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Offline Highsider

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Ben 10 and the Abominable Snowman
« on: August 14, 2018, 06:37:23 pm »


The story will follow...


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Offline Oubones

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Re: Ben 10 and the Abominable Snowman
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2018, 06:58:24 pm »
Ok will wait as it seems you are still cold. :peepwall:
Saw some pics of guys in the snow last weekend, interesting!
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Offline Highsider

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Re: Ben 10 and the Abominable Snowman
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2018, 07:47:41 pm »
In 2016 myself and three mates planned a trip to Rhodes and did half of the passes on the Ben 10 list, without any knowledge of the list:

We did numbers 2,3,4,5 & 7 as well as Ongeluksnek on the way back to PMB. 

At the end of 2017 I did Ben MacDhui, the TTT & Otto DuPlessis Pass.  For me the challenge was to ascend Bustervoetslaan Pass (east to west) and also to do the evasive Joubert’s Pass which we had missed on our 2016 trip.

Our route plan:
Day 1:  PMB to Maclear via Hela Hela and Creighton, then the eastern side of the R56 from Matatiele to Maclear.
Day 2:  Maclear to a cottage on Joubert’s Pass, via Bastervoetslaan pass, Otto duPlessis Pass and Part of Joubert’s Pass.
Day 3:  To Rhodes via Joubert’s Pass, Londien’s Pass, Wartrail, Vounteershoek Pass, Ben MacDhui Pass and Carlisleshoekspruit Pass.
Day 4:  Back home via Tiffendell Tenahead Traverse, Naudesnek Pass, Matatiele.



This was the plan.  But Murphy had his own ideas and was about to rewrite the script.


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Offline Highsider

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Re: Ben 10 and the Abominable Snowman
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2018, 08:17:52 pm »
Day 1.
We all meet on time at the Sasol garage in PMB.  It’s the usual suspects:  Rory on his KTM950, Mark on his XT660Z, Philip on his BMW 800, Graham on his GS1200 and me on my 990. 

Soon we had a short stop at the bridge over the Umkomaas River at Hela Hela. 
Now we had all ignored the weather forecast since come hell or high-water, we were going on this ride.   
The first rains fell at Hela Hela.  Great.  We all put our basic rain protection on (All Orange!)


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Offline Highsider

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Re: Ben 10 and the Abominable Snowman
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2018, 09:18:38 pm »

A quick stop in Creighton:

By the time we had had a late breakfast in Matatiele it was time to hit the gravel again, in the back country between Matat and Maclear.
By now the temperature was dropping,  plummeting actually.  It became overcast and cold rain began to fall. 
It was at this time we had the mandatory puncture, the rear on Phil’s 800.  It was a sodding piece of rusty fencing wire stuck into his brand new Motoz Desert H/T.  Here we all are crowded around looking like a HazMat clean up crew.


Fortunately we had the amazing Desert Fox tyre-putter-onner tool which made it easy to re-seat the stiff Motoz tyre.

I had a new Motoz Desert HT fitted to my bike and from the looks of it we were headed neither for desert nor Hard Terrain...
The next 6 hours went by in a blur of mud, clay,  slipping,  poor traction, icy cold, wet boots, wet gloves, a lot of colorful language and near hypothermia.  There are no photos of this section, it was all about surviving. 
This section of the journey would be sublime in good weather, it reminded me in some way of the backroads in Lesotho. 
By the time we reached the R56 it was dark and freezing.  We were soaked right through and my heated grips were giving “battery care” warnings.  We had managed a paltry 35km/hr average since Matatiele. 
We followed each other through the pelting cold rain down the Katkop Pass and directly to Tops for a bottle of OBS then to the Maclear KFC for supper and hot black coffee (they had run out of milk!!).
Finally we made it to our self-catering accommodation for the night - Cosy Cottages - where Andre was waiting with a fire going in a braai drum. 
Our bikes got to park under cover, and we got creative to get kit dry:

With five of us spread out between two big rooms, hot showers and electric blankets, life was looking up again.   We had stuck to our route and conquered the weather, right?  Wrong.


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Offline eberhard

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Re: Ben 10 and the Abominable Snowman
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2018, 09:29:30 pm »
 :thumleft: :sip:
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Offline Highsider

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Re: Ben 10 and the Abominable Snowman
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2018, 09:37:07 pm »

This 180km of gravel was well worth it, but was slow going because of the weather.

Day 2:  The sun teased us early in the morning and gave us false hope. Our kit was 85% dry and  we were tearing to go. 
By the time we had reached Bastervoetslaan Pass near to Ugie the weather was looking ominous again.

Deciding it would be a bad idea  to get stuck on Basters for the  night,  we proceeded to call it a day on Basters.  Just as well.


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Offline Highsider

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Re: Ben 10 and the Abominable Snowman
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2018, 09:39:45 pm »



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Offline Highsider

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Re: Ben 10 and the Abominable Snowman
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2018, 03:35:35 am »
The decision was made to remove Bastervoetslaan Pass off the itinerary and instead to push on to Joubert’s Pass via Elliot and Barkley East. 
At Elliot we were hankering after a good coffee and after a long song & dance involving the interrogation of local town folk, it was Phillip who led us out of town on yet another muddy slippery farm road towards the coolest restaurant in the area - the Upstream Restaurant.   
Even shrouded in mist, the views were inspiring and the food & drinks both excellent and reasonable.


Since we were planning on Braaiing at our next destination on Joubert’s Pass, we headed back into Elliot after lunch and found ‘Andrews’ butchery.  I stood as car guard outside whilst the boys negotiated inside the butchery.   Out of nowhere the wind picked up and little balls of ice started swirling around and hitting me in the face. 

A very friendly lady who had come to the butchery jumped out of her car and ran over to us, enquiring where we were headed etc.  turns out she is invoked at the Mountain Shadow hotel at the top of Barkley Pass. She urged us to pop in and make some calls etc, and told us of a small group of bikers who were holed up at the hotel because of bad weather.
We set off up the Barkley Pass.  The little ice things were on replaced by light fluffy things - a snowstorm.  For the last few km up the pass I followed a car’s tracks through the snow up the Pass, and when the entrance to the hotel loomed through the mist on the left, we went in like homesick moles.
We found an undercover parking shed and took over.  We eventually checked in for the night along with a number of vehicles who could not go further up or down the Pass.

Within minutes the whole establishment was covered in crisp white snow.


The pub was warm and dry.
There was also some wildlife which didn’t seem to mind how close we got to them...




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Offline Highsider

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Re: Ben 10 and the Abominable Snowman
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2018, 03:39:31 am »

This one was particularly odd.  You need a nice high ceiling for this one. 


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Offline eberhard

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Re: Ben 10 and the Abominable Snowman
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2018, 08:00:12 am »
I enjoy.  :thumleft:

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Offline Toothless

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Re: Ben 10 and the Abominable Snowman
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2018, 08:28:32 am »
Sub
 

Offline Highsider

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Re: Ben 10 and the Abominable Snowman
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2018, 08:33:35 am »
The folk at Mountain Shadow Hotel are just awesome.  Real salt of the earth types who are biker friendly.  Our stay included dinner, bed and breakfast.  We each had our own room (luxury for us bikers!) and the cost per person was around R730.00 which under the circumstances was very good value for money.


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Offline >>Thump°C

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Re: Ben 10 and the Abominable Snowman
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2018, 09:22:04 am »
.
Boys will be Boys.
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Re: Ben 10 and the Abominable Snowman
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2018, 04:19:52 pm »
 :sip:
"Never look down on anyone, unless you're helping them up"
 

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Re: Ben 10 and the Abominable Snowman
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2018, 05:24:56 am »
In the morning the skies were blue and the sun was shining.  Our kit was dry from being strung over the oil heaters and things were looking up. 
Mark and Rory braved the sunrise:



The owners of these three Beemers were very nice guys who had also been caught out by the conditions.


During breakfast we learned that heavy snow had fallen at Tiffendell and surrounds which meant our plans to do the passes in that area were in ruin.  We decided to press on to Rhodes since we had booked in at the backpackers for our third night.
Something on Rory’s bike didn’t agree with the cold and Graham, weighing in at 140kg plus, eventually jump started in on the driveway.

And this was when our snowman was created.

We headed directly out of the hotel, crossed the road and hit the gravel towards Rhodes. 


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Re: Ben 10 and the Abominable Snowman
« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2018, 06:03:09 am »
We only had 80km to cover to get to Rhodes.  It was a pleasure riding on gravel without dust, but in many spots there were signs of vehicles struggling in the mud over the last few days.  It was deeply rutted and wet and made for some close calls along the way.  An ideal line through a 50m patch of mud would be to ride inside a deep compacted car track, however this requires excellent balance otherwise the front wheel snatches on the sides.  Fun and games.  Still, to have the sun warming your face while traveling through chilly air is something special.


It wasn’t long and we arrived at Rhodes.  We checked in with the effervescent Margie at Rhodes Tourism and got our key to the backpackers.  After surprising two young lady guests at the backpackers (they were expecting four ‘young bikers’ - Margie must have forewarned them), we unpacked into our shoebox of a room and went to Sean’s lace for fuel. 
After showing the guys around Rhodes we ended up at Walkerbouts Pub where we learned that the TTT (Tiffendell Tenahead Traverse) was under 1m of snow.  There was a couple in the pub who had spent three hours stuck on the road out of Tenahead Lodge.  So there went our plans for the final day of the trip. 
After a good few we headed back to braai at the backpackers.
The (inappropriately named IMHO) Exodus Backpackers is a rather imposing looking establishment which hardly yells “welcome weary travelers!”

Still, at R180pp one can’t be too fussy.  We had dragged our sleeping bags through the whole journey just for this place, since they do not supply bedding.
The braai was a merry affair:

After the braai we retired to the common room where the three groups of guests occupying the place had a few laughs into the night.
Next day was the homeward journey, up and over Naudesnek then some interesting back roads to Matatiele.  Well this was the plan anyway. 


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Offline eberhard

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Re: Ben 10 and the Abominable Snowman
« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2018, 08:29:05 am »
A very different ride report.  :thumleft:  Great pictures as well.
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Offline Kortbroek

Re: Ben 10 and the Abominable Snowman
« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2018, 09:29:43 am »
Nice report.

Regarding your backpackers in Rhodes, the biblical name would be due to that building actually being the old "Kerksaal". It has also for a number of years served as a school (there were about 20 of us in the school), interesting to see it now is a backpackers.
- you reckon that thing will pop a wheelie? We're about to find out, SLAP that pig!
 

Offline Highsider

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Re: Ben 10 and the Abominable Snowman
« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2018, 11:43:51 am »
Nice report.

Regarding your backpackers in Rhodes, the biblical name would be due to that building actually being the old "Kerksaal". It has also for a number of years served as a school (there were about 20 of us in the school), interesting to see it now is a backpackers.
I understand the building belongs to the Dutch Reform Church, and thanks for shedding some fact on our speculation.  It is an odd building inside because of the incredibly high ceilings and windows.  Almost like it was designed for small giants. 


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