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Offline Xpat

Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
« Reply #100 on: July 07, 2017, 11:39:47 am »
Xpat every time I see a pic of your revcounter it looks as if it is broken? Way off to the right every time or am I mistaken?

It is KTM, so naturally the whole instrument cluster or whatever it is called - including rev counter, packed up already on my first trip through Moz (the bike was second hand but had only about 2k km on it from new). The new one is over R4k and will probably last another 2k km so I never bothered to replace it.

I actually find it better not to know what speed I'm riddin at, as I get childish on occassion and try to get up to certain speed for example in deep sand and it becomes too much of a distraction and risk.

Offline Xpat

Re: Lekker
« Reply #101 on: July 07, 2017, 11:51:00 am »
...
I don't get why you don't just take a thicker sleeping bag and bush camp in places like that. It's stunning scenery, and sitting there under the stars would be wonderful... if you can keep warm that is... and of course gourmet food is not likely to be on offer.

...

As for the thicker sleeping bag - I did not expect to run into the problem with the current one, never did before (but yes, I camp only in self-defence).

Regarding wild camping up on the mountains/ in the bush, I generally have no problem with that despite all my 'gastro tourist' yapping, with one big caveat: I am very paranoid about water. Since I almost expired from heatstroke in your neck of woods - south of Loyangalani riding down from Omo valley in Ethiopia along Lake Turkana, I always carry and drink way too much water - normally if riding even in remotely remote parts (which most of these were) I take 12 litres with me - 3 in camel bag and 9 in water bag in my luggage (my whole right pannier was taken by water). I know it is more psychological problem than real physical one, and I rarely actually even get into those 9 spare litres on the day.

The thing is - even though I never use the water, I always carry it for emergency as I ride mostly alone. SHould I need to walk out 30 - 50 km from the mountain / in the desert in hot sun (of course here I would walk in the night, but I wouldn't probably dare to do that in Bots cutlines with hyenas and lions on the prowl) I want to have enough water with me.

And if I camp for the night in a place where I cannot replenish water, I would be inevitably starting in the morning with less water, which makes me immediately unnecessariy anxious. I am perfectly happy to wild camp next to stream/spring where I can replenish the water. The food I can get without for few days. Right now I'm in Europe and the plan was hiking about 900 km around Slovakia, and before I twisted my leg on day 2, the plan (and reality for day 1) was wildcamping in the forrect - but right next to a small spring, of which there are many here in the mountains.

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Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
« Reply #102 on: July 07, 2017, 11:56:14 am »
 I take 12 litres with me

That is a lot of water but a good idea.
I once bought a small sleepingbag rated as -5. One night in the mountains close to Rosh Pinah convinsed me that the -5 was the temp you will die not the temp it will still keep you warm at. :biggrin: :eek7:
Now I have a -9 down sleeping bag that takes up a lot of space but I am warmer.
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Offline Ri

Re: Lekker
« Reply #103 on: July 07, 2017, 12:07:36 pm »
And if I camp for the night in a place where I cannot replenish water, I would be inevitably starting in the morning with less water, which makes me immediately unnecessariy anxious. I am perfectly happy to wild camp next to stream/spring where I can replenish the water. The food I can get without for few days. Right now I'm in Europe and the plan was hiking about 900 km around Slovakia, and before I twisted my leg on day 2, the plan (and reality for day 1) was wildcamping in the forrect - but right next to a small spring, of which there are many here in the mountains.

Whoa, I would love to hike around Slovakia! Once visited there for a week, what a beautiful country (although a little run down and expensive). Pity about twisting the leg, hope it heals up quickly. How are you traveling now?
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
« Reply #104 on: July 07, 2017, 12:08:04 pm »
...

Quick question: Have you ridden the Namaqua Eco 4x4 section from Vioolsdrif to Goodhouse on a previous occasion? I am interested in your comparison of difficulty of Namaqua with Kaokoland hence the question.

No, I haven't ridden it before, but I have ridden it on this trip just in opposite direction. Or are you talking specifically about Road to Hell?

I think in my summary of Namaqua 4x4 (the whole trail witout RTH which I didn't do) I did mention that Kaokoland is significantly more difficult (if one includes Van Zyl's Pass) from technical riding perspective. In terms of 'adventure' factor (i.e. risks), Kaokoland is a different league. In Namaqua 4x4 there are very few rocks (again sans RTH - but that is only about 1-2 km or so long), there is alternative D road running along few km away from the river, so if one finds it too difficult they can chicken out easily, it is densely populated (relatively speaking) - both Witbank and Goodhouse are proper village, while in Kaokoland, except maybe for Purros you might actually ride through a 'village' without even noticing it. And of course in Kaokoland there are proper African critters walking around, so if you need to walk out in emergency, you might face of choice of walking doing the day and cooking yourself, or walking at night trying to dodge whatever is lurking out there.

That said, if you combine N4x4 with proper exploration of the adjactent Richtersveld as MaxThePanda mentioned, at least in terms of tecnical rriding difficulty, they would be roughly on par with Kaokoland. In terms of 'adventure' factor, Kaokoland still rules. Quite frankly, in the forgotten early days of this forum, Doodsakker in Angola was considered gold standard. I still have to do that, but I suspect Kaokoland may beat even that, because of the animal factor. MTP is going there in September and he has done Doodsakker, so it will be interesting to see his opinion (Doodsakker is much more remote so may win on that). For me the only place that tops Kaokoland in terms of 'oh shit' factor are Botswanian Kalahari tracks - there you are really alone and feel distinctly not on top of the food chain.

But as usually I digres - to sum up: Kaokoland is in a different league, but within SA, Namaqua 4x4 is one and only and as far as I'm concerned a must for anybody who travels that part of SA  IMO - especially as it is not as risky as those other areas we discussed.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2017, 12:08:29 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
« Reply #105 on: July 07, 2017, 12:19:23 pm »
I take 12 litres with me

That is a lot of water but a good idea.
I once bought a small sleepingbag rated as -5. One night in the mountains close to Rosh Pinah convinsed me that the -5 was the temp you will die not the temp it will still keep you warm at. :biggrin: :eek7:
Now I have a -9 down sleeping bag that takes up a lot of space but I am warmer.


I was looking into sleeping bags now for hiking, and it seems the answer is not a bigger sleeping bag (unless you are climbing Himalayas of course), but layers. You can buy these thermal bags, that are small and waight nothing (e.g. SOL Escape bag), and bivvy bags - smaller and lighter - and yet in final result more warm sleeping solution.

Offline Xpat

Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
« Reply #106 on: July 07, 2017, 12:23:27 pm »
I am enjoying this report very much.

Thanks Xpat.

That road from Sendlingsdrift to Gamchab canyon is probably my second most favourite road in Namibia.

Did you find anyone bushcamping in Gamchab canyon? Most of the times people camp right under that massive cliff halfway through.

No there was no-one camping there. I'm not sure how known the canyon is - the 4 bikers I met didn't know about it and missed it - even though it is a shortcut to Ais Ais

Offline Stroke Her

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Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
« Reply #107 on: July 07, 2017, 12:25:20 pm »
Thanks XPat...I must have gotten your map and your narrative mixed up as it looked like you left the N4x4 at Goodhouse on this trip.

I have only done Vioolsdrif to Goodhouse (albeit in mid summer) and it was tough like a cheap steak. We got lost and I got a front wheel flat in Kamgab kloof. Being 45Deg in the shade...and there is no shade >:( we decided to leg it to Klein Pella on the main dirt road (me riding the still flat front wheel). I will go back again to do the whole N4x4...lovely part of the country.

I am leaving for Nam tomorrow morning to do my own comparisons :biggrin:. Thank you for your good ride reports on Nam and Kaokoland...I based alot of my trip research on those :thumleft:

We will see how far I get on the XT660Z...
« Last Edit: July 07, 2017, 12:27:02 pm by Stroke Her »
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
« Reply #108 on: July 07, 2017, 12:44:46 pm »
Thanks XPat...I must have gotten your map and your narrative mixed up as it looked like you left the N4x4 at Goodhouse on this trip.

I have only done Vioolsdrif to Goodhouse (albeit in mid summer) and it was tough like a cheap steak. We got lost and I got a front wheel flat in Kamgab kloof. Being 45Deg in the shade...and there is no shade >:( we decided to leg it to Klein Pella on the main dirt road (me riding the still flat front wheel). I will go back again to do the whole N4x4...lovely part of the country.

I am leaving for Nam tomorrow morning to do my own comparisons :biggrin:. Thank you for your good ride reports on Nam and Kaokoland...I based alot of my trip research on those :thumleft:

We will see how far I get on the XT660Z...

I have ridden past the Goodhouse (i.e. west of Goodhouse) along the river all the way to the place where the track veers off the Orange River and followed from there. It is true that eventually the track turned into big dirt road, so I may have missed some other smaller track (though the only one I was aware off was the dead end detour to RTH). I doubt you would have struggled on that main dirt road, so I must assume that I may have missed some juicy sectio between Vioolsdrif and Goodhouse. Oh well - next time.

Assuming you can ride sand, you should be fine on XTZ in Kaokoland. The only really tricky section I can think about is VZP and getting to it (that is actually the most tricky and tiring bit, VZP itself is very short, only 3-4 km). I have driven it in May in 4x4 and the tracks were very erroded (There was a lot of rainfall there this year). Take it easy there.

Offline Xpat

Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
« Reply #109 on: July 07, 2017, 12:58:55 pm »
I had a look at the map now and see that I have missed that whole Kamgab kloof section. Will have to go back...

Offline Stroke Her

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Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
« Reply #110 on: July 07, 2017, 01:10:01 pm »
Kamgab is down this kloof ;)

Its a dead end though...but lekka riding :thumleft:

Thanks for the heads up...I will take it easy as I will be alone. Hopefully there is enough of those Gucci 4x4 driving Saffers around seeing its school holidays. They can pick up the pieces should I come unstuck.

As for my ability to ride sand...well lets put it this way: I assume I suck at it and then I am very relieved when I dont :)
« Last Edit: July 07, 2017, 01:11:20 pm by Stroke Her »
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
« Reply #111 on: July 07, 2017, 01:22:08 pm »
Kamgab is down this kloof ;)

Its a dead end though...but lekka riding :thumleft:

Thanks for the heads up...I will take it easy as I will be alone. Hopefully there is enough of those Gucci 4x4 driving Saffers around seeing its school holidays. They can pick up the pieces should I come unstuck.

As for my ability to ride sand...well lets put it this way: I assume I suck at it and then I am very relieved when I dont :)

Just to be sure - go VZP down, not up as I attempted in that ride report.

Offline Stroke Her

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Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
« Reply #112 on: July 07, 2017, 01:41:00 pm »
 :thumleft: Yes I am going from Epupa Falls down Van Zyls to Marienfluss.

 

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Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
« Reply #113 on: July 07, 2017, 02:02:42 pm »
You seem to be quite happy with the 690, any pros or cons ? I still think the whole fairing setup is not really needed. Aftermarket stuff always tends to fall of it seems.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2017, 03:06:49 pm by sidetrack »
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Offline Osadabwa

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« Reply #114 on: July 07, 2017, 02:36:50 pm »
I'll be the last guy to tease you for worrying about water, especially where you are. I think you saw on my last ride up to Turkana that I and two other guys went too far without water one day and it was bloody rough. Alone and it could have been deadly in no time if just one little problem properly strands you. So, yeah, carry water. I hear you.  Alternatively, ride with a friend!
 

Offline aka.Goliath

Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
« Reply #115 on: July 07, 2017, 04:48:13 pm »

 For me the only place that tops Kaokoland in terms of 'oh shit' factor are Botswanian Kalahari tracks - there you are really alone and feel distinctly not on top of the food chain.



I can attest to this. It's is an amazing feeling riding those cut-lines. You can see the millions of elephant spoor and smell them but I never actually got to see them - thankfully some of the tracks I've ridden (some of which Xpat had done) have not seen anyone else in many years.

I now look forward to my trip to Koakand and doodsakker in January.



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Offline P.K.

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Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
« Reply #116 on: July 07, 2017, 06:32:53 pm »
Thanks for the reply and input.
I am working on what you want but it is taking time...I don`t have the luxury of doing this fulltime as I have another business to run and I`m also rather dictated to by the surf conditions as well as riding opportunities [I find work is generally overated]....but we are getting there and I will send you one  when ready and you can do a product review for us.
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
« Reply #117 on: July 08, 2017, 12:05:45 am »
You seem to be quite happy with the 690, any pros or cons ? I still think the whole fairing setup is not really needed. Aftermarket stuff always tends to fall of it seems.

Yes I am happy with the bike and quite frankly don't see anything else on the market right now that provides the same balanced capability for the long distance dual sporting (except for 701, which I consider basically the same bike). I can get wherever I want on the bike and at the same time easier stretches, like long straight dirt liaisons are not too much of a chore thanks to the power and higher weight of the bike compared to something like 500. I like its revvy non-thumpery nature - it makes riding liaisons as well as sand riding much easier than other reasonably powerfull thumpers like TE630. On the other hand the revvy short stroke engine produces high frequency vibrations which are much more annoying (and hand numbing) than normal thumper vibes - at least for me.

But of course I'm very diligent with maintenance (or at least I hope Conrad is) and willing to pay for it. I have rectified everything I could upfront (I have Mosfet regulator up in the fairing in the cold air, Perun Moto subframe bolts, Unifilter, grease airbox religiously, appropriate springs and valving, etc.) and I carry spare fuel pump and injector (though I do not fancy trying to fit those in the middle of that dune field). The only thing I couldn't find any remedy for is rocker arms and they do bother me as the bike sounds distincly unhealthy at 15k km. It does sit on my mind a bit when heading into remote sticks, especially as I couldn't establish yet if they can lead to catastrophic failure, or not (as long as I can get out of the stick even on sick engine I'm OK with it). It seems the only solution will be 701 with the latest engine, but I'm not even sure if they got rid of those rocker arms in the new engine.

It is costly girlfriend, but for me worth it - as a dedicated long distance DS tool. So far it didn't leave me stranded and for some reason I trust that bike much more than for example TE630, which I always felt a bit iffy about (even tough it should be the other way around). Funnily enough I trust it more than Tenere, but to be honest that is not fair - Tenere left me stranded on VZP because of worn clutch plates which is not the bikes problem, and behaved erratically on my trip through Bots cutlines - but that was kinked fuel line, so not the problem of the bike but somebody fucked up when putting the tank back on (but then it takes 6 weeks to get new fuel line from Japan).

The simple fact is, there is nothing else like 690/701 on the market right now (and I"m afraid nothing on the horizon). I've spent too many of my trips riding unsuitable bikes (crossing Africa including 1000s of km of deep sand on 1150 GSA, riding Bots cutlines and Kaokoland on Tenere) constantly wondering - what this trip would be like on bike really fit for the purpose. And I never have that thought on 690 - I just know I have the best available tool for the job. When I say job, I mean trips like this one, and I'm fully aware that most people are not looking for trips like this, and for them 690/701 is not the right thing.

Of course if there would be something apparently more trustworthy- e.g. modern fuel injected and electric start XRR with let's say 65 HP instead of 701's 75 (well mine is more like 68), I would have a very close look at it and most probalby switch (after proper test ride - the fact is I don't get along with Japanese bikes, they just don't tickle my fancy at all for some reason - too practical and subservient)

Regarding the rally kit - I got great deal on the bike with the kit, and quite frankly I liked the look of it (except for the racy sticker kit, but I couldn't be bothered yet to change it). So far it works actually really well despite many falls - you cannot blame my issues on this trip on the kit as I have really flattened a small tree with the fairing and still managed to get back home in one piece (I should have fixed it myself first time with the cable ties instead of gettin other people to sort it). That said, if I would be doing this again, I would most probably not go for the Omega kit, but rather get the Safari tank (ugly as it is) and then may (not 100% sure I would) get that new plexiglass fairing that aka.goliath put on his with the Safari tank. The main reason is that I feel a bit iffy with the Omega tanks in the rocks (not sure if it is warranteed, but I just dont tnik that carbon fibre and rocks mix that well). To be honest I wasn't sure I would attempt RTH  on this trip - I wanted to go there and have a look, but felt that should I drop it there and crack a tank, I would be in real trouble. In comparison, the Safari tanks are basically undestructible and can take horrible abuse. So that would - at least in my mind - eliminate one weakness of my current kit.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2017, 12:16:47 am by Xpat »
 

Offline Straatkat

Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
« Reply #118 on: July 09, 2017, 12:04:02 pm »
Martin your ride report is excellent as always, I just wish I was mentioned past day 1 when my bike died.....I was really looking forward to the trip.
And to all the guys who made comments about Xpat and his solo trips, this is one trip where he really had no option, we planned on doing the trip together, but fate intervened, not once but several times! (I don't give up easily) But it is difficult to argue with a seized motor! I overcame a leaky radiator, licencing issues and a couple more smaller things......... Next time! Sounds like you missed a few places, we need to go back!
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Offline Xpat

Re: Why is all the good riding so far away from Kathu...
« Reply #119 on: July 09, 2017, 09:48:36 pm »
Day 11

Concerned that I will freeze my balls off in the tent, I put on all the thermals before going to sleep the night before. The temperature turned out much warmer and I woke up in the middle of the night cooking in the sleeping bag, and had to take all the clothes off again.

The first thing in the morning was once again a bit of problem fixing - trying to figure out how to reattach broken handguard. The day before when I made it up the viewpoint dune I stupidly dug the rear wheel into the sand and when I needed to turn around I had to pull the bike down on the ground and turn it there, breaking the handguard in the process. This annoyed me no end as handguards are absolutely critical accessory for bush riding, which I still planned to do quite a bit on the way back. Here is why - my handguards after the Bots bush section:







This time my inner genius didnít visit, so I just took the broken handguard off and threw it away. Will have to stick to the right tracks from now on - I still had right handguard. After that I went for breakfast, packed up and set-off.


Ais Ais camp:













This was again a liaison day trying to make decent distance on the way back to the Bots dunes. The tentative objective for the day was Koes - which is a bit off to the north from the shortest route back to Bokspits, but I wanted to have a look see around there as Vis Arend and Rickus here on the forum told me about some very juicy looking dune tracks around there. I picked random D roads heading in that direction and set-off. I stopped at the Canyon Roadhouse to fill-up petrol and then continues east.

The roads I picked were not particularly scenic farm roads, but Namibia is OK even in its ordinary disguise:
















I was following a massive storm, which became clear when I reached Kalahari proper again south of Koes. Big swathes of land on both sides of the elevated road were flooded. I just hoped the storm reached Bots again as it will make those dunes so much easier to ride.




























Flooded Koes pan:






















I have arrived to Koes at about 1 pm. It was hot and the place was very quiet - it turns out they close most of the businesses for lunch break. I headed to the garage to fill up and asked about Rickus (WD and main organized of the Koes Pan Rally - happening right this weekend if Iím not mistaken), who I knew was the owner. He was on a lunch break so I just filled up, parked in the shade of the nearby tree and bought some drink and snack from the nearby supermarket that was already open.







Sitting in the shade munching on the snacks I conversed with the local kids who were clearly in for some handout, but not pushy about it. I gave them whatever I didnít finish and just as I was about to move on - I was considering riding some dirt road to Twee Rivier in the search fo dunes - I was approach by a giant of a man. Sure enough it was Rickus and after short chat he took me into his house to show me where exactly are the dunes (incidentally, they were exactly where I was going to go) and booked a chalet for me with a farmer he knew up near Twee Rivier. I was a bit concerned about time - it was almost 3 pm (it gets dark there way before 6) and I had 40 km to the start of the dunes and then about 70 - 90 km loop through the dunes to navigate, but Rickus felt confident that with the current rain I will manage just fine. So I set-off.

The first 40 km was a good gravel running across one big dune field - that vintage Kalahari up and down roller coaster you can often see on the pictures from the Desert Run (which just passed through there day or two before me). Then I came to the turn-off to the dune detour, which I took straight away as the sun was getting low. The tracks was fantastic - that vintage red sand double track running along and across the Kalahari dunes. And Rickus was right - the heavy rain made riding the sand a cheating. After tentative start I was soon gunning it in the 5 - 6 the gear close to 100 kmh and enjoying every second.































The sand dune route was basically U shaped run 30 - 40 km south east, then 10 km or so north east and then return leg north west of about 40 km. The riding was fantastic until I arrived to the turn back north west. I knew Iím going to run into problems once I will have to ride deep sand double track against the setting sun, but still it was rough. I couldnít see anything (I have sunscreen on my trial helmet, but it is too short to be of any use), so trying to stay in the track was almost impossible, I had to slow down to just lugging 2 - 3 rd gear and still had Ďoh shití moment every 100 meters or so. I was basically riding blind trying to feel my way through in the absence of vision. It took me forever to navigate those 40 km and by the time I reached the dirt road connecting Twee Rivier to the Mata Mata border post and gate to Kgalagadi NP, it was completely dark and I was knackered. After short break I rode towards Mata Mata on a long beam (my short bean didnít work) looking for Terra Rouge - the farm Rickus booked me in. It took quite a while to get there, but when I was already considering bush camping on the side of the road, I finally found it.

Owner - Peter if my memory serves me right, has a sheep farm there surrounded by red dunes sea and rides XT660Z. Rickus even mentioned that he is considering inviting bikers to his farm and taking them for the trips through the dunes - if anyone here may be interested, you definitely will get your sand fill there.

Peter provided me with one or two complimentary beers, took me to the chalet and I settled in chuffed to have finally roof over my head after two days of freezing/cooking on the ground. I was so elated that I even cooked. Chilli con carne (can of Texas bully beef with chilli + can of beans).


Route for the day:


« Last Edit: July 09, 2017, 09:52:31 pm by Xpat »