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Offline DjfLoYd

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Limpopo! Who would've thought? ***Video Added - Day 2***
« on: August 15, 2016, 06:50:16 pm »
Firstly - a massive "thank you" to Steekvlieg for having us stay on his family farm at no cost.
Myself and Richard truly appreciate your hospitality and generosity.

Secondly - a big thank you to all the contributors in the "planning a ride" thread for this trip.
All your various inputs were greatly appreciated. This was one of my favourite rides thus far.

So, on to the ride reportÖÖ.

Thereís always a hidden danger when one is part of a community of like-minded people.

Itís a rather benign sort of danger at first. A quiet, lurking danger. And it always manifests itself when itís
too late to do anything about it. It usually jumps out of a bush, or emerges from a rocky river
or even comes sauntering down a rocky pass in the opposite direction.

I call it Trip Envy and itís our affliction. Or at the very least, itís mine.

A while back I saw some trip reports of Orrie Barragwanath and Lekgalameetse and I immediately
decided that I needed to go there. Ride that. Experience it. Trip Envy had me before I even knew it.
After consulting various sagacious forum members I hatched a plan, made some routes
and found a base of operations for two days of riding in Limpopo province.

Limpopo was a place I knew nothing about. I often passed through it on the N1 on my way to Zimbabwe.
The province, whose name is derived from the Sepedi for ďstrong gushing waterfallĒ, was as foreign to me
as anywhere in deepest, darkest Africa. As it turned out, though, the place is a gold mine for off road riding.

Two of us loaded our much loved KTM 690s onto a trailer and made our way north from the capital, early
on Saturday morning. Ahead lay two days of riding.

Day 1.
Distance: 249Km
Time: 10 Hours 58 Min.

First a little tar to get to the good stuff. Luckily only about 30Km of black stuff. The crisp fresh air
and early start made it more tolerable.

A quick stop at Ofcolaco, a name I found annoying to pronounce at first. Turns out
itís an acronym of sorts and stands for Officers Colonial Land Company. It was started by
former British army officers after the first world war. The petrol station is pretty much all that remains
of the shared services and facilities these officers set up. Their descendants are still in the area though.

The eastern entrance to Lekgalameetse Reserve. Signed in, R70 poorer and off we go. The mountains in
the background being our destination. Our route was to take us out of the southern gate of Lekgalameetse
reserve and on to Penge (pronounced Pen-sh-uh) via some little-used pass that certain forum
members alluded to. Remember Trip Envy? Not long now and she makes her first appearance.

Closer to those above mentioned mountains as we approach Mafefe. We are now well inside
Lekgalameetse reserve and heading south. The scenery is dry for the most part with smatterings of
green. Itís still early morning, the sky is clear and the temperature is perfect for riding. 

Very suddenly, the scene looks very different. We find ourselves in what looks like a tropical forest.
There is a steady stream that we constantly criss cross. Here was one of the first few crossings.
It was unbelievably picturesque and felt completely out of place, as if we had suddenly ridden
into a post card. Dry and brown one minute, green and over grown the next.

Now, as it happens - when the going getís rough the pictures become few. After one such stream
crossing we were faced with a rather steep and rocky climb. The path suddenly felt as if the stream
was no longer of interest and that the top of the mountain was a far better place to be. I made it roughly
two thirds of the way up before a rock stopped my forward momentum and I came to a halt.
I immediately realised I was on a rather steep slope because no matter which combination of front and
back brakes I tried, the bike insisted on sliding back down. Clearly intent on going back to enjoying the
stream and to hell with this hill business. Thankfully a rock (probably the same bastard that stopped me
in the first place), some swearing and a little brute force kept the bike stationary. The freshly
drenched tyres helped nothing. I quickly dismounted and tried to push the bike while giving it clutch and
throttle. Nothing but wheel spin. I cursed a little more. Some choice words I might add.

Suddenly, there she was. Trip Envy. That little bitch was sitting just off
to the side of the path having a good laugh at me. ďYou seeĒ she said, ďYou want to ride
routes other people ride? Now you have to suffer the consequences. Google Earth canít show you everything!Ē
Richard was about half way up the incline behind me and walking up. He could see that I needed a push
and that I was not going to get the required momentum to get going again. At least not on my own.
Man, itís good to not ride alone.

As always, photos are particularly bad at conveying inclines. Or rocks. Or degrees of difficulty. Itís simply
a format that does not lend itself to conveying that information. So take it on my word. It was steep. It was

After walking back down and fetching his bike, we both stopped on a more level spot to catch our breath.
While the climb was fairly technical it was not that bad actually. What was bad, though, was our fitness.
Clearly we had none between the two of us. In just the next few kilometres we climbed up and up towards
the southern gate and with each rocky climb my fore arms pumped up like some juice monkey
after a work out session. I was knackered and the day had barely begun. Trip Envy was around every
corner. Laughing her ass off.

The southern gate of Lekgalameetse Reserve.

After some more rocky climbs (that were at least done on dry tyres now) we reached the spine of the mountain
along side Lekgalameetse. Here we stopped for a quick break and so that Richard could take off some
of his warmer under garments. It was getting pretty toasty by now.

Having had a quick break we headed along the spine of the mountain and then slowly descended
down the other side into a valley. Here we rode along jeep tracks and single tracks. Troops of
baboons as big as great danes ran in front of us, as startled by us as we were of them. The scenery
was awesome, riding between hills on all sides. Small streams were crossed and some were fallen into.

Richard managed to fall over in a stream and got pinned underneath his bike. His boot firmly wedged
between a big rock and his bike. I was slightly ahead of him and did not hear his shouts or his hooter.
Fortunately I stop every so often and wait for him to catch up. When this did not happen after a few minutes,
I started back along the route to see where he was. As luck would have it he managed to free himself
within short order and was already back on the bike by the time I got to him. Not more than 5 minutes had elapsed
between him falling over and me finding him, but after he realised he was seemingly stuck the
combination of transitory panic and the remoteness of our location slowed everything down and made it feel like
he was trapped for hours. His eyes were fairly wide to say the least and I found he stayed a lot closer from there on.

What goes into a valley must come out of a valley at some point. And this the path surely did.
We crossed some streams and suddenly found ourselves at the base of a mountain.
The route snaked up the mountain, rocky and loose.
Kind of like a drug-addled-Hillbrow prostitute (or so Iím lead to believe).

After some twists and turns, and I mean hairpin turns, we found ourselves roughly halfway up
the mountain. The going was good but tough, the small rocks made for some traction issues but generally
we managed to get up with not too much fuss. Our fitness however was letting us down badly. That and the
heat were doing us no favours. I would hate to do this route in the dead of summer. At one point I had to
walk back down and help Richard traverse a slightly tricky, off camber, rocky, hairpin bend but other than
that we managed well. Second gear and some clutch worked like a charm for me. After a particularly hairy
corner, where I lost traction due to fatigue and a loss of concentration, I finally boiled over. I had to stop and
take a break and get some kit off to cool down. Even my bikeís clutch was starting to cook. Trip Envy was
loving this.

We finally made it up and over the mountain only to have to descend into another valley.
This descent was just as rocky (more so actually) than the climb we just did. I found
it was easier going down as I just picked a line and let the wheels and suspension do the work.
That was the riding at least. The standing and leg work was another story. Somewhere
on the way down my legs started quivering like a nervous school girl at prom night with Johnny B. Goode
behind the bleachers. Damn! I am unfit! Luckily I had some conditioning left thanks to playing soccer
and some cycling from days past. Richard was not so lucky. He was paste! He could not even stand on the pegs.
Sitting down on those rocky slopes did him no favours but we both got down the mountain with no incident.

At some point at the bottom of the pass we passed what looked like a small village and I think I saw the
name Murasi. Once there though it was lowlands and dry river beds. Easy riding until just before Penge.

Here we had the Olifants river to cross. Now here is where I question my sanity. Look at the photo and you will see
a perfectly working bridge, not 1km down the road. Yet we decide itís a great idea to cross the river
at a rocky section where the water is running low and fast. I can just see Trip Envy out of the corner of my eye.
Sheís watching me like a bad practical joke watches an unsuspecting victim. I feel her anticipation.
Oh what the hell, the river is shallow. How bad can the rocks be?

The rocks were not that big but they were as slippery as the front row of a Justin Bieber concert.
(again, so Iím told).

After swearing, blaspheming, cussing and cursing my way across the Olifants river rocks, my malediction-infused
crossing ended on the opposite, sandy banks under a tree with me having to empty out water from my boots.
Now I was grumpy. Itís one thing to battle heat, rocks and inclines but itís a whole new level of ďaf kakĒ to ride
with wet feet. Trip Envy was rolling on the floor with glee. Dismally, Richard fared no better. He got proper
stuck in the middle of the river. The bike just spraying water into the air. Unenthusiastically, I had to walk
back into the river and help push him out. That was a process all on itís own. I havenít laughed so hard in ages.
For some obscure reason (in hind sight, most likely because I was pulling the bike sideways and not forwards) every time
we inched over a rock the back of the bike came around. Eventually he was facing upstream and couldnít
understand why. Especially since I professed innocence and offered no reason for the bikes strange behaviour.

We eventually made it to Penge and found a lovely lady-proprietor of a small shop called Hlongiís.
Here we bought some ice cold water and Sprite. Her shop was clean as a whistle and she was
bubbly and friendly. Laughing the whole time. I suspect she thought we were crazy, basweu. She is
the lady in white, sitting down.

Chugging our drinks and refilling our Camelbacks we did the same to our bikes. With freshly refilled
petrol tanks we carried on. Trip Envy now riding shotgun on the back with me. We had a short tar stretch to

Not too far down the road we crossed over the Olifants River again as we headed north again towards
the western entrance of Lekgalameetse Reserve. This time a lot less drama on the slippery rocks
and only about a 100 metres of deep, dried-up river sand before hitting the next embankment.

By now the day was getting on and the sun was getting closer to the horizon.
We still had the Orrie Baragwanath Pass to do. As it turned out it was
rocky but not bad at all. We hit some traffic halfway up when we came across a group
of 4x4 vehicles heading in the opposite direction, one of which had broken down.
Luckily we had a gap we could take to pass them. The route was slightly more intricate than I thought it would be. Remembering
all the ride reports I read, it seemed a lot tamer for some reason (perhaps I thought the bigger bikes
would not have ventured here) but was still a breeze compared to what we had done earlier that day.
Richardís facial expression very clearly articulated his feelings towards yet more rocks. Trip Envy liked him.

Some views from the Orrie B. pass.

The late afternoon sun made it decidedly more stunning in my opinion. Both Richard and I have been
fortunate enough to have travelled to many corners of our earth and we both agreed, there is still
nothing out there like big African sky.

We carried on through the reserve and went up to the view point. Here you get a view of the knuckles.
Behind me in case you werenít certain.

The bikes that brought us here.

After enjoying the view (and some biltong) we headed back down and out of the reserve.
The last few kilometres of the reserve is tarred and made for a nice relaxing way to wind
down a great days riding. By the time we got out the reserve the sun was low
on the horizon and we clearly had to make a dash for the farm where we were staying.
We rode the last stretch of dirt road into the farm in the dark. Parking our bikes
we climbed off feeling accomplished, tired and very, very satisfied.
Trip Envy could suck it.

Day 2 coming soon....
« Last Edit: May 17, 2017, 11:40:46 am by DjfLoYd »

Offline Fransw

Re: Limpopo! Who would've thought?
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2016, 07:10:26 pm »
Mooi RR so far. Thanks for the educational inserts! :snorting:

Waiting for the rest..

Offline Heimer

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Re: Limpopo! Who would've thought?
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2016, 07:17:57 pm »
Exemplary perambulatory manifest

My complimentary compliments

Matriek getuigskrif 1979: ........... is 'n vriendelike seun met volop selfvertroue. Hy tree soms vreemd op. Die skool se beste wense vergesel hom.

Offline Crossed-up

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Re: Limpopo! Who would've thought?
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2016, 07:31:57 pm »
Great report! Beautiful area. Trip Envy's been whispering in my ears for a long time already. She's a proper bitch, she is.

Offline Fransw

Re: Limpopo! Who would've thought?
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2016, 07:39:28 pm »
Why waiting so long for the next part? Or are you guys changing oil and airbox troubles!? :snorting:

Sorry...outta here!

Offline Klein Torkar

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Re: Limpopo! Who would've thought?
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2016, 08:06:40 pm »
Nice, well written waiting on the rest.

Offline skydiver

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Re: Limpopo! Who would've thought?
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2016, 08:41:41 pm »
You have a special way with words  :thumleft:
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Offline GSpear

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Re: Limpopo! Who would've thought?
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2016, 08:57:09 pm »
Sub!  :thumleft: :thumleft:

Offline Pilchie

Re: Limpopo! Who would've thought?
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2016, 09:00:06 pm »
May you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live

Offline T Rex

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Re: Limpopo! Who would've thought?
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2016, 07:28:21 am »
Thank you , well written and awesome pics.  :ricky:

Offline Mooch

Re: Limpopo! Who would've thought?
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2016, 08:10:22 am »
Sub - Looks awesome.  :thumleft:
I will read it properly later when I have a bit more time...
If in doubt, flat out.

Offline Lou1

Re: Limpopo! Who would've thought?
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2016, 08:16:31 am »
Great RR!

We did the Lekgalameetse part with KLR's plus kit.

Ons het bloed gepoep!  :lol8:


Offline Minxy

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Re: Limpopo! Who would've thought?
« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2016, 09:28:02 am »
Nice ride report and a very cool route! This is sooo on my bucket-list as well. Looking forward to part two :)
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Offline ButtSlider

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Re: Limpopo! Who would've thought?
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2016, 10:00:53 am »
lekker chirpy RR.

Well done.
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Offline Steekvlieg

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Re: Limpopo! Who would've thought?
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2016, 10:38:53 am »
Lekker! i've been waiting for this RR

Offline landieman

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Re: Limpopo! Who would've thought?
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2016, 11:04:03 am »
nice  :thumleft:
don't worry about things you can't change,change the things you can.

Offline DjfLoYd

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Re: Limpopo! Who would've thought?
« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2016, 11:23:38 am »
Day 2
Distance: 252Km
Time: 8 Hours 33 Min.

The morning of day 2 saw us wake up somewhat later. The plan for today was more relaxed.
I had a rough route planned that I mostly used google earth to plot. It looked like dirt highways mostly.
I was very keen to check out Bewaarskloof but after the long day we had previously we both felt
it was going to be a long slog to get there and back. That and the fact that we would either have had
to double back the same way or go through Lekgalameetse again sealed the decision to give it a skip.
Repetition is not my forte.
But Trip Envy will make sure I do Bewaarskloof some day soon.

Having driven up through Magoebaskloof on Saturday we were both in agreement that we had to ride that
tar on the bikes at some point this weekend. It looked like far too much fun to pass up. Apparently it is the
20th steepest pass in SA with an altitude change of roughly 450m in 5Km.

A quick bowl of Kellogís Chocos, a glass or fresh orange juice and a cursory brushing of teeth and we were on the
bikes heading north out of the farm. We slabbed it on the main road into Tzaneen for fuel. Full tanks and still slightly
sodden boots, we headed west towards Magoebaskloof and Haenertsburg via the tar road.

My KTM was running Michelin T63 up front and a Pirelli MT21 on the back and they did well on the tar.
At some point my inner Valentino Rossi started taking over and I found myself dragging boots through
the corners thinking ďThis front is gonna let go any second now, maybe I should check the brass balls
at the door. Still a long day ahead.Ē As luck would have it the front end did not overly test the laws of friction
and we coasted into Haenertsburg, a gold mining town dating back to 1886 and the highest point in Limpopo,
for a fuel top up and a light breakfast.

We stopped at Minkiís. A fairly run-of-the-mill-small-touristy-artsy-town-in-the-countryside type establishment
but only on first impression. We were served by the re-incarnation of Barney the Dinosaur but without
the purple suite and annoying singing. Our waitress was so bubbly you couldíve poured her into a tall
glass. I love small town people or even big city people who work in small town places. They always have
a story to tell. I wish we heard hers. The food took a while but was well worth it and the coffee was fantastic.
This place gets the Dirty-Adventure-Biker-Seal-of-Approval. Not the highest accolade to be honest, since any
place that just lets us through the door looking like we do, in full gear, gets the same seal of approval.

Right at the intersection where Minkiís finds itself is a route out of Haenertsburg that almost immediately
puts you on a dirt road heading south in the direction of Bewaarskloof. We were going to do a loop south of
Haenertsburg and then a loop north of it. For the most part the initial roads were dirt highways. Nice and fast
with scenery aplenty, a mixture of cacti, shrubbery and hills on either side.
Trip Envy was back at the farm sulking.

This photo was taken at pretty much the point where we started heading back towards Wolkberg
and Haenertsburg. I didnít realise at the time but the road actually cuts through the northern most tip of the
Bewaarskloof Reserve. Up to now the roads have been smooth dirt highways with patches of shallow sand
and the corners were persuading the throttle hand to open up each time, leaving long smooth exit lines in the dirt.
Pure. Riding. Bliss.

At some point in our westerly travels we turned off a main road and found ourselves in plantation country.
The dirt became hard, compacted (by logging vehicles I guess) and rougher but were still easy going.
The cool forenoon air and brisk pace keeping the gratification levels high.

Not long after, we started descending into the valley adjacent to the Wolkberg Reserve. The road
seemed to be inside the reserve but we never actually entered it.

We did come across an entrance gate (with a sign that clearly precluded any vehicle from entering).
Luckily the road ambled past these gates and continued along the valley floor.
Stream crossings and ground water seeping up onto the jeep track made for muddy sections.
Richard Iím sure was not missing the rocks at all.

A stream crossing about 80m wide, the water goes all the way around the bend and deepens slightly.

At one point we came across an old, abandoned farm house, the roof long gone.
I could kick myself for not taking a photo.
It was maybe 100m from a flowing stream and its back was right up against a cliff.
Iím sure whomever lived here had it rough as I doubt they had electricity or water from a tap
but, wow, did they at least have a piece of heaven to live in. We rode on.
Not a few metres further I suddenly came to an abrupt, unplanned stop. My front wheel
had locked up of its own accord. Luckily I was going slowly, looking at the scenery, and managed
to catch the bike before I fell over. Inspecting the situation I found a long piece of ďblou draadĒ had
ensnared my front wheel and had coiled itself around my disc guard and brakes.
Nothing a Leatherman couldnít cut out and fortunately no damage. Within a few minutes we pressed on
and exited the valley floor.

Looking back at the valley we came out of.

It was roughly mid day and the temperature was being unkind as the mercury rose higher and higher.
Not long after leaving the valley floor we came across the Groot Letaba River. We stopped here
to drench our fore arms in water. This is an excellent way to cool down that does not shock the system.
I was once explained to that wetting a buff, for example, and placing it around your neck actually
causes the blood flow to be restricted to your brain. I have minimal brain power as is and need all my
faculties about me. So soaking arms it is.
*Editors Note: Wholly unsubstantiated opinions were just made. Use at your own risk*

The water was crystal clear and mountain-top cold. I resisted the enticement to drink it, rather
doing as Richard and just using it to cool down.

A short while later we turned off the tar road to Haenertsburg to go look at Ebenezer Dam.
You can see the country-wide draught had visited here as well. The steep embankment
showing clearly the drop in water level. We didnít stick around for the tour. Back in Haenertsburg
we topped up the fuel levels again and headed north towards Woodbush Reserve.

We were advised by some locals about a route called Cheerio but when arriving at the indicated start
we found signs prohibiting quads and bikes. We decided to go west instead and then north to avoid any
upset locals. Little did we know, this route was going to get interesting. We followed forestry roads
that went up and down the mountain, we passed waterfalls and log cabins. Eventually we found ourselves
climbing skywards and suddenly there was a picnic table on the side of the road. Seemed a good enough
spot for a light snack, a lonely tractor rumbled past with a friendly wave and a toot.

Now here is where the unknown, untested route stood up and paid attention to us, like a
heavily moustached, wood working school teacher with a big stick,
looking for that little shit who just threw a piece of chalk at him.
We had finished our biltong snacks and climbed back on the bikes. We were heading west but
needed to get onto a road that went north to Mooketsie. At some point we turned right onto a
jeep track that clearly had not seen much use. The GPS showed that this track would
join the dirt road we desired. Great. My GPS clearly has a sense of humour.
Before we knew it, we were descending the same mountain we had just climbed. The only
problem was that, with each bend or twist, the jeep track was becoming more and more
overgrown and more and more steep. After becoming a single track it became a faint ghost track.
With only a hint that this was once a jeep track, we had no choice but to press on. Dead and dry pine needles covered
every inch of what was once a track, only the slightest hint of space indicated that this was the
way to go. I swear my GPS laughed at me. We got to a point where there was a rocky drop off, I dropped down
and I had to ride about 50m further just to get a spot I could park my bike so I could go back up and help Richard.
I was loving it! Richard gave me that look of ďReally?!? You just had to find a technical section?!Ē but I could
tell he was having fun. As it turns out we came down with no incident and found the road to Mooketsie.

The road to Mooketsie is dirt super highway. Wide and smooth. Maybe as a result of the technical descent where
we averaged walking pace, I opened up the throttle and blasted my way to Mooketsie. I waited 7 minutes at the end
of the road for Richard to catch up. At one point an oncoming truck was spraying water across the dirt road, I had the bright
idea of riding through the spray of water. A moment after I blasted through the spray, I could smell what most
certainly was not sanitary water. Clearly they donít use the good stuff to throw on the ground. That was fun.

We filled up at Mooketsie. A typical rural petrol station complete with a belligerent village drunkard.
I had to play nice not to smack his inebriated head off his shoulders when he charged up to me
shouting (in his home language) and gesticulating wildly as I exited the small shop with some cool drinks.
I have no idea what he was saying but I suspect he was well versed in anti-white rhetoric. Fortunately
another local fellow intervened and told him to ďTsek! Jou fokken dronk bilksem!Ē. I laughed inside my helmet
as we rode off, the scolded drunkard eyeballing me as I rode off. Clearly not a fan of us.

From here it was a few kilometres of tar to Modjadjieskloof. There we cut across to the northern tip of the Tzaneen dam.
A pleasant little dirt road winding through more plantations and farmland. I think itís called Duiwels Kloof.
Our ride was coming to an end and so was the day.

We did the last few kilometres to the farm and stopped on the Letaba River than ran nearby for a last photo opportunity.
While doing so a VW polo (complete with emission cheating software) pulled up on the bridge and out popped a very
attractive little blonde number. All smiles and waves. Clearly us lads, all kitted up and besides our steeds were a thing of
majestic distinction. So much so that she had to stop and talk to us. Our chests swelled.
ďCan my German boyfriend please take a photo of you guys? He loves bikes and also rides a KTM.Ē
Our chests deflated some what. Bollox.
After chatting with afore mentioned German boyfriend for far longer than is heterosexually healthy, we
concluded that the coolest people ride bikes. He had a KTM 690 motard back home and showed us pics of
his bike parked in front of World War 1 or 2 U-Boats. There we were, in the middle of a river talking to a German
biker about bikes and riding and the pleasures it entails. Said blonde number was back in the car waiting. Ah well.

The next morning we hit the road back home early in the morning with the intention of missing
as much holiday traffic as possible and spurred on by our pining for our wives and kids.
What a complete and utter blast.

If you read this far, thank you, but what is wrong with you?! Get back to work!

Online ROOI

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Re: Limpopo! Who would've thought?
« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2016, 12:00:44 pm »
Thank U what a nice read  :thumleft:

Offline Xpat

Re: Limpopo! Who would've thought?
« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2016, 12:11:37 pm »
Thank you for very entertaining write-up.  :thumleft:

I wanted to do this for a while. Just few questions:

- @DJfloyd: you did the Penge pass at the beginning of day 1 - right (you are a big clandestine there)?
- @anybody: if one wants to ride day 2 with the similar level of technicality as day 1 in this report, would Bewaarskloof be the right place to look for that? And if not - is there anything similar around?

« Last Edit: August 16, 2016, 12:12:07 pm by Xpat »

Offline Edgar

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Re: Limpopo! Who would've thought?
« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2016, 12:17:42 pm »
Nice trip report, I enjoyed it!  :thumleft: