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Offline Highsider

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Han Solo's new route from KZN to Western Cape over new year...
« on: December 18, 2017, 07:42:51 am »
Looks like this is going to be a solo mission.  This is not by design, but because none of the guys I normally ride with can join me, and to date the few nibbles from further afield have not materialised into anything. The last time I did a solo ride, only a day ride up Sani and back,  I got a front puncture on my old KLR half way up which proved to be fun with no centre stand, short tyre levers and no soapy water.  The were however many helpful offers from good Samaritans on that day. 
I digress.  The trip outlined below is one that I have been pondering for nearly two years now, but because of the logistics involved, and not wanting to rush it, at least 10 days are required to do this at any sane pace.  All previous plans were based on a seven day journey which was just not going to cut it.
Not wanting to miss Christmas with my wife and kids, I have decided to depart on the 27th and return early in January.  New year doesn't mean much to me, having worked over new year for at least half my life in the entertainment industry, and my wife and I are usually asleep before the countdown anyway.

After a few amendments, having read some RR's and chatted to people who have been "down this road", this is the route:

27 Dec  PMB to Rhodes 431km
28 Dec  Rhodes to Hogsback 356km
29 Dec   Hogsback to Patensie 380km
30 Dec  Patensie to Uniondale 227km
31 Dec   Uniondale to George 172km
1 Jan   George to Gamkaskloof 161km
2 Jan   Gamlaskloof to Nieu Bethesda 396k
3 Jan   Nieu Bethesda to Wepenaar 424km
4 Jan   Wepenaar to Clarens 239km
5 Jan   Clarens to PMB 328km

I have tried to incorporate the traversing of obvious mountain passes on each day where possible.

The total planned distance is just over 3,100km and at a guess I would say around 60% gravel with the big tar bits on the first, ninth and tenth days.
As they say, the devil is in the detail so my prep will start in earnest tomorrow (19th) and will include tools & accessories, camping equipment, camera & communication kit, clothing, food, medicine, luggage and bike prep. 
My intention is not to book accommodation or camp sites in advance, since things don't always go to plan. I do not absolutely need to be back by 5 January either so I may slip in a rest day here or there.   I will however call the camping establishments in advance to get their take on this...

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Offline Highsider

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Re: Han Solo's new route from KZN to Western Cape over new year...
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2017, 07:46:46 am »
I am struggling to post images on WD...  Trying to post a screenshot of a screenshot of the route...
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Offline JonW

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Re: Han Solo's new route from KZN to Western Cape over new year...
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2017, 07:56:25 am »
Enjoy your trip Kevin, I'm sure you will have a blast.
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Offline Losper

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Re: Han Solo's new route from KZN to Western Cape over new year...
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2017, 08:47:38 am »
Highsider,  if you prefer to do gravel rather than tar then you might want to look at this great gravel road between Matat and Rhodes. There is one slightly technical section the rest is an awesome 2 spoor.
I have attached the gpx file as well.

The other great option is to do the Monantsa gravel road inside Lesotho from Fouriesburg to Qwa Qwa.
 :thumleft:
« Last Edit: December 18, 2017, 08:50:22 am by Losper »
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Offline Highsider

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Re: Han Solo's new route from KZN to Western Cape over new year...
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2017, 08:55:53 am »
Hi Losper
This looks very good thanks.  I’ll check it out on T4A.
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Offline MillionMiles

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Re: Han Solo's new route from KZN to Western Cape over new year...
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2017, 01:11:23 pm »
Looks like this is going to be a solo mission.  This is not by design, but because none of the guys I normally ride with can join me, and to date the few nibbles from further afield have not materialised into anything. The last time I did a solo ride, only a day ride up Sani and back,  I got a front puncture on my old KLR half way up which proved to be fun with no centre stand, short tyre levers and no soapy water.  The were however many helpful offers from good Samaritans on that day. 
I digress.  The trip outlined below is one that I have been pondering for nearly two years now, but because of the logistics involved, and not wanting to rush it, at least 10 days are required to do this at any sane pace.  All previous plans were based on a seven day journey which was just not going to cut it.
Not wanting to miss Christmas with my wife and kids, I have decided to depart on the 27th and return early in January.  New year doesn't mean much to me, having worked over new year for at least half my life in the entertainment industry, and my wife and I are usually asleep before the countdown anyway.

After a few amendments, having read some RR's and chatted to people who have been "down this road", this is the route:

27 Dec  PMB to Rhodes 431km
28 Dec  Rhodes to Hogsback 356km
29 Dec   Hogsback to Patensie 380km
30 Dec  Patensie to Uniondale 227km
31 Dec   Uniondale to George 172km
1 Jan   George to Gamkaskloof 161km
2 Jan   Gamlaskloof to Nieu Bethesda 396k
3 Jan   Nieu Bethesda to Wepenaar 424km
4 Jan   Wepenaar to Clarens 239km
5 Jan   Clarens to PMB 328km

I have tried to incorporate the traversing of obvious mountain passes on each day where possible.

The total planned distance is just over 3,100km and at a guess I would say around 60% gravel with the big tar bits on the first, ninth and tenth days.
As they say, the devil is in the detail so my prep will start in earnest tomorrow (19th) and will include tools & accessories, camping equipment, camera & communication kit, clothing, food, medicine, luggage and bike prep. 
My intention is not to book accommodation or camp sites in advance, since things don't always go to plan. I do not absolutely need to be back by 5 January either so I may slip in a rest day here or there.   I will however call the camping establishments in advance to get their take on this...
Hmmmm, interesting.
Might see you somewhere in the road on the 27th. We sleep in Himeville 26th, Rhodes 27+28 then also head for Hogsback one day after you on the 29th.



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Re: Han Solo's new route from KZN to Western Cape over new year...
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2017, 01:20:04 pm »
Highsider, here are 2x more suggestions.
From George to Die Hel, rather take the graval Montagu pass and not the tar Outeniqua pass.
I have also attached the Monantsa road,  that is a must.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2017, 05:59:00 pm by Losper »
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Offline Highsider

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Re: Han Solo's new route from KZN to Western Cape over new year...
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2017, 05:38:03 pm »
That looks like a good idea Losper, thanks for the input as always.
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Offline Highsider

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Re: Han Solo's new route from KZN to Western Cape over new year...
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2017, 05:41:42 pm »
Hmmmm, interesting.
Might see you somewhere in the road on the 27th. We sleep in Himeville 26th, Rhodes 27+28 then also head for Hogsback one day after you on the 29th.
That is interesting, I’m sure I’ll see somewhere enroute.
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Offline Highsider

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Re: Han Solo's new route from KZN to Western Cape over new year...
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2017, 10:52:28 pm »
In 7hrs my 10 day solo trip will start, except now day one will no longer be solo.  I will be traveling to Rhodes with a local group of guys who are doing the Rhodes/Lesotho thing.  We will be riding on the Lower Loteni Road to Himeville, Swartberg, Matatiele, NaudesNek and Rhodes.  As much gravel as possible, including Lospers “shortcut” between Matat and the base of NaudesNek.
Preparation for this trip has been pretty comprehensive, bearing in mind It is the first time I’ve done more than a one day solo mission.  Usually in a group ride certain items and responsibilities are shared or delegated, tools are shared etc.  Not the case with a solo ride.  I’m the type of person who likes to have a solution for any eventuality and as a result I leave very little to chance.  Hence my list of kit is very extensive.  I’ll get back to that topic.
There are a few things I am taking  which I have purchased and will be using for the first time.  These are as follows:
1.  Tank Bag.  I hate the look of tank bags, and the thought of having a big one right in front of me puts me in a bad mood.  I had to admit that I needed one though and picked up a decent quality one from a clearance sale which had a “base plate” with straps made specifically for the 990.  Pro:  it does not cover the fuel caps.  Con:  it covers my cubby which has all my charging outlets. Well the tank bag is full.  Camera stuff, phone, water, snacks, sunblock, caps, reading and sunglasses, chamois, map, cap etc etc.  How did I manage without one before?
2.  Nelson Rigg soft panniers.   These are made to fit into existing pannier frames and they do this really well.   The quality is very good and the product is well thought out.  I must have at least 8kg per side.  One pannier carries my tools etc whilst the other one carries my cooker, gas, food, pot, coffee  etc. 
3.  Garne SG12 boots.  The soles on my Forma Adventure Boots have been chewed through on the gear-lever side, thanks to, in order of cause, My weight (a lot); Rally footpegs; Standing a lot; soft soles.  I am very very fond of my Forma’s.  They have served me well for 4 years, some of which involved bush rides on my 525.  I had a street vendor patch them up but they will be semi-retired now.  There is a guy called Barry Morris who does a series of Enduro cross training video’s on you tube.  He suggested either you buy Sidi Crossfire or  Garne SG 12.  Alfie had my size but not my colour.  Still, beggars cannot be choosers and I don’t have till the new year to wait.  So my boots are 6 days - Red, white and blue. Very Bling.  I would have preferred plain white with black Trip, but whatever.  I had to get a size 11 whereas I wear a 10.5 shoe.
4. ATG 40ll duffel bag.  I’ve use this on one other ride, so the Jury are still put on this one.  So far so good. I am using it to carry my tent, cloths etc.

Tomorrow we meet at Steampunk Cafe on the R103 near Howick, just around the corner from the Mandela Capture site.   This place has awesome cappacino’s.  I’m looking foreward to riding Losper’s shortcut and have been told that it is a “little technical” in one spot reminded me of the time we gave up on Jockstrap pass near Semonkong, also “a little technical” in Losper’s description.

A note on my list:  I have packed almost everything but there were a few things I simply didn’t have space for.  Extension cable, ground sheet, Jean Pant etc.  Puntures worry me the most, so I have put Tyre Shield in both tubes, and got a bead breaker tool if I have to change tubes. 

It is now morning and I have the signs of a cold or flu.  Nasty cough.  Toughies.


« Last Edit: December 27, 2017, 05:09:22 am by Highsider »
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Offline NoRush

Re: Han Solo's new route from KZN to Western Cape over new year...
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2017, 08:30:54 pm »
 :sip: Looking forward to this RR.
 

Offline Slim Jim

Re: Han Solo's new route from KZN to Western Cape over new year...
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2018, 08:41:02 am »
Hey Highsider , that's on my bucket list for April , can't wait for this report for info . safe travels budd
 

Offline Highsider

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Re: Han Solo's new route from KZN to Western Cape over new year...
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2018, 05:46:26 am »
Short version:  I got back home in one piece and had a very good time.  Long version to follow as I get my photo’s sorted out.
So for now, a quick review of my experience with kit over 10 days.
As suspected, my tank bag was a godsend and will be used on any non-technical ride from now on.  It ended up being dubbed the “whore’s handbag” and allowed me to have my stuff at hand without digging in my luggage or stuffing things into my jacket.   Most useful was my wife’s Canon camera which was easy to get to and operate with gloves on. 
My tank bag’s baseplate’s strapping system is made especially for the 990 so it fitted perfectly and allowed refueling.  Not one hassle.
Here is a pic from day 1 with all my kit.  I’m not parked off the road, this is the road (those who have tracks from Losper will understand), but more of that later...

I really like the idea of soft panniers and after some research and deliberation I went with the Nelson Rigg option.  The fit and attaching system is excellent, and your weight is kept nice and low.  The inner bags allow you to open up and simply carry your stuff into your tent or room without removing the luggage itself.
After 10 days and 4,300km of which I estimate 60% to have been gravel, perhaps more, the bags did show some wear and tear.  The bags’ vinyl panels are glued together to avoid stitching and improve water-tightness.  On return and when I cleaned my luggage and bike, I noticed one of the seams was starting to pop open.
Here you can see my finger peeping through.  I have  notified  the supplier and will keep you posted.  The bags kept my stuff 100% dry and dust free.
My ATG 40l duffel took serious strain.  It was attached to my rack with two Rok Straps (I highly recommend Rok Straps) and an Oxford cargo net.  The ATG is not made of heavy weight canvas, and my Aluminium rack’s edges may not be beveled enough but whatever the reason, the bag developed pinch holes and is no longer water or dust proof. 


My finger sticking out of the ATG bag.
I await a response from my supplier.  I think the bags ought to have a more rugged base, or an option for this.
SG12 boots:  On the opposite side of the spectrum to my Forma Adventure boots for sure.  They took 2 days to feel comfortable for my feet, and I have foot trouble the way some have finger trouble.  After that they fit like a glove thanks to the memory foam.  Obviously they have less “feeling” than the Forma, especially with gear changes,  and are awkward to walk in especially on tiled surfaces.  However the stuff sole allows all day standing with no fatigue or effort from your foot muscles, my feet were completely relaxed on the pegs.  The boots breathe really well and water dried off quickly if it got in at all, but my feet were never especially hot and sweaty.
After 10 days they show no wear and tear to speak of.
Riding kit:  For this trip I wore A long sleeve MX shirt and highly ventilated short jacket, Cycling shorts with chamois inner (as underwear), proper Fly riding long socks, knee guards and MX pants.  I never once felt like I was overheating or uncomfortably sweaty.
More later....


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Offline Highsider

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Re: Han Solo's new route from KZN to Western Cape over new year...
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2018, 12:03:24 am »
Day one:  PMB to Rhodes via Lower Loteni, or so I thought.
I had decided to ride up to Rhodes with my mate Len (990), his son and four others.  Due to meet at 7pm at Steampunk Cafe, a delightful coffee shop in a most unlikely location on the R103 near the Mandela Capture site, deep in ‘Meander country”, I got there first and chatted to a guy on a GS who was doing a solo trip from JHB to the North Coast.  He emphasized he was going on back roads and not much gravel.  The rest of the guys eventually arrived and by 8.30am we were off.  I had to deal with my irritation at leaving so late, and this time it nearly bit us later on.  Nothing quite like fiddling while Rome burns.
. Waiting at Steampunk Cafe, GS in the background.

The guys had a route through Impendle, Himeville, Underburg, Swartburg, Matatiele.
A few pics from that section:

In Matatiele we refueled and had something to eat at Resthaven B&B which is the place to stay in Matat. 
Len had spoken to Losper about the suggested route in his post above (and below from my GPS) which cut out the tar to mount fletcher and ultimately joined up with the road to Rhodes at the base of NaudesNek.  Peachy.

You take a sharp left off the road to Ongeluksnek and follow some awesome gravel roads till suddenly the track takes  a sharp turn off the road and into the bush.  With Losper’s words ‘a bit technical’ ringing in my ears, I braced myself for what was to come... a section of Lehana’s Pass, or what felt like the approach to Mordor...
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Offline big oil

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Re: Han Solo's new route from KZN to Western Cape over new year...
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2018, 12:14:15 am »
 :sip:  :thumleft:
 

Offline Highsider

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Re: Han Solo's new route from KZN to Western Cape over new year...
« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2018, 07:09:59 am »
Len and I shot each other a glance.  We now know where the ‘slightly technical for about 2km’ section started.  I was about to test my Anakee Wild front and Tractionator Adventure rear in anger.
We had lost an hour and a half at the coffee shop and not been too quick at Matat either.  Clouds were gathering overhead and the threat of rain is never a happy prospect especially when venturing into the unknown with a 200 plus kg adventure bike.



It started to rain at one point,  just after the fun and games began.  Much of the goat track consisted of red clay-like soil and those who come from an Enduro background will know what this gets like  when it gets wet.


We got through the gnarly stuff ok, some damage to one of the 990’s but nothing serious.  It was beautiful on top.

Suddenly we found ourselves at the base of NaudesNek, it was good to be on a familiar route.  I was adventured-out for the day.


I was due to press on to Hogsback the next day, but Len and the guys had some interesting routes planned.  Rides which I hadn’t done before.  Ben McDhui Pass, the Tiffendell-Tenahead traverse, Bastervoetslaan Pass ascending (East to West).  They were happy for me to join them for the day and to spend that night at their accommodation, at Alpine Swift.  Little did we know what disaster the following day had in store for us.

The descent to Rhodes is stunning, and we parted ways at Alpine swift as I had booked and paid for a D,B&B at BezRes, a rustic farmhouse situated a few hundred meters after the town on the Barkley side.
This is a pic taken at BezRes in the morning.
I can recommend BezRes for Bikers.  You get home cooked meals, a hot shower and quiet surroundings.  No beer though so I would stop at the Walkerbout for a cold one next time.


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Offline Slim Jim

Re: Han Solo's new route from KZN to Western Cape over new year...
« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2018, 08:07:12 am »
 :sip:
 

Offline JonW

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Re: Han Solo's new route from KZN to Western Cape over new year...
« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2018, 09:04:30 am »
Great pics Kev, following your trip with interest  :thumleft:
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Re: Han Solo's new route from KZN to Western Cape over new year...
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2018, 11:39:15 am »
Great pics Kev, following your trip with interest  :thumleft:

+1. Nice boots  ;D
 

Offline MillionMiles

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Re: Han Solo's new route from KZN to Western Cape over new year...
« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2018, 04:42:45 pm »
I saw you guys. I'm the guy who was leaving the look-out spot on Naude's pass when you were arriving (see time stamp in pic).
Without spoiling your story, I am also keen to hear the story about the next day's activities cause we heared stories and i think we saw you while doing our horseback ride at our accommodation.

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