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Offline katana

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Re: Verneukpan, the second attempt
« Reply #20 on: October 18, 2013, 06:54:56 am »
Nice  :thumleft:
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Offline Wild Woody

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Re: Verneukpan, the second attempt
« Reply #21 on: October 18, 2013, 07:13:40 am »
Awesome RR sub :sip:
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Offline ClimbingTurtle

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Re: Verneukpan, the second attempt
« Reply #22 on: October 18, 2013, 07:47:19 am »
Lekker!

I need to pop into that area soon!
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Offline Bernoulli

Re: Verneukpan, the second attempt
« Reply #23 on: October 18, 2013, 01:41:26 pm »
Now we are in the Tankwa Karoo National Park proper. In the distance you can see the mountains forming the edge of the plateau. We are heading for the Gannaga Pass.



Notice the condition of the road



Nothing serious you would say. And you are right. But we are still quite a distance from the foot of the pass, and as we get closer, it gets wetter. Just before you commence the actual climb, there is a flat section where you cross a small stream a few times. Here the road gets quite muddy, with deep tracks left by heavier vehicles. Afterwards the photographer said they were deep enough for his GS’s pods to scrape :eek7: Margaret and I were dancing all over the show, hanging onto each other like nervous newlyweds opening the dance floor at their wedding reception. Just hang on, this too will pass!

No photo’s, I am afraid. Once technology advances sufficiently however, you will be able to download them from my memory – they have been imprinted there permanently. I know, I still sometimes see them!

What was wonderful, however, were the discussions that followed such experiences. I learnt a lot! From this specific incident, the mantra became: When in a difficult spot, look at the exit point. In a way, it was just a different way of saying Stand up, Look up and Open up!  But like a good pastor, the leader brought the old news in a fresh way.

Gannaga Pass!











At the top, with a couple on a KLR that we met there. They were on their way to Augrabies and was also heading for Middelpos that evening.



Once on the escarpment, conditions were clearly going to be different!



At the top left of the photograph, is the Gannaga Lodge, and we decided to stop for a site inspection. All this riding is hard work and we needed (as Pooh-Bear would say) a little sumthin





Johan provided sumthin,



and he said the first 8 km from him towards Middelpos was going to be challenging, thereafter we will be fine.


He did not lie!







The leader explained it like this: We can duckwalk this, or we can ride it. In the latter case we will fall (Hoe vertaal ‘n mens In die tweede geval moer ons neer?) So we walked it, and all came away remarkably unscathed, but hero’s nonetheless.

Suddenly the mud was gone and the road dry. We were gliding gracefully towards our destination for the night, and the karoo was playing along providing scene upon scene. Remarkable how being in the picture, part of the environment, makes the senses come alive. The late afternoon weariness allowed us just enough grace to enjoy the last few kilometres to the full. The photographer was leading, myself following and the leader at the back. As I came around the corner at this junction, the photographer stopped, put his foot out, and promptly dropped his bike :imaposer:



He was, however, too quick for me to immortalise the event. Damn!

And tomorrow you will see why.

Middelpos, where we slept in the hotel.







Is it a town, or is it a farm?







« Last Edit: October 23, 2013, 03:12:21 pm by Bernoulli »
 

Offline Barbelas

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Re: Verneukpan, the second attempt
« Reply #24 on: October 18, 2013, 03:53:07 pm »
Very nice ,more please
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Offline jimjim

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Re: Verneukpan, the second attempt
« Reply #25 on: October 18, 2013, 04:00:41 pm »
Lekker  :thumleft:
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Offline subie

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Re: Verneukpan, the second attempt
« Reply #26 on: October 18, 2013, 05:12:59 pm »
Het al 2 keer daai stuk pad deur Middelpos oor Gannaga pas gery. Terwyl die pad droog was en kon sommer sien as hy nat is moet ek wegbly van hom. Nie vir my nie.
Respek vir julle wat daar deur is  :thumleft:
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Offline Bernoulli

Re: Verneukpan, the second attempt
« Reply #27 on: October 18, 2013, 11:48:49 pm »
Het al 2 keer daai stuk pad deur Middelpos oor Gannaga pas gery. Terwyl die pad droog was en kon sommer sien as hy nat is moet ek wegbly van hom. Nie vir my nie.
Respek vir julle wat daar deur is  :thumleft:
Ja Subie, bietjie van daardie water wat daar in die pad le is my sweet! :imaposer:

Very nice ,more please
Be nice, Barbelas - all this re-thinking and writing is hard work! ;)

Offline Bernoulli

Re: Verneukpan, the second attempt
« Reply #28 on: October 19, 2013, 12:29:07 am »
Day 2: Middelpos to Verneukpan via Williston

342km, no more than 20 km tar

We had a good night’s rest and woke to a chilly and beautifully clear Karoo morning, looking forward to a hearty breakfast. Little did we know that Middelpos arranged a dazzling cabaret to accompany breakfast!



But then he buggered off, and so did we.

Saying good-bye to our friends from Gannaga/Middelpos when they set off for Calvinia and we swung towards Williston.



A crisp, clear day containing an unknown treasure of delightful roads and devastating countryside was beckoning.



We took the Stofkraal road. According to the leader’s GPS, it had a number of gates. The barman from last night (head waiter this morning) thought differently.
 
He was wrong.
 


It was a most enjoyable road nevertheless. Although a public road (at least according to the GPS) some sections of it reduced to 2-spoor: undulating and full of its own surprises. We leap-frogged the gates, so that was not an issue. In fact, more of the roads we traversed over the week-end had gates, and I soon resolved that closing and opening gates, arduous as it may be on a bike, is part of the fun!

Along this road we happened upon these old ruins. To the left were the remains of the kraals, and to the right 3 buildings and what looked like a dam. I am going to post a number of pictures, so you can savour the exquisite stonework. Years later and it still oozes with pride from the artisans (no – artists) that put it together.













Did I say something about the road being full of its own surprises? Another one was about to unfold. There I was, blissfully meandering my way through the Karoo, ensconed in my own thoughts, when suddenly, out of nowhere and without warning the sandmonster gripped the front wheel! And my reaction was 100% wrong. I sat down (or remained seated – can’t remember which) and started fighting it. In the heat of the moment things like stand up, look up and open up and look at the exit point became distant theory. (That needed to be practised, and clearly had not!) But the Wilddogs came to the rescue. I remembered reading somewhere that I should not limit myself to the road. In fact, whether it was me or Margaret that remembered it, I am not sure, but we left the road, made a graceful swooping turn through the surrounding bossies, and returned to the road to stop and assess the evidence.

And it turned out to be a teeny-weeny baby little sandmonster! I am really and truly embarrassed to post this picture, but facts are facts!



However, I was not the only one to suffer embarrassment. At one of the gates the leader opened, he dropped his wallet, so when he discovered it several gates later, he had to return to fetch it. (Do you also notice the pattern emerging?)

We did not mind waiting. If you have to wait, the Karoo is an excellent place to do it in.





The photographer used the time and opportunity to work his magic. In fact, why don’t we have poll: Which of the two is the better prop?
 :pot:




The leader returns to extract us from our artistic cocoon, and stops in a way befitting his prowess.



We re-group and depart.



Some more stonework en route





I cannot work out what those pillars were for. A fence, maybe?

Soon, too soon I am enjoying this road so much, Williston starts appearing on the horizon,





and we stop at a roadside restcamp.





I grew up here, and this used to be the caravan camp before the road was rebuilt in this new position after the Sakriver in flood destroyed the old bridge across it. I always enjoy returning, so, after we refuelled, I took my fellow travellers on a quick guided tour of the town. I promised to show them (and now you, dear reader) something they have never seen before.

It was not the church (although it is beautiful and very well maintained) that is turning 100 years old this year,



but this:



A putting green made from sand and oil. Ever heard the saying ‘n Boer maak ‘n plan?

There was, however, a small, unknown obstacle to overcome on the way to the golf course. Puttering along at nothing more than second gear can easily handle (remember I am busy with a guided tour of the town) the only vehicle we passed on the tour came around a corner and distracted me sufficiently to not notice a nasty little embankment directly in my line of travel. When the back wheel slid off, I went down in an instant and opened the throttle, causing a spectacular cloud of dust that any self-respecting Dakar photographer would have loved :imaposer:

Off course the photographer did not miss the opportunity :lol8:



What he did miss though, was the eagerness with which the 3 of us lifted the bike. We in fact dropped it onto the other side! Margaret, being the graceful lady she is, did not complain. I am sure it has happened before in her life, and there are no guarantees that it will not happen again. She certainly is a Goeie Siel (Good Soul)

Time to head on. When we had the opportunity to add another day to the 3 we planned initially, we decided to include the detour required to pass the site of the radio telescope being constructed between Williston and Carnarvon. So we left town on the Carnarvon road, and 10km later turned onto the road to Vanwyksvlei.









Any idea why the locals call these Tweeling ( Twins?)



In all my memory of this road, and it goes back to the 60’s, this spot had never been dry even though that memory spans a few significant droughts. It is due to a natural well that just keeps flowing. In the days when travelling to town was by horse-and-cart, it became a rest point for weary travellers and their equally exhausted horses. The 80km from the farm to town was an arduous day-long affair.



One of the spin-offs of the telescope being built, is that the roads have been upgraded.



But before we get to the telescope, we are surprised by this beautiful quiver tree forest right next to the road.









Then we reach the site



The normal road has been beautifully built up and a security boom installed. We sign in, and set off, not knowing what to expect. Except, of course, some dishes staring at the sky.

All we find is this



We continue, hopeful to still “see something” when we reach the exit boom.



I ask the guard where the dishes are, and he says Look over your left shoulder



We wait a few seconds, and they find us!



We take a left onto the Carnarvon/Brandvlei road and ride on what was certainly the straightest gravel we have done thus far.
But beautiful as ever. I am a bit like a stuck record on the beauty of the Karoo, but by biking through this world, and the unique engagement it brings with the environment, I realise how little I noticed it when I travelled here regularly. I am so happy and thankful for the privilege to experience it this way, and in this condition.
 


There was one more turn off where we stopped, one significantly sandy section we traversed successfully (pffft! I can handle it! :ricky:) and suddenly we were on Oom Giel’s farm.



Allow me an explanatory interjection.

When we planned the trip, Oom Giel suggested we stay on the farm with them. This suited us perfectly (remember the note about travelling lightly and sleeping comfortably?) Little did we know that this was a new idea of his, and that we were the first to take him up on the offer.

We landed in the lap of luxury!

The photographer’s room,



the leader’s



and mine.



And were treated like kings



The end of another preposterously perfect day in Africa



Tomorrow we hit the pan!
« Last Edit: October 23, 2013, 03:21:29 pm by Bernoulli »
 

Offline Heimer

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Re:
« Reply #29 on: October 19, 2013, 07:04:51 am »
Great ride report. Everything to do with VerneukPan fascinates me

The Stofkraal road is lovely. I rode it in 2009 and I remember that farm with the stone constructions

The one which you call a dam,  is a skaapkraal - these were allways built on a slight slope to help with cleaning sheep droppings out

The 'fence ' is exactly that. Built in the days before the government gave the farmers cheaply priced wooden droppers and wire to fence their farms.

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Offline da PEEG

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Re: Verneukpan, the second attempt
« Reply #30 on: October 19, 2013, 09:26:13 am »
Brings back memories of sitting in Oom Giel's kitchen with a damaged shoulder after my 'off' there in April...
...looking forward to the rest of the RR  :thumleft:
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Offline Fenderbender

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Re:
« Reply #31 on: October 19, 2013, 10:39:01 am »
Great ride report. Everything to do with VerneukPan fascinates me



 :thumleft:  Ek verlang sommer pan toe .
 

Offline stan1975

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Re: Verneukpan, the second attempt
« Reply #32 on: October 19, 2013, 11:25:27 am »
Two  :thumleft: :thumleft: up. Great RR so far. Looking forward to the "pan"

 :ricky:  :happy1:
Ride within yourself, think ahead... Plan your escape route & be safe.... Just remember no one else knows what your thinking until you tell them...
 

Offline ALLEN I

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Re: Verneukpan, the second attempt
« Reply #33 on: October 20, 2013, 11:55:46 am »
That's me in 10 days time ... Lovely!

Cool photos... great report.

 8)
yea yea get the message you will most probably be waiting for me again
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Offline ALLEN I

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Re: Verneukpan, the second attempt
« Reply #34 on: October 20, 2013, 12:11:42 pm »
cool well done guys a good RR. me and old Ian in great brake river will be cruising a section that you you done. looking forward to it. hope the weathers on our side, if not we gonna get wet, but that's all in the fun. 
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Offline Bernoulli

Re: Verneukpan, the second attempt
« Reply #35 on: October 21, 2013, 11:10:36 am »
Day 3: Verneukpan, Brandvlei, Loeriesfonten and Nieuwoudtville

340 km of which the last 65 was on tar, or sort-of.

I wake up with the rather strange thought of Oh, no! Another day on the bike. Wish I did not have to do this. Do you also sometimes get it, or am I the only sufferer? I feel almost guilty. Here I am, doing what so many others can only dream of, and yet I am wishing it to be different. I do not want to be on the bike today. Obviously, I do not have a choice, and my experience is that as soon as I get going, the sheer brilliance of the experience overtakes my inertia, and I forget all about my apprehension.

So we have breakfast, and hit the road.



But not before Oom Giel gave us several briefings on our options:
•   There is the direct (shorter) route, but it has a fairly sandy section.
•   There is the slightly longer route that contains the washout where Bring-it-on got rid of his bike.
•   And anyway, whichever one we choose, he is going with!



Some of the folk at home has clearly seen it all before and do not share our enthusiasm



The road to the pan



Another stop to explain our options.



We decide to take the more direct, more sandy route. After all, we came through a fairly sandy section yesterday and all passed with flying colours.

The leader takes off, and, as expected, disappears into the horizon as if gliding down a newly-resurfaced tar highway.

I take a deep breath and set off, and all seems well. Then there is a fairly sharp turn through a broken wall made to divert the rainwater from the road, and as I go through it, the middelmannetjie (island between the spoors) becomes an intimidating, neverending heap of sand. Which, in my case becomes the complete focus of my entire mental capacity – target fixation like no handbook can ever describe it!

I go down like a ton of bricks.



Fortunately, help is at hand so we lift Margaret, do a cursory inspection and find no loose limbs or bikeparts lying around and set off again. Except, now Oom Giel no longer allows us the luxury of deciding on a route. We will take the one without the sand. He leads.



We stop so he can show us where he started ploughing the spirals to recover the pan. This was done about a year ago.



The idea came to him when he noticed that, where there has been vehicular activity on the pan that broke the surface, some growth started. Since about 40% of his farm is taken up by the pan, he decided to try it, and it seems to be working. Here is another picture of a more recent ploughing action.



The unintended consequence of this ploughing action was, that it looked rather unusual from the air. And all of a sudden, on a quiet morning in the Karoo a while back, all hell broke loose. They were inundated with calls, e-mails and fly-overs. The story? The lost city was discovered. It made headline news.
  
The more they explained that it was a farmer doing what farmers does best (farming) the more the media ignored them. Giel’s wife said that they almost got the idea the media was saying to them to not spoil a good story with facts!

And then we were there.





It is a surreal experience. I am not even going to try and put words to it.

Let the pictures explain:





















When the wind came up, it suddenly became a very inhospitable space, and we left.



Towards Brandvlei





We had to do about 60km of the tar between Kenhardt and Brandvlei. Sitting on that straight road, boringly droning towards your destination, getting numb in your backside, I realised why it is so much better to travel gravel: You have to engage with the road. There is no predictability. At any time conditions can change significantly, and it makes for an exhilirating experience.

This morning’s thoughts are a distant memory.

In Brandvlei we refuelled bikes



and bodies



and set off for Loeriesfontein.

Earlier that morning when Oom Giel learnt we were going on this road, he was immediately concerned because he thinks that is the road used by the salt lorries and then it is in a terrible state. So he phoned a friend who knew the area better and came back from the phone with a stern warning that we need to be careful. My mind started playing tricks. I vaguely remembered someone writing about a road used by trucks where they create these potholes which then get filled up and disguised (because it is gravel) by fine sand. In my mind this became that road.

Having already embraced mother earth rather warmly earlier in the day, I did not look forward to it. Whilst gearing up in Brandvlei, we spoke to a shopowner who, when I gave him the above “facts,” confirmed that about 30 km out of town it gets so bad that you actually have to drive in the veld to get around the holes!

The leader’s view of all these opinions was that bikes, and especially DP bikes, seldom get good advise from cagers – they simply cannot appreciate what our machines are capable of. So with some trepidation, I set off.

To be surprised by this



and this



and this



and this.



Glorious gravel highways all the way to Loeriesfontein! In fact, the tarred road from Loeries to Nieuwoudtville is more damaged and full of potholes than the gravel we had just done.

Around Loeries we started seeing flowers again.
 


Then it was a quick dash and we were at the waterfall near Nieuwoudtville.





In Niewoudtville you refuel at Protea Motors, well known for its extensive collection of mostly old bikes, with some cars thrown in for good measure.













We spent another comfortable night here



in a house that dates from the Anglo Boer War. The holes in the wall on the photo below, were apparently crenels. (One visible above the armchair.)



Let us raise our glasses to another perfect day!

« Last Edit: October 23, 2013, 03:27:05 pm by Bernoulli »
 

Offline Frannarossi

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Re: Verneukpan, the second attempt
« Reply #36 on: October 21, 2013, 03:43:00 pm »
Baie nice :thumleft:
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Offline da PEEG

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Re: Verneukpan, the second attempt
« Reply #37 on: October 21, 2013, 03:52:59 pm »
The stuff you came down on, looks VERY similar to the spot that I had my "off" in June. It's like brown gravel(gruis). I hit a "wall" of the stuff and came off in a gravel pit of note...

Would still  like to return and continue my trip sometime...
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Offline Bernoulli

Re: Verneukpan, the second attempt
« Reply #38 on: October 21, 2013, 04:20:14 pm »
The stuff you came down on, looks VERY similar to the spot that I had my "off" in June. It's like brown gravel(gruis). I hit a "wall" of the stuff and came off in a gravel pit of note...

Would still  like to return and continue my trip sometime...

I remember yours and I think it is the same spot :lol8:
Maybe we should develop a secret handshake :imaposer: :imaposer:

Offline katana

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Re: Verneukpan, the second attempt
« Reply #39 on: October 21, 2013, 06:30:50 pm »
My spot is more to the left.  The bike rode half way up the bank.  I held it, but had to wait for Dik Cobra to come help me get my footing again to maneuver off the bank.  It was a close one.  That spot is scary.
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