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Offline tok-tokkie

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3 day trip to the Breede Bash
« on: December 19, 2007, 06:08:30 pm »
This was to be the first proper trip together with my vrou; where we were going on gravel roads, she on her F650GS. First night at Ektoknbike‚??s bash & second night in Barrydale.

I planned the trip in Mapsource to be largely gravel.  This time I managed to get all 3 days into my Zumo (on the WD Bash I found only 1 day in the Zumo although I had transferred 5 days; slowly I learn the new technology through trial & error).

Saturday   Day 1  Home to Breede River.

Up Sir Lowry‚??s Pass where the wind was howling & we had to duck behind the screens to not be blown around so much.  Down the service road alongside the railway line at Houw Hoek

That's the track above & the railway below.  This leads you into Bot River.

Going through Bot River I saw a sign to Villiersdorp via van de Stel Pass.  This was not on my planned route but a pass sounded much nicer than the vlaktes route I had planned so we went that way.  I still had Karin Garmin doing the navigating so she did a quick re-calculation and told me to turn right just after we exited the pass ‚?? which was not very long but pleasant.  This looked like a farm road and, sure enough, it led us right into a farmyard.  Since Karin was telling me it was a public road we went through and on out the other side.

We came to a locked gate but there was a real tweespoor to the right so we had a look up there but that was not going to get us anywhere.

So back to the gate.  I saw that we could unhook the wires in the fence next to the gate and get the bikes through.  Here is Antonia putting the fence together again after I had got the bikes through.  The railway line is on the left of the picture ‚?? a train came through while we were here.

We followed the road which took us through another farmyard and out onto the tar road to Villiersdorp.  We followed the road to Villiersdorp where we had a beer and a very peculiar chicken salad ‚?? put all the ingredients into the Magimix & dice it up to a pulp & pour that lot over some lettuce leaves.  Down the tar road to the campsite.

I liked this bit; rugged bikers camping gear:

In due course most of the dogs arrived & we bundled onto the trailer to go for the booze cruise.  Here we are boarding the good ship 'The Breede Otter' for its maiden voyage ‚?? the previous ones being just the shake down trips but we were the first group of passengers on this good ship ‚?? a real boer maak n plan vessel consisting of lots of green plastic water tanks lashed to a steel frame with solid scaffolding boards as the deck. The seating & tables are cleverly not attached to the deck so I foresee them being pushed to one end and a merry dance taking place some day with the band on the upper deck.  The bar was at the back alongside the skipper with drinks at cost price.

 After much huffing & puffing of the two small outboard motors we reversed out into the mighty stream ‚?? thank goodness it is wide and deep here so the flow is very stately as the little motors struggled to push the pontoon against the wind as there was vast hydrodynamic resistance from the green tanks which are lashed long axis across the vessel two abreast ‚?? you should have seen the eddies thrown out by these things as we chugged along.

This was an interesting moment when Big Ed & Trailrider were standing conversing at the port bow unaware that now the props were thrashing around like egg beaters half out of the water at the other end.



The voyage went majestically out and back then onto the trailer once more for the trip back to the camp site.  Fires were lit, drinks were drunk, kak was praated, food was braaid and eaten, some of the things were reprised till late into the night & some of us crept off to bed.

The Hospitality of Ektoknbike & Piksteel exceeded the bounds of comfort.  We contributed nothing to all this, hiring of chemical loos, firewood, spanspek & watermelons beyond counting, wine tractor ride, booze cruise and electric generator come to mind plus collecting orders from Worcester.  Hein that was extremely generous of you but I would be much more comfortable if I could contribute to your out of pocket expenses next time.  I would feel awkward coming again if I could not do that.  This was Antonia‚??s first experience of a bikers bash and she is very keen to do it again.  We both say thanks very much, it was a huge success.


Offline tok-tokkie

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Re: 3 day trip to the Breede Bash
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2007, 06:11:39 pm »
Saturday  Day 2  Breede to Barrydale

 It rained during the night & then Gravelmad wet his nappy or something and got up and made a lot of crying noises which awoke the rest of the camp.

The plan was to go by gravel to Robertson then down to Suurbraak and over the Gysmanshoek pass to Barrydale.  We had made arrangements to have lunch with friends in Bonnivale.  The rain made us change our plans.  I have a rain suit but Antonia has only a water resistant jacket.  I did not want to take her down the gravel road now that it could be slimy & slippery in places so elected to take the tar to Robertson.  This is what the road between the camp site & Ektoknbike‚??s house looked like.

When we got to Robertson we found Trailrider, LetsGoFishing, Sadam & Rooipoot who were about to have breakfast so we joined them for coffee.  They had left after us but come the direct gravel road we originally intended using and reported that it was not too bad.  While we were having our coffee the heavens opened & it poured down so we were extra glad to have joined them.

The clouds were low so that you could not see the upper parts of the mountains so we decided to rather go over the tar Tradouw‚??s Pass than the gravel Gysmanskloof

We had booked ourselves into a self catering place & strolled across to the R62 where we had supper.  Saw this Karoo garden on the way. I think they are fun.

There was this Christmas tree made locally entirely from scrap plastic (bottles mainly) on a wooden armature.  It was switched on for the first time that evening accompanied by a local band and choir.

Here is the church


Offline tok-tokkie

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Re: 3 day trip to the Breede Bash
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2007, 06:22:53 pm »
Monday  Day 3  Barrydale to Home

This day we were thwarted by closed public roads without gaps in the fence to get through.  The plan was to ride north across the Little Karoo to the Witteberg foothills than turn west (left) to the Koo valley and exit over the Rooihoogte pass to Matroosberg.  See Plan A in this map

Off we go with Karin taking us down Plan A.  The little red dashed ‚??other road‚?? is just perfect but we come to this unofficial ‚??Road Closed‚?? sign but you can see that the road has been graded in the not too distant past which makes me believe it is a public road.

We decide to go on past it and then come to this sign which is styled to make you believe it is a Cape Nature Conservation official sign:

But they are forced to acknowledge that we are entitled to transit on this public road even though it crosses private land.  It was the same when I went down the Bosluiskloof road last month ‚?? you are entitled to travel a public road but you may not leave the road reserve and trespass on the private land each side.  Clearly we have a right of way through here & that unofficial sign earlier was just to discourage us & they had failed in that attempt. The gate is not locked.

Nice road.

But then we come to Mr. Marais‚?? big securely locked gate.

No way through or round this but there is a minor track branching off it a little way back so we go up there.

That leads around the hill and over the neck to two private houses.  There is another track leading on but it is too rough for Antonia so we retrace our steps. I take this photo of another of Mr. Marais‚?? signboards where he seems to be abusing the Cape Nature Conservation crest as evidence as  intend pursuing this matter.

So all the way back to the R62 with about 2 hours lost.  About 15km down the R62 there is a big solid red road marked on my road atlas which will get us back onto Plan A ‚?? See Plan B on the map.  So off we go & turn up the Plan B road which starts as tar but then changes to gravel highway.  But after some kms like this we come to a major gateway ‚?? separate gates for entry and exit and deliveries with a huge thatched guardhouse spanning the lot.  Clearly this has to be a public road so I am going through here.  Get off and speak to the little young lackey manning the gate.  He tells me this has been a private road for ages but admits he has only recently got the job.  I don‚??t believe in bullying junior employees so I take a photo of the places name.

I am fairly pissed off at this stage but Plan C will have to suffice.  We are now forced to a southern route along the Langeberg & they are encouraging the clouds overhead to rain whereas we would have been in clear air if we could have got across to the other side of the Little Karoo.

We slab it down the boring boooring boooooring tarred R62 ‚?? superbikes & Harleys can keep it.  Get to Montague where we have lunch and wine.  Antonia chooses Karoo calamari and they grow real big & quite tough there.  My ham sandwich was lekker as was the Rooiberg wine.  While we were there 8 bikes came through ‚?? all BMW‚??s so what was I saying about superbikes & Harleys?

We then went on to the Koo valley over Burger‚??s pass and up Rooihoogte pass and out to Matroosberg.  This was all tar.  I had had a look at Google Earth & seen that there seems to be a road alongside the old railway line so I wanted to have a go of riding down that just like we had done two days ago on the Houw Hoek.  Here is a short history of this piece of railway line.  Note that it was so difficult that it resulted in the gauge of South Africa‚??s railways being changed.
(Source http://www.hexrivervalley.co.za/de_doorns_tourism.htm )

Early History
The expanding Kimberley Diamond Boom in the early 1870's made it essential for the Cape government to secure a rail link to the north. An obstacle to achieving this was the lack of a suitable route (through the) folded belt mountains of the Cape.

After an earlier failed attempt to locate a route, the Hex River Pass route was re-examined in 1874. The appointed engineer, Wells Hood, under the instruction of the railway engineer Thomas Brounger, found a potential route which snaked up 2,353ft (735m) from Worcester to the top of the Karoo mountains east of the Hex River Valley, with gradients no more than 1:40 (which is very steep by modern standards). In addition, he proposed that a short tunnel would be required.

Thomas Brounger's route through the Hex River Pass was selected by 1876 with the line to follow the route from Worcester through De Doorns, Touws River, Matjiesfontein and on to Beaufort West.

As with most early railway lines in the country, the route served an important role in the development of these Karoo towns.

The then standard wide gauge track of 4'8" could not be accommodated economically on the tight bends of the Hex River Pass. A decision was thus made by the Cape Government to install the track at 3'6". Subsequently a decision was taken to convert all tracks to the Cape Gauge of 3'6". In further efforts to construct the pass cheaply and quickly, sleepers were laid on the ground without ballast in certain areas and had to be corrected later. The maximum possible gradient and tightest curves were used to avoid extra work and expense. Between 600 and 1000 English "Navies" were brought out to work on the construction of the line under Brounger and his railway contractor, Pauling. High wages has to be paid to these English labourers who specialised in road and rail construction. Construction of the pass went extremely smoothly. The route was prepared, cut and filled well in advance of rail being laid. Permanent way materials were transported on a construction locomotive. Empty trucks, returning to Worcester, were used by locals as a convenient means to transport produce from the more remote mountain farms into town.

Despite its quick and cheap construction the pass served for over 100 years. It was the starting point of the country's first railway line to the Rand and opened the way for Rhodes' colonization thrust into central Southern Africa.

The Boer War

The line was used to transport British soldiers during the Boer War and was a strategic target. With respect to the Hex River Pass, bridges were guarded by the British soldiers and the remains of the blockhouses at these points are still evident. In 1914 a large troop train carrying a regiment of the Kaffrarian Rifles derailed on a steep downward bend on its way to Cape Town. Nine non-commissioned officers were killed. A monument to the regiment has been erected at the point of derailment.

More Recent History

An additional main line between Kleinstraat and Matroosberg was constructed in 1931. The original line was since decommissioned and all permanent way material removed.
Shortly before the end of World War II, the South African Railways began to plan ways of shortening the route by tunneling through the mountain. The Hex River Tunnel scheme was started in 1945, but was abandoned 3 years later due to a lack of funds. Instead, the pass was electrified and operated with class 4E electric locomotives, which were amongst the most powerful electric locomotives in the world at that time. These were used at the head of the heavy freights such as the old Blue Train, the Trans Karoo and the Orange Express Passenger Trains.

On November 27th, 1989 the new Hex River Tunnel was opened. It cut 8 km and 112m of false rise off the old route with substantial reduction in curvature. With the opening of this route, the old Hex River Pass line was closed and the electrification infrastructure removed.
The tunnel is 13.4 km long and makes the list of longest railway tunnels

We rode into Matroosberg but found it too has become a game farm & access to the old rail line is not possible.  It had always been a long shot to gain access so I was not annoyed.  Down the Hex River Pass on the N1.  I ran ahead of Antonia and waited for her at a lay bye at the bottom.  What actually happened is she came down not much after me but we didn‚??t see each other because she was overtaking a truck or something.  When she was well overdue I became quite concerned.  I didn‚??t think it was likely she had crashed as someone would have stopped & told me my buddy had crashed but she my have mechanical trouble or something.  The problem is the down & up lanes are separate roads so I had to put on my hazards and ride up in the yellow lines against the trucks coming down in the crawler lane.  That was ok until a big white BMW headed me off so I had to take evasive action which sent me into the gravel trap designed to stop trucks with brake failure ‚?? that was exciting but I managed to not fall over but I left a spectacular wavy line in the gravel trap.  Could barely get the bike out because it sunk down until the bash plate rested on the gravel.  Got to the top but no Antonia.  Must be cell phone reception so I get out my phone but then she rides up.  She had got as far as De Doorns and realised we had missed each other so come back & a kind truck driver signaled to her that I was up ahead of her as she rode back ‚?? we have good karma with truck drivers since I turned back on Tradouw's Pass to help a broken down truck & phoned their boss when I got to Barrydale where there was reception.  What goes around comes around.

After that it was slabbing back to Green Point going over du Toits.

Next day I looked up Sanbona and found this map on their site

If you check back to my Plan A etc map you will see that this place is huge and covers most of the northwards leg of my planned route A.  It is 54 000 hectares which is less than 3% of the Kruger but 275 times as big as Monaco which is a sovereign country.  I am no longer fed up about that public road being closed since it is entirely within private land which has been converted into something I approve of ‚?? conservation of the environment.  Am pleased I did not make a big fuss.

A few years ago we went on a walking holiday in Italy where they pick up your bags each morning & take them to the next hotel so they are waiting for you when you get there.  We chose one where you walk without a guide just following the route description.  Italy has a completely different approach to private land to what we have.  Outside of the towns all the land belongs to the state and there are no land owners.  The farmers have rights to the use of the land but the land is still publicly owned.  This means the public are allowed anywhere except into the farmyards.  Our walking route went through mielie fields and through vineyards and alongside rivers and streams.  You are quite entitled to do this & there are no fences.  What you may not do is damage anything, make a nuisance of yourself of pick so much as a single grape ‚?? that is private property and taking it is theft.  Entirely different to our system.


Offline keithk

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Re: 3 day trip to the Breede Bash
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2007, 06:33:12 pm »
What a super weekend both of you had and it was great meeting you at the river. Jill and I actaully saw you on the N1 on Monday on your return,we passed you and tried to wave to you but you were concentrating on Antonia behind you as you were passing Ysterplaat airbase  :)
« Last Edit: December 19, 2007, 06:44:24 pm by keithk »
2 = good gravel /pillion friendly
3 = interspersed with sand, mud, sand , bush / not pillion friendly
4 = lots of sand, technical riding
5 = expert only (we are not worthy, still to meet one)

Offline Eisbein

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Re: 3 day trip to the Breede Bash
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2007, 06:57:50 pm »
Very very cool!

Was she a biker before or did she only start doing this recently ?

What an awesome thing to share with your wife.

As previously, also a very good ride report and nice photos!

Thanks for taking the time.

02/02/12 - RIP Glen - the Arrow of Elliot and the little man with the big heart that truly was larger than life.

You have touched us and left us better for having known you - even if it was only briefly.

For grabbing the moment and living the day It's been way too early that you were taken away

Offline MrBig

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Re: 3 day trip to the Breede Bash
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2007, 07:38:48 pm »
Awesome report!

Was nice to meet you both.

"I know you think you understand what I said, but what you don't understand is what I said is not what I mean."

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Re: 3 day trip to the Breede Bash
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2007, 08:45:47 pm »
Excellent excellent report! Wow! Your wife also inspired my wife to ride more!

I also really like the history part. Riding a route is so much better when you know more about the area you're in.

Thanks so much for the poster size photo of my water crossing in Baviaans. It's getting it's own place of honour in our home. The book on the history of Gysmans as also on the menu tonight ;) When you bring your wife to show her Prince Alfred's pass we'd love to have you for a visit. 8)


This was an interesting moment when Big Ed & Trailrider were standing conversing at the port bow unaware that now the props were thrashing around like egg beaters half out of the water at the other end.

 ::) Haha...  ;D