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Author Topic: Taking the road less travelled (not travelled at all?) *Video added*  (Read 11467 times)

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Offline Zanie

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On the weekend of 24-27 September, 4 friends set off on a 4-day trip that promised to comprise mainly of beautiful gravel highway. What we actually encountered was a very, very different story…





Twice we ended up on “roads,” for want of a better name, where we were forced to turn around. Out of the four bikes, three had to have a rear wheel removed at some point in time; not always for the classical puncture reason. Only on one out of the three nights did we end up staying where we had originally planned. We got to learn first-hand which tools were useful, which were useless and which were sorely missed, but unfortunately missing.

Yet again, as seems to be an increasingly common thread in my ride reports, the planned and actual route differ. The gpx file (attached) represents the planned route. The Google Maps links under each day show the actual route taken (I stand corrected - it is also a track of our actual route, but in a different format).

There are a couple of useful bits and bobs that we learnt through this ride. I’ll make note of these little lessons throughout.

The cast: me (650GS) and Lance (800GSA), and Ilse (650GS) and Gerhard (Tiger).
The film crew: Lance and Gerhard.

From left to right: Gerhard, Ilse and Lance.


Lance and I


Video added in post #25
« Last Edit: November 30, 2017, 06:38:29 pm by Zanie »
 

Offline VaalBaas

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Re: Taking the road less travelled (not travelled at all?)
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2015, 08:16:55 pm »
File wil nie oopmaak nie, so nog geen idee waar julle was nie, maar dit klink interesant. Laat loop maar :thumleft:
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Offline Zanie

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Re: Taking the road less travelled (not travelled at all?)
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2015, 08:24:55 pm »
DAY 1: Losing our marbles

Google Maps route

We headed off at 7:30 from Table View, as we had a lot of ground to cover. This meant quite a bit of the black stuff (tar). At least the Western Cape is blessed with loads of beautiful black stuff passes. Our morning included Du Toitskloof Pass and a sometimes-gravel scenic jiggle through Rawsonville area. There are almost no photos of this section, as Lance probably thought it too pedestrian to film and Gerhard’s GoPro decided that today’s forecast would include a copious amount of fog, in stark contrast to reality.

Lesson 01: Do not wash a GoPro’s casing the night before a ride. No matter how often you try to dry it, there will always be some die-hard moisture left.

There are still some flowers left out there.


We had our lunch stop at Diesel & Crème.


They make the most epic milkshakes, in all sorts of interesting flavours, e.g. Turkish Delight. It is a meal on its own. Make sure you are very hungry before ordering food as well.


After lunch, we did Tradouw Pass and then hit the gravel. It wasn’t long before we reached our first obstacle.


I always worry at water crossings. I keep having images of me drowning my bike. The guys, being the gentlemen they are, made sure the ladies went first. I firmly focused on the other bank and rode. Cobbles? What cobbles?

 
Ilse was next. She was also not too comfortable with the idea of a water crossing.


Lance made it look good.


A rider’s perspective


A rider – Gerhard


Ilse reliving the moment of achievement


Since we were on farm roads, it meant the inevitable: cows. Since we were on the back-and-beyond farm roads this needs a clarifier: free-roaming cows. Be on the look-out. Wikipedia tells me they average over half a tonne. Give or take a few kilos either way the fact remains that they weigh more than you on a bike. You don’t want to hit one.







The most interesting road of the day was Gysmanshoek Pass. It was stunning and quite fun, considering it was more technical than the other roads we covered.







It is a public road, despite the signs that make it seem otherwise. It is ok to ride the pass, but not to go exploring on the roads that branch off from the pass – these are private.



There were some mud puddles…


…some of indeterminate depth. “After you my dear.”


Ilse and a puddle


The road had some loose and/or rocky sections.


The ascent, in particular, is covered in loose marbles. You don’t want to stop on this, as you would struggle to get going again. I gunned it. I seem to be in the habit of picking the worst lines possible (you know – those including the erosion gutter, etc.), but manage through luck and my friend the throttle to keep going.

I was a bit bemused that the road didn’t scare me. Just a couple of months ago, this type of road would have been firmly on my avoidance list. Now I actually found it fun! Perhaps I have graduated from my first semester in TITS (Time in The Saddle)? I covered 10,000km in just 4 months this year. By the time I did this trip, the sum total of all km I have ever ridden on a bike was 22,000km.

Ilse has not had the luxury of gallivanting across the country-side, racking up the miles, as much as I have. She lost momentum and got stuck on the marbles. Every time she tried to pull away, she slid further back.

Ilse waiting for a push-start from Lance


The view at the top is worth a stop. If you can see it past all the beautiful bikes!


The descent


Some sections here are also quite loose. There was a gate on one of the steeper bits. Unless you are comfortable with braking hard on loose stuff on a steep slope when a gate randomly appears out of nowhere, keep the speed on the lower side.



Somewhere after Gysmanshoek Pass, I saw Ilse do something interesting while riding: she swung her right leg up quite high. She later told me she almost jumped on top of her bike. The reason?



Lance had been riding ahead. He said he think he rode over the puffy, as it had been stretched across the road and he couldn’t have missed it. When Ilse rode past, the puffy was properly pissed off and hissed at her. Gerhard, Lance and I all turned around to have a closer look. Ilse waited far ahead. She doesn’t like the slitheries. On a previous ride together she ended up “buying a farm” when trying to avoid a snake on the road. I hope the puffy wasn’t too badly hurt.

We had some stunning scenery on the remainder of our ride for the day.





The view point above the Gourits River is well worth a stop.


Crossing the Gourits. This is not the crazy-high bridge of bungee fame that you find closer to the river mouth, but rather a lesser-frequented crossing.



Our rest stop for the night was Dwarsrivier Country Getaway, a biker-friendly spot that has a “biker bar” advertised on a sign-post at the road itself.



We had the lucky privilege of being their very first campers! The ablutions were brand new and had been tested out by the owners, Martin and Jenny, the day before. There is no electricity, but paraffin lamps provide light. The water is heated using a donkey. The shower water pressure is great. Apparently it’s even better than at the main house!

We spent a bit of time at the pub while the fires for the braai and donkey got going. Martin told Ilse she could write a message on their pub wall, being the first campers – look for it amongst all the other scribbles. The camp setting is lovely. I enjoyed the sounds of frogs and nightjars at night.



This was the only day when things went according to plan.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2017, 06:55:44 pm by Zanie »
 

Offline Zanie

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Re: Taking the road less travelled (not travelled at all?)
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2015, 08:28:53 pm »
File wil nie oopmaak nie, so nog geen idee waar julle was nie, maar dit klink interesant. Laat loop maar :thumleft:

'n Mens moet dit eers extract. Dit verg ook spesiale sagteware om 'n gpx file oop te maak (ek gebruik Garmin BaseCamp). Dalk kan die gurus sien of hulle iets daarmee kan doen? Dis hoekom ek maar Google Maps gebruik. Dis maklik en dit het in elk geval die regte roete in plaas van die beplande een.
 

Offline fcprinsloo7@gmail.com

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Re: Taking the road less travelled (not travelled at all?)
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2015, 04:33:31 pm »
Baie nice! Lyk soos ons paaie in Limpopo!
 

Offline VaalBaas

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Re: Taking the road less travelled (not travelled at all?)
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2015, 06:14:47 pm »
Julle het redelik aangestoot vir die eerste dag :thumleft: Hoe lyk die pad verder

Google Maps werk beter ja :thumleft:
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Offline XTZFegen

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Re: Taking the road less travelled (not travelled at all?)
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2015, 08:13:17 pm »
Very nice. Awesome riding you guys have there.
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Offline gwild

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Re: Taking the road less travelled (not travelled at all?)
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2015, 09:20:51 pm »
Awesome RR and pics, this looks like a awesome trip!!! :thumleft:
 

Offline Draadwerk

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Re: Taking the road less travelled (not travelled at all?)
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2015, 09:26:35 pm »
👀
 

Offline Sir Rat

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Re: Taking the road less travelled (not travelled at all?)
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2015, 09:36:37 pm »
 :happy1:
 

Offline Zanie

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Re: Taking the road less travelled (not travelled at all?)
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2015, 10:40:21 pm »
DAY 2: Starting to unravel

Google Maps route

We were all up before 7am on a calm, clear morning, at a frosty 6 degrees.


Similar to day 1, we had a long day planned. Google Maps said it would take 6 hours; excluding lunch, fuel or scenery-viewing stops. I had been worried about these long times, as it gave very little lee-way for “life,” i.e. other stuff that happens while you are carefully planning your life. The long hours in the saddle don’t bother me. I haven’t had lower-back aches in a while. I am getting bike fit!

Despite the early rise, we only got away just before 9am.


Why, oh why do people keep saying that summer is the riding season? The Western Cape is a dull brown in summer. I have been riding almost every weekend in winter (and now in early spring) and it is stunning. Sure, you get the odd drenching and the temperatures can get bloody freezing, but everything is amazingly green.


 
This may be the Moordkuil Pass, but I stand under correction. It may just be a random road we did before the pass itself.



Thanksgiving anyone?


The next pass was Dagbreek Pass/Blesbok Road. It has some very sharp corners. At the corner just before the one where the below picture was taken, I executed a power-slide against my will. I do not have the skill-set to do this voluntarily, but you will be amazed what you can do involuntarily if the alternative is an exploration of ungravelled mountain slope.



You are almost guaranteed to see game on or shortly after this pass, as the road runs next to a private game farm.

Zebras! Both the hoofed and motorcycle variety.


We stopped at a petrol station in George for fuel and nibbles. This would be the last fuel-stop for a while, as we did not plan to ride right in to Knysna. I don’t know what made me do it, but I decided to do a pre-trip inspection for kicks and giggles; checking the tyres of all the bikes. I have basically never done this before.

Huh? Why couldn’t I see all the knobbles at the base of my back tyre? It looks a bit flat. I stepped on the tyre’s side-wall and it was very definitely squishy. Oh dear. I put my bike on its centre stand and had a decent look at the tyre. It didn’t take long to find the large nail jammed in my tyre. Bugger! My first flat! Lance had had his first flat just last week (also in suburbia). We have both been riding for 2 years. Obviously Murphy was doing the rounds (we really should have taken this hint).

Lance and Gerhard quickly Googled the nearest tyre-fixing spot (the wonders of modern phones – mine doesn’t even have a colour screen…).  It seemed that my puncture wasn’t a fast flat. We pumped up my tyre at the garage and headed off in search of our chosen destination, Wheels. We ended up getting slightly lost. We spotted a BMW dealer. They said they would not be able to help us within the next half hour, but they directed us to Wheels. I’m glad we ended up going to Wheels, as they were able to help us immediately. They would also probably be (much) cheaper. My bike is not used to being touched by a BMW dealer anyway. It may just give it a heart attack.



We were incredibly lucky that I had noticed the puncture in George and at a petrol station. It made it easier for everyone. This was to be the last “easy fix” on our route.

Lesson 02: Do your pre-trip inspections.

We headed off again after my bike was doctored. At a T-junction, I got left behind by the others, as I did not hit a traffic gap they did. When I headed off, I remembered seeing some bikers turn right further ahead. Hence, I turned right. I rode quite far before deciding that the others could not have come in this direction. Meanwhile, they had been worried that I had been flattened by the traffic and were only too glad to not find me anywhere (rather than find bits of me on the road). When I did eventually join up with them, Ilse said I would be given a “straf-dop” tonight for making her worry. She would get me back in spades on the following day.

We followed the Seven Passes route. The route name is a bit of a misnomer, as there are actually 8 passes. The first 3 are tar: Swartrivier, Kaaimansgat and Silver River.





The remainder are gravel: Touw River/Duiwelskop, Hoogekraal, Karatara, Homtini Gorge/Goukamma River and Phantom.







Gerhard had too much speed on one corner. This resulted in some off-road exploring (not meaning gravel, just plain off-road). Unfortunately Lance just caught the tail-end of this escapade, i.e. Gerhard rerouting back.



If you could write a novel about the Seven Passes route it would be called “50 Shades of Green.” That’s what it is: a lot of shade and a lot of green.







But beware, this novel dark, masochistic side: locals in speeding vehicles that do not always keep to their side of the road. Hug your side of the road unless you want to be part of a who-dun-it murder thriller.



These roads are beautiful, but if you are used to the Tankwa Karoo, it seems to be a rather hemmed-in, tame beauty. It feels like civilisation, or at least the next sedan vehicle, is just a corner away.

I enjoyed the following passes, Gouna and Kom-se-Pad, much more. They seemed quieter (maybe it was the time of day?) and they had the most eye-candy when it comes to “forest and views” scenery.

Gouna Pass




You must stop at the sharp corner with the dead trees. The view is fantastic. The guys weren’t too good with their GoPro angles. I could not create a snapshot that did the view justice. Therefore, if you want to see it, go there!





It’s a damn sharp and steep corner that must be taken with extreme caution, especially if you are descending; unless of course you’ve always dreamt about flying?



We met up with a father and sons (2) crowd on this corner. Obviously they also stopped to admire the view. Ilse asked them whether they would like to swap one of their bikes (ranging from 80 to 250 cc) for her big one. They politely declined. They looked like they were having buckets of fun.

We were chasing time at this point, thanks to the puncture episode and me getting lost, which cost us about 2 hours. It was 5:30pm and we had hoped to do the entire Prince Alfred’s Pass (70km) and head to Eagle Falls via Uniondale; a route that would take at least another 2 hours. We resigned ourselves to eventually riding in the dark.

Kom-se-Pad














Gerhard stopped me to tell me that my luggage was looking a bit loose. I had forgotten to strap it down after our stop at the Gouna corner. One of the straps had been lost; the other was still clinging on for dear life. Luckily I had two spare straps, so I even had a “spare spare.” During a previous ride (still to be committed to the Interweb), I had a spare strap for Lance when he fell, busting his soft-luggage straps.


 
Lesson 03: You can never have too many spare straps.

Do not even try to avoid the potholes. For every one you swerve to avoid, you will hit two. Example picture below.



Prince Alfred’s Pass




We reached Angie’s G Spot sometime past 6pm. Ilse decided to head a petition to overnight right there. The rest of us did not need much convincing. We were tired, it was late and we had always wanted to stay at Angie’s G Spot anyway. It would mean we would have to shorten some of tomorrow’s route. If we could only know what “short-cut” Lance had in store for us…

We found a patch of grass


Lance and I have stopped for lunch at Angie’s G Spot before. It is a fascinating place; from the glass-wall kitchen (since there is no electricity other than that provided by solar or a generator – natural light is important) to the bus-room (the original home of the owner was a bus, around which the current house is built). You must have a chat with the owners (Harold and Angie) and have them show you around the place. Their stories are as interesting as the buildings.

As promised/threatened by Ilse earlier in the day, I would have my “straf-dop.” Harold has a unique offering in his bar: a “proes straat pretoria dop.” Oh… my… word…

The face says it all


Your bill labels it sweetly as a “puss dop.”

The strange gadgets never end. Ilse got to try out some strange device that’s name I have now forgotten. It is basically used to whack snuff into your nose. Your nose rests on a metal “spike” with a lip, so the metal bar doesn’t actually hit your nose. Ilse was sneezing up a storm thereafter.



The food was very yummy home-made fare, but on the pricey side as they have to import the ingredients all the way from Plett (Uniondale is too expensive). The pork curry was delish.

There had been light drizzle in the evening, but not enough to dampen our spirits. It even meant we got to see some wildlife!

« Last Edit: November 30, 2017, 07:11:59 pm by Zanie »
 

Offline westfrogger

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Re: Taking the road less travelled (not travelled at all?)
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2015, 10:52:25 pm »
Man ... good riding country that. Aren't we spoiled to live here!  :thumleft:
 

Offline DRAZIL

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Re: Taking the road less travelled (not travelled at all?)
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2015, 08:25:44 am »
great ride and photos  :thumleft: :thumleft:
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Offline skydiver

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Re: Taking the road less travelled (not travelled at all?)
« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2015, 08:43:10 pm »
Nice pics.  :thumleft:
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Offline whitedelight

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Re: Taking the road less travelled (not travelled at all?)
« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2015, 06:53:06 am »
Nice one Zanie. I know what comes next but keen to hear you describe it after seeing the video clip. Keep writing we are all waiting.
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Offline T Rex

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Re: Taking the road less travelled (not travelled at all?)
« Reply #15 on: October 11, 2015, 07:47:09 am »
Thank you Zani , awesome pictures and very well written ....

Not only are you a skilled rider ( well thus far it seems so ) but also a talented writer. :thumleft:

Day two brought back good memories , we had the privilige to ride te 7(8) passes and Prince Alfred's pass ( amongst a few other roads) in April .  :thumleft: and for us Gautengers it is even more of an achievement ..... a return 3000 km black stuff just to get there. ???

Cannot wait for the rest
 

Offline Amsterdam

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Re: Taking the road less travelled (not travelled at all?)
« Reply #16 on: October 11, 2015, 07:49:05 am »
Thanks for adding the links into this report.  It makes it easy to follow.  Had never seen the http://www.mountainpassessouthafrica.co.za/find-a-pass/western-cape/item/111-black-river-pass-7-passes-road,-garden-route.html site.  That has some nice info as well.
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Offline JMOL

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Re: Taking the road less travelled (not travelled at all?)
« Reply #17 on: October 11, 2015, 08:12:10 am »
Very nice report.

Thanks for sharing  :thumleft:
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Offline HB 9

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Re: Taking the road less travelled (not travelled at all?)
« Reply #18 on: October 11, 2015, 09:31:25 am »
Well done to you girls!

Thank you for a great RR - riding; writing and pictures!  :thumleft:
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Offline Skolla

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Re: Taking the road less travelled (not travelled at all?)
« Reply #19 on: October 11, 2015, 09:40:21 am »
Mooi julle,nice foto's en RR, daardie areas is mooi   :ricky: