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Offline sidetrack

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Re: Solo for the soul
« Reply #60 on: June 03, 2020, 12:08:40 pm »
From Chrissiesmeer it was a fast straight road along a massive lake towards my next turnoff which would take me back west. The last couple of good tracks before I would once again hook up on the dreaded tar towards Pretoria. I stopped at the house on 700km for the day exactly. Good day out and managed to see some new places, but really need more time to take it in. Thanks for reading.
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Re: Solo for the soul
« Reply #61 on: June 03, 2020, 12:11:22 pm »
Badplaas again January 2020

*This one was semi solo as Neo_Za joined me but he opted not to do the muddy roads so most of the trip I was on my own*

Last weekend Neo and myself headed east to do a 700km loop. Unfortunately the weather was not ideal on Saturday morning but Sunday was bliss. Just after 8 we left Pta and headed east, we were riding in a light drizzle just enough to make it unpleasant as I did not have waterproof pants. Wet boots and underpants are no fun  :o The first bit of dirt close to Hendriena and Neo the wise took one look at the slippery mess and decided to hightail it on the tar towards the closest town for some well deserved lunch. Notice the idiot deciding to stick to the route and ride the mud  >:D So a plan was made to meet up at the overnight stop Rooihoogte Guest Cottage off the R38 in the Sappi green belt. If anyone needs a stopover here I highly recommend it

http://rooihoogtecottage.co.za/

The rest of the day I would stick to the dirt and the first 50km  or so was scary, super slippery and easy to get it sideways. I could only manage very low speeds which meant it turned out to be a long day in the saddle but as the day went on the sun came out and the track apart from some patches became very enjoyable. The last 50 - 60km through the mountains were perfect, no dust at all.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2020, 12:43:09 pm by sidetrack »
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Re: Solo for the soul
« Reply #62 on: June 03, 2020, 12:12:07 pm »
As I headed further east I found more and more rolling hills with green valleys, the rain was now gone and the bike was eating up the track ahead. Life is good ! In the second picture I was working my way up the mountain side with the Nooitgedacht dam in the distance. This was a really fun bit as the dirt road followed the escarpment with some great views to be had.
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Re: Solo for the soul
« Reply #63 on: June 03, 2020, 12:12:55 pm »
The abandoned hamlet of Bonnefoi, I have been here once before and it is a lekker little stop to rest a bit, some info on google on the place.

It is only then that you find out that this was a town, a town called Bonnefoi and was in its day a missionary church, a post office, a hotel, auction yards, postal horse stables and a giant mansion of a house now silent and brooding with the remnants of an English garden and strangely enough, an antique car still standing in the garage. Then the story comes out, it is a place of romance, a place of determination and the grand home of an art family that made their mark on South Africa’s art history.

I decided to push on as I did not want to get to the overnight spot too late. I will never get tired of the smell of a pine plantations, closer to Rooihoogte I rode through some scenic spots stopping here and there for a photo. We ordered some braai packs for the night and by now was getting lekker hungry, the end of day 1 was close  :ricky:
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Re: Solo for the soul
« Reply #64 on: June 03, 2020, 12:13:44 pm »
Nou gaan ons braai, ok so small and basic but what more can one ask after a day in the saddle. Neo arrived much earlier already and went to Badplaas to buy some provisions. He had no close calls sticking to the tar  :biggrin: Meanwhile myself and the bike was dirty as heck but it was worth it, I had a great days ride. Neo is an avid bird watcher and he attempted to spot a Piet My Vrou in a massive pine tree nearby but the little feathered creature knew one or two things about camouflage. The weather looked promising for the next day as the stars were out.
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Re: Solo for the soul
« Reply #65 on: June 03, 2020, 12:14:41 pm »
Day 2 the weather was just perfect, the sun was out and not too hot. The tracks were dry now as we made our way over a mountain pass which would eventually lead towards the wetlands of Chrissiesmeer for a late breakfast. Home to more than 270 lakes in a 20km radius area.  The roads were quiet being a Sunday and we did not see any other soul on them.
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Re: Solo for the soul
« Reply #66 on: June 03, 2020, 12:15:33 pm »
Now time for a gripe, sometimes I don't know what people are thinking when they do a mod. After buying the bike I noticed it was a moerse mission to get it onto the centre stand I installed only to realize lowering links were fitted, now nothing wrong with that as the 660Z is a tall bike. But these lowering links took it to the extreme, so long in fact that I bottomed the bike out twice where the back wheel made contact on the seat tray over two average ruts ! Right above the tray sits the CDI and various other electronics, I could see this happened before as well as there is a small crack in the plastic  :( Needless to say the links needs to go, if you want a lower bike the XT660R will be a better bet.
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Re: Solo for the soul
« Reply #67 on: June 03, 2020, 12:16:32 pm »
Then Chrissiesmeer for breakfast, last time I went through here it was late on a Sunday and everything was closed but now we caught he Billiard Room open. Omelettes were good and we learned a bit of history of the town, it was occupied in the late 1800's by the British soldiers who had the building as you see it today shipped to Chrissiesmeer from England via Cape Town and then on an Ox cart  :o
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Re: Solo for the soul
« Reply #68 on: June 03, 2020, 12:18:12 pm »
More information at hand, it seems the main reason for the town was to be a stopover on the way To Barberton / Moz and Durban. Many of the houses in the main street still dates from the early 1900's. Neo pointed to the one picture of British Troops marching off to battle. "Imagine that was your lot, kill or be killed". Suddenly having to brave a slippery muddy road seemed quite mundane  :P
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Re: Solo for the soul
« Reply #69 on: June 03, 2020, 12:19:19 pm »
A quick ride around the town before we left and headed west following the dirt road next to the Chrissiesmeer dam. After the dam a shot right on a path leading between some farms to rejoin the tar section N17. From here it was basically Breyton then onto Middelburg and the N4 again. Nothing to exiting to report here but certainly the dirt roads around Buffelspruit / Badplaas made it all worth while  :ricky: No issues whatsoever on any of the bikes just a nice enjoyable trip. Neo Za thanks for coming along, untill next time  :thumleft:
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Re: Solo for the soul
« Reply #70 on: June 03, 2020, 12:21:37 pm »
Central Freestate March 2020 pre lockdown

I have never ridden the Free State much, normally one just passes through the well known areas like Golden Gate and Memel to get somewhere else. On my last work trip to Bfn I marked interesting service roads leading off the N1 and set about using Google Earth to plot a route to link them all and I must say I had a fantastic weekend of riding. Almost endless dirt with many more to explore at a later date. It's Covid 19 everywhere you turn with no telling how long we need to stay at home so I knew it was now or never. My route started in Kroonstad, getting there I had to ride from Pretoria via Parys adding a significant distance to the trip and bringing the total to 1070km for the weekend. Maar n Yamaha is nie bang nie, never touched a tool for the whole weekend not even a puncture for which I'm very thankful for. Some scenic roads and a bit of history, lets go.
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Re: Solo for the soul
« Reply #71 on: June 03, 2020, 12:23:00 pm »
I have done the Parys route about 3 times before and have never seen so much Cosmos around and the veld nice and green another good reason to do the trip now before the winter browns appear. Just after the Baragwanath air field road I pass four other dual sport riders checking out some tracks next to the mountain. It's a nice sunny day and little dust around, I'm making good progress but only left home at 7 and have no idea how long the route will take me. Only thing worse then serious muddy roads are those dried up ones with huge ruts you have to dodge. It can make a journey take a lot longer. Luckily whatever rain there was previously only removed the dust and I can make some good time. My overnight stop will either be camping at Aldam or a B&B at the small town of Winburg. I have not decided yet and made no booking, we will see how the wind blows.

Parys still has a lot of people stopping by for the day, Corona thankfully has not reached it yet ! I fuel up get something to drink and ten head for Kroonstad. This first part does not have a lot of dirt so that I can get to Kroonstad where the route starts with some time in hand. Kroonstad surprises with it's architecture. Lots of nice sandstone buildings abound with lots of history, I take a couple of quick photos. In front of the NG Church Sarel Cilliers is depicted delivering the Blood River Vow, the town it's said is named after his horse who drowned in the river nearby.
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Re: Solo for the soul
« Reply #72 on: June 03, 2020, 12:24:10 pm »
I navigate from the N1 onto the R34 and then from there take a left onto dirt. I miss the service road turnoff but backtrack quickly. Ah yes this is more like it, lekker quiet back roads with quite a lot of shrub around this is sure to change as I head further south. After a couple of km's a notice a tall fence to my left and the next thing I spot a moerse lion ! Bit further I see some warning signs, seems to be a breeding farm for lions as I spot about 8 or so in an enclosure. I try to take some pictures but they are too far away. They are very aware of my presence and look on intently. When the bike starts one runs for cover. Beautiful animals, I hope they don't end up being shot. The track runs into a low lying area almost marsh like with plenty of water around. I stop for a quick break.Plenty of water bird species around, where is Neo_za now my bird watching friend !

The GPS says I must turn right but the service road sign says straight on, I double check on my phones app as well and I'm on the right path. I follow a nice little sandy twee spoor heading east. No fences or gates just some very enjoyable riding where I eventually rejoin the S1162. Just across from the S181 service road there is a railway crossing at Holfontein after which I turn right heading down into a very scenic tree lined perfect dirt road. The leaves are turning yellow, autumn is creeping up on us but it makes for perfect riding weather. Free State where have you been all these years  :biggrin:
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Re: Solo for the soul
« Reply #73 on: June 03, 2020, 12:25:29 pm »
The route now turns south west and I ride through a valley heading towards Henneman, just before the town I take a left onto the R70 for a short stretch before getting back on the dirt. The ensuing 40 odd km's is just bliss. it will eventually end up at the N1 on one of the waypoints I marked. Just shows you what could lay hidden just off the dreaded N1 ! The track comes off a mountain into a lush valley then turns into a  twee spoor before crossing the Sand Rivier. Roads hugging moutains always makes for nice riding. I make it up to the N1 and watch the suckers doing 140 km/h racing off to Jhb or wherever.
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Re: Solo for the soul
« Reply #74 on: June 03, 2020, 12:26:17 pm »
I was now approaching Aldam, one of the options to stay over night. They have a stand but being school holidays at R540 ! Heck travelling alone I cant share the stands cost so seems a bit steep for one person for one night, there is a B&B in Winburg with a family room avaliable for R370. I have never been good at math but the latter makes rands and sense. Also looking at some clouds forming who knows having a roof might be a better choice  :biggrin: I don't mind camping actually prefer it sometimes just makes you feel even more like you are on a bike trip.

From Aldam I take the S463 for a 23km dead straight heading to Winburg. See those mountains in the background, well the road starts even beyond that. The thumper is turning 4000rpm, it likes those revolutions. I look in the mirror and a reassuring dust tail streaks out from behind me. Winburg and a well deserved cool drink here I come.
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Re: Solo for the soul
« Reply #75 on: June 03, 2020, 12:29:24 pm »
Winburg sits just off the N1 most people will only know it for the informal settlement which you see from the road but just on the other side of the hill is the little town itself. I approach it from the eastern side. There are only two paved roads. It's a typical small town which time has forgot but I made this my stop as I have seen photos and read up on the impressive church in the center of town. I settle into the Danke Schon guesthouse. Brunhilde and her husband runs the accommodation. Well priced and neat all that is needed. I meet a family that's driving up from George and would continue all the way to Kruger, I briefly think about telling them that lions can be seen just outside Kroonstad which will significantly shorten their trip but decide to not be a smart ass  :lol8: I ride into town but everything except the OK is closed. I manage to get a couple of snacks, no beer after a hard days ride. When I get back to the guesthouse the Georgians are having a braai and enjoying some Castle Lite but I stay strong and enjoy my Coke  ::)

Late in the afternoon I decide to go for a walk about taking some pictures. Some houses are quaint others have been poorly neglected and quite a lot of them are for sale. They must surely all date from the early 1900's. The town is the oldest proclaimed in the Free State although I have seen this being disputed with Philippolis being older. There is no doubt just like many other small towns that things have definitely taken a turn for the worst. I cant imagine how the most people make a living here, social grants ? If only this little town can become a Parys or Dullstroom. It has the potential for sure but not likely to ever happen  :(
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Re: Solo for the soul
« Reply #76 on: June 03, 2020, 12:30:30 pm »
By far the most beautiful building in town is the NG Church, construction started in 1899 it is an imposing sandstone building. The bell tower's roof is made completely of stone and not slate or tiles like one normally sees. Lots of detail on the stone work which as I understand is quite difficult to achieve with sandstone as it's hard on tools. I wonder how many people still attend services on a Sunday, must be a much smaller congregation than years past. Really wanted to go and have a look inside but the gates were all closed and only open on Sundays.

I spot a place marker on my maps "Concentration Camp", 10 minutes away and I start walking. I arrive at the grave site, it's eerily quiet like a place everyone has forgotten about. Both British and Boer's were buried here. Some dates predate the war. The place is unkempt and overgrown, what a sad site for those who gave their lives. I read the names and places of birth on the head stones - Holland, Scotland and Ireland to name of few. Would these people have known that one day they will come to rest in a small forgotten little town thousands of miles from their place of birth. Did they have a better life compared to the places they left, would they have made the same choices ?
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Re: Solo for the soul
« Reply #77 on: June 03, 2020, 12:30:51 pm »
At 11pm I awoke to a thunderstorm and heavy rain. Thank goodness I did not opt to camp, my poor boney was outside though but never fear it wont let me down. I rolled over and went back to sleep. Tomorrow is another day to explore.
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Re: Solo for the soul
« Reply #78 on: June 03, 2020, 12:32:04 pm »
Day 2

After the previous nights rain I was worried what the rest of the day will hold. We had 40mm plus so quite a bit of rain. Looking at the GPS it was clear that day 2 would be quite a bit longer than the first. I did not feel like battling mud the whole day especially on my own, I decided to do the first dirt bit and if things looked dodgy I would revert to taking the tarred back roads home. So I left early fueled up and got on my way. Well the dirt was just perfect, seems this area has lots more hard pack gravel (gruis) then mud and it was a joy to ride. It was a bit overcast but no dust and good grip. Glad I decided to check the dirt roads first. The scenery now definitely changed to wide open grasslands.

The route would take me about 40km south of Winburg then turn back and run in a north west region heading up to Erfenisdam. In about 100km of riding I saw one farmer and his 3 dogs !
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Re: Solo for the soul
« Reply #79 on: June 03, 2020, 12:32:43 pm »
I follow the S474 for 81km towards Verkeerdevlei. The track snakes into a valley and I cross a small river with autumn leaves appearing on the bank. I decide to stop here for elevenses and break out some droewors and some other snacks. Looking around complete tranquility, only the birds near the water going about their daily routine. This is a big part of why I ride a DS bike, to get to places like this where you can just be and relax. I spend a good 30mins there before heading off, I really wish I had another day to stretch out this ride.

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower - Albert Camus
Little by little, one travels far
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