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Offline Stephenoraw

Ladybrand to Rhodes and back...
« on: March 23, 2016, 12:56:45 pm »
This is my first ride report of my first ride in this area and I'll try to convey as best as I can what a great trip it was....

On the weekend of the 10-12th of March 2016 my mate Travis and I rode from Ladybrand to Rhodes, spent a day on the roads around Rhodes and then rode back to Ladybrand. We selected a route based on a previous rider's route around Lesotho (The route was sent to me and I don't know who the original rider was - but many thanks for sharing it in the first place!). I've added our google earth file below, just for the record.

We trailered the bikes to Ladybrand - much to the disgust of most of my bike riding colleagues... :o

The riding route took us on tar out of Ladybrand towards the Lesotho border, where we turned right onto the first stretch of dirt, just before the border post on the N8. The roads for the first part of the trip were flat and fast, especially once the first 20km's of mostly jeep track had been dealt with. (Not knowing what lay ahead of us, we enjoyed that first stretch of track much more on the way back!) Neither Google Earth or Garmin Basecamp have delivered up a name for that stretch of road.... but 50+Km's of flat, fast dirt roads took us past Don Don River Mill Lodge & brought us to Hobhouse, which was a bit early to stop, so we jumped on one to the tar R26 for a run down to Wepener. We weren't aware of an alternative to that stretch of tar. The only traffic we encountered thus far was a few cattle herds on the dirt roads, soon hurried on their way by Trav's Akrapovic and liberal use of the throttle ;)

We turned off the Tar at the exit from the R 26 to Wepener and almost immediately turned right to run roughly parallel on a gravel road I understand is the S361. The road was more varied than the stretch from Ladybrand to Hobhouse but still pretty uneventful. On the return route we skipped this section and rode on the R26 due to time pressure.

Filling up in Zastron, we jumped back on the R26 until we crossed the border into Eastern Cape. . 3km's after the bridge we turned left onto a road that ran along the contours and next to the Tele river. It was here that the trip felt like it had started for us. The scenery was starting to get more dramatic and we started to hit what we felt was the real Lesotho/SA border country. We passed a few rural areas along the river. Watch out for animals on the roads here, but especially watch out for the kids, who loved the bikes, but were getting a bit excited and wanted to run into and along the road. We'd read of one or two hostile incidents here in Upper Telle, but we had no trouble, keeping it slow and careful until we had passed through most of the residential areas.

Once you clear the houses, the road runs along a beautiful valley, with sandstone formations all around. It is here, between Sikroxweni and the church near Dili Dili, that you are closest to the border, as it runs along the Tele river. From the church at Dili Dili, you turn away from the river and the climb up to Lundean's Nek starts (R393). This is one of the most beautiful roads I have ever ridden/driven. Twisting and turning through some spectacular scenery, with lots of stretches of good road interspersed with the occasional rocky/technical patch. We didn't encounter any soft sand at all on this trip, with most roads being hard packed with the occasional loose stone patch.

Lundean's Nek should be on every adventure rider's list. For a novice like me, with enough technicality to make it a challenge, but far from overwhelming, it was a treat. For a more experienced rider like Trav, between the scenery and the twisting road and the views, it was a different kind of treat.

We stopped for a short break at the top. Perfect weather for us to take in the views and pat ourselves on the back for making it most of the way thus far.

The descent was easy, with a few rough patches that required some care, but after some 7 hours in the saddle we were happy not to be too challenged. We could almost start to taste the beers that were waiting down in Rhodes.. ;D . Crossing the Bell river we were now on the R 396 road between Rhodes and Barkly East where we were pretty watchful for oncoming traffic, as it gets busier but is still pretty twisty, with lots of blind corners. Exercise caution here.

We overnighted in Rhodes at Walkerbouts Inn, where Dave and his team made us feel properly welcome. I have a deal with Dave that he will take me light tackle fishing for Buffalo and I'll take him Haggis Hunting.... A bit of an inside joke, but ask him for the fly fishing guidebook for the area when you get there and you'll see what I mean.

My first impression of Rhodes was a bit disappointing. The camp site looked washed away, literally. The buildings looked run down and I saw that the famous Hotel was closed. Everything seemed to point a slowly dying town. Happily, two days later, after chatting to the local residents and getting to know the place better, my impressions had changed 180 degrees. it is a small community, but business is up and I left there feeling like a flyfishing visit together with my wife and son was recommended, even compulsory.

The next day was our "loop" day, with a trip up to Tiffindell, where after we would run along the contours on the track between Tiffindell and the top of Naude's Nek pass and past the Tenahead lodge. We would then make a run down the pass, to Maclear for fuel and then come back up Naude's back to Rhodes. Or so we thought......

The pass up to Tiffindell was magic, very steep in places and an little adventure in itself, what with all the warning signs and even some paces where the concrete road has to be skirted around as it is too tight and too steep! Tiffindell served up a decent cup of coffee as we watched the new "snow" dams being built. We're still not sure how they got those graders and JCB's up that pass!

As we travelled along the 29km's between Tiffindell and Tenahead the mist came rolling in, soon turning to a light drizzle. This was not an issue and added to the adventure, with some technical parts rendered more so by an almost complete lack of visibility. This was a fantastic track and is rarely used. We had a blast, with only minor misfortune when I dropped the bike on a loose rocky downhill (no damage, but man, that Tenere is a heavy beast...).

29km's of technical riding took us just shy of 3 hours and there were some real challenges en route, especially for a rider with little experience of this kind of terrain. I had a real sense of accomplishment after clearing the technical sections and more than once there was a lot of shouting and cheering going on inside my helmet after I'd cleared a tricky patch... ;D I would absolutely recommend this track. Those 29km's were the challenge and the highlight of the whole trip.

The picture got more serious once we got to the end of that trail, which comes out at the top of Naude's Nek. The light drizzle we had experienced had been flowing up the mountains from the South-East for a few days and the pass was soaked.

We tiptoed down the pass, but even then, there were one or two sections with deep and slippy mud that had us convinced that we were going down! We both run Metzeler Karoo 3's and if we'd had anything with less tread, we were going to go either nowhere, or on our asses, or off the side of the mountain.... I'll happily live with the on road limitations of those tyres in return for the balance of grip we found we had on both hard packed roads and in the mud. When we needed them in that mud the fronts did grip and with gentle use of the throttle they gave us enough rear grip to make it down & back up safely. If there was one thing I learned from this trip, it was that a good tyre can make or break the trip depending on what conditions you encounter. If there's even a remote chance that the weather may turn foul, gear up accordingly, even if you don't end up using it. It is one thing to read that type of advice on a forum, quite another to experience it in foul weather...

Time was against us though. Rather then run the 128km's to Maclear & back to fuel up, we decided to risk running back to Rhodes and to fill up on the way back home. Going up the pass was marginally easier now that we knew what the conditions were and soon were over the top and almost immediately on to dry, fast flowing roads. Great roads! Man, what a pleasure to have grip after all that mud!!! We got to Rhodes waay too quickly.

The beer and pizza in Rhodes were well earned!

Saturday saw us loaded up and heading back to Ladybrand. It had rained heavily the night before and the roads were a bit tricky to start with, but the views and the green fields and mountains were crisp and clear and spectacular! The trip up to Lundean's seemed to take no time at all. We were effectively retracing our route back and the roads were, if anything, even better after the rain. . Pretty soon we were back to the Telle river and crossing the bridge back to the Free State. What a blast, with the occasional mud splash thrown in!

We had decided to cut out a section of the dirt and run back to Hobhouse via Zastron on Tar. It was like having 140km's of root canal work.  :( Neither the KTM 690 nor the Tenere are ideal long distance cruisers but, of the two, I was happier to be on the Ten. Trav looked a bit grim on that 690....

We stopped for a break and to give our buzzing, aching rear ends a rest.. A fill up in Zastron and we were on our way again. I took the time to admire how Trav's bike had seemed to throw up just enough mud in just the right place. Hmmmmm..

From Hobhouse to Ladybrand was mostly back along the same flat fast roads we'd enjoyed on the way out and I swear that it was the same cattle in the same place that we came across?

Casa Romana  in Ladybrand was our final destination and, once again, that beer tasted pretty sweet. .

All in all we did 815Km's of riding. If I had to choose, I'd skip the sections up to, say, Zastron, and look for more riding in the Rhodes area. We'll try that next time. Pitseng Pass anyone?

As a novice rider I learned a lot. Always have someone with you, especially if you have a heavy bike. Lone riders either are crazy or deserve the utmost respect, or both. Carry everything, spares and tubes, and be prepared for changing conditions. That mist changed everything and we were lucky we had the right tyres and gear. I learned that my 660Z Tenere is a capable beast, but requires a firm hand. Trav's KTM is an awesome machine, as long as you don't mind the "tupperware" look and rain in the gauges. What a machine in the dirt though. Long range tanks are a must, especially if you are in remote areas with no fuel stops. Tar sucks. Don't get white offroad boots  ;D

I hope this was of use to some of you. Here's a link to the video I posted on the Facebook site. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68nJRyQqZJU

Cheers



« Last Edit: March 23, 2016, 12:58:13 pm by Stephenoraw »
 
The following users thanked this post: Rob KENNEDY

Offline SOPWITH

Re: Ladybrand to Rhodes and back...
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2016, 03:17:01 pm »
a Wilbur Smith book has less words :thumleft: :pot:
 

Offline edgy

Re: Ladybrand to Rhodes and back...
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2016, 03:19:51 pm »
a Wilbur Smith book has less words :thumleft: :pot:

And more pics! :lol8:
www.astonesthrow.co.za

 BEER..."I drink it when I`m happy or when I`m sad. I drink it when I`m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. Trifle with it if I`m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it - unless I`m thirsty"
 

Offline Andre E

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Re: Ladybrand to Rhodes and back...
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2016, 04:16:19 pm »
Haha! You guys are cold..... :imaposer:
Don't be kak, be lekker.
What is this life, if full of care,
we have no time to stand and stare.
 

Offline GSpear

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Re: Ladybrand to Rhodes and back...
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2016, 09:58:48 am »
Great ride, thanks for sharing. :thumleft:
 

Offline RoughRiders_Jakes

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Re: Ladybrand to Rhodes and back...
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2016, 02:55:42 pm »
Brings back many memories and the horror of Tiffendale 4x4 route
I'M HUNG LIKE EINSTEIN AND SMART AS A HORSE
 

Offline T Rex

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Re: Ladybrand to Rhodes and back...
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2016, 05:28:38 pm »
Brings back many memories and the horror of Tiffendale 4x4 route

Count me in on that one .... Down from Tiffendell to war trail is imho not 1200 country .... but we made it !!

 

Offline Sidpitt

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Re: Ladybrand to Rhodes and back...
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2016, 07:45:38 pm »
Thanks, cool report and great video.

I remember that track from Tiffendale to Naude's Nek well.........on my 1200GS
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If you cant, change your attitude.
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Offline NoRush

Re: Ladybrand to Rhodes and back...
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2016, 11:38:07 pm »
Thanks for sharing that. i like your objective look at the bikes. Each has its own good and bad points.  :ricky:
 

Offline BradT

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Re: Ladybrand to Rhodes and back...
« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2016, 08:44:17 pm »
Great report.  Thanks for sharing.  Would have loved to see some pics of your trip.
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Offline Rob KENNEDY

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Re: Ladybrand to Rhodes and back...
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2021, 11:26:25 am »
This is my first ride report of my first ride in this area and I'll try to convey as best as I can what a great trip it was....

On the weekend of the 10-12th of March 2016 my mate Travis and I rode from Ladybrand to Rhodes, spent a day on the roads around Rhodes and then rode back to Ladybrand. We selected a route based on a previous rider's route around Lesotho (The route was sent to me and I don't know who the original rider was - but many thanks for sharing it in the first place!). I've added our google earth file below, just for the record.

We trailered the bikes to Ladybrand - much to the disgust of most of my bike riding colleagues... :o

The riding route took us on tar out of Ladybrand towards the Lesotho border, where we turned right onto the first stretch of dirt, just before the border post on the N8. The roads for the first part of the trip were flat and fast, especially once the first 20km's of mostly jeep track had been dealt with. (Not knowing what lay ahead of us, we enjoyed that first stretch of track much more on the way back!) Neither Google Earth or Garmin Basecamp have delivered up a name for that stretch of road.... but 50+Km's of flat, fast dirt roads took us past Don Don River Mill Lodge & brought us to Hobhouse, which was a bit early to stop, so we jumped on one to the tar R26 for a run down to Wepener. We weren't aware of an alternative to that stretch of tar. The only traffic we encountered thus far was a few cattle herds on the dirt roads, soon hurried on their way by Trav's Akrapovic and liberal use of the throttle ;)

We turned off the Tar at the exit from the R 26 to Wepener and almost immediately turned right to run roughly parallel on a gravel road I understand is the S361. The road was more varied than the stretch from Ladybrand to Hobhouse but still pretty uneventful. On the return route we skipped this section and rode on the R26 due to time pressure.

Filling up in Zastron, we jumped back on the R26 until we crossed the border into Eastern Cape. . 3km's after the bridge we turned left onto a road that ran along the contours and next to the Tele river. It was here that the trip felt like it had started for us. The scenery was starting to get more dramatic and we started to hit what we felt was the real Lesotho/SA border country. We passed a few rural areas along the river. Watch out for animals on the roads here, but especially watch out for the kids, who loved the bikes, but were getting a bit excited and wanted to run into and along the road. We'd read of one or two hostile incidents here in Upper Telle, but we had no trouble, keeping it slow and careful until we had passed through most of the residential areas.

Once you clear the houses, the road runs along a beautiful valley, with sandstone formations all around. It is here, between Sikroxweni and the church near Dili Dili, that you are closest to the border, as it runs along the Tele river. From the church at Dili Dili, you turn away from the river and the climb up to Lundean's Nek starts (R393). This is one of the most beautiful roads I have ever ridden/driven. Twisting and turning through some spectacular scenery, with lots of stretches of good road interspersed with the occasional rocky/technical patch. We didn't encounter any soft sand at all on this trip, with most roads being hard packed with the occasional loose stone patch.

Lundean's Nek should be on every adventure rider's list. For a novice like me, with enough technicality to make it a challenge, but far from overwhelming, it was a treat. For a more experienced rider like Trav, between the scenery and the twisting road and the views, it was a different kind of treat.

We stopped for a short break at the top. Perfect weather for us to take in the views and pat ourselves on the back for making it most of the way thus far.

The descent was easy, with a few rough patches that required some care, but after some 7 hours in the saddle we were happy not to be too challenged. We could almost start to taste the beers that were waiting down in Rhodes.. ;D . Crossing the Bell river we were now on the R 396 road between Rhodes and Barkly East where we were pretty watchful for oncoming traffic, as it gets busier but is still pretty twisty, with lots of blind corners. Exercise caution here.

We overnighted in Rhodes at Walkerbouts Inn, where Dave and his team made us feel properly welcome. I have a deal with Dave that he will take me light tackle fishing for Buffalo and I'll take him Haggis Hunting.... A bit of an inside joke, but ask him for the fly fishing guidebook for the area when you get there and you'll see what I mean.

My first impression of Rhodes was a bit disappointing. The camp site looked washed away, literally. The buildings looked run down and I saw that the famous Hotel was closed. Everything seemed to point a slowly dying town. Happily, two days later, after chatting to the local residents and getting to know the place better, my impressions had changed 180 degrees. it is a small community, but business is up and I left there feeling like a flyfishing visit together with my wife and son was recommended, even compulsory.

The next day was our "loop" day, with a trip up to Tiffindell, where after we would run along the contours on the track between Tiffindell and the top of Naude's Nek pass and past the Tenahead lodge. We would then make a run down the pass, to Maclear for fuel and then come back up Naude's back to Rhodes. Or so we thought......

The pass up to Tiffindell was magic, very steep in places and an little adventure in itself, what with all the warning signs and even some paces where the concrete road has to be skirted around as it is too tight and too steep! Tiffindell served up a decent cup of coffee as we watched the new "snow" dams being built. We're still not sure how they got those graders and JCB's up that pass!

As we travelled along the 29km's between Tiffindell and Tenahead the mist came rolling in, soon turning to a light drizzle. This was not an issue and added to the adventure, with some technical parts rendered more so by an almost complete lack of visibility. This was a fantastic track and is rarely used. We had a blast, with only minor misfortune when I dropped the bike on a loose rocky downhill (no damage, but man, that Tenere is a heavy beast...).

29km's of technical riding took us just shy of 3 hours and there were some real challenges en route, especially for a rider with little experience of this kind of terrain. I had a real sense of accomplishment after clearing the technical sections and more than once there was a lot of shouting and cheering going on inside my helmet after I'd cleared a tricky patch... ;D I would absolutely recommend this track. Those 29km's were the challenge and the highlight of the whole trip.

The picture got more serious once we got to the end of that trail, which comes out at the top of Naude's Nek. The light drizzle we had experienced had been flowing up the mountains from the South-East for a few days and the pass was soaked.

We tiptoed down the pass, but even then, there were one or two sections with deep and slippy mud that had us convinced that we were going down! We both run Metzeler Karoo 3's and if we'd had anything with less tread, we were going to go either nowhere, or on our asses, or off the side of the mountain.... I'll happily live with the on road limitations of those tyres in return for the balance of grip we found we had on both hard packed roads and in the mud. When we needed them in that mud the fronts did grip and with gentle use of the throttle they gave us enough rear grip to make it down & back up safely. If there was one thing I learned from this trip, it was that a good tyre can make or break the trip depending on what conditions you encounter. If there's even a remote chance that the weather may turn foul, gear up accordingly, even if you don't end up using it. It is one thing to read that type of advice on a forum, quite another to experience it in foul weather...

Time was against us though. Rather then run the 128km's to Maclear & back to fuel up, we decided to risk running back to Rhodes and to fill up on the way back home. Going up the pass was marginally easier now that we knew what the conditions were and soon were over the top and almost immediately on to dry, fast flowing roads. Great roads! Man, what a pleasure to have grip after all that mud!!! We got to Rhodes waay too quickly.

The beer and pizza in Rhodes were well earned!

Saturday saw us loaded up and heading back to Ladybrand. It had rained heavily the night before and the roads were a bit tricky to start with, but the views and the green fields and mountains were crisp and clear and spectacular! The trip up to Lundean's seemed to take no time at all. We were effectively retracing our route back and the roads were, if anything, even better after the rain. . Pretty soon we were back to the Telle river and crossing the bridge back to the Free State. What a blast, with the occasional mud splash thrown in!

We had decided to cut out a section of the dirt and run back to Hobhouse via Zastron on Tar. It was like having 140km's of root canal work.  :( Neither the KTM 690 nor the Tenere are ideal long distance cruisers but, of the two, I was happier to be on the Ten. Trav looked a bit grim on that 690....

We stopped for a break and to give our buzzing, aching rear ends a rest.. A fill up in Zastron and we were on our way again. I took the time to admire how Trav's bike had seemed to throw up just enough mud in just the right place. Hmmmmm..

From Hobhouse to Ladybrand was mostly back along the same flat fast roads we'd enjoyed on the way out and I swear that it was the same cattle in the same place that we came across?

Casa Romana  in Ladybrand was our final destination and, once again, that beer tasted pretty sweet. .

All in all we did 815Km's of riding. If I had to choose, I'd skip the sections up to, say, Zastron, and look for more riding in the Rhodes area. We'll try that next time. Pitseng Pass anyone?

As a novice rider I learned a lot. Always have someone with you, especially if you have a heavy bike. Lone riders either are crazy or deserve the utmost respect, or both. Carry everything, spares and tubes, and be prepared for changing conditions. That mist changed everything and we were lucky we had the right tyres and gear. I learned that my 660Z Tenere is a capable beast, but requires a firm hand. Trav's KTM is an awesome machine, as long as you don't mind the "tupperware" look and rain in the gauges. What a machine in the dirt though. Long range tanks are a must, especially if you are in remote areas with no fuel stops. Tar sucks. Don't get white offroad boots  ;D

I hope this was of use to some of you. Here's a link to the video I posted on the Facebook site. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68nJRyQqZJU

Cheers

Hi Stephen,

This is a great report. 

I found it searching for info on a similar trip we planning for October this year (2021)

Thanks for sharing.

Rob
 

Offline Slim Jim

Re: Ladybrand to Rhodes and back...
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2021, 07:14:26 am »
Awsome report and vidio , I have done the loop around Lesuto  four times Same track and  3 times with mates and once solo.It's a good 4 to 5 day trip tenting . :thumleft: