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Author Topic: Mountaineering in Lesotho  (Read 22710 times)

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Offline DirtyHarry

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Mountaineering in Lesotho
« on: May 05, 2015, 03:26:34 pm »
Thinking of Lesotho, I had something like this in my mind.


Unfortunately I only have the chance to get on my bike once a year to do a proper adventure trip. My social and everyday life restrictions are predominant. In reality we are all too busy.
This year I had a window of 12 days to sneak off. Since the annual GS airhead gathering was falling into the same period, I had the idea to travel through Lesotho and then attend to the gathering near Smithfield at the end of the trip.
Usually I do the more adventures bike excursion on my own. That way I am able to escape my normal life in the best possible way. Having no planning and no commitments works wonders at times.
For Lesotho I thought it would be a good idea to partner up with another rider. Itís easier said than done. Most of my friends donít share the surprises along the way as much as I do. In fact I have never done a trip without any bike breakage and I was sure that this trip would also deliver some excitement.
Last year I have met Gery at the airhead gathering. He was the only one willing to follow me through a rapidly flowing river. The rest of our group preferred to keep their feet dry and used the detour on tar rather. When his bike decided to quit on him after the 3rd or 4th river crossing, he quietly took his bike apart without any sign of panic or grief. He was also the guy who could make his 60hp bike really fly on gravel. Not many people can average 120km/h over a longer period of time. He sure can.
When I have told him about my idea to travel through Lesotho without a fixed route or planning, he was also quite keen. After the 2nd beer he already agreed to join me.

Friday the 24th of April, Gery rocked up at my driveway at 7:50am and excused himself for being 10min early.  Due to some unforeseeable challenges I was running late with my bike preparation and my bike was not even packed. Usually I donít have a plotted route on my GPS when I travel and rather take it by feel. Since I was travelling with company this time, I thought it would be a good idea to have a sort of planned route that we could discuss every morning. I did the route on Mapsource until late at night but I was not able to load it on my GPS for some stupid reason. Only later I found out the tracks on T4A were not continuous and my GPS was not accepting the route for that reason.
I skipped all less important things and packed my bike in record time. We set off only Ĺ later.
Day 1, ready to move:



I donít like to travel on tar and main routes if there are alternatives. Gery agreed and we set off through the backroads of Blouberg and Durbanville to get us out of Cape Town.
It was rather chilly in the morning and it only warmed up when we reached Robertson. After Montagu we finally hit the dirt roads towards Ladismith. After a total distance of 650km for the first day, mainly on gravel, we did arrive in Willowmore one hr before sunset and we were looking for a place to sleep. After fuelling up I did ask a few boeries along the way and one guy told us we could use his cottage for R400, located only 2km along a gravel road close to town. He was bombarding me with his best Afrikaans and I could only make sense of a fraction of what he said.  The key we could collect at the petrol station and the cottage we would find about 2km to the West out of town. He would now have to go for some beers and excused himself. The R 400 we could deposit under the hot water cettle in the morning and off he went.
To my surprise we found our place for the night straight away.  It was a perfect spot with a large area for the fire and a braai grid. A nice warm fire kept us awake for quite a while under the gazing starlight.




This was already a good start to our trip.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2015, 09:59:42 am by DirtyHarry »
 

Offline Mr Zog

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2015, 03:36:47 pm »
I'm riding along  :ricky:
Young enough to know I can, old enough to know I shouldn't, stupid enough to do it anyway.
 

Offline JonW

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2015, 03:45:42 pm »
This has the makings of an awesome RR
« Last Edit: May 05, 2015, 03:46:08 pm by JonW »
How can I be lost if I've got nowhere to go?
 

Offline zetman

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2015, 04:06:20 pm »
 :ricky: :ricky: :ricky: :ricky:
Hou die Tyres op die Grondpad...
 

Offline Malibu

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2015, 04:12:57 pm »
*sub*
They call me Judy or Judes...

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Offline Lem

Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2015, 04:31:39 pm »
 :sip:
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Offline 4 Kays

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2015, 04:52:13 pm »
 :sip: looking forward to reading the rest  :sip:
 

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2015, 07:26:12 pm »
Where is the rest  nice RR so far
 

Offline DirtyHarry

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2015, 08:11:47 pm »
Day 2

Since I knew the valve clearance was closing far too quickly on my bike, I decided that I would check the clearance in the morning again. I had no intention to cut my trip short because of a burnt exhaust valve.




When we were about to carry on, Gery noticed that the Allan bolt holding my final drive in place was about to fall out. I did notice that my rear wheel felt rather lose the day before but I never thought that my final drive was about to fall off. That could have ended in a nasty crash on the fast gravel roads towards Willowmore. Unfortunately we did not have a big enough Allan key and a No 24 socket and we had to scout in town for some tools. At an auto workshop we got lucky and I made sure there was enough Loctite and the right torque setting used this time.






Due to the necessary work on my bike, we set off in Willowmore a bit later than expected. Thatís one of the reasons I donít like to stick to a plan. Itís almost impossible to stick to the schedule anyway.
Instead of going through the Baviaanskloof, which I have already done a couple of times, we decided to take the route to the North of the mountains on farm roads. We found very nice small gravel roads which made for interesting riding.
We did not meet any cars, bikes or other vehicles on these roads, only the odd natural pedestrian to be seen.




After I was taking a few pictures from the nice scenery, I was trying to catch up with Gery who was riding in front at this time. I didnít notice a washout on the side of the road.  My front and rear wheel did slide into the washout and with the help of extra throttle and counter steering, I wanted to climb out of the donga, back to the middle of the road. My front wheel got airborne once it left the donga and my rear wheel started to go side sideways with the extra power applied. To make it short, I got properly high-sided and left my bike over the handle bars and landed flat on my back.
I have done many crashes in my short riding career but it never took me so long to recover from a fall. I was lying flat on the ground and was too scared to move. My whole body was in agony after I landed on the hard packed surface covered with small stones and rocks. First I thought I might have broken my back, neck or at least my coccyx, judging from the agonizing pain I felt. Normally I stumble or crawl directly after a fall to my bike to close the fuel taps. I tried but I couldnít move. It must have taken me a couple of minutes before I started to slowly move every single body part, to find out if I have any broken bones. Miraculously I could move all my extensions and after I was thanking the Lord for his assistance, I tried to get up. It hurt like hell but Iíve got on my feet, only a few seconds later my knees gave in and I fell to the ground like a puppet. I did try shortly afterwards to get up but it had the same effect. My body refused to stand up.
I had no other option than waiting to regain more strength to get up and attend to my bike. 5 min later I was still walking around like a drunk person. I finally managed to shut off the fuel petcock and turned the ignition key off. My bike must have lost at least 5L of fuel during that time. That was the least of my problems as I did carry more than 30L in my tank.








After I snapped a couple of pics I wanted to lift up my bike to evaluate the damage. I can lift up my fully loaded 1150GS quite easily, but I struggled to get a good grip on my airhead. The center of gravity seemed to be much higher on this bike, mostly due to the tall suspension. A couple of try and errors later I was able to lift her up. She wasnít looking to well after the crash. My rear frame was completely out of shape and broken in places. My front fairing and instrument cluster took a beating and my handle bar was completely skew.



It took quite some time until Gery noticed that I was not riding behind him anymore. By the time he turned around looking for me, I was able to straighten my brake leaver and a few other pieces which were not broken.
I had no choice than to get on my bike and carry on. We did not have the right tools to bend my handle bar back nor could I do something to fix my rear frame. The next 170km I was not only riding in great pain, I was also sitting completely skew on my bike.

« Last Edit: May 05, 2015, 08:57:42 pm by DirtyHarry »
 

Offline lj111

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2015, 08:40:28 pm »
 :thumleft: :sip:
Some people feel the rain and others just get wet...
 

Offline DirtyHarry

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2015, 09:33:23 pm »
We were on route to Antoniesberg Pass and the beautiful surroundings gave me enough distraction from the pain after my fall. Soon we came to the water crossing and I was surprised the river was flowing so fast after the little rain we had during the previous weeks. I went through first as my engine sits at least 30mm higher than in Geryís original GS. I just made it through the fast flowing section without stalling my bike. Next was Gery. At first it looked pretty good for him to get through but in the deepest part of the river the motor cut out. He was rewarded with wet boots to get his bike across.




Luckily he had no water in the cylinders,  only a flooded carburetor. That was a quick fix and we were on our way in no time.




A local lad was crossing the river after us in the old fashioned way.




Climbing up the pass it was a really nice ride. Normally I am looking forward to the rough sections on a trip as a challenge. Today I was quite happy that the ride was not getting too technical.













 


On top of the pass we were rewarded with a great view.








At the next Farm stall we were able to get a cool drink and could top up the water of our Camelbacks.




Once we had reception I was able to call Volker in PE to tell him about my mishap. He didnít hesitate and invited us to come straight to his workshop. There was no way I would be able to ride my bike through Lesotho in that state.

Once at Volkerís place we did not lose any valuable time and made a jig to get the rear frame back to shape. Only 1 hr later after some cutting and welding I had a straight frame again. Volker is a real champ if it comes to improvisations to get the job done. We worked on the bent handle bar and instrument cluster as well. I also changed the throttle gear and a few other bits and pieces.



 






Then Volker organized a braai and offered us a bed to sleep. There is nothing more important than like-minded bikers along your route to help you out when you are in need.
A couple of Whiskey later the pain in my bones eased up a bit and we retreated to our beds for a well-earned rest.

« Last Edit: May 10, 2015, 10:06:05 am by DirtyHarry »
 

Offline Pilchie

Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2015, 09:47:25 pm »
 :sip:
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Offline profiler

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2015, 10:36:03 pm »
 :peepwall:
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Offline Dorsland

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Re:
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2015, 07:11:14 am »
Another Dirty Harry classic.  What speed did you hit that washout at DH?
'Tis the timeís plague, when madmen lead the blind.

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Offline DirtyHarry

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Re:
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2015, 08:00:08 am »
Another Dirty Harry classic.  What speed did you hit that washout at DH?
Luckily only 70 - 80km/hr as there were a few rougher sections before that.
I don't think my back could have taken a harder hit, I am still sore.
 

Offline Dorsland

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Re:
« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2015, 08:04:58 am »
Ai man, that must've been painful. And fairly early on in your trip too. Looking forward to the rest
'Tis the timeís plague, when madmen lead the blind.

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Offline Dwerg

Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2015, 08:20:26 am »
 :sip:

Looks like you got your once a year adventure. Looking forward to the rest  :thumleft:
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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2015, 08:32:31 am »
Hats off to you gentlemen!!
 :ricky:
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Offline JonW

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2015, 08:38:22 am »
Great reading so far..........this is why I belong to WD forum  :thumleft:
How can I be lost if I've got nowhere to go?
 

Offline shanti

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2015, 09:30:30 am »
great read so far  :sip: