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Offline Riverrat

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"Long Way Round" Graskop floods, mud and punctures
« on: February 04, 2006, 11:28:14 pm »
Sorry the pics are all different sizes...I can't seem to get the photobucket storage standardized. It's probably best to copy the report to MS word and read it there.

Well the trip went like this..
Friday 27th while everybody else was debating whether to go to the Stag, 15 offroad guys affiliated to the Suzuki Adventure Club met in Edenvale and headed East. There had been a flood warning (which only Suz Marketing MD Steve Swanepoel knew about!) so they were selling blue & white Suz rain-suits at the start?.!

Along the way we met up with a few more and eventually 25 bikes, re-grouped at Misty Mountain Inn on a very misty Long Tom Pass

Jeroen Luyk of Enjoy Rides was the co-ordinator and briefed the experienced and not-so, about what to expect, where to turn left / I mean right / sorry left, oh whatever etc, and tyre pressures, mud, and what waterfalls not to get lost at. (Front was deflated to 1.6 bar, back to 1.7bar)

We then headed down the Old Voortrekker route straight across from the Inn, and headed down towards the Horseshoe Falls and trout dams nearby. This section was a good firm introductory section with little mud and scenic dark forest sections. I sneaked off to the always spectacular Lone Creek Falls as well (where I fell in completely with helmet, riding gear and video-cam a few years back, much to the amusement of the old Riverrats Club) This was also where Zermatt?s (my husky?s) ashes were released to roam the forests when he died back then.
We rejoined the tar near Lone Creek and then took the main tar road through Sabie to Graskop. Me and my wee Funduro had a great dice with a Nissan 350Z from Plett, and fortunately knowing the road well, and with some traffic to hold him up, I arrived at the Bonnet some way ahead. The wet tar on the tight turns made it most interesting. Got to meet and chat to the fellow that evening with much glee!

We overnighted at Mogodi Lodge in Graskop, which on Thursday received a hundred mills of rain, Friday another 80, and Friday night another hundred! The next morning everybody kitted up with essentials only for a light dirt stroll. The sun shone brightly but the forecast was floods! We had quite a few novices, including some German folks who had hired F650?GS?s for the weekend, and about 8 of the bikes were 2-up. All ready, we headed further east down through Kowyns Pass, and then turned north onto the dirt road.

Then all MUD hit the sky. Within a few hundred metres my corduras were already turning to a shade of diarrhoea. This was gonna be a long day. Immediately the better riders coped easier, and made good time, but the novices trembled and fussed (understandably) and occasionally glanced across at the big-boys to help ride across a section or two. We had three river crossings, the second of which reminded me many a time of Charley Boorman?s travels across Mongolia and down the Road of Bones. The water had risen 20 cm overnight, and the river width had about doubled. Not quite what Jeroen had reccie?d the day before. These were great fun, and everybody helped everybody else push the rigs through the very fast and strong flowing water. The bottom concrete slab was broken up and heaps of large pebbles made it even trickier, but a few guys did manage to ride through unassisted.
The experienced guys had a heap more fun?we got to ride many other folk?s scoots through as well?I got to do some obstacles four times each. After checking out everybody else?s bad choice track, and walking back a time or two, I had a good idea of the best submerged sections, and felt quite the ?pro? cruising through with a lot of speed and big spray! (I wouldn?t have done that on my baby though!) There were also quite a few real mud-patches where even the 4x4 logging trucks got bogged in. We passed through a few local villages where the ?plaaslike bevolking? got all excited and though the Dakar rally had arrived.

At one point I steered off the road to let a large Caterpillar dumpster pass, and ended up sliding in this thin brown slime that just kinda did nothing for the traction and lots for gravity!. At this point there was no shiny side to keep up, so the bike baled and I looked shyly over my shoulder to see if anybody had noticed?bad move! Me being at the front?and everybody stopped?.of course they had! Even Ian Mclaren had his helmet-cam focused on me!
The KTM fellows gassed off into the distance so far they lost everybody else and even missed the Mariepskop turnoff and view.

Then the bad luck started. I got a puncture in the real back stix. A steel timber-staple came through the side wall and into the inner tube (Funduro?s don?t have tubeless tyres). Our small group was a half hour ahead so I decided to remove the wheel, lever off the tyre and patch what I thought was one hole, while everybody chuckled and helped. There were three gatjies which WE patched, and wrestled the tyre back on. Pumped it up with a cheapo electric tyre pump and headed on towards Mariepskop. By now it was getting very hot and the humidity and thirst got worse. A bridge got washed away and diversions through forest tracks. and more low-level river crossings added more stress. The climb up Mariepskop was nerve wracking for many, and a marbled surface didn?t help the confidence much. To top it all when we reached the top, we discovered we had to buy permits at the forest station 2 km?s back to get through the security boom. Damn that? we U-turned and headed down and my tube went flat again. Over the next 26 km?s I inflated it four times with many borrowed Tyre-weld cans and another twice with the compressor, and eventually rode about 20 km on the flat wheel to a garage in Klaserie. By now it was hot 2pm, most of the group had gone ahead, but a very loyal and helpful Helgard Potgieter hung back with me and we removed the wheel tyre and tube and patched it a second time.. the first had come off. This time I wrapped Insulation tape over the patches to hold them in place, and we headed north to the Hoedspruit Cheetah Rehabilitation project where lunch was had. We arrived as everybody was leaving, but after lunch took a shortcut back to Klaserie and along the Swadini road to catch the main group heading south from Hoedspruit. We came out ahead of them, with their headlights creeping up behind, so I opened up a bit and BANG!!! The valve came off the tube and at 150 kph the bike weaved and swayed all over the place. By now I was used to the feeling and kept her going at about 120 for about 5 km?s till the Manoutsa Caravan Park below Strydom Tunnel, planning to patch another hole there. Not a chance?the wheel was well and truly wrecked. Helgard pulled in behind me as the rest of the pack disappeared into the tunnel. He tried to phone?no signal. I hauled out out my phone?...but no phone!! :twisted :evil: :  And no road-glove :evil: . The top-box wasn?t closed properly, and some baboon was probably sitting in a tree on Mariepskop with a red and white Lookwell glove on his right hand trying to work out how to access the Think Bike site from my PDA. I bet every time the phone rang with Katrina and the Waves banging out ?Walking on Sunshine? this ape probably sprung 6-feet in the air and baled off his branch!

So I abandoned the bike at the park and Helgard gave me a 120 km lift back to Graskop.
It was 5pm by the time we reached the Blyderiver turnoff, so we opt to bypass the Caspers Nek dirt section and head down the tar along the Canyon to Graskop, with a deviation to a strong-flowing and spectacular Lisbon Falls. As we got home the anticipated rain hit. The few bikes who had come through Casper?s Nek and Pilgrim?s Rest reported the tar road into the later washed away, and only just passable for bikes!

In Graskop a very helpful and obliging Jeroen attempted every way possible to locate a replacement tyre, and we considered more riding pillion to Sabie and then back to Hoedspruit to fit one, but with the dark and rain coming in I settled for driving the Kombi doing a trailer recovery. It was 10.30 pm before I got back, and I?d missed most of the celebrations, but at least had my ?baby? home.

Sunday we awoke to heavy fog and it had rained another 100 odd mm overnight. But still the intrepid adventurers suited up, packed their panniers and headed out into the misty mountains for the tar ride home.

I have to admit:
I enjoyed every bit of it.

I?ve restructured the report with the pics at the end to make easier reading.




hen the going get's tough, the tough get covered in MUD!

Offline JCP777

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"Long Way Round" Graskop floods, mud and punctures
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2006, 11:39:55 pm »
:D   8) :D 8)   :D

So when's the next 1?

Offline macduff

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"Long Way Round" Graskop floods, mud and punctures
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2006, 11:50:56 pm »
already commented on teh TB site...  :lol:
also nice to see that suzuki didnt make it an exclusive weekend...

lekker  :wink:

Offline LiveInTheOutdoors

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"Long Way Round" Graskop floods, mud and punctures
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2006, 07:15:39 am »
Quote from: "macduff"
already commented on teh TB site...  :lol:
also nice to see that suzuki didnt make it an exclusive weekend...

lekker  :wink:

amen on the Suzuki comment (bmw woulda done it) - RiverRat, welkommen broer, and great report. man that looks like fun. lekker scenery, awesome mud and water to gooi, lekker goed!!!!
very minute is a chance to turn it all around - Vanilla Sky

>Mav... started gym. Officially at 95kg....<


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"Long Way Round" Graskop floods, mud and punctures
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2006, 08:34:28 am »
Fantastic report K.

I can picture the baboons playing with your PDA!

Good to see a mix of bikes, Funduro, Dakars, Africa Twin, 1200 GS , 1150GS , Wee Strom, Big Katoom 950, Cagiva, KLR.

Offline Leo

"Long Way Round" Graskop floods, mud and punctures
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2006, 02:14:34 pm »
Great report Riverrat.  :D

Sorry to hear about your losses! :oops:

Seems like that weekend was meant to be muddy, we had quite a bit at the Stag as well, but seems like you had more fun ! 8)
Grey Haired Riders Don't get that way from pure luck!

Offline sidetrack

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"Long Way Round" Graskop floods, mud and punctures
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2006, 03:35:58 pm »
Great trip ! I really wanted to go, well maybe next time.
Little by little, one travels far
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Offline funacide

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"Long Way Round" Graskop floods, mud and punctures
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2006, 07:41:57 pm »

Looks like a good time was had by all. Well done....
 :)  :)  :)

Offline >Herman<

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"Long Way Round" Graskop floods, mud and punctures
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2006, 10:39:02 pm »
Lekker RR, LEKKER!!!!!! 8)  :lol:

Offline wino

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"Long Way Round" Graskop floods, mud and punctures
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2006, 09:56:08 am »
excellent report and great pics!  8) and i thought that we had in bad in the mud to the klip :oops: !

Offline JourneyMan

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"Long Way Round" Graskop floods, mud and punctures
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2006, 10:28:48 am »
Excellent report and nice pics! The ET certainly have some opportunities for DS riders.

Water and mud! Lekker!!!
He who angers you, controls you.