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Offline Xpat

Swazi Weekend Boner
« on: July 24, 2016, 12:51:04 am »

The official name of this ride is Swazi hardcore weekend. I tend to shy away from that kind of macho language and prefer more subtle and multilayered Ďbonerí as a better reflection of the weekend which turned out to be both bone shattering as well as reinvigorating (talking two different bones here).

This was one of the regular three day rides through northern Swaziland organized and guided by Mark Taylor (Just Blip It in WD speak) from his lair in White River. Iíve heard about it before, but I tend to stay away from organized group rides and the Ďhardcoreí moniker always makes me feel a bit suspicious. While Iím no Chris Birch (or rather Stefan Svitko to stay closer to home), South Africans do sometimes tend to get a bit overdramatic.

But Straatkat (aka Bertie in human speak, which Iím going to continue use here as we didnít end up calling each other WD names on the trip) and Tony (TK in WD speak), who were both three times veterans of the ride, kept on harping about how this is the best riding in the world and some such. So I eventually decided to give it a go and signed up for the upcoming edition. And while I will not ride a bike for the next 6 months as a result the trip, Iím not sorry at all that I did. The riding did turn out to be exquisite and unique providing variety of riding terrain unmatched anywhere else in South Africa I know of (including Lesotho).

Four people signed up for the weekend:

  • Henk (aka Chopperpilot on WD) on Husky TE610 he just bought off Rough Rider
  • Tony (aka TK on WD) on TE610, he just refurbished with new fancy custom build faring, lights and tower.
  • Bertie (aka Straatkat on WD) on another TE610, which annoyed everybody as it turned out to be the fastest Husky in all drag races, which Bertie sought out at every opportunity.
  • And myself (Martin - aka Xpat as you probably figured out by now) on the most rare of the breeds (only 4 were ever imported according to some sources) - Husky TE630, which was short lived BMW attempt at improving TE610 by putting in DOHC head (instead of SOHC on 610), and - BMW trademark move - crappier suspension (which I got rectified to some degree after the purchase).

I presume Mark on his 990 may have felt a bit apprehensive by the prospect of 4 Huskies ganging up on him, so he roped in last minute his mate and Swazi ride veteran Lee (aka Steel Image on WD) on KTM 690. Which turned out to be a good move as Mark otherwise would have had to spent many a lonesome minutes waiting for the Husky crowd to climb out of a ravine, or resolve specific Italian technical issues that spiced up the ride.

The crew:

Mark (left) and Lee:



Bertie (center) flanked by Tony:

Myself and Lee:

The area of operation:

« Last Edit: July 24, 2016, 01:00:46 am by Xpat »

Offline Ian in Great Brak River

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Re: Swazi Weekend Boner
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2016, 01:37:04 am »
Here comes something ...
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 BOER!

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Re: Swazi Weekend Boner
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2016, 02:39:25 am »
My hart kom affie plaas, Waar die Wind en die Son en die Stilte my speelmaats was.

Everybody falls off. Some get back on. Some don't. Some can't.

Offline chopperpilot

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Swazi Weekend Boner
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2016, 07:52:07 am »
Being apprehensive to join these hard core rides for some time, I bit the bullet in February 2015 for the first time, and loving it so much, ended up doing 4 hard core rides in 2015 on my trusty Suzuki DR 650 SE.

As mentioned, I recently acquired a highly sought after (for those in the know) Husky 610 TE, after being inspired by Bertie and Tony on previous rides, to obtain this awesome machine.

A "boner" ride it surely is, being the next best thing than spending time with your lady!

I regard myself as an average rider, never competed, have the occasional fall/fall over on these rides, and punish my 50+ body, But I just keep coming for more!

This was my 5th ride in Swaziland and first on the the Husky 610 TE "Mountain goat", of which I will also give my impressions on this thread, if Martin allows me.

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End of an Era : Suzuki DR 650 SE, Husqvarna 610 TE, KTM 500 XCW

Offline Xpat

Re: Swazi Weekend Boner
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2016, 01:26:43 pm »
Henk - and everybody else from the gang - feel free to add your view here as you find fit and correct whatever mistakes I may make. This was our group ride at the end of they day.

Only one thing - if you have any pictures of me, I would appreciate if you photoshop away the double chin first. You can even add a dimple in the middle of the chin. Thanks.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2016, 01:27:59 pm by Xpat »

Offline chopperpilot

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Swazi Weekend Boner
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2016, 02:51:14 pm »
Martin, except maybe for Mark, aka the "Racing Snake", as named by Bertie, I don't regard any of us to be oil paintings! Ha ha!🙀

I actually didn't notice the type of facial features you are referring too, but if it's your wish, we could always photoshop some blonde's face on your body! 😆😆😆

BTW...how is the leg doing?😧

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Offline Xpat

Re: Swazi Weekend Boner
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2016, 03:05:19 pm »
It hurts, which I guess means it is healing. I'll try to post day 1 today, in-between the frequent naps.

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Re: Swazi Weekend Boner
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2016, 05:21:16 pm »
Lekker...ek wag

Offline eikeboom

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Re: Swazi Weekend Boner
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2016, 05:34:34 pm »
Lekker - ek wens ek kan daai wereld sien en ry
Let's go into the mountains...there's likely to be peace and quiet

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Re: Swazi Weekend Boner
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2016, 07:16:47 pm »
Going to be a good one
Little by little, one travels far
J.R.R Tolkien

Offline Xpat

Re: Swazi Weekend Boner
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2016, 09:06:01 pm »
Day 0 & 1 - part 1

The starting point was a petrol station on the N4 somewhere east of Nelspruit where we were to meet at an ungodly 7:00 am on Saturday 9/7.

The Gauteng section - Tony, Bertie and I - met up the night before at the Diggerís Retreat lodge outside Barberton. We ferried the bikes down there on bakkies - Bertie sharing with Tony, me on my own - and arrived independently at about 7:00 pm. We were the only guest, and to our dismay they have already closed restaurant and the bar. So after we took the bikes and the gear off the cars, I have driven back to Barberton in search of some sustenance. I managed to get pizzas at Pizza Hut, and few bears from a bar, which had a policy not to sell takeaways - my charm and cash prevailed at the end.

Back at the lodge we have eaten the pizzas standing from the back of our bakkies and headed to bed for an early night as we were up for an early start next morning - we had about 40 km to ride to the meet-up point.

The morning was predictably cold. We geared up including balaclavas and such to fend off the chill, packed the luggage (there is no back-up vehicle on this trip - you carry what you need for 3 days riding), and jumped on the bikes. Except Bertieís and mine wouldnít start. Luckily Tony had this little Battery Booster thingy, which did the trick and we were off. The road down to N4 was beautiful winding mountain road, that I didnít enjoy at all. It was freezing cold and we were riding against the rising sun. My open face trials helmet is no good for any of that. Nominally it has a sunshield, but it is way too short/high to be any use. So I had to ride most of the time with my clutch hand over my eyes to see where am I going. I also had new Mital C02 at the back wheel, so I took it easy through the curves and trailed way back at the end of our convoy.

Upfront our resident speed-freak Bertie challenged Tony to a drag-race or two, which he won - there is something wrong with his 610 and for some reason it outperforms all other 610s and even keeps up with mine 690, which it has no business to do!

Weíve made it to the meeting point at petrol station where we met and greeted the Mpumalanga section - Mark, Henk and Lee. After few Steers burgers for breakfast we geared up and set-off east on N4. Lee per his standard operating procedure on the rear wheel - I think he has problems with a throttle control or something.

Tony, Henk, Bertie and I at the meet point:

After two or three km on tar we turned right onto a winding forest dirt road heading south into the mountains on the Swazi border. With the groupís ranking order not established yet, everybody took off like scalded cat to ascertain their place in the hierarchy. I was the last and tried to keep up, but it was impossible in the hellish dust with zero visibility, so I eased up and followed more leisurely at the tail of the settling dust.

Within 10 - 15 km I came upon stationary Husky section: Henkís 610ís fuel light came on even though he filled up recently and he could smell petrol everywhere. Upon closer inspection he found that the fuel connector between tank and throttle body wasnít clipped on properly and he basically petrol washed his bike, leaving him with litre or two in the tank. Luckily, Bertie had spare 8 litres in his homemade rear tank, so was able to help Henk out. To do that he had to pump manually air into the tank pushing petrol out of the hose on the other side into Henkís tank - resulting in predictable barrage of wanking jokes from the spectating 50-something pubescents, and me.

Husky section transferring fuel - note the fancy windshield on Tony's 610

That cost us about 10 - 15 minutes, after which we caught up with Mark and Lee waiting at an intersection about 10 km further on.

Orange section in waiting:

Once caught up and after inevitable abuse from the orange section, we continued in one group on smaller footpaths through gullies and mountains heading for the Jeppes Reef border crossing.

Henk followed by Bertie on one of the footpaths:

Tony posing - clear demonstration why open face helmet is much better option for off road biking documentery:

Henk and Tony disapearing up the hill:

Followed by Bertie:

One of the many gates we crossed:

To be continued.

Offline OOOOMS

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Re: Swazi Weekend Boner
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2016, 09:28:22 pm »
Sub :thumleft:

Offline NoRush

Re: Swazi Weekend Boner
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2016, 10:16:32 pm »
Subscribed   :sip:

Offline Xpat

Re: Swazi Weekend Boner
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2016, 10:21:44 pm »
Day 1 - part 2

Note: I forgot to give credit to Mark for the pictures - most of the pictures in this report are his.

The border was a non-event - to my relief they didnít even check the bike papers (I had just uncertified copy) and after border we again regrouped at the petrol station where everybody filled-up. Petrol is cheaper in Swaziland so most guys didnít fill up in SA.

Once done we hit the trails. Occassionaly we did hit double track of even short section of dirt road, but majority of the trails were local footpaths used by locals to gather wood in the surrounding forests. The riding was sublime - it was pretty obvious that it must have taken Mark many years to track these footpaths:

C02 saving my ass:

At one point we came upon a small river crossing with attendant marsh. Still not fully acclimatised to the group ride I stupidly positioned myself behind Lee just as he gunned it through the mud, giving me and the bike decent layer of plaster that stuck for the rest of the ride.

We all made it through without a glitch except Tony, who has a bit of maverick streak and always looks for some kind of alternative. It came to bite him this time and he got stuck properly in the muck. Again, not yet fully attuned to the group etiquette, I wanted to go help. But Lee quickly set me right explaining that in these parts physical help is really beneath us and instead we offer sarcasm and ridicule as the way of encouragement.

Tony eventually managed to disentangle himself and made it through, but the episode costed him a side stand, which broke off in the marsh. This complicated his life no end as from now on he had to always  find something to lean the bike against before getting off, which did result in few comedic situations down the line.

Tony in his element:

The rest waiting in suspense:

He made it finally

And the subsequent quick fixes:

Lee and his usual flamboyant style:

Followed by Tony, while the wise stuck to the higher ground to the right:

We continued on footpaths for the most of the day. The progress was hindered by series of technical glitches that plagued the Husky section. First of all, Iíve got a flat rear tyre in one of the small villages we passed through. That was annoying as I had a new C02 at the back which I hoped will shield me from thorns and stuff, and was deliberately riding at about 2.5 bar to avoid snakebite. There wasnít much to it but to take out the tools and fix it. One of the orange duo Lee got stuck with us and provided expected sarcastic support, but then toned it down when he realized that should this happen to him, he will need us as he brought with only little purse with I assume moisturiser and a comb for his beard.

I took the tube out and found weird grouping of small snakebites in one place. We couldnít figure out how that happened. Here is where the group dynamics made it a bit more complicated than Iím used to as there were differences of opinion about the best course of action - replace the tube (I had spare but thin skinned one) or fix the pinched heavy duty. I have eventually opted to fix the tube, but amongst all the distraction (the whole village female population under 20 lined up to take picture with Lee - OK, two or three of them did - they must have considered him one of theirs as kept himself in the flow by smoking some potent local produce) I have mistakenly used the glue from one of the tube fixing kits (i.e. the vulcanizing solution) instead of rubber cement I had as well (the bloody tubes look exactly the same, only the name differs). So the patch came off despite us waiting correctly for the glue to dry up.

I had to repeat the patching this time with rubber cement, but when we put the wheel back on the tube was still leaking - I can only assume I didnít manage to clean up the original wrong glue sufficient enough. Not keen to keep everybody up anymore, I asked Bertie for one of those Fugit bottles, put it in and we set-off again. It seemed to do the trick and we continued.

Mark, who is not the motherly nanny kind of guide and expects you to sort out your own shit, waited few km ahead, entertaining local kids with videos on his smartphone:

Once together we pushed on up and down the Swazi goat trails:

KTM failing at an uphill test:

While Huskies pass with flying colours:


Later on we run into second Italian glitch (to be fair mine was actually Taiwanese), when Tony who was riding right in front of me with gusto hit a bump, and the bike just died. It wouldnít start - the fuel pump worked fine, all the fuses were fine, but no go amigo. The JD Tuner (i.e. Power Commander equivalent) looked dead so we set-off to disconnect it. Which without a side stand was a three man job, myself holding the bike and loosened tank up and Tony and Bertie trying to get their fingers onto right connectors under tank. Eventually we prevailed, bike started and we were off again.

Mark, Lee and Henk waited ahead again and as expected offered generous words of appreciation for Italian technology when we caught up again. We wouldnít have it any other way anyway.

The breaks cost us time and we were severely behind plan. We pushed on and were making good progress until after one river section my rear wheel went flat again. By this stage the sun was pretty low and we still have about 50 km of tough trails to ride to the Maguga lodge where we were booked for the night.

The oranges were as usually ahead, and after quick assessment of the situation I told the Husky section to push on without me. I had GPS with the lodge coordinates, so I would change the tube myself and then get to the lodge on the main roads - no point screwing up othersí ride any further. Then buggered off racing against the setting sun.

The rest of the group racing to the lodge:

Tony taking a dive - not sure, but this may be the place where his windscreen split:

Bertie trying to be clever and avoid place where Tony went down:

And paying the price:

I was also working against the clock - my dim lights didnít work and the brights may have packed any minute as well (as they did next day). So have changed the tube as quickly as possible and then retraced our route about 5 km to the closest tar, which I took for next 10 km where I turned to the main dirt road heading west to Piggs Peak about 50 km away. I was racing against setting sun and made it to the Piggs Peak just as the darkness fell. I stopped at petrol station to refill and quick refreshment and then continued in dark with brights on to the Maguga dam and lodge about 20 km away. It took me probably 40 minutes or so - had to stop whenever there was oncoming traffic as I couldnít see anything, but luckily the road was tar all the way and I made it there eventually by about 7 - 8 pm.

The rest of the gang were already there parked in the restaurant waiting for dinner, so I just added my order and we talked kak over dinner and few beers together. Most of us were pretty tired so pretty soon we called it a night and headed for our chalets.

Offline ROOI

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Re: Swazi Weekend Boner
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2016, 08:22:11 am »
 :sip: SUB Briliant  :thumleft:

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Re: Swazi Weekend Boner
« Reply #15 on: July 25, 2016, 08:40:57 am »

Offline ButtSlider

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Re: Swazi Weekend Boner
« Reply #16 on: July 25, 2016, 10:40:37 am »
Big sub
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Offline edgy

Re: Swazi Weekend Boner
« Reply #17 on: July 25, 2016, 12:00:43 pm »
On my bucket list....awesome riding!! :thumleft:

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Re: Swazi Weekend Boner
« Reply #18 on: July 25, 2016, 01:03:20 pm »
Live like someone left the gate open.

Offline Xpat

Re: Swazi Weekend Boner
« Reply #19 on: July 25, 2016, 10:09:15 pm »
Day 2 - part 1

We woke up to a nice warm morning with sights of the half empty Maguga dam below. Some used the time before breakfast for quick bike check and maintenance.

Half empty Maguga dam below:

After breakfast we geared up and set-off for what promised (weather-wise and Mark-wise) to be the highlight day for the weekend. Night before Mark promised we will cover some nice high ground with plenty of views of vistas below.

From the lodge we rode on tar few km uphill and then Mark turned randomly left off the tar and brought us to the top of big gully where piece of the hill has been washed out. He took a while to check the gully and find a good line - the gully has changed significantly since he has last been there and the lines they used before were not possible anymore. One by one, we followed down the gully and regrouped on the other side.

We continued to the bottom of the hill where we crossed the tar again and hit steep uphill footpath on the other side. The path was tricky - it was steep, running off camber to the right of deep overgrown gully and left of a fence. Mark and Lee were leading the way, while I was sweeping behind Bertie. Pretty soon Bertie hesitated a bit and lost enough momentum for his Kenda Block not being able to propel him forward anymore, and he started to slide backwards towards the gully. He froze for a moment forgetting the lessons from AMA level 1 & 2 Double Penetration courses (I know that is not probably what it is called, but I cannot remember now what the DP1 & 2 on the stickers on his bike stand for) and in a vain attempt to stop the slide held onto the front brake as well as clutch lever (rather than releasing the clutch and stalling as Iím sure he was taught to do). He was gaining speed quickly so I shouted at him to jump off. Which he didnít, but luckily something snagged his rear wheel and send him and the bike rolling backwards few meters downhill.

Luckily he was fine - I wasnít too worried though, by now I have seen him many hit trees and he come out alright. I put my bike down as I the ground was too offcamber for the stand, and helped Bertie pick-up his down slope laying bike and ride it back onto the track, where we had to stop to huff and puff a bit.

Once we were back on track Henk, who was about 10 meters ahead, started up his bike and gunned it up the track duck-walking fighting for traction until he turned right behind the fence and disappeared from our sight. Just to reappear few seconds later rolling backwards downhill ass about face, followed by upside down Husky. The Husky stopped halfway down the slope, while Henk disappeared in the bush at the bottom of the slope.

This cheered up Bertie sufficiently to jump on his bike and gun it up the hill and disappear behind the fence - just to came back rolling down the hill few seconds later. By now I was seriously wondering what is lurking behind that bloody turn. Unlike Henk, Bertie managed to stop after two or three ass-about-faces.

At the same time Mark, Lee and Tony came running down the hill looking concerned as Henk didnít emerge from the bush yet. As it turned out, the growth wasnít actually the end of the slope, but the edge of a 4 meter deep gully and the bushes were actually tops of trees. Henk came over the edge crashing straight down through the trees landing in a little creek.

Which I found ironic, as just the night before I asked Henk how many times he had to do autorotation (controlled gliding of the helicopter to the ground in the case of engine failure), and to my surprise he hasnít have to do it once in his 30 plus years of flying career. And here he was next day executing perfect autorotation, even without helicopter around him. To be fair, he does not deserve full credit yet as the branches provided unfair advantage in terms of translational lift, but Iíd say nice try anyway.

Back to the point - we were all relieved to see him emerge from the gully shortly after fine and smiling.

Tony taking alternative route per his usual procedure:

But got caught out:

Henk's attempt at the footpath:

Didn't work out either

And here comes Bertie:

Bertie recovered quickly and rushed down to the gully's edge gravely concerned for his mate - not before grabbing his camera though:

This is a detail of how Bertie looks concerned, recording every step:

The party looking for Henk:

And there he is!

No really, it is him:

In the meantime Husky took a break:

Henk back out of the gully:

At this point Lee completely lost the plot and cool. No seriously, just the day before he was lecturing be that helping a mate outside a snidy remark is really uncool, and here he is pushing Henk's bike! Seriously not cool! Bertie and Mark on the other hand stuck to the agreed etiquette.

The rest of the group helped Bertie and Henk back on their wheels and up the remaining hill, so that I could finally make my own attempt which went just dandy.

My bike waiting patiently for the resolution of the melodrama ahead:

And me clearing the footpath like a champ:

After that we continued without any further drama up and up and up, until we reached high ground with fantastic views on the Swazi mountains all around us. It reminded me closely of Tatra mountains in Slovakia where I grew up - except if I would try to ride bike there now I would end up in jail. Not kidding.

We have stopped at high point on a rocky outcrop for the obligatory photo shoot.

To be continued.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2016, 10:20:29 pm by Xpat »