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Offline Zanie

Kamieskroon: Broken Bones and a Burning Bike
« on: April 09, 2017, 10:24:32 pm »
Thanks to a great Namibia trip, Lance and I, along with his parents, decided to join another WAVolt-organised ride with Michael Cowley; this time a 4-day trip to Kamieskroon area. Lance, my usual route planner, got to sit back and relax! It shaped up to be a very eventful ride. We got to see first-hand why a trained medic is brought along. It is insurance you hope never to use, but you cannot be lucky every time. Thanks to Michael, Hyron, Lance and Lynette for all the footage and photos!

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/JUF5OgMhK50" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/JUF5OgMhK50</a>

Day 01 (20 Oct Thu)

Actual distance (from Cape Town): 511 km
Recorded distance (from start of gravel): 134 km
Elapsed time (from start of gravel): 03:26:19 (39 km/h)
Moving time (from start of gravel): 03:00:49 (44 km/h)

The group met in the early hours of the morning in Malmesbury. How many bikes and riders? No idea. Enough for me not to remember most peoples’ names. I’m a lost cause with names even in a small group. This was beyond my capabilities.

We slabbed it all the way to Bitterfontein, stopping only once for lunch and petrol at Klawer. It was late October at the time of this trip, but despite the hot weather, a cool breeze kept us comfortable. Bitterfontein represented the last fuel stop for the day, before we hit the interesting stuff, 5 km further along.

I cannot remember what Michael was saying in the photo below, but it was obviously fascinating:

Ottaspoort Pass:

Our ride leader with two minions and stunning backdrop:

Whenever time allowed, Lance would find and follow the most obscure tracks:

The scenery was stunning and strange. One area resembled the Serengeti, with grassy flats that had a silver shimmer. The photo below doesn’t do it justice.

There were beautiful rocky outcrops:

My usual “ride leader”, Lance, relegated to position of “minion” along with the rest of us:

It was a nice break for him, leaving the route planning to someone else, especially if that someone is Michael. His routes definitely qualify on my “interesting” meter.

One of the reasons why the route was interesting:

Challenge accepted! I did a lot of sand break-dancing, but managed to stay aloft. I calculated from my heart rate, bike lean angle and amplitude of swerve that I had about three close calls. The back-up crew commented with some incredulity that no matter my manoeuvres, my head was always on a swivel, checking the scenery! Lance, meanwhile, was having a ball practising (deliberate) power-slides. This was to be his downfall (literally) at some later stage.

Next up was the aptly named Langkloof Pass, which was…well…a lang kloof (long ravine). It was here that I spotted a black eagle. Being a birder, this caused a super-excited atmosphere, even if only confined to the inside of my helmet.

Most gates would be opened by the front-runners and left open with a rock placed on the post as an indicator to the back-up vehicle that they should close the gate. In one case this protocol was not followed. The reason? Three calves that were positively certain that the grass must be greener on the other side. Lance wanted to get a closer look. The calves didn’t.

Draaiklip Pass:

Kamiesberg Pass:

Kamiesberg Pass didn’t offer up any eagles, but we did get to see a life-and-death struggle in miniature between a lizard and a centipede. The lizard was not all too happy about the paparazzi, but it was hungry enough that fight won over flight.

We were to stay at Kamieskroon Hotel for the three nights; using it as our base for circles of exploration.

Michael awaiting all the minions, so that he can assign us our rooms:

Speaking of “circles of exploration”, this looks like a circle of introspection:

The day ended with the obligatory “strafdoppe.” This is always cause for great hilarity. Lance and I were assigned one each for placing bike covers over our dirty machines. “Trying to keep a dirty bike clean.” Not so much. Trying to make sure my old plonker would start the next day. I don’t know Lance’s excuse!

Michael was joking about how I’d been one of the only ones not asking about the amount of sand on this trip. He should know that after his Namibia trip, he scared the fear of sand right out of my head!

I think some wine may have been involved as well as the shooters. Can you tell?

« Last Edit: April 10, 2017, 02:24:11 pm by Zanie »

Offline Zanie

Re: Kamieskroon: Broken Bones and a Burning Bike
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2017, 10:25:29 pm »
Day 02 (21 Oct Fri)

Distance: 296 km
Elapsed time: 08:48:26 (34 km/h)
Moving time:  06:34:14 (45 km/h)

The morning spied a gaggle of admirers around the new Africa Twin in our midst:

After the appropriate amount of reverence was shown, we headed off into a mountain wonderland.


Again, some sand to add spice to life:

This stretch reminded me of the roads in Namibia:

Complete with domestic critters, but at least these were not free-roaming:

Messelpad Pass:

I had my closest call of the trip on this pass; according to my heart-rate hammer mode guide. There was a very tight blind corner over a low-water bridge. I came in too fast (for me) and almost didn’t make it. Almost. It would have meant a nice drop-off into a dry river bed. Apparently I wasn’t the only one that was caught out.

Bits of the pass were quite sandy:

Somewhere along Messelpad Pass, there’s a turn-off towards some old ruins - what used to be a prison for convict labourers who built the road.

Note the sandy entrance (more on that later):

Quite a few of the riders decided to chill out with the grader shown in the above photo. From that point onwards, the short stretch of road to the prison ruins looked decidedly hairy.

Lance, of course, was up for the challenge. Meanwhile, I found a higher vantage point and surveyed my options. Should I? Shouldn’t I?

Lance soon bumped into a victim of the rocky road:

This road takes no prisoners…

Heading back from lending a helping hand, Lance watched others negotiating a rocky drop:

This would be “fun” on the way back up:

Our fearless ride-leader made it look easy:

While the rest of us mere mortals…

I had finally made up my mind.

Lance’s priceless reaction was caught for posterity’s sake on the GoPro footage: “Oh no! Zanie's coming. Uh. Why did you come?” Me: “Is it bad down there.” Lance: “Uh, no. It's... ya.” Me: “Should I maybe turn around here.” Lance: “No, just carry on. If you’re gonna do it, you’re gonna do it.” I have Lance to thank for pushing me outside my comfort zone and tackling things I never thought possible.

The downhill was indeed hair-raising, but I had implicit faith in my bike. Hold on, look ahead and everything will be fine. It’s amazing the bumps and steps it can manage, even if accidentally taking the worst line. But meanwhile I was quailing at the idea of going back up…

I stalled once and “rode it out” until I found a flat patch to regain nerve and restart the bike. I am not yet at the restart-on-the-fly level of biker.

We spent a short amount of time exploring. Michael made sure we received our daily dose of exercise trying to hunt down an old well. For all intents and purposes it didn’t exist, for the simple reason that we didn’t find it.

This lonely bike looks like it has lost its way and reached a dead-end:

We could not put it off any longer. What comes down must go up! Wait… That’s not right is it?

The fast and furious guys were first to depart. The rest of us gathered at the start of the climb; eyeballing each other. From here, the view was perfect. You got to see the puffs of dust caused by the last desperate revs before things went south or a bike went down.

You also knew that everyone else would see the first stretch of your hillside attempt, be it fast or forgettable. “After you.” “Ladies first.” Bugger.

Going up is more difficult than going down, because you have to be a bit more ballsy with the throttle. This is the same reason why sand is so difficult when you’re new at it: bad survival instinct releases the throttle when in a jam (hint: this is not a good thing).

Me becoming unstuck (with the tell-tale dust puff):

I rolled backwards a bit to get out of the “highway” and wait for rescue. Getting started on a loose, steep surface would not be easy. In the picture below it looks like my bike wants to tip over, but that’s how heavily it leans on its side-stand. It sometimes takes a bit of Hulk action to get it upright again.

Moving the bike to a point with more purchase:

I had to prepare myself for this:

And then I flew:

Followed by my shadow:

Just when you start to feel cool, you are made to feel humble again. Sand! On an uphill! Who put that there?! The concept of a multitasking woman is a lie I tell you. Give me sand or give me a hill; not both.

It was not yet over. There was still some hill left…

…with off-camber sections.

I gathered my nerve and charged. The rocky step was ahead – the one that had looked so “fun” on the way down. Check the shadow of my front wheel. Can I pass a big bounce off as a wheelie? No? Darn. But I made it! Yay!!

The footage of Lance provided a case study of how things can go wrong; analysed frame-by-frame. The back wheel slipped on a large loose rock…

…he rolled off the throttle…

…and looked down.

You go where you look.

The sound when the bike hit the rocks was not pleasant. Yet Lance - like me - is not really bothered about resale value. We’ve gone past that point a while back. “For sale: Used bike. Pristine condition. Only been dropped 100 times…” He’s already had to replace every front fairing panel (there are 6) and the current ones have tonnes of character. But we have had some awesome trips!

Like this trip:

Meanwhile, I had also lost momentum and was contemplating the path ahead.

“Go that way.”

Anthony gave me a push-start, but I struggled on this particular section. Read: I was too gentle with the throttle and started looking at the nose of my bike rather than the path ahead.

The end is nigh!

Time for one last charge. I bounced over obstacles. Screen captures at strategic times give the impression that I wheelied my way to the finish.

The back-up vehicle had miraculously made it to the bottom; lifting some who did not want to ride or walk down. Yet there were those who were more than willing to walk back up. Why?

Because the people who had the most heart-stopping ride of all on this day were those in the back-up vehicle!

Remember the sandy entrance to the prison road? Lance decided to power-slide it (deliberately) and he ended up on the ground (not deliberately).

The rear brake lever needed a bit of elbow-grease to get it back to a workable position (unworkable option shown below).

I had heard Lance fall through our comms and he had laughed about it, so I thought he was fine and continued. It turned out he wasn’t so fine. The bike had landed solidly on his right foot. As he progressed along Wildeperdehoek Pass, the pain in his foot increased to such an extent that he felt he could no longer ride.

Most of the group had gone ahead. Another rider and I were confused as to which turn-off to take (as usually happens in group, someone had not waited at the turn), so we stopped and were eventually joined by Lance, his parents, one or two others and the back-up vehicle.

At that point, a couple of people started yelling at Ernie (Lance’s dad) to get off his bike. He did so pronto when he became aware of the reason for the yelling. KTMs are covered by orange accessories, but this splash of orange was unwelcome.

Hyron, our medic, became a “bike medic”, dousing the flames with sand. Some water was added to the mix by Ernie, after which the back brake area started smoking like a newly-doused braai fire. The brake disc had become incredibly hot, melting the brake-line holding the hydraulic fluid, which then caught alight.

A bike and a biker were loaded onto or into the back-up vehicle. Lance, looking a bit glaze-eyed from pain, was convinced his foot was broken, but he did not want to take off his boot so that the medic could check it. Lance figured the boot would hold everything nicely in place for the rest of the day until we were back at home base. Hence Ernie and Lynette got to continue their ride, but on their son’s bike.

The next bit of the ride was steeped in confusion. Thanks to the time taken to fix Lance’s bent back brake and load Ernie’s bike, the others had continued onwards to the next destination: Hondeklipbaai. Apparently everyone had waited about an hour or more at Soebatsfontein or thereabouts, but when we didn’t pitch Michael had decided to continue with the front-runners. We had the back-up vehicle and medic, so we should be fine.

The problem was that the back-up driver did not know the exact route. We went this way and that way, doubling back a couple of times. The locals at Soebatsfontein pointed us in the right direction after questioning. We knew the next destination had to be Hondeklipbaai, so if all else failed we could ride the most direct route. Ernie and another rider got frustrated and decided to head back to home base. Lynette, sitting pillion, was a bit cheesed off about it, because she missed out on Hondeklipbaai.


We were on our way again after having a bite to eat. Someone decided to show off; leaving at a smart clip, throwing dust and debris, and sliding the rear wheel. A cop-car promptly set off in a display of dust and sliding wheels almost to match. Of course he never caught the perpetrator, but the rider following one or two bikes back had some explaining to do.

The remainder of the route had some stunning scenery. Yet Lance, stuck in a deep blue funk, was not appreciative of it at all. He told me later that he was trying to think what on earth he would do over the next couple of months. He lives for kite-surfing and (more recently) dirt-biking, with some adventure riding on the side. He doesn’t have any “stationary” hobbies.

Beautiful flowers:

Stunning scenery from a random pass:

Back at the hotel, I was doubting the veracity of Lance’s claims to a broken foot for one simple reason: he could walk on it. His excuse was that he was walking on the outside edge that wasn’t sore. I remember my miniature fracture of a mid-foot bone (one of the tarsals). There was no way I could walk on that. The medic confirmed my suspicions: Lance would live to walk another day. His foot was not broken, but probably only badly sprained. Lance’s outlook on life improved instantly. I could not resist a little jibe on hoping that he would have a bit more respect for his girlfriend, who had ridden 400km with an actual broken foot.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2017, 02:24:49 pm by Zanie »

Offline Zanie

Re: Kamieskroon: Broken Bones and a Burning Bike
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2017, 10:27:27 pm »
Day 03 (22 Oct Sat)

Distance: 188 km
Elapsed time: 08:03:18 (23 km/h)
Moving time:  05:18:11 (35 km/h)

The morning dawned grey and grim.

One rider would sadly not join today’s ride. He had a fall yesterday. This, combined with the liberal lashings of sand on Messelpad Pass (especially on the corners), had stunted his confidence. He decided to quit while he was ahead. It’s actually quite brave and sensible to admit that you are in a bad head-space and therefore should not ride.

Lance, despite his improved head-space, would still sit in the back-up vehicle. His foot may not be broken, but it was still making its presence felt. My shadow would follow me by car.

It was not more than an hour into our ride when the trip’s worst casualty occurred. There were some hard-baked ruts on one incline. Like so:

Neil lost control of his bike when he hit one of the ruts.

When a biker remains down, it’s serious.

The crash caused a back-log and someone else further behind fell out of sympathy. When righting his bike, it burnt oil, causing a smoke cloud.

The medic was at the back with us. It did not bode well when bikers came jogging from the front through a smoke cloud, saying the medic needed to get up front pronto.

If Neil happens to see this report, please feel free to post or forward any pics of your foot. Lance approached with his GoPro, but he got freaked out and beat a retreat when he saw the sight. Neil had broken his ankle. Very, very visibly so. A piece of broken bone was pressing against the skin from the inside at a strange angle.

Thanks to Michael for always having a medic on his rides. Hyron stepped in and calmly took control of the situation.

That right foot is not meant to be at that angle…

Looking good! This may have been after the first dose of pain meds:

The second KTM to be loaded on this trip:

The accident meant an immediate change of plans, taking the shortest route to get to tar. Yet no-one knew what this route looked like. It turned out that it would get very rough later.

It’s strange how such an incident can change your entire head-space. There was a decided aura of nervousness. People started making mistakes.

Next to go down was Pieter. He circumscribed a complete 180, but managed to pick up his bike before photographic evidence could be captured against him. The only sign that something is amiss is that his bike is facing the oncoming bikes.

Then it was my turn. A steep rocky downhill ended in a kink with a rocky mess complete with mini-holes / grooves in the turn itself. I was going too fast to stop before the turn and knew that if I tried to make the corner in that mess, I would most likely end up same as Neil – on the ground and probably beneath my bike. I scrubbed off as much speed as I could and just went straight, parking the bike very neatly between a rock and a bush. I could simply step off. Witjan and Gunter were the first to come across the strange scene and had to fish my bike out of the bush. I only realised much later that I had left my right-hand-side pillion foot-peg behind at this location.

Next up was a longish stretch of sand.

Some paddled. I decided to risk riding it, managing to stay on-board until the bitter end, where I plutzed down on the very last meter.

You can see the hard sand / dirt starting just after my bike:

I would earn a strafdop that night for this manoeuvre.

A long, rocky downhill followed.

I did not envy Neil his ride in the back-up vehicle. The driver had to steer very carefully to keep the jolting to a minimum.

Medic Hyron had phoned one of his contacts in the area. By the time we reached tarmac, a private ambulance was waiting. Neil would be taken through to Garies initially to have the bones aligned / foot straightened before heading to a hospital in Cape Town.

All of us regrouped at Kamieskroon Hotel, where we waited for Hyron’s return before setting out again.

We had a braai lunch at one of the few spots equipped with trees (i.e. shade).

I found a friend:

Lunch was followed by a trip to a nearby quiver tree forest. Michael warned us of the potential of quite a bit of sand, based on his memory of the route. His memory served him well.

Some of us struggled.

Some styled.

And all the while, more and more people left their bikes by the way-side in favour of the back-up vehicle.

Ernie and Lynette abandoning ship:

Eventually, almost all of us clambered into the back-up…

…except for two lone souls (Michael and I think Ian).

We finally reached the quiver trees unscathed.


Get in touch with a tree today!

The trees leave a white dust on your fingers:

Some close-ups:

Group photo to prove we all survived:


Sand paddling is thirsty work, which is why we ended up at Dorsies as our last stop for the day.

Hugging the shade:

Local version of a 24-wheeler:

Our last pass for the day: Kamiesberg.

Day 04 (23 Oct Sun)

Our last day consisted of a straight run back to Cape Town. Ernie and Lynette were back on the KTM. The back brakes were non-functional, but this was not too much of a train-smash on tar. Lance was also back on his own bike. Given that not much jolting takes place on tar, he could face the idea of getting back on his metal horse. And my bike? Other than the missing pillion foot-peg, I’d call it one of my less destructive rides!

Total trip statistics:
Day 1: 511 km
Day 2: 296 km
Day 3: 188 km
Day 4: 485 km
Total: 1480 km
« Last Edit: April 10, 2017, 02:25:19 pm by Zanie »

Offline Ri

Re: Kamieskroon: Broken Bones and a Burning Bike
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2017, 10:54:17 pm »

Whoaaaaa! Looks like you've got this sand riding down! Well done and fantastic RR  :ricky:

Offline Oubones

Re: Kamieskroon: Broken Bones and a Burning Bike
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2017, 05:39:43 am »

Whoaaaaa! Looks like you've got this sand riding down! Well done and fantastic RR  :ricky:
Well done to you. Nice riding and a good RR, thanks
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Online woody1

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Re: Kamieskroon: Broken Bones and a Burning Bike
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2017, 06:48:59 am »
Thanks for sharing.  :ricky: :ricky:


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Offline Crossed-up

Re: Kamieskroon: Broken Bones and a Burning Bike
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2017, 07:00:55 am »
My favourite part of the world. Well done for managing with such aplomb.  :thumleft:

Offline katana

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Re: Kamieskroon: Broken Bones and a Burning Bike
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2017, 07:34:31 am »
Nice one. Thank you. For the effort.
If you want to haul ass, you gotta mix gas.

Offline BMWPE

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Re: Kamieskroon: Broken Bones and a Burning Bike
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2017, 07:36:26 am »
Awesome report   :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:
Thank you

Offline Morne 1200gs

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Re: Kamieskroon: Broken Bones and a Burning Bike
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2017, 07:41:00 am »
Epic trip  :thumleft:

Offline JonW

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Re: Kamieskroon: Broken Bones and a Burning Bike
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2017, 07:53:43 am »
Quite an adventure, great Ride Report  :thumleft:

Thanks for sharing it with us.
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Offline Splash

Re: Kamieskroon: Broken Bones and a Burning Bike
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2017, 08:05:36 am »
What a report. Thanks for posting.
Have bike, will ride.

Offline Xpat

Re: Kamieskroon: Broken Bones and a Burning Bike
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2017, 08:16:43 am »
Great report and nice insight into travails of group riding!  :thumleft:

And it's good to see there is some great ridding within reach of CT - I was never inclined to ride that way, but may give it a try after seeing your reports.

Offline krister

Re: Kamieskroon: Broken Bones and a Burning Bike
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2017, 08:49:10 am »
Great report!  Thanks for sharing  :thumleft:
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Offline oldmannorman

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Re: Kamieskroon: Broken Bones and a Burning Bike
« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2017, 09:22:15 am »
Enjoyed the RR.  :sip:

Offline JJ259

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Re: Kamieskroon: Broken Bones and a Burning Bike
« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2017, 09:55:37 am »
Thanks for sharing a fantastic RR.
Well done.
The only impossible journey is the one you never begin !!

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Re: Kamieskroon: Broken Bones and a Burning Bike
« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2017, 11:10:44 am »
Awesome RR thanks very much  :thumleft:
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Offline Dustbin Dog

Re: Kamieskroon: Broken Bones and a Burning Bike
« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2017, 12:51:52 pm »
Awesome, thanks for sharing. ;)
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Offline Kykdaar

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Re: Kamieskroon: Broken Bones and a Burning Bike
« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2017, 01:32:27 pm »
Great ride and report :thumleft:

Offline Geel Kat

Re: Kamieskroon: Broken Bones and a Burning Bike
« Reply #19 on: April 10, 2017, 01:33:49 pm »
Great ride report, thanks for sharing  :thumleft: