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Offline zagser

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LSD + Irony + Kaapse draai = BIG GRIN
« on: August 10, 2016, 08:16:07 pm »
From time to time I need to get out and away to just clear the mind and get focused on the road/life ahead.
I put in leave for the 8th of August, and with the 9th being a public holiday, I had 4 days for heading out on my trusty steed, exploring the roads less traveled out there.

I moved down to the Western Cape a few years ago, and fell absolutely in love with the Tankwa Karoo.
Even managed to convince the wife to spend our last December holiday in the Tankwa!  :deal:

My previous solo ride was just over two years ago, mainly through the Tankwa you can read about it here:
http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=148099.0

So, naturally, when getting away from the hustle and the bustle I tend to wander in that general direction.

Day -1

So, this has to be a first!
It is Friday evening, before 20:00, and everything is ready and packed, must be all the anticipation and excitement having this effect on me.



Day1 (LSD, Cederberg Oasis)


No mind clearing weekend is complete without some LSD, and no, not the kind some of you are thinking about. I was contacted by my friend and long-time running partner, known as Marcal on wilddogs, on Friday evening. "How about a Long Slow Distance to get your weekend going?" I cannot think of any single reason why not!
So, at 07:00 on Saturday we started off on a club run that will take us over a route of about 19km.
You know, just to get the legs ready for all those hours in the seat, and to get stocked up on those feel-good endorphins.

Got home, showered, and then took to the road.
Destination: Cederberg Oasis, where I put down my name for participation in their world famous Saturday buffet.  :snorting:

My route for the day:


Left home in Strand, and on to Op die berg via Ceres where I would encounter the first gravel part for the weekend.

First stop: Bain's kloof pass. Check to make sure that everything is still there, and secured.


Seems that the area had some good rains, as there were water flowing everywhere.


Warning before the pass on the R303 before Citrusdal.


And the view from the top.


Water still flowing…


And some more views.




Turning right in Citrusdal, before crossing the Olifantsriver, I follow the dirt road to Clanwilliam, with the N7 on the other side of the river.


At this crossing you have a choice to either stay on the dirt (just keep on going straight), or as I did, cross over to the N7 for the last bit to Clanwilliam, where I planned to stop for fuel.



Right, then it is the last bit, off to Cederberg Oasis via the Algeria road.
Awesome…




The view from the top of Uitkyk pass.






And on the other side, down into the valley.




















I arrived at Cederberg Oasis, and was actually delighted to hear that they still had one permanent tent left, upon which I promptly upgraded my reservation.
Right, tent pitched, bed made, now we can get ready to eat.  :pot:

And what a treat that was. Enough (great) food, an honesty bar to keep everyone happy (until they get the bill the next morning  >:D) and generally exceptional hospitality from Gerard and kie.

Day one, done and dusted. Let's get some shuteye.
(Or at least try)

Gear review:
The bad:
1. I have a newish pair of riding jeans, Spirit brand. Eish, those knee pads started to work into my knees after the first few hours. I guess you get what you pay for.
     My shopping list already has a pair of proper riding pants added now.

The good:
1. I used a Big Bag pannier bag bought from Flying Brick, absolutely love it. It sits nice and low on the pillion seat, and with the straps supplied I could fasten it so that there were virtually no movement.
2. Ear plugs. I have a set of custom molded ear plugs, had them for about 7 years now. I found that if you share a campsite with an overly eager female camper you need something to block out the piercing voices.  :bueller:
I slept like a rock!
« Last Edit: August 10, 2016, 08:23:39 pm by zagser »
 

Offline zagser

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Re: LSD + Irony + Kaapse draai = BIG GRIN
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2016, 09:47:57 pm »
Day2 (Econo run, Ouberg pass, farm gates, Karels Kraalpas, did I mention gates, Merweville, battery issues…)

Irony: [noun] " a situation in which something which was intended to have a particular result has the opposite or a very different result"
More on that later…..

Right, so waking up the next morning, I take a proper look at the setup. Nice!


If you look closely in the next photo, you will see the road ahead in the distance…


I went to the restaurant for a hearty breakfast. Now I am ready to settle my account, and head into the Tankwa.

The reception/front of the main building.


The route for the day (Note however that this was not the actual planned route, again, more on that later.)


And off we go.










So, I know that petrol is only available in Sutherland on Sundays for about an hour, after church, and that the owner of the petrol station should not be bothered on a Sunday afternoon for requests to help out with some fuel.
No problem, I will make a quick detour to Op die Berg, fill up and be back on the road in no time.
I did not want to go all the way to Merweville with the fuel I had on board. Or so I thought.
At Op die Berg, I find out that the only petrol station is run by die local co-op, and they only operate office hours, and only weekdays and Saturday mornings.
Hmmm. Now what.
I can make another change, and maybe go down to Ceres, and enter Tankwa from there?

No, I want to go in via Katbakkies pass. I will make a plan if need be. This is now where I go into econorun mode.
Tone down the use of the throttle hand, and let's see how far we can stretch the 21litres of fuel I have on board. I like a challenge.  :ricky:

Right, and so I get back on track.

The road to Katbakkies.


And then the view from Katbakkies




Ahh, Tankwa.




I never pass the opportunity to take a few moments and enjoy the Tankwa Padstal and its surroundings.


With some lekker boeretroos and a chocolate.


Before I leave, I chat to Hein, and one of his regular customers.
The other closest option for petrol is Middelpos.
They give me the name for the local who would be able to open up the petrol pump for me if need be.
Another option offered by the customer is that I can contact a local lodge he has given me the name of, they should be able to help out with some petrol.
Hmmm, Middelpos. That is again a deviation from my planned route, and then I miss Ouberg pass.
Let me see.







And what a spectacular display of colour:


















Looking at my fuel situation, I make the call to stay on the planned route.
I am sure I will be able to make it. And if need be, I can sleep over in Sutherland and get petrol the next day.
So I push past the turnoff towards Ganaga pass onto Middelpos.
Sutherland here we come.

Stopping along the way. Seems that they at least had some rain recently.




Turn off towards Ouberg pass.


 Ouberg pass…










Sutherland, the place on a Sunday afternoon is a ghost town.
I stop at the side of the road in town, and make myself a cup of coffee.



I now need to make a call. I have emptied the 5l fuel I carry with me into the tank about 7km before Sutherland.
That was when the fuel light came on.
I managed to get an average of about 3.7l/km up to here, so reserve, plus the 5 litres extra should get me to Merweville, easy.
Little did I know...

So, call made, coffee consumed and I am off to Merweville.

Shoot past the fuel pumps and hit the dirt.


Here I use my GPS for the first time, checking which direction I need to go.
I used Google My Maps to plot my daily routes, then exported the tracks to GPX format, which I then loaded onto my cellphone using OsmAnd as my off-line map app of choice. This was the second bit of kit that saved my bacon on this day, as you will find out later.
(The first one being that red container on the back, off course)


And now the fun begins.
I get to the next turnoff, and am greeted with this sign:


I guess I am not the first one aiming for Merweville via this road, thus the sign.
I consult my gps, and low and behold, I can continue straight.
Before putting the phone back, I notice the estimated time for the 60km left, is 1H30. Surely that must be a mistake?
I can do 80km/h on this track without breaking a sweat.

Can you see the rusty sigh for Merweville?




And then I get to see why progress was indicated as slower than slow…


It gets a bit technical here and there, but nothing serious. I am still enjoying myself.




And then, this starts:


I must have closed about 700 gates between Sutherland and Merweville!


Still enjoying it, still beautiful.






And so the sun starts to go, and I begin to wonder how many more gates I have left.





And then it was dark.

No problem, I have spotlights, a main beam, and heated grips. I have a gps I can consult whenever I get a fork in the road. I should be OK.
And for the remainder of this road I was.

I crept into Merweville after 19:00.
Knackered, and slightly worried.
The F800 beemers have a tendency to fry their stators.
Due to that issue, I have fitted a charge indicator. So that I can catch the issue early on.
During the past few kms to Merweville, I noticed that the bike is not charging anymore.
The battery is being drained. Ugh. Switch off the heated grips, and presto, bike charging again.
What I failed to notice is that when the going slowed down at tight tweespoor turns, or when I stopped to open and close gates, the revs was not high enough to charge the battery, even with the grips switched off.

So, now I am in Merweville, there are no streetlights, except one, and I have a bike with a dead battery. And here, Irony comes into play again.
I get helped by two fellow bikers who also stayed in the town, who happened to have been braai'ing and saw me under the light looking at my cellphone. Between them and the local store/guesthouse owner, I get sorted to a bed at a very good price (Even cheaper that what camping in Merweville would have cost me).
So, on day two, on a trip where the aim was to get away from people, I actually had to rely on the goodwill of others to help out a complete stranger.
My faith in people has been restored!  :thumleft:
I do also learn that the one and only petrol pump in Merweville gave up the ghost that Sunday morning.
I will now have to stretch my range to more than 500km!  :o

I then spend a little time with my newfound friends and their wives, drinking some coffee before settling in for the night.
Delightful group of people.

I even had undercover parking.


I make myself one promise before I fall asleep: the very very last option I will take is to phone 'Mad Macs-on-call' to come and fetch me and the bike.
Tomorrow is Monday, I will take the day as it comes.

I slept like a log!

Gear review:
The bad:
1. I have a newish pair of riding jeans, Spirit brand. Eish, those knee pads started to work into my knees after the first few hours. I guess you get what you pay for.
     My shopping list already has a pair of proper riding pants added now.
(Yes I did just post the the second time)

The good:
1. That extra 5 litres of fuel!
2. That extra 5 litres of fuel!
3. The OsmAnd app with offline maps. Whenever I was in doubt, or had to make a change, I just used that app. You can get a location fix, which will show you where you are on the map/track, and from there you can plan further ahead or make the needed adjustments. This really is an great app.
 

Offline zagser

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Re: LSD + Irony + Kaapse draai = BIG GRIN
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2016, 10:33:52 pm »
Day 3 (To Hell and back, literally!)

OK, so I get up on day three, Monday morning.
Go to the bike, check to see if by any miracle I have enough power to start it.
Nope, push the button and get the usual reset of the dials, but no roar of the motor.

Ok, so this can be one of three things. I first strip the cover to get to the battery.
Maybe one of the connections rattled loose.
Nope, everything tight as can be.


That leaves me with either a dead stator, and resultant dead battery, or just a battery that gave up the ghost as it is 5 years old.

Again, in comes the irony.
Just across the street where I slept, I hear some banging noises. In front of the building I see some windmill parts, and in the yard next to the building some jojo tanks.
The local engineering works!

I meet the owner, who also happens to own the guesthouse I slept in, and yes, also the shop on the corner. He quickly organises two of his employees to take one of several batteries over to my bike to see if we can jump start it.
Low and behold, it lives!
And it charges! (More on that in a bit)


I quickly load everything, not switching the bike off.
I plan on getting to Prins Albert Road at least, where I will fill up with Petrol.
If the bike then refuses to start after riding 43km, then I know it is the battery.
I should also be able to get someone to either help me with a battery or lift back home from there.

I greet everyone and on my way I go.

The route for day three:


I reach Prins Albert Road with the fuel light shining bright yellow, but with what I guess some 50 odd km left to go.
Just over 500km on 19 liters of fuel. Not bad!

Right, fueled up and she starts at the push of the button.
I later figured it out, and could actually replicate it. I had drained the battery by having my brights and spotlights on, and stopping every so often to open and close the gates, with the bike idling every time. Also, in some of the places the going was slow as it was difficult to see past the tight turns in the dark. I focused on the road ahead, and only looked down to see if the bike was charging when I got to fairly straight portions, where naturally the speed and revs were high enough to show it charging. All's well that end well!

Then it was on to Prins Albert for some breakfast.

Enjoying the sun.


And then I am off to Gamkaskloof, aka Die Hel, via Swartberg pass










Still Swartbergpass.


And then onto Gamkaskloof.
Absolute blast to ride this road. This is not a big gravel highway, with nice and smooth surfaces.
This road keeps you on your toes. With a few cars and bikes coming from the front to make things interesting.
Little washouts, some water crossings, erosion damage that makes the bike squeal under you.
What a ride. And then I am not even talking about coming back out again.



















Down in the kloof:


And drinking coffee here:


I planned on going in all the way, to look at the information centre etc, but seeing this, and remembering what the previous group of riders looked like when they came out, I decided to turn around.
I know the mud monster, intimately. And today I am not going to do the tanga with her…



Coming back out.




Swartberg pass on top, before going over to the Calitzdorp side.




Now going down the other side of Swartbergpass.



At Kobus se gat, I turn right, on towards Calitzdorp.












And then I stop at Ladismith for the night.




Gear review

The bad:
1. By now I have removed the knee pads from the Spirit riding jeans.

The good:
1. The little "ladies GS" – the battery episode completely forgotten, I really enjoyed the bike so far. Exceptional fuel consumption, and she handled all the passes so far with ease. Going out of Die Hel, the switchbacks, rocky outcrops, water crossings, everything was taken in its stride. I enjoyed playing and feeling her squirm underneath me. I also have a Mitas E10 in front, and E07 in the back. In my books a good combination. I commute up to three days a week, so as a bike and tyre combo that can do it all I cannot find any fault with it.
 

Offline zagser

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Re: LSD + Irony + Kaapse draai = BIG GRIN
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2016, 11:12:57 pm »
Day 4 ( More gates, armed escort, Jouberts pass, Home!)

So I wake up on day 4, Tuesday, women's day.
Glad I decided to cancel the camping spot and checked into the guesthouse, as the temperature at 08:30 is still 3 degrees.

The route for today:


Today I wished I had made a plan to mount my cellphone somewhere visible. I had quite a lot of places where I had to consult the GPS. And every time I had to stop, take off my glove and operate the cellphone. In the end, I was still glad that I had this option, as I changed the route during the day, and could just amend the GPS and look for other options in terms of routes.

The plan is to take the back roads towards Montagu, with the last gravel pass being Jouberts pass.
Early on I get onto roads going through farms. With even more gates to open and close. But the isolation and views make more than up for the effort.



















And then after quite some time, and even more farm gates, I get to the following:


I check, and low and behold I have cellphone signal. Tried to phone the number, but it does not exist.
I can either turn around (yeah right) or try to get permission from one of the farmsteads I passed just now.
Then, in comes my friend Google.
I get a new telephone number and speak to Ann who gives consent for me to enter on my way to the plathuis road.

And on we go.





And more…





And then, another gate.
This time it is manned with a security guard.

Ugh, do I now need to track back and get another route?
The sign says no pedestrians, bicycles or bikes. Something about dangerous animals.



Anyway, remove my gear and starts a light conversation with the guard.
The long and the short of it is that they will allow me to pass through on my way to Montagu, but I have to wait as they need to send an escort with a vehicle to accompany me through the area.
So 20 minutes later I get an armed escort to the other side of Sanbona nature reserve.
With no wild or any other animals for that matter spotted…

And then the road between Lainsburg and Montagu.






And then in the second Ouberg pass I get to this:


The start of Jouberts pass.

You will see on my map, this is not listed/marked on google maps, or on my OsmAnd maps, so I marked the pass with markers so you get an idea of where it is. This pass then brings you to the back to Montagu, and you enter from the Koo valley side.

What a glorious piece of road!







In Montagu I get refreshments and food from the Rambling Rose and head home via tar.





So, I now have another area that I would like to get to know better and that is the Karoo south of the N1. There are a million dirt roads (albeit, a lot of them with gates) and some awesome small passes and valleys. I will however always have a soft spot for the Tankwa. There is just something about that place that brings you peace.

I covered just over 1300km in these three days.

Gear review:
So, during this trip I carted along a tent, sleeping bag and blowup mattress, all of which was not used once. The 5 liter fuel, OsmAnd app and the Big Bag pannier bag was some of the gear I used and appreciated the most.

And so we live to see another day.  :ricky:
« Last Edit: August 10, 2016, 11:14:17 pm by zagser »
 

Offline ChrisL - DUSTRIDERS

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Re: LSD + Irony + Kaapse draai = BIG GRIN
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2016, 11:49:35 pm »
Ek het gedog LSD staan vir Lang Slap Draai ;)
Lekker kopskoonmaak trippie. :thumleft:
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Offline Fransw

Re: LSD + Irony + Kaapse draai = BIG GRIN
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2016, 06:41:55 am »
Mooi fotos en lekker trippie... Die Karoo is darem net die beste!
 

Offline arno

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Re: LSD + Irony + Kaapse draai = BIG GRIN
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2016, 07:18:52 am »
Lekker Anton .
So jammer ek het by jou fiets verby gestap in P A en nie die ryer gaan soek nie .
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Offline zagser

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Re: LSD + Irony + Kaapse draai = BIG GRIN
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2016, 07:46:07 am »
Lekker Anton .
So jammer ek het by jou fiets verby gestap in P A en nie die ryer gaan soek nie .

Volgende keer Arno.  :thumleft:

Snaaks hoe klein die wereld is ne.  ;)
 

Offline landieman

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Re: LSD + Irony + Kaapse draai = BIG GRIN
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2016, 11:16:00 am »
dit was nou n lekker saam ry gewees  :thumleft:
don't worry about things you can't change,change the things you can.
 

Online Peter Vee

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Re: LSD + Irony + Kaapse draai = BIG GRIN
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2016, 01:49:34 pm »
Nice RR... thanks for sharing!

Pete
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Offline ClimbingTurtle

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Re: LSD + Irony + Kaapse draai = BIG GRIN
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2016, 02:14:40 pm »
Very Nice Indeed!!

Up here in Gauti-land, we don't have so many gates on the small roads - those that are there definitely mean it's a no-go area - I would probably have turned around at the first gate!!

Time I came down there for a ride - maybe December.....
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Re: LSD + Irony + Kaapse draai = BIG GRIN
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2016, 02:34:41 pm »
jinne verlang ek nou die tankwa!

baie dankie vir die RR en al die fotos  :thumleft:
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Re: LSD + Irony + Kaapse draai = BIG GRIN
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2016, 04:29:40 pm »
Very lekker RR.  :thumleft:

Gonna have to put some of those routes on my bucket list.  :ricky:
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Offline Kykdaar

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Re: LSD + Irony + Kaapse draai = BIG GRIN
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2016, 05:01:28 pm »
Very nice and enjoyable report to read. :thumleft:
 

Online Bokveld

Re: LSD + Irony + Kaapse draai = BIG GRIN
« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2016, 10:07:56 pm »
Wat n lekker trip.Dankie vir die moeite om dit te deel. :thumleft:
 

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Re: LSD + Irony + Kaapse draai = BIG GRIN
« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2016, 04:26:17 am »
Awesome ride, and great RR. Thanks!  :thumleft: :ricky:
Young enough to know I can, old enough to know I shouldn't, stupid enough to do it anyway.
 

Offline zagser

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Re: LSD + Irony + Kaapse draai = BIG GRIN
« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2016, 07:34:21 am »
Very Nice Indeed!!

Up here in Gauti-land, we don't have so many gates on the small roads - those that are there definitely mean it's a no-go area - I would probably have turned around at the first gate!!

Time I came down there for a ride - maybe December.....

Ha ha, be careful of coming here, you might not want to return...

Ja, one needs to be careful.
Locked gates, and signs stating private property I pass.
You ignore those at your own peril, as people I used to ride with found out.
Think angry farmer, hunting rifle etc...

Most, if not all of the gates I passed through had signs asking to close the gate, that and the fact that google maps shows 'n road to where I am heading usually tells me it is fairly safe to proceed.
If you are then confronted, do not be a wise-ass.
Apologise and turn around, which is something I have yet to do, so usually no problems.

 :ricky:

 

Offline ClimbingTurtle

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Re: LSD + Irony + Kaapse draai = BIG GRIN
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2016, 09:23:32 am »
Very Nice Indeed!!

Up here in Gauti-land, we don't have so many gates on the small roads - those that are there definitely mean it's a no-go area - I would probably have turned around at the first gate!!

Time I came down there for a ride - maybe December.....

Ha ha, be careful of coming here, you might not want to return...

Ja, one needs to be careful.
Locked gates, and signs stating private property I pass.
You ignore those at your own peril, as people I used to ride with found out.
Think angry farmer, hunting rifle etc...

Most, if not all of the gates I passed through had signs asking to close the gate, that and the fact that google maps shows 'n road to where I am heading usually tells me it is fairly safe to proceed.
If you are then confronted, do not be a wise-ass.
Apologise and turn around, which is something I have yet to do, so usually no problems.

 :ricky:

Only time I ever had a gate issue, was in a 4x4, following a marked & numbered road from Kaapschehoop down towards Nelspruit, drove through the forests, eventually came to a locked electric gate within sight of the N4 - there was a pedestrian gate, so I walked through and Lo & Behold - a contact number on the other side - I called and explained to a nice lady how I happened to be there, she laughed and said that it is actually a free thoroughfare, the gate was only for farm security and if I come back we should stop at the farm & say hello!

My wife says we should go to the Cape on the bike in December. She can be persuasive too.   :patch: :thumleft:
www.majita.co.za - we sell tools!

"And if I knew I was going to be this thirsty, I would have drunk more last night"

2010 R1200GS Adventure SOLD - 2007 BMW G650x  - 2001 F650GS Dak SOLD - 1981 XT500 - 1980 XT500 - Gone to Mud Island for a better life with Roadcat the Lordly, Keeper of the Mead...!
 

Offline Klein Torkar

  • Senior Member
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  • Bike: BMW R1150GS
    Location: Mpumalanga
  • Posts: 576
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Re: LSD + Irony + Kaapse draai = BIG GRIN
« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2016, 08:29:15 pm »
Ai tog nou wil ek daar ook gaan ry, dankie vir die deel.
 

Offline Riaande

Re: LSD + Irony + Kaapse draai = BIG GRIN
« Reply #19 on: August 15, 2016, 08:51:31 pm »
Nice report, thanks for sharing.