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Offline Fred4stroke

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #20 on: May 06, 2015, 09:41:30 am »
Well done julle! :thumleft:
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Offline MellowJo

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #21 on: May 06, 2015, 09:59:45 am »

Nice Harry, I wondered if we would meet you guys in Lesotho.

Glad you did not break anything seriously in the fall !!   :thumleft:
Don't worry, be happy ! Don't take yourself so seriously !!
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Offline DirtyHarry

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #22 on: May 06, 2015, 10:20:53 am »
Day 3

The next morning we put the rear frame back on the bike and also synchronized the carbs. I also drained the rear diff oil which already had water in it from the short crossing. We quickly routed a breather pipe to the upper frame which should take care of the leaking rear diff in future.




Until we had everything sorted out it was midday already. Of course you canít be at Volkerís home without getting a tour of his classic airhead bikes. He has an impressive collection already but is running out of space to display his bikes. For that reason he has built an extension to his house which will boost his private bike museum. This man has got vision and is on a mission.
Before we headed off we had to say hello to the Richback puppies which his daughter introduced us one by one with their names. So sweet.






Volker, I owe this trip to you. Without your help my bike would have not made it to Lesotho.

Since most of the day was gone already before we hit the road, we only managed to go through the Addo Elephant Park via Zuurberg Pass and slept over in Beaufort West.




Before we parked our bikes in front of our room in a guest house, I pulled off a stupid stunt in front of the old Lady who owns the place. I wanted to reverse my bike and did not find the ground fast enough and tippled over. Luckily I missed a parked bakkie by just a few cm. I told the Lady that we fall over at least once a day, just for the exercise. She was shaking her head when she was walking away and we had a good laugh.




Our bikes safely parked in yet another rather luxurious accommodation. My back was still so sore, I would not have been able to sleep on the hard ground in my tent. I was hoping to be camp ready pretty soon before we will reach Lesotho.

« Last Edit: May 06, 2015, 10:22:52 am by DirtyHarry »
 

Offline MillionMiles

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #23 on: May 06, 2015, 10:53:11 am »
@DirtyHarry: I was on that route just this past December on my solo trip. It is called Grootrivierpoort (sorry if you wanted to keep it secret), right behind (north) the Baviaans stunning stuff.
For your consolation, I had been riding from Nieu Bethesda and I also took a bad fall around Mt Steward (Past Staetlerville) so by the time i did that technical route in the poort I had one functional leg  ;D. It was a fun but painful experience in a beautiful surrounding - if that makes sense.

Anyway, keep writing...
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Offline TornadoF5

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #24 on: May 06, 2015, 03:07:27 pm »
Don't worry I fell up Grootrivier Poort this past Saturday in the rocks. I'm still aching and my bike aches with R21k damage....

Always outnumbered, but NEVER outgunned.....
 

Offline silvrav

Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #25 on: May 06, 2015, 03:18:27 pm »
 :sip:
 

Offline Committed

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #26 on: May 06, 2015, 03:20:05 pm »
 :ricky:
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Offline Ian in Great Brak River

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #27 on: May 06, 2015, 03:27:12 pm »
Classic DH this...  :thumleft:
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 willieee

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #28 on: May 06, 2015, 07:56:31 pm »
Harry and Gerhard....you legends...
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Offline Bokveld

Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #29 on: May 06, 2015, 08:30:15 pm »
   I always enjoy your RR s.This one promises to be another classic.Undiluted adventure!   :thumleft:
 

Offline Chairman Meow

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #30 on: May 06, 2015, 08:33:56 pm »
Nice one Mr. Brehm.... :happy1:
 

Offline DirtyHarry

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #31 on: May 06, 2015, 09:23:47 pm »
Gery dropped off a memory stick with his pictures at my house today. This is a random selection until Day 4.











At Volker's place in PE:





















 

Offline DirtyHarry

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #32 on: May 06, 2015, 10:23:17 pm »
Day 4

This day was supposed to be a proper riding day again. We had to cover some mileage to compensate for the lost day. Even if we had to cover some distance we did not want to sacrifice the most scenic route for a faster but less interesting road. I had some unfinished business at Katberg Pass from 5 years ago, when I had to turn around as we were running out of daylight.
Right out of town we wanted to take a shortcut from Fort Beaufort to Katberg. The small dirt road started promising but ended in somewhat sketchy terrain. When I asked people in the small village where to find the road they started laughing. We would be right on it. It apparently got washed away some years ago and no car has used the road since then. We are not talking about Lesotho, this is still in the Eastern Cape.



With a bit more time we would have tackled that road but not today.

I still could remember the scenery at Katberg and it is a strange feeling if you already are aware what to expect. It was beautiful nevertheless.















On top of Katberg Pass it is only the power line which takes a bit away of the beautiful surroundings.




Then we descended towards Oxkraal Dam. T4A promised a destroyed road ahead of us we did not get disappointed. The road was disappearing into a forest.
 












We had to find our own way. There were no tracks to follow.






I was riding in front and was waiting for Gery to catch up. He didnít come out of the forest for quite some time and I was about to turn around to start looking for him. Then he appeared out of nowhere with a big grin in his face. He told me that a tree branch knocked him off his bike while his bike was still carrying on without a rider for a couple of meters. When he wanted to lift up his bike but could not get a good grip on it and was not able to lift it by himself. Out of the blue came a young Sheppard and helped him to upright his bike. We had a good laugh after he told me the story. I would have paid good money to witness his stunt, damn.

After the forest we made it safely to the road again to the Oxkraal Dam








Since we had to cover some mileage for the rest of the day we put the hammer down and covered quite a good distance until we stopped for fuel in Elliot. There we saw these funny ramps at the petrol station and wondered what they would be used for. They are used for the Taxis to get more fuel in their tank, believe it or not.


Our destination for the day was Rhodes. Again, I have been there 5 years ago and knew a place to stay in an old school building outside of town called Rubicon.


The place was now managed by a younger woman as the old Lady, who owns the place, was getting a bit old for the day to day business.

We had a reasonable meal that night but unfortunately most of it came out of the microwave. Then we went to our room which would suit a Queen and made a fire.







« Last Edit: May 06, 2015, 10:29:52 pm by DirtyHarry »
 

Offline ianb

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #33 on: May 07, 2015, 08:57:46 am »
Nice Harry . Good to see you at the gathering  in one piece .
 

Offline DirtyHarry

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #34 on: May 07, 2015, 12:49:18 pm »
Day 5

Despite the fact that we wanted to do some real adventure riding in Lesotho, the delivery trip so far was a bit more challenging than I would have imagined. My crash on day 2 was no joke and even 3 days later I was still riding under a lot of pain. I also had a hard time sleeping on my back or on the side and so far refused to sleep in my tent. Luckily Gery was very supportive and adaptive so far, which made the trip really enjoyable despite the odd challenges.
We never paid more than R250 p.p. for our accommodation and it sure saved us some time to get going in the morning.
We had the first cold night on our trip and our bikes did not start very well. After we put the bikes in the sun for about 10 min, the airhead motors started quite willingly.




Since we had to shorten our route we were not able to visit Tiffandale Ski resort. Gary and I spent plenty of years on skis and snowboards in the European Alps and did not mind to give this ski resort a miss.
Naudes Neck was a chilly but pretty site in the early morning.














We could already see the Lesotho Mountains and we both showed some eagerness to cross the border ASAP. The few towns we passed by were the usual chaos. Loud music, dirty streets, people and cattle all over the place, TIA in the best sense of the word.
The only surprising exception was the small town of Matatiele, not far away from the border to Lesotho. The streets were clean and law and order seemed to prevail for some strange reasons. We fuelled up for the last time in SA and provisioned ourselves for the days ahead. Gery tried a low cost meal in the Fast Food store next to the supermarket. Millie with steak and Chakalaka for a mere R29. It was surprising good and the word Chakalaka was the most used expression that we used in the coming days.





Since my bike did not have a name so far, Gery named it Chakalaka without hesitation.

En route to Lesotho.



The Ramatselisos Border Post came up quite quickly and the border crossing was quick and easy on both sides. The officer on the Lesotho side wanted to buy my bike after the trip. He actually sounded quite serious but I doubt he did have any idea how much money I did sink into this custom bike project so far.





The road towards Sehlabathebe National Park was better than expected. We reached our camping spot for the night with two hrs of daylight to spare and set up camp. From the main camp it was an interesting ride over the mountain to the campsite, about 5km away from the main lodge. The guy warned us that there were no facilities at all, something that we both have been looking forward to anyway.



Since firewood is very scares in Lesotho, it took me quite a while to negotiate some firewood from the guard. There is nothing worse than camping without the comfort of a warm fire.



The campsite is close to a building which was used by the former prime minister of Lesotho. Since the old man died, the building is in a rather neglected condition. We were sneaking around the house to find a good spot for our tents. Since the wind was hauling we opted to camp on the leeward side of the building to provide us some shelter.







We used all kind of things to protect us from the wind. Gery even used an empty gas bottle for additional wind shelter.



Gery pulled out another joker for the night. It was his beloved Hippo pillow.



This camp was very practical for us but had a bit of ďApocalypse NowĒ touch to it. The hauling wind and the dropping temperatures did the rest to fit the bill.
After setting up camp, we were scouting the area for anything burnable. We found a fair amount of coals which we could use to keep us warm.

We had our first low calorie dinner that night, which we did not care about as we were able to purchase a few cold beers at the lodge earlier on.




We had a great evening chatting about a lot of important things until we could see some headlights coming our way. It turned out to be the rangers of the park who were occupying some of the smaller buildings close by. The main oke started a very diplomatic conversation with us. He told us about the importance of the building we were squatting at right now and that the campsite would be 200m further away from the building. In the end he accepted that we were two stupid but harmless Europeans who were looking for shelter from the hauling wind. He wished us a good night and we promised that we would not burn the building down and would clean up the next morning.



No words will describe how I survived the first night on my 10mm camping mattress that night. With my damaged back I could not find any position bearable for more than 10 min. Gery told me that he heard strange noises every 10 min throughout the night and was a bit worried about his team mate.  He had worries on his own as he was too cold to find proper sleep. At least we were both awake and could listen to the wind and the other animalistic noises around us.


For that reason we were both up very early and were able to warm up at the still hot coals from last night.



« Last Edit: May 08, 2015, 07:28:49 am by DirtyHarry »
 

Offline pietas

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #35 on: May 07, 2015, 02:01:48 pm »
Great story, Harry. Thank you
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Offline DirtyHarry

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #36 on: May 08, 2015, 12:13:12 am »
Day 6

So far on our trip we were able to drive on very reasonable roads with only short technical sections to spice things up. We both were hoping to find a bit more challenging roads pretty soon.
The next morning I was up at first light as I could not lie on my back anymore. The light was just fantastic.



Of course we had some fun in the morning after Gery decorated his bike and himself.



He found the glasses somewhere close to our campsite. It must have belonged to the mistress of the prime minister.




As promised we were cleaning up our illegal camp site next to the late prime ministerís house.



Gery was also considering to strap the gas bottle to his bike to boost up his bike a little.



The scenery inside the park.








Today we would drive Matabeng Pass which is one of the highest passes in Lesotho. It turned out to be a very nice ride. Again, not very technical but very pictures.











 


At 2.500m above sea level my bike started to cough and it was very hard to control the power on the rear wheel. The throttle had almost no meaning and it made it quite difficult for me to get over the more technical sections. When I checked the spark plugs it was quite visible that it was running too rich because of the high altitude. In a desperate attempt I was lowering the fuel level in the bowl to get a leaner running engine. This helped very little.

Geryís bike in comparison was definitely producing less power as usual but did the same smooth power delivery than on sea level. I could only guess that the higher compression with the low quality fuel might have that ill effect on my engine. On the peak of the pass, at nearly 3k m, I had almost no power left to maneuver over obstacles.





Descending on the other side was evenly impressive. The road lead us to a beautiful river valley.  







All the people we met along the way were very chilled, looked pretty clean and the houses looked well maintained as well. This valley must be one of the prettiest landscapes I have seen so far in Lesotho. We took our time and soaked in the scenery as long as we could.







That is one of the most important things I have learned on my bike travels. If you are in a beautiful spot, donít rush forward to find a more beautiful one. Rather spend some time where you are and let it sink in a bit.

On route to Katse dam we went through Thaba-Thseka, one of the few places where you can fill up your tank. Gary and I both have the massive 35L Paris Dakar tanks on our bikes, which gives us a very comfortable range between the fillings. Only once on our trip we would need the reserve in our tanks.


The road to Katse and the dam itself was not my cup of tea. Very commercial with too many tourists for my liking. The best was the heated blanket in our room and the full board accommodation. We had a very tasteful meal in the evening and a proper breakfast for the first time. Usually we only had a cup of coffee in the morning and during the day an apple or two and some nuts. Then we had for dinner whatever we could find. After all, we were not on a culinary excursion and we both did not care too much when and where we would find food along the way.

 








After my bike was acting up at Motabeng Pass, I did check the valve clearance again on the parking lot while Gery was making himself comfortable in the room after a hot shower.



Katse was more like ticking the box for me and I did not feel like to drive around the dam. I was sure we would soon see the real natural beauty of Lesotho elsewhere, without too many other tourists in their khaki shirts.


« Last Edit: May 10, 2015, 10:54:49 am by DirtyHarry »
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #37 on: May 08, 2015, 10:39:43 am »
Nice read, thanks for writing it up  :thumleft:.

Fully agree with you on the Katse dam - it is easily accessible  and hence has a bit of a tourist trap feel, especially compared to the more remote areas in the east.

Offline DirtyHarry

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #38 on: May 08, 2015, 06:32:10 pm »
Day 7

We did enjoy our all-inclusive breakfast and packed our bikes nice and early as we had some unknown roads in front of us. To get to Semongkong we had to ride back to the A3. The easy way would have been to follow the A3 all the way to Roma and then on the A5 to Semonkong. As we were willing to try the more adventures shortcut from Mantsonyane, we did not even care that T4A did only display an intermitted 4x4 track to and across the Senqunyane  river.
On route from Katse to the A3.










On the A3 we got carried away with some high speed cornering. The twisties were just too awesome and the road surface pretty predictable. Just mind the odd rocks, cattle dump or other small obstructions in your way and you will have a lot of fun. The road follows a plateau mostly above 2.500m.





I was trying to get some information about the 4x4 track but unfortunately the info I got from the 4x4 forums was not very precise. They all agreed on one thing. The river and the road will be unpassable after heavy rain. That was in our favor as we did not have heavy rain lately and the road should be dry. I donít try to listen to other opinions too much in any case. The answers will be much dependent on the weather and the vehicles people have been using. In case of the famous van Zylís Pass in Namibia, everybody warned us to go there solo and in the end it came down to a few challenging steps and the rest of the way was very easy. In the rain it will be a very different story of course. I was hoping that it would turn out the same on this route.
The total length of the track is only 63km. We had left 7 hrs of daylight when we started it and if it would take longer, we will have to spend a night on the track. We both agreed that it was time for a bit of a challenge and headed South.
The track started as a very enjoyable and easy road, following the contour lines of the rolling hills.












Then we had a few more technical sections, but nothing to worry about. Nevertheless I had a serious problem with my rear brake. The brake pad was, for some unknown reason, down to the metal already and I could not use my rear brake at all. That and the acting up engine which started to cough at higher altitude even made these mild sections quite exciting for me. I was never sure what to expect when I opened up the throttle.








 


[







In one of the last villages we found a shop and were hoping to get a beer or at least a cold drink. Once we had a look inside we knew why the shop owner was smiling when we asked for a drink.





They were building a bigger shop next door but I didnít understand why if they have no supplies.



We really enjoyed the first 30km until the tyre marks suddenly disappeared and we knew this would be the start of the more serious sections. It was at a school in the last bigger village where we could see the first challenges. All youngster came out to have a look at our bikes but were screaming and running away once we started the engine. They clearly did not see many bikes in their life.



The road was washed away and it was hard to see the direction of the original track. Sometimes it did not seem to be more than a goat track until we found the remaining 4x4 track again.



So far on our trip I clearly had the upper hand with my bike on the faster sections. My bike has got more hp, better suspension and better brakes than the original Paris Dakar GS from Gery. My coughing motor, the missing rear brake and the really challenging seat height of my bike were clearly not in favor in the slower, more technical sections. Gery was able to compensate his slower bike with his very smooth and flowing riding style. Now being in the more technical terrain he was smiling from ear to ear and did make it look so easy. He is also a passionate trial rider and knows how to get over anything in his way without breaking his bike.

Me on the other hand, I am used to muscle my way forward. I had nothing else to give other than my physical fitness and my determination to get through. I am clearly lacking in all other departments when it comes to finesse in real off road riding.











One of the few wobbles I saw from Gery was in that muddy section. Only a big step out prevented him from going down.





I wasnít long until I was applying too much front brake on the steeper section with loose fine gravel and my front washed out. Not a great feeling if the engine braking is not enough on lose ground and you are trying to figure out how much front brake you can use.



On some sections I killed the engine and used the clutch as the rear brake. This did give me a lot more control than only relying on my front brake.

Gery was giving me a few tips how to ride a bike in these conditions and if my bike would have been working properly, I would have applied most of the things. Without a rear brake and proper throttle response I was a bit twitchy and had so many close calls to lose the front that I was sweating like a pig.

 







Luckily we always had these flatter sections where I could catch my breath again. Further and further we were winding our way down to the river and at one stage we could clearly see how close we already were.

 











On the last steep drop I managed to apply to much front brake and went down again. I donít mind falling off if I know that my bike is holding together. With the two cylinders sticking out on a boxer motor you canít be sure how many falls the tappet covers will survive. So far I was lucky.




And closer to the river we could clearly see the road going up the mountain on the other side. We both went quiet at the same time  :o :o :o





 

Offline Xpat

Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #39 on: May 08, 2015, 06:54:02 pm »
Oh come on, what's up with the suspense - don't stop now. I really want to see how you did uphill on those trucks ;).

I've done that track few years back on TE630 and it took me probably 3 hours to get up. I was on my own, but I'm not sure I would want to try that on the heavy bike even with a mate in attendance.