of the pass, but did see a cyclist sweat his way up there with a very determined look on his mug (and a loooong way to go before he reached the top). Pleasant ride though, in spite of some mildly washed-out sections in the road. Note to self: next time pack an open-face helmet so you can see what you're riding through.

I'd post a photograph of the pass, but all you have to do is close your eyes and imagine some fynbos, ferns and the sound of a mountain stream somewhere off to the side. Even better, go there yourself. Pack the open-face helmet.

I looped through the hills to George's airport, hoping to see some fly over my head.

Check.



The plan was to follow the first part of the Seven Passes road to Wilderness, but at this stage I could not face backtracking through downtown George again (sooo many traffic lights up York Street!), so went along with the sheep and rode through Kaaimans. Not a bad place for a bike mind you.

Stayed at Ebb and Flow, which is along the Touw River. Unpacked the bike and headed for a ride along the lakes, which inevitably lead me onto the Seven Passes road, where I got lost (left the GPS and map at the camp). Ah well, good place to get a little lost.

« Last Edit: October 28, 2012, 09:44:55 am by westfrogger »
 

Offline Pistonpete

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Re: A few days out of Cape Town
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2012, 10:41:42 am »
Nice RR...thanks for sharing :thumleft:
You pretty good with a camera!!
'Routine is the thief of time'
 

Offline westfrogger

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Re: A few days out of Cape Town
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2012, 09:23:01 pm »
Cheers Pete.

On Day 3 I decided to keep all the crap I've lugged along locked away in the rondawel while I go exploring in the area. Rode some more of the backroads along the lakes. Down a few dead-ends (whoops), but eventually made my way to the relative civilisation of Sedgefield.



^ Had a bit of a clencher in some very loose sand just before this pass.



I had high expectations for a good breakfast in Sedgefield, but it somehow evaded me. Admittedly I didm;t search too hard, and reluctantly joined the N2 stream aiming for Knysna. As one tends to do in Knysna these days, I found another new development where I went in search of breakfast ... where everything is either shut at 0900 or not interested in serving a very neat motorcyclist! Starting to get hungry. Eventually had a really good one elsewhere and sat sipping an insanely large mug/soup bowl of coffee while looking at maps. Man ... good feeling that: early in the day, coffee in hand and a map spread out ahead of you.

Rode off towards an old favourite: Kom-se-Pad through some indigenous forest north of Knysna. Always a good ride, and have often seen wild things here (will keep trying 'till I find that bloody elephant).



Pity about all those gates there ... I can see many kilometres of really good riding in that area. And I want to ride there before that whole show becomes firewood.

Lunch was looming, and part of me wanted to go to Mother Holly's (beyond Rheenendal), but experience has taught me that opening hours during the week can be a flexible; so backtracked the boring way: N2. Yep, I know, I should've taken the Seven Passes road. But things got stranger.

I spent the rest of the day WALKING!

 

Offline Bacchus2

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Re: A few days out of Cape Town
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2012, 06:53:13 pm »
Very nice pics  :thumleft:
 

Offline Jakkals

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Re: A few days out of Cape Town
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2012, 07:06:56 pm »
Nice trip and pic's. :thumleft:
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Offline westfrogger

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Re: A few days out of Cape Town
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2012, 09:21:17 pm »
Thank you Bacchus2 and Jakkals.

The thing with riding a bike is that it becomes a thing. That sounds stupid. What I mean is that each day you feel more at one with your machine. Cliché, I know. But it's true. It starts feeling unnatural to NOT aim the front at something out there on the horizon.

And with some interesting roads lined up Day 4 started early. I burned some breakfast, strapped all my junk down and headed out into the world. The plan was simple, and far too short. Reach Witsand (via mostly dirt roads). Trouble is ... I was nearing it at 10 in the morning already, and I wasn't going to sit still for the rest of the day. I thought I'd cross the Breede and see what comes up.

Reached the pont (or punt? Ha, ha ... a flat-cut punt) just as it pulled away from the bank, loaded with a small truck. No worries ... I will gladly wait for their return. Occupied myself with my camera while the ferrymen were pulling their way across the fast-flowing water.





^ It was just about as I took this photograph that disaster struck ...

Oh hang on, I didn't say anything about the back roads south of the N2: gentlemen (and ladies), take your dual-sports and go there. The roads are plentiful, in good nick and fast. I had some Eurotrash in my ears and found the roads extremely agreeable. Strangely, the busier road west of the river was in far worse condition.

My head was down, I was probably frowning, and in the distance, across the river I could hear the unmistakable sound of metal on metal. And a dog barked.

The truck was stuck. S-T-U-C-K. The ass-end of the truck was hanging on to two hinged tracks of the pont itself. Of course standing on the East End we had all the answers and were convinced that everyone on the West End didn't know what they were doing. Put some planks this. Pack some stones like so. Get a tractor. Pull the pont back. Reverse back up. Unload the truck.

The queue of cars hoping to cross the river gradually grew. Go-around calculations were made (91 km). Time factored (86 minutes). And still it did not budge. Worse, the tide was coming in, which only exacerbated the problem.

But therein lies the magic of travelling along back roads. The surprises, delays and good people. One observer, probably referring to recent industrial action in The Big Smoke, muttered "Steek hom aan die brand...". It was magic, and it helped that I had zero plans for the day. One of the queueing cars reversed, did a tidy u-turn and slowly drove off to face the detour. And at that very moment the truck shifted perhaps half a metre. Eventually it had taken one-and-a-half hours to get the pont back to the East. The pont okes looked moeg!



The next logical step for me was to head for Hermanus, as some friends had recently moved there. Chased a bakkie for a while, but in the end I could not keep up with him on the straighter stretches (Sarel v/d Merwe. Must've been). Bredasdorp was blowing a gale. Napier was a hurricane and there was a tropical cyclone west of that. The kind of riding where you scrape your left foot peg going around a right-hander. And who's dumb-ass idea was this weather-cocking peaked helmet idea anyway?

Hermanus, surprisingly, looked like rain, yet I somehow evaded that. Had some coffee. Some more coffee, some cooldrink and a sammich. Spent enough time there for my sitting bones to ask for the comfort of the bike!

After that I didn't really see the point of camping somewhere along the route, and I think a hot shower (and wife  :lol8:) sounded appealing. Blatted home. 12 hours of travel, but felt I could easily ride another 12 hours. And thank goodness for the sun-shielding that peaked helmet did on the way home.

In retrospect I should've ridden BACK to Witsand for the night!  :mwink:

I haven't ridden a motorcycle solo into the innards of this country since ... lemme think. 2002. Maybe 2003. It was magic, and I am looking forward to the next trip in the general direction of Away.

Thanks for listening.
 

Offline Pap_sak

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Re: A few days out of Cape Town
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2012, 03:52:08 pm »
Great report and lovely pic's - cheers for sharing!
 

Offline cheesy

Re: A few days out of Cape Town
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2012, 05:15:44 pm »
Good photos and I enjoyed your writing style, tx for sharing. :3some:
Bum in the saddle, always.
 

Offline DirtHound

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Re: A few days out of Cape Town
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2012, 11:29:01 am »
You have some super photos of your trip! Well done.
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Offline Khakibos

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Re: A few days out of Cape Town
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2012, 11:55:57 am »
Very good RR!!  :thumleft:
Great pics, indeed!
 

Offline westfrogger

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Re: A few days out of Cape Town
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2012, 04:55:07 pm »
Cheers.  :thumleft:
 

Offline lj111

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Re: A few days out of Cape Town
« Reply #13 on: November 18, 2012, 12:26:30 am »
Thanks for sharing. Nice pics!
Some people feel the rain and others just get wet...
 

Offline Doug C

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Re: A few days out of Cape Town
« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2012, 07:03:54 pm »
Thanks for your RR. A great read! Superb photos!
 

Offline MissM

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Re: A few days out of Cape Town
« Reply #15 on: November 18, 2012, 08:52:25 pm »
Great RR  :thumleft: and awesome photos!
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Offline XXL

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Re: A few days out of Cape Town
« Reply #16 on: November 19, 2012, 01:19:47 pm »
If you wrote a book...I would read it.  :thumleft: Great pics too (nothing like a clean, good quality lens!)
 

Offline Rhian

Re: A few days out of Cape Town
« Reply #17 on: November 20, 2012, 02:45:01 pm »
nice, very nice.  :thumleft:
Thank You
 

Offline Rags

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Re: A few days out of Cape Town
« Reply #18 on: November 20, 2012, 06:11:20 pm »
Could not read a word, the beautiful pics kept distracting me so gave it up.  ;D

Nice!
 

Offline Dusty Rusty

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Re: A few days out of Cape Town
« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2012, 01:16:25 pm »
excellent RR!   :thumleft:
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