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Offline DirtyHarry

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #40 on: May 08, 2015, 07:38:54 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.

3hrs is pretty good going Xpat. It took us a lot longer than that. At this stage we both had over 20L of fuel in our tanks and at least 25kg of luggage.
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #41 on: May 08, 2015, 08:07:43 pm »
I had about the same - about 15-20litres of petrol and about the same luggage. But I was on noticeably lighter bike (I think - not sure how much your bike weights), which helped greatly. Together with locals who caught up with me walking relaxedly from the bottom of the valley and helped to push here and there.

But I don't want to detract from your trip - please continue, that track is one of my all times favourites and cannot wait to see how you managed on your bigger bikes  :thumleft:
« Last Edit: May 08, 2015, 08:39:09 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline CliveG

Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #42 on: May 08, 2015, 09:31:02 pm »

 That route from Mantsonyane to Semongkong is my favourite ride in Lesotho. I did it both times on a DRZ400, which was easy, would not even think of doing it on a big twin.

 Great respect to you and thanks for the excellent report.
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Offline nielvn

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #43 on: May 08, 2015, 10:06:10 pm »
Wow what a RR...... well done
 

Offline DirtyHarry

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #44 on: May 08, 2015, 11:36:56 pm »
Day 7 part II

We safely arrived at the river, which in itself was a great achievement for me. My bike is definitely not designed for slow technical riding. The bike is just too tall and with the long wheel base, the bike feels at home on high speed gravel roads. I can hardly tiptoe to the ground while standing still. Not having a rear brake was a challenge and not having any kind of predictable throttle response with my altitude sick engine was even worse. To make it short, I was really glad once we made it to the river.





It’s kind of stupid to be happy to get somewhere if you are not sure if you can get your bike out of there again. The sneak preview we had of the road ahead of us was not very promising to say the least.
We were discussing our options for a while. It was 4pm at the time and we would have 2 more hrs of daylight. Not enough time by any means to tackle that mountain on the other side. In the end we agreed that we would cross the river in any case and then decide what we do. Turning around was not an option for us as it seemed.
I usually don’t worry before something happens and so is Gery. We even made some jokes how long we would be able to camp here if we were not able to get out of the valley. We had plenty of water from the river but we had almost no food. Being in a beautiful spot and all I could not see myself enjoying this valley for more than 1 day without food.
For some reasons I was itching to get across the river. I went a few steps in the water but decided not to get my feet wet for no reason and turned around. I usually ride with a lot more courage if I don’t know what lies ahead of me. The water was not over knee height, which was all I wanted to know.



In I went, standing on my pegs and thought a bit of momentum would not hurt. I soon regretted to drive in so fast as the ground was covered with slippery boulders all over the place. I almost wiped out and kept my feet low from there on. It was a real struggle to get over these slippery rocks but I eventually reached the other side. To my surprise my feet were still dry at this stage. I could just shout to Gery on the other side to be careful of the slippery rocks and off he went as well.



Considering my warning about the slippery ground he went in a bit too fast for my liking. I thought, he sure will know how to get his bike across, being the trial expert. It looked good for a while and then he suddenly wiped out in the middle of the river. It went quiet for a second and then I heard a super loud “SCHEISSE”.
First I thought he must have hurt his foot but the “Scheisse” was hailed out in frustration rather than in pain. I could only hear one other word, tappet … , then I exactly knew what must have happened.
I went straight in to rescue Gery’s bike from the river. Luckily it doesn’t take long in Lesotho to attract any locals, no matter how remote you think you are.  A Shepard came wading in the water at the same time and offered his assistance. In the beginning he did not want to push as he was waiting for Gery to start his bike. No matter what we said, he didn’t seem to understand that the engine is broken, kaput or whatever you would like to call it.
Eventually he gave in and helped us to push the bike across. Not as easy of a task as we would have thought, with all the football size boulders in our way.
Being on our bikes for 8hrs already and me lifting up my bike a couple of times, I could feel my body going into “reserve”.  I was truly finished once we reached the other side and so was Gery.
The only one with a happy face was the Shepard who was probably ringing up some cash already for his assistance. Gery gave him a note or two for his help and off he went.
Look at “die Scheisse”



From there on things went into autopilot. Without much talking Gery was attending to his bike and I was starting to set up our camp for the night. Every now and then Gery needed something from me and I went to fetch it for him. Between the two of us we had two packets of Pratley steel and one packet of Epoxy putty. That should be sufficient to get the tappet cover fixed if Gery would be able to find most of the broken pieces.
He laid everything out and told me in frustration that he was missing most of the broken pieces. That wasn’t good news at all.





We went back in the river to check if we could recover them from there. After carefully searching the area where Gary went down, we recovered every single piece bar one. That alone gave us hope that the tappet cover could be reconstructed and we could ride out of here.
Another Shepard was coming our way to get a share of our real life adventure program. He was completely useless in helping me to put up the tents. He could not understand one word of English nor has he probably ever put up a tent in his life. I was falling over him most of the time instead of getting some assistance.  After setting up our tents we went to fetch some firewood. Here he was styling but he tended to collect only the smallest of branches which would burn in 2 seconds. I took him to the river in hope to find some proper driftwood suitable for a fire. We pulled out a considerable amount of wood from the river and I was glad that I had some help as my energy tank was running a bit low at this stage.
Shepard power.



Once I had our basic camp under control and knew that Gery had everything to carry out his repair, I went up the hill to get permission from the chief of the next village, for us to camp next to the river. To my surprise the chief turned out to be an elderly woman. With my bilingual language repertoire and the odd sign language, I made myself understood and finally got the blessing from the old lady. A shake of hands sealed the deal and I went back to my riding partner.
I did like to see that Gery was fully dedicated to fix his cover. He was still sitting in the same position and hardly noticed that I was away for more than one hr. With that kind of dedication and concentration I was very sure he could get his trusted GS up and running again.
Austrian precision mechanic at work. He was getting on with the tappet cover puzzle.







I opened a can of tuna and had to hand feed Gery every now and then or he would have skipped the meal completely. Next on the menu was a can of Shakalaka beans, rounded off by a grilled apple. This was hardly enough for two grown up men, especially after a long day of riding, but a lot better than nothing.



Gery was working until long into the night and had some spare time during the curing of the Epoxy, to have a zip on my Whiskey bottle or a nibble at a cracker. We might as well enjoy our time at the river.

The fire turned out to be a real life saver to keep us warm, to dry our wet boots and to help to speed up the curing time of the Epoxy.
Very content with himself and his repair, Gery finally wished me a good night and went to sleep. I personally was not very eager to get in touch with the 10mm thin camping mattress of mine.

Day 8

Don’t ask me how I managed to get through the night, but I did. As soon I could see the new day looming I was up.











By that time the temp on Gary’s bike was still showing -5 degC. It was most certainly a lot colder during the night.




We even managed to reanimate the fire from last night and it didn’t take long for Gery to warm his cold body at the warm fire.







Being so deep in a valley, the temperatures have been much lower than further up the mountains and it took the sun a lot longer to reach us as well. We were in no rush as we knew what will await us once we saddled up.

I personally enjoyed our camping spot tremendously as it was in a really unspoilt region of Lesotho.
A short video clip that I did in the early morning.



After examining the bridge we both could not believe that we didn’t even consider to use the bridge instead of riding through the river. I can only explain this due to our physical exhaustion the day before. It could have saved us a lot energy and trouble.





A few visitors in the early morning.









The final product from last night, ready to go on Gery’s bike.



« Last Edit: May 10, 2015, 06:44:54 pm by DirtyHarry »
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #45 on: May 09, 2015, 08:27:57 am »
Wow, that is probably the worst place in Lesotho to break the head cover - glad you were able to affect a bush fix  :thumleft:.

You must really have been properly tired, as that bridge looms right over you there and I headed straight for it even though I was on much lighter bike.

Offline DirtyHarry

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #46 on: May 09, 2015, 08:58:06 am »
Wow, that is probably the worst place in Lesotho to break the head cover - glad you were able to affect a bush fix  :thumleft:.
You must really have been properly tired, as that bridge looms right over you there and I headed straight for it even though I was on much lighter bike.
The bridge looked pretty narrow and we just did not bother to check if our bikes would fit through. It would have been a very tight fit anyway as our bikes are quite wide. I also have a thing with water crossings and like to get wet  ;)
 

Offline Dirt Junkie

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #47 on: May 09, 2015, 11:47:53 am »
epic trip
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Offline alanB

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #48 on: May 09, 2015, 12:24:44 pm »
Great RR :thumleft:

You're a tough bugger to take that heavy old bike through that terrain with a sore back!

Is there not some sort of Kevlar or similar cover you can get to protect those tapper covers?

Quite interested in the jig used to straighten your sub frame. Can you tell us more about that when you get the chance.
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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #49 on: May 09, 2015, 03:36:54 pm »
A true adventure in our back yard.  Lekker RR Harry en Gery
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Offline DirtyHarry

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #50 on: May 09, 2015, 09:51:42 pm »
Day 8  part II

This is the route up the hill that we already could see the day before. Might be fun with a trials or plastic bike but is definitely not suitable for a +200kg bike. It put a shiver down my spine when I saw it.




After Gery put his tappet cover back on we were ready to try our luck with the track, we already knew that we will struggle at one stage. We were just hoping for flatter spots that we could accelerate our heavy bikes, to tackle the steeper section with a bit of speed. Little did we know how much sweat we had to lose.
The donkeys showed us the way the first couple of meters.



The beginning was rather gentle and we were making good progress. It was just a matter of time until we would get to the first challenging section. It didn’t take long at all.



I was glad once Gery told me that we should get rid of our luggage to make our bikes more manageable. We had already 3 willing Sherpas to lend us some extra manpower. It felt like cheating when I disconnected my rear luggage. I any case, there was no price to be won for good looks. We had to get up that mountain, no matter what.




The first 3 guys to offer their assistance.



It felt a lot better with the lighter bike. I sure did not have to worry about the rear brake anymore, however, the coughing engine did give me a bit of a headache. Whenever I needed power, the engine was acting up. It was absolutely unpredictable how much power I would get at my rear wheel once I opened the throttle. Sometimes the motor was just coughing and sometimes it would kick in a lot more than I was expecting.

So far Gery looked smooth and fluid as he always does on his GS.









Call it cheating, this was the only way we could get our heavy bikes up this mountain, sans luggage.



In the beginning we could always find a few flat spots to recover again.











Not much further and even Gery stalled his bike a couple of times. Now the fun was about to start.



Gery had his nose bleeding for a little while but recovered quickly.



Our helpers did rise in numbers by the minute. It was sometimes a bit out of control who did what when we got stuck. Some of the okes started to push our bikes sideways and we lost a lot of energy to fight the unsynchronized forces when the guys pushed or pulled.



 








I managed to get my bike half up the climb and then it was Gery’s turn. There was no chance to put the bike on the side stand and we only leaned it against the mountain.



Meter by meter we fought our way forward and the exhaustion was setting in, slowly but surely.







I had a lot of fun with the kids. These buggers are real characters and it is so easy to make them happy or make them laugh, it was really heartwarming. It was also providing me with some welcomed distraction from this bloody road.









Some sections were so steep, I could hardly stand on my feet without sliding down or sideways.





Despite our exhaustion, I did not hear one bad word from Gery. He was just losing it at times when the helpers started to push his bike sideways.
It was getting so hot, it was almost unbearable to wear a jacket & helmet. I did tackle some distance without my protection gear and promptly did fall off my bike and landed on my already damaged right elbow. That was a good lesion and I put my jacket back on after that. I had no desire to break my bones on this rock invested track.

I started the day with about 1 liter of water in my Camelback. That water was gone only after the first hr and I was looking out to find a mountain stream to top up. Only another hr later we did find some water. My mouth was so dry by that time, I could hardly swallow the water. To have some water again gave us a big moral boost and higher we went up the mountain. Not in one fluid motion as you might think, it was a fight for every meter. Sometimes the rear wheel found some traction and you could fly up 5 meter in a steep section. Most of the time the heavy bikes of ours were not even able to get the necessary momentum to get over the big boulders or steps along our way.
When the rear wheel could not find enough traction we needed a push of our helpers to get over the next obstruction. I have got no idea what we would have done without the helping hand of the locals.



Even the kids started to carry some of our stuff and even had some fun doing it.



The whole time I was hoping that Gerys would not fall on his left tappet cover again. He tipped over once or twice but so far the cover was still intact.





After I mastered the steepest part of the track and I could see that Gery was also catching up, I jumped on my bike and rode the last 500m in pure desperation. I just wanted to get over with it before my energy would be completely depleted.





Closer to the village more and more kids came looking for us.



When I arrived at the village, I was surrounded from young and old. I was so happy to be there I could have kissed the whole villagers. Instead of hugging the people, I was only asking for water. I must have put at least one liter of water in my dehydrated body and the people could not believe when I asked for more.
Once I recovered slightly, I was walking down the hill to see how Gery would be doing. I could not hear the sound of his engine, which was not very promising. Then I saw Gery walking up the mountain without his bike. I knew exactly what this would mean. He had a fall on his tappet cover and it was leaking too much oil. We had to push his bike the last 300m to the village. This was not an easy task and was depleting once more our fading energy.
In the village we paid the most helpful guys their wages. In total we handed out R 250 – 300 and a lot of small change to the little guys who obviously also wanted their “salary”.



Then the kids wanted to get a lot more pictures done.  They really got the hang of posing for us and already figured out how to scroll through the pictures.








After we had all the water our bodies could take and paid all outstanding wages, we both sat down with the last two apples in our hand and looked down the mountain. We did not speak a lot but we did not have to. The villagers showed some respect and left us alone during these couple of minutes.
Except for a cup of coffee in the morning we had nothing to eat the whole day.
Gratitude and a big sense of achievement was what I felt at this moment of time and I am sure Gery was feeling the same. It was just a great moment of quietness and appreciation that we had.
Then Gery had to attend to his cover again and applied the last Pratley steel that we had left.



Since there was one more steep section to get out of the village and on top of this mountain, I started to examine what would still lie ahead of us. It was 4pm at this time and after looking on my map, I did realize that it would not be a great idea to try to make it to Semonkong the same day, even if it was only about 20km away from where we were. On top of the mountain was another small village and I was asking around if we could pitch our tents for the night. One of the locals told me that he would make some space in his newly built house for us and I accepted wholeheartedly. I was also successful to negotiated a basic meal for us. That sounded so sweet that I almost run back to Gery to tell him the news.
As he was still busy with his repair, I was starting my bike to get up the final climb of the day. The prosperity of a warm meal gave me some extra energy and I made it up there without any cockups.
Then I walked back to get some of our luggage. None of our Sherpas were interested to help after they received their money. Since I was surrounded from a lot of kids, I told them that they would get one biscuit each if they would help to carry something. I was giving one of the older kids the small packet of biscuits and told him he should share with his brothers and sisters. He wanted to take the whole package back to his house and I had to force him to open up the package to share with the other kids. In the end all the kids received a bite of something they normally don’t get.

After the Pratley hardened it was Gery’s task to get his bike on top. He only needed a little push in one section and he was up as well.
The kids followed us to our accommodation for the night and wanted more and more pictures taken. It was good fun to say the least.









After we put all our belongings in the house, we went for a little walk once the sun started setting.
What a day, what a mountain.  We could not get enough of it.















Two Shepherds were also enjoying the sunset.





The father from our host, which was also the chief of the village, came looking for us. Even if we could not speak the same language there was a connection to all these people we have met along the way. The same with this old man.  

When it was dark, we were going back to our accommodation. Our host Johan brought us a big plate of food. Millie and cabbage. It was so tasteful and filling, we were truly in heaven.





He was even able to organize a mattress for me. What a luxury.



Gery was using his ATG field bed, which proved to be quite a good investment for his back.



After our dinner we were chatting a little bit and got cramps at the same time and in the same place in our legs. The day was taking his toll on our body as it seemed.

« Last Edit: May 10, 2015, 06:45:53 pm by DirtyHarry »
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #51 on: May 09, 2015, 10:30:58 pm »
With DirtyHarry's permission, here is a shameless repeat video plug of my ride through that valley few years back. It will give you another view of what you might expect, should you decide to tackle that track:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/If-WqzuVJk0" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/If-WqzuVJk0</a>


And big respect to these two for tackling it on the big heavies  :thumleft:!

Offline DirtyHarry

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #52 on: May 09, 2015, 10:44:46 pm »
Damn Martin, that looked so easy. Respect for doing that section in 4:32 minutes  ;)
Sometimes I wish my bike would be a bit lighter.
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #53 on: May 09, 2015, 10:52:02 pm »
Don't feel bad, as long as I have the full control of the video editing, I will always come across as a riding god :imaposer:.

The lighter bike on tracks like this makes huge difference. I've got overtaken on that day by two guys on 450s with no luggage, and they probably did that valley up and down in about 2 hours (one of them was Roof finisher though...).
« Last Edit: May 09, 2015, 10:52:27 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline oldmannorman

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #54 on: May 10, 2015, 08:39:18 am »
 You guys got big balls. Respect. Awesome read.
 

Offline JonW

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #55 on: May 10, 2015, 08:50:59 am »
Well done Dirty Harry..............what an adventure  :thumleft:
« Last Edit: May 10, 2015, 08:51:30 am by JonW »
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Offline DirtyHarry

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #56 on: May 10, 2015, 11:12:58 am »
Great RR :thumleft:
You're a tough bugger to take that heavy old bike through that terrain with a sore back!
Is there not some sort of Kevlar or similar cover you can get to protect those tapper covers?
Quite interested in the jig used to straighten your sub frame. Can you tell us more about that when you get the chance.
Thanks Alan.
We have to come up with a plan to protect the tappet covers. It can get us into real trouble one day. I will make an alloy protection for my bike, directly mounted to the cylinders, similar than what I have on my 1150GS.
To make the jig to reconstruct my rear frame, we had to use a straight one as a sample. We took off the rear frame from Volker's bike. Once the jig was up, Volker did cut the whole frame into pieces instead of bending it back.
He has done a few other frames in the past and knew exactly what to do.
After we put the rear frame back to Volker's bike, he found a spare frame in one of his store rooms that we could have used.
Too late  :)

 

Offline espresso

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #57 on: May 10, 2015, 12:10:09 pm »
On my old R80 I welded on a double skin onto the tappet covers.
THAT was unbreakable, but when I fell over, it then broke off the stud on the head.
Best is come kind of protection coming from the frame.
Or get a KTM  as I did.   :biggrin:  :pot:
 

Offline DirtyHarry

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #58 on: May 10, 2015, 06:51:49 pm »
Or get a KTM  as I did.   :biggrin:  :pot:
I hear you.
Doing technical sections on a KTM would be way easier, but where is the challenge then  :peepwall:
 

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #59 on: May 10, 2015, 08:00:49 pm »
Thanks for sharing, what an awesome adventure.  Respect for taking those big boys through the Semonkong section :thumleft:
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