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Offline Armpie

Botswana Pans- no mean little 6 day ride, End April 2014
« on: May 07, 2014, 12:48:33 pm »
OK, it pays to be nice with people.  I invited an acquaintance of me to a weekend of bike riding in the Waterberg .   It rained the whole weekend and we had lots of fun in the mud, in the mountains.  Tertius became my friend.

So two weeks later Tertius  asked  if I want to go to Botswana with them.  To the pans.  Joining a group called the “Pannekatte”.  It was supposed to be a “father-son” excursion but they could not get enough brave enough, old enough father-son combinations so I and a few others were asked to join.
The plan was to ride the 850km from Pretoria  to Moritiwa Selemo,  80km from Orapa. Then a one night sleep over in their huts, doing four days on the pans and then another night in the huts before coming back on the 6th day.   4 Bikes would do the ride, my KLR and  3 X GS1200’s.  Two vehicles would also do the trip taking 5 bikes and riders.  James’s Hilux and Herman’s Fortuner with a trailer.  At Moriti the two guides Pierre and Andries would join us.



Pierre on his 1985 XT, Corne and Peet and their GS's
Leon on his KLR, Tertius on his GS, JP with his Dakar 650
James on his KTM950 and Alexander with his KDX
Andries on his 1984 XT500, Herman on his 250 Enduro and Dalyn on his 100 Enduro



8 of us in front of Kubu Island.  Tina Turner singing in the back some Mad Max music, something like "We do'nt need another hero"

Day 1,  26 April 2014
So at 04:00 the  morning of 26 April 2014 we left from BMW Zambezi.  That first 100km on the bikes were freezing.  I understand the temperature on the N1  touched on 0 degrees.  At Warmbad, Tertius took the turn-off and we rode through the mountains to Nylstroom.  A  massive temperature difference from the plains.  Then off to Vaalwater.  Between Vaalwater and Ellisras we travelled over a pothole strewn road.  Our first experience of bad roads.  The Wimpy was still closed when we entered Ellisras so we went to KFC  for a Breakfast.  Then we travelled to Groblersbrug where we crossed the border.  The Botswana side was slow so we lost about 60 minutes there.  The first 20km into Botswana was potholes again.  Very bad.  From the border to Palapye, then Serowe, then late the afternoon at Lethlakane.  The last pull to Lethlakane was hard and a long day on the KLR, but the BMW men did not have it much easier.  At Lethlakane we filled up for the last time.  Here we also meet up with Elize, our host at Moriti.  We drove the last 80km to Moriti and arrived there about 17:00.  We off-loaded the remaining bikes and grabbed a little hut each.  A nice dinner was prepared and early the evening we were in the blankets. 840km.


Vaalwater at 06:00



Groblersbrug



Kwanokeng, just accross the border


Moriti wa Selemo, sitting on for dinner


Day 2
Now, what made this trip nice was that the guides Pierre and Andries  went with us.  They were both Botswana off-road, on-road, flat track, oval track,  you name it, they were Botswana champions.  The oval Championchip took place around 2 X 44 gallon drums, placed out during half time of the rugby game at Orapa.  I do not think they wore any gear and replaced the shocks with galvanized water pipes for the race.  Their skill would soon come to light.  The father-in-law, son-in-law combination worked out quite well.  They buy XT500’s from South Africa and rebuild them.  If you do not have a bike you rent one from them.  They have 8 XT500’s.  They both took one to go with us.
So the plan was to go north along the veterinary fence, then across the pans to Kukonje Island where Pierre has a concession on another island.  Then sleep over there for the first night.  That was the plan.  If the route was dry enough.
So we loaded everything on Pierre’s 1973 Ford F250 4X4 truck, checked the bikes, deflated the tyres, checked the oil, and we were ready.  At 09:00 we left Moriti for our adventure.  First we did a short detour so Andries can show us the fossilized forest not far from Moriti.  We rode along some tough two-track road until a point, here we dismounted and walked the last 50 meters or so up an erosion ditch.  And here are the undoubted remains of a tree of a few million years ago.  Set in stone.  But Andries only show us the one piece.  “I show people what we have, and then later they come back here to steal it”.  We left the stone trees and arrived at the government cattle fence.  
The road is running next to the dead straight fence for many kilometers.  Sometimes the road is sand, sometimes grass.  Then we reached a little sand dune with a control point.  The guard said the road forward is wet.  So we went forward to have a look.  The bikes were stretched 150-200m apart.  At one place I went straight along the fence just too suddenly find myself trapped in water in the long grass!  No warning.  I struggled to get myself out of it.  A few 100 meters further we for the first time find the mud when we reached an inlet into the pan. I went through nicely but JP in front of me with his 650 Dakar was the first one to take a dive into the soft mud.  When I looked back all three the GS’s were already down.  Not a good time for BMW.  Tertius was limping out.  He damaged his right hamstring.  Myself with my KLR, Pierre  with his XT500, Dylan and Herman with their Enduro bikes went forward to investigate  the road ahead.  We crossed a stream but it was not looking good.  The plan changed.  No way across the pan.

We went back and helped Tertius back on his bike.  Then we went through the bush to a lillte village called  Tlala Mabeli.  Tertius gave all his sweets  to the children of the village.  Then he and his son JP left with the dirt road back to Moriti.  It was impossible to continue with only one leg.  The rest of us turned away to the pans with the idea to skirt the pans and then go back to the escarpment where we would sleep over on the hill.  But the fun was merely starting.  When we reached the pan (Sua pan) the top was hard but the bikes dropped down into the mud as soon as you lose momentum. I went down the first time in the mud.  Behind me Corne went over the handles of his GS, and the handle hit him , shall we say, at the groin.  He laid down a few minutes, and then we turned away from the pans.  Just to be confronted by the sand , on a narrow road with deep sand and trees on the edges.  Twice I went down on that stretch.  I was not the only one.  Most of the big bikes went down in the sand.  Eventually we reached the big dirt road and went a few kilometers on it before we turned off on another sand road.  This time the GS’s all went down.  The KLR made it to the top of the hill.  But I was so tired that taking photographs was not on my list.  At a stage one of the local youngsters jumped on the back of the KLR.  I had to explain nicely to him, in Afrikaans, that he must rather get off as I was tired and that I was not part of the local public transport system.  He understood immediately.

The site where we pitched our tents that afternoon was beautiful.  Looking over the pans to the north.  We showered under and behind a tree.  Elize made a big evening meal.  We did not have time to have lunch.  We did 97km for the day.  But never have I experienced such rough terrain, and never was I so tired from a bike.  I went down three times.  By 21:00 I was out for the count till the sun was coming up.



Andries shows us some rocks



Stone tree





Some off-roading before the serious off-roading



JP opens the court with a nice slide in the mud along the Foot-and-mouth fence



And Tertius tearing his hamstring while doing the Mamba Samba on Sua Pan





To the front it does not look much better



Tlala Mabeli: James arrives

Tertius distributing his sweets before doing a tactical withdrawal to get something for the pain.  Pierre looking on.


Victim of the pan- Peet helped to get to dry ground

Alexander to the rescue

Corne holding his injury


Alexander and Botswana Army truck on the edge of the pans

My KLR taking a rest.  The first of many. Herman arriving just in time to help us up.


View over Sua Pan from our camp site the first night out.


The first day done.  It took us  8 hours to do 97km

Day 3
The second day in the bush was the easiest.  But a  longer  day than any other.   And we made a mistake.  Elize, Pierre’s wife and the logistics manager for the trip had her birthday.  After a delightful breakfast, we pulled down our tents, put our stuff together and left.  Mistake we would later realize.
We decided to take the little gorge down the mountain, instead of going around in the sand, like we did yesterday.  Two of the GS’s took the long way around.  If a 4X4 could go up the hill we could go down.  So we went  down the klofie  after James on his KTM950 inspected the road.  Without any incidents we reached the bottom where the first sand of the day greeted us.  We reached the rendezvous point with the other bikes without incident.  The GS’s all deflated their tires even more.
We took a little two way track leading to the north.  We were on our way to Kubu Island.  Again deep sand and narrow paths.  Without much room for error.  At a stage even Pierre, the expert on the pans lost his bearings.  On a narrow road the KLR left the track and a slid sideways  and flat over the grass.  Hard.  I felt the bones and stuff inside my upper torso crunch.  But I was up  in no time.  At a kraal/cattle post Pierre asked directions.  There were three beautiful dogs at the post.  At the post I removed the grass from the fall from my crush bars.
Along the veterinary fence we continued until we at last reached the entrance to Kubu.  Here Alexander was trying his wheelies on his KDX.  It was then when Pierre asked if he could have a try.  He was tired of wheeling his XT500.  So up and down he went until he misjudged him and both he and the KDX ended on their backs.  One fall for the expert.
Then we entered the park and proceed until we get the park ablution facilities- still under construction.  We all camped out under the thatched roof.  The support vehicle was not there to be found.  No cell phone connection.  So we spend our time drinking Botswana water and eating Pretoria snacks.  Eventually me, Tertius and James went back to Kubu and took a few photographs of the place.  Lunch was not coming so we left latter in the afternoon to an island about 6km from Kubu ,where we would be sleeping over for the night.  We first rode on a bush track, and then along the edge of a pan.  Along the pan we stopped briefly at an abandoned land yacht where Pierre tried to break some world record.  It was now open to stripping.  We arrived at the camp site.  But so remote it is that the spades Pierre forgot here six years ago was still standing where it was left.  I made a fire.  It was getting dark and James and Pierre  went back to have a look to see what happened to Elize.  Eventually they found her.  On one of the sandy dunes a fellow road user refused to make way for her.  Eventually both vehicles got stuck.  It took her and the two laborers a few hours to get the Ford and trailer out of the sand.

When she stopped in the dark, everybody sang to her.  She burst into tears.  So I took over the dinner preparations.  After dinner I took out my only bottle Rum, and we all took a “ration” of rum.  Then Elize took out her Amarula.  It eventually turned into a happy event.  It was a pity I could not issue another ration.  But all the merrier. 103km for the day.  But much easier.


Coming down the gorge

And sand to welcome the day

Dog lover I am.  Boerbul at a kraal in the Botswana Bush

Welcome to the pans

Pierre, on the way to Kubu


Die kaplyn

The 180 Flip as done by the 1980's Botswana Opelug Kampioen himself






« Last Edit: May 07, 2014, 01:57:58 pm by Armpie »
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Offline skydiver

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Re: Botswana Pans- no mean little 6 day ride, End April 2014
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2014, 01:01:34 pm »
Nou hoekom gooi jy nie weer die "taal"soos jy altyd doen nie?  :imaposer:
Lyk na 'n lekker trip.
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Offline Mr Zog

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Re: Botswana Pans- no mean little 6 day ride, End April 2014
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2014, 01:25:13 pm »
subscribed...  :sip:
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Offline Armpie

Re: Botswana Pans- no mean little 6 day ride, End April 2014
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2014, 01:59:41 pm »
Day 4
So we decided to leave the camp where it was and to do a recce towards Ntetwe pan to the west.  We went off  Sua pan and then on a two track road until we get Makgadikgadi Adventure Camp.  Here we bought a Coke and Tertius used the swimming pool to wet his upper body.  Then we left for the west, first along the dusty track, past a few outposts.  At one I went over a black hen.  But the guys behind me said I missed her, she went between the wheels!  Then we turned onto a pan- Ntwetwe Pan.  The surface was black.  It was incredible to ride across this vast flat black surface.  I stopped to take a few photos when three of the guys in the back came back from behind a little ridge.  I and Peet with his GS decided to follow their tracks and came back the same way they did.  Peet was taking the turn a bit wider, when he suddenly realized the mirage is not a mirage but actually water!  Skillfully he kept momentum and both us went spinning behind the rest.
As we climbed out of the pan a few kilometers to the north, at a big rock.  My KLR stalled.  I started it again, and it stalled again.  When I wanted to start it again, everything was dead.  We checked everything.  Even tried to jump start it.  The battery exploded.   Eventually James towed me out of the bush.  Not easy when there is no road.  Eventually we reached a dirt road and we towed the KLR to the house where the lucky black hen is still living.  Here we left the KLR and I hitched a ride back to the camp.  Later the afternoon we took the Ford and tools.  Eventually we replaced a fuse, and Herman lend me  his 250’s battery.  The KLR was going again!
Later the afternoon I went alone on the pan and took a few nice pictures in the setting sun.  When it was dark we took wood and made a big fire on the pans.  Then Pierre practiced his specialty- “gooi kole”! With a spade he threw the red hot coals in the air.  It made spectacular pictures. 99km


Mirage Dodger, Peet on Ntwetwe Pan



And then the KLR's battery burst- our only technical mishap en 6 days

But a loan battery helped us on the off-road again.  This pic I am selling to Kawasaki
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Offline Armpie

Re: Botswana Pans- no mean little 6 day ride, End April 2014
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2014, 02:14:03 pm »
Day 5
So the sun for the  final day in the bush broke over the thorn trees on the edge of the pan.  Everybody pulled down his tent.  Filled up with fuel from the drum on the back of the truck, loaded everything on the back and by 9 we was on the seats.  It would proof to be a hard day.  First we went back to Kubu for a few photographs, then on the edge of the pan we took a  photo of all eleven in the group.  Then we set off for the western gate of the pan.  At the gate we turned south along the veterinary fence.  All went well until the fence turned 90 degrees, and I went on straight.  I hit the sand wall on the edge of the road, became airborne and landed on the front wheel.  Again I feel the bones and cartilage on my upper ribcage cracking when I hit the hard veld.  I felt this one.  But my own stupidity!  So unnecessary!  Again we continued along the fence until I hit another thick sand patch- at 70km per hour.  Again I ploughed through the grass with the KLR making the way.  I went to fast.
Then we got back to the pan we were still on the side of the fence.  The inlets were wet and slippery.  About everybody took at least one dive in the mud.  My third dive for the day was just as I was crossing about 300m of mud.  I nearly made it to the other side and with 10 meters to go my front wheel decided enough mud is enough.  I flew over the seat.  My legs and boots coming along.  Then my shin hit the pannier bracket, through the boot.  For a split second I thought, so this is what it feels when you break your leg?.  I stood up from the mud, my shin inside my boot in pain.  A final time I put down the bike, but I still on my feet.

Then we left the mud and went into the bush again.  At a mud crossing Corne came down with his GS.  Eventually we reached a dirt road near a village called  Mmatshumo.  Here in the sand of the main street Corne dropped his GS again.  We went for a Coke at the Mmatshumo general dealer were we decided on the final part of the day.  Corne and Peet would take the GS’s and go back to Moriti.  Andries said he knows where we are going and is in no mood for more sand. So he accompanied Peet and Corne.  The rest of us took a road to the north west leading to the “Kaitshe Escarpement”.  My 4 falls for the day would only be half for the day. The 30km to Kaitshe and back proved to be 60km.  And the sand was not 300m.  That is only how deep it was.  It was consistently.  And trees next to the track.  First a beautiful Baobab forest, then it changed to Mopani forest.  Then mountain and rocks.  The scenery at the top of the escarpment was worth all the hardship and sweat.  Now it was back along another road.  But the terrain was the same.  Sand and narrow winding  tracks, and rocks, and ditches and more sand.
I fell four times more.  All 8 of us took a dive somewhere in the 60km.  I soon came to learn that to paddle is not a sin.  I also learnt that the trainers made a mistake with the “stand-up, look-up and open-up”.  The sequence was wrong.  It works this way.  Look up.  If you see blue sky and trees and leaves you are still all right. If you hear harp music and angels sing, you are most likely also all right.  Then it is open-up.  You stretch all your limbs to see that nothing is dangling at the end.  Only then do you stand up.  Look up, open up, stand up!  Even me as an endurance athlete was taking strain near the end.  This is what adventure was about.
We reached the dirt road near a cattle post near the village of Mosu, and rode back the last 25km to Moriti.  At Moriti I took off my boot for the first time.  It did not look good.  Elize’s mother brought me ice and I packed the bloody shin with ice.  It saved a lot of trouble. 160km for the day.

Elize, a star and her team

Leaving Kubu

The other side of Kubu

From 70 to zero next to a fence.  In half a second

The grass is not an attempt to camo


Corne's bike playing pig

The 30km to Kaitshe Escarpment.  Tough.  Sand in all its forms.  I went down 4 times

Up the escarpment

The view from the top is breathtaking.  If there is anything left on your lungs

Hallo Africa, tell me how your doing!

Official team photgraph


Day 6
Going  home.  We checked the bike’s tires and after another big breakfast we left.  Around 8.  At Lethlakane we filled up and set off for home.  At Grobler’s brug we crossed the Border and at 2 we were at Ellisras.  It was the 1st of May and the Wimpy was already closed.  The Steers had only chicken.  So we settled for chicken.  At Vaalwater we said good bye to Tertius and JP.  They were to spend the long weekend at a game lodge.  Then at Kranskop we said good bye to James and Alexander.  They would leave us at Pienaarsrivier.  At  Zambezi Peet left us.  At Teasers we made a quick stop- to load me stuff from Herman’s Fortuner to my wife’s car.  Then we said good bye and left.
But still it was not the end.  On my dirty, muddy bike, dressed in my muddy boots and dirty jacket,  I stood up going around the Hardy Muller Circle.  As I was entering Stormvoel I was pulled from the road by a member of the metro police.  As I rode past his two buddies, they were whistling in awe.  I knew my number plate was so dirty that you could not read it-even standing behind it.   The policeman walked around my bike.  I know exactly what he saw.  I took of my helmet and said “Bru I am tired!  I just did 850km coming from Botswana!”  He looked at my red eyes  and said “I see you can ride!  I see it from your eyes.”  I did not feel the previous afternoon like that.  So after I showed him a few photos of the mud he sent me home. 830km for the day.
Aftermath:
I came home at 20 past six.  I had a bath and went straight to the doctor.  I burst a vain in my leg and had some soft tissue damage from the shot in the mud, the previous afternoon.  No ribs were cracked, only bruised. 
Tertius came back and established he torn his right hamstring when doing the GS-Pan split on the first day out in the mud.
Pierre had his salt burn doctored.  So big it would not have fitted on Pop-Eyes front arm.  Riding with vellies, a checkered short sleeve shirt and a Nazi-helmet has its draw backs.  But luckily he does not have to fall back on it regularly.
My place for the 2015 trip is booked.  To go to the pans with Pierre and  Andries  is an absolute experience.  They know the area and the people.  And if you ever go to the pans and get stuck with your 4x4, and nobody can get you out.  Someone will contact Pierre and  Andries.  They will get you out.  Except for bike and adventure trips, they make their living from rescuing vehicles from the muddy clutches of the pans.  And they have never failed yet.  If you want action and adventure phone Pierre van der Bal +267 487 833

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Offline Ian in Great Brak River

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Re: Botswana Pans- no mean little 6 day ride, End April 2014
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2014, 02:27:16 pm »
Wow, looks like a hell of a ride!

3 of us are headed that way in Aug ... looks hectic that sand ... :-\
1978. It's 6am, mid winter...two up on a XL 185S ... off to my first casino ever with all of R40 and we've got a full tank of fuel, so enough to get there we reckon.... that's determination...

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Offline Armpie

Re: Botswana Pans- no mean little 6 day ride, End April 2014
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2014, 02:40:51 pm »
Yes, the Teasers photograph!


And the number plate the traffic cop ignored

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Offline Armpie

Re: Botswana Pans- no mean little 6 day ride, End April 2014
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2014, 02:45:06 pm »
Yolandi and her mates we run into at Kubu.  The story is to long to write everything.  You can buy the book!  ;)  They were on their way to Victoria Falls


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Offline subie

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Re: Botswana Pans- no mean little 6 day ride, End April 2014
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2014, 04:44:03 pm »
Hectic ou maat en lekker om te lees en die pics te sien.  :thumleft:
Myself sien egter nie meer kans vir so iets nie.

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Offline elandsrider

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Re: Botswana Pans- no mean little 6 day ride, End April 2014
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2014, 05:11:14 pm »
Hope my old friend from way back heals well. Looks really painful Tertius.
Awsome trip and rr, well done all :thumleft:
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Offline Armpie

Re: Botswana Pans- no mean little 6 day ride, End April 2014
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2014, 03:56:10 pm »
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dKVtKj0aTk&feature=youtu.be

Tertius se een video.  Heelwat meer aan die kom
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Offline 4 Kays

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Re: Botswana Pans- no mean little 6 day ride, End April 2014
« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2014, 05:21:49 pm »
Looks challenging and seems you all enjoyed. Thanks  :thumleft:
 

Offline Armpie

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Offline tankgirl

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Re: Botswana Pans- no mean little 6 day ride, End April 2014
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2014, 08:56:19 am »
nice one guys! good to meet you  :thumleft:
 

Offline Armpie

Re: Botswana Pans- no mean little 6 day ride, End April 2014
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2014, 11:17:08 am »


Tertius gatvol. 150km so far.  Sand, sand and more sand.  Back from the Kaitshe escarpement

Southern stars?  No kole gooi op die panne

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Offline THROTTLE JOCKEY

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Re: Botswana Pans- no mean little 6 day ride, End April 2014
« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2014, 12:21:45 pm »
Wow what a ride
Ride it like you stole it!

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Offline tertiusd

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Re: Botswana Pans- no mean little 6 day ride, End April 2014
« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2014, 01:47:38 pm »
Great RR, Leon! Bly jy was saan. PanneKatte 2015... Watch this space :peepwall:
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Re: Botswana Pans- no mean little 6 day ride, End April 2014
« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2014, 02:04:20 pm »
PanneKatte 2014 - "The Movie" :peepwall:

http://youtu.be/WW7Rpqa0m0g
« Last Edit: May 16, 2014, 02:08:15 pm by tertiusd »
Blessings🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻
#RyIemandRaak 🏍💨💨💨
 

Offline tertiusd

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Re: Botswana Pans- no mean little 6 day ride, End April 2014
« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2014, 02:06:15 pm »
PanneKatte 2014 - "The Ride"  :peepwall:

http://youtu.be/VzS83nqE_ek
« Last Edit: May 16, 2014, 02:07:40 pm by tertiusd »
Blessings🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻
#RyIemandRaak 🏍💨💨💨
 

Offline tertiusd

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Re: Botswana Pans- no mean little 6 day ride, End April 2014
« Reply #19 on: May 16, 2014, 02:09:34 pm »
PanneKatte 2014 - "The ViewPoint"  :peepwall:

http://youtu.be/0dKVtKj0aTk
Blessings🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻
#RyIemandRaak 🏍💨💨💨