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Offline JannievandieVaaldam

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Re: Honda Quest True Adventure 2018
« Reply #120 on: November 04, 2018, 09:43:33 pm »
.
 

Offline JannievandieVaaldam

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Re: Honda Quest True Adventure 2018
« Reply #121 on: November 04, 2018, 09:48:43 pm »
Time to start the fire and get dinner done …. easier said than done. Team 5 and 6 were assigned braai duties for the evening….
« Last Edit: November 04, 2018, 09:49:15 pm by JannievandieVaaldam »
 

Offline JannievandieVaaldam

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Re: Honda Quest True Adventure 2018
« Reply #122 on: November 04, 2018, 09:59:36 pm »
To quote @Hollywood, as soon as the sun set that evening the wind started to shift the dune we just made camp on. As we were trying to get dinner done every now and again all would get sprinkled with some sand seasoning.
 

Online teebag

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Re: Honda Quest True Adventure 2018
« Reply #123 on: November 05, 2018, 08:52:31 am »
Where was I, ah yes Kaleo, morning day 1.

After the welcoming speeches and formalities out the way (great representation by the Honda Motorcycles management team Toshiaki Konaka, Barend Fouché' and Cassels Madingwane as well as local DP Johann Botha of Tygerberg Honda - respect) Hardy announced the teams, and that was it, we finally knew the pairings for the duration of Quest, 

Team 1 Pieter and Andre
Team 2 Claude and Mojaki
Team 3 Denzil and Myself
Team 4 Stephan and Jana
Team 5 Jessie and Hannes
Team 6 JoDan and Andre
Hardy gave a a chuckle as he announced the final team, Team 7 Rickus and Pierre #goteamgreybeard 

We collected our kit, personalised riding shirts, t-shirts, jackets, caps and buff - not forgetting our beloved numbered bibs (amazing thermal properties and the ability to stop a south-easter) there were also superb duffle bags to house our kit for the duration of Quest, courtesy of Peter at Nomad Bags - winning already.

The Specalised Adventures crew set off in the LandCruisers and left us with the shuttle to take the long way round join the N7 all they way to Springbok.

Although the going was slow it gave the teammates time to get to know each other, to speculate why partners had been paired and discuss approaches for the days ahead.  As we chatted we realised that our pairing would probably challenge us each in different ways, Denzil was open and told me straight, he was competitive and was here to win (no pressure then), as I learnt more about my partner, I felt the pressure mounting, our riding experience was polar opposites, Denzil rides competitively, extreme enduro's, has won the Pongola 500 and has a roof of 2 under his belt, me I started riding 10 years ago at the age of 40 and my current ADV bike is a 250 Rally because I ride mainly to get out in the countryside and enjoy timeout with a few good friends.  I was honest with Denzil and committed to him to give everything in every challenge, but pointed out that I am certain at times he might become frustrated, we discussed this and agreed to keep the communication open and honest, to ensure we each knew what the other was feeling in any given situation.

After a brief lunch stop in Klawer we continued on to Springbok, the bus a little quieter now, but more banter between all the contestants, we all really just wanted to get on with it and be aquatinted with our steeds.  Eventually we arrived in Springbok and there lined up in a yard were the 18 bikes from bootcamp - finally.

Wait a bit - before we ride, we needed to move all the bags from the shuttle into the Iveco, this time we had it easy, as the rest of the equipment was already stowed securely, so we only had to pack the bags and the few excess items before kitting up and heading to Modderfontein 10km out of town.  For the 1st time we setup camp, and are given a little time to prep the bikes for the next days riding, pegs, tools, adjustments etc.   The sun set and we ate dinner in the Lapa with the crew after which they take turns to share with us their expectations of us for the coming days.  We get to bed late and have to set a roster for night  watch as it is not only the scorpions that are keeping us on the lookout. I think Denzil and I had the 12:00 - 01:00 shift, and we decided not to sleep beforehand, and chatted as the rest of camp fell into a symphony of snoring from all quarters. Walking around the camp that night, the conversation moved from the practical to the personal, and by the time 01:00 came and we were due to hand over, it was clear that we were both had personal and family issues to carry with us on our Quest.  I settled into a restless sleep beneath the vastness of the African skies, and woke a few hours later, freezing, the wind had shifted and bought with it colder temperatures, I pulled my beanie tighter over my head in denial sleep was over.



« Last Edit: November 05, 2018, 09:04:33 am by teebag »
 

Offline JannievandieVaaldam

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Re: Honda Quest True Adventure 2018
« Reply #124 on: November 06, 2018, 08:57:31 pm »
All further activities for the night was cancelled, after we completed kitchen duty and washed dishes with some water from the Oranje river, everyone found a spot for the night, me and @JesseH tent had a sand dune inside it as we only pitched the net to protect us from mosquitos as there was no wind when that decision was made. The Honda crew packed up their tent and decided the Honda CRV will make a much better bed for the night.
 

Offline JannievandieVaaldam

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Re: Honda Quest True Adventure 2018
« Reply #125 on: November 06, 2018, 09:05:50 pm »
That morning we found tents a bid skew, some Land Cruisers and crew disappeared during the night and Stephan borrowing the table for some protection…. Luckily our bikes were still there and did not also blow away, little did we know that the worst was still on its way in a couple of days….
 

Offline JannievandieVaaldam

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Re: Honda Quest True Adventure 2018
« Reply #126 on: November 06, 2018, 09:12:23 pm »
Can every sunrise not look like this?
 

Offline JannievandieVaaldam

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Re: Honda Quest True Adventure 2018
« Reply #127 on: November 06, 2018, 09:26:22 pm »
After breakfast, some mieliepap from the back of the Iveco, the only place where the gas stove was not affected by the wind, we packed up and started to make our way to our next destination for the day. Pack a “kort broek and plakkies” into your backpack for the day we have a surprise for you guys on the way we were told…..   

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Offline JannievandieVaaldam

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Re: Honda Quest True Adventure 2018
« Reply #128 on: November 06, 2018, 09:45:04 pm »
But first we had some sand to deal with on the way.... and what better workout than sand just out of the driveway after breakfast.

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Offline JannievandieVaaldam

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Re: Honda Quest True Adventure 2018
« Reply #129 on: November 06, 2018, 10:05:32 pm »
Ok so we stopped in the thick of it, now to get going again is going to be a bit of a workout… but once you get going that Honda begs you to open the throttle….

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Offline JannievandieVaaldam

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Re: Honda Quest True Adventure 2018
« Reply #130 on: November 06, 2018, 10:18:17 pm »
Taking some photos while we wait for a puncture to be repaired and getting a lesson about the specific place where there was once a multi million rand farm but only ruins now. On the other side of the river you can see what this side could have been....
 

Offline JannievandieVaaldam

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Re: Honda Quest True Adventure 2018
« Reply #131 on: November 07, 2018, 10:38:12 pm »
The next section took us alongside the orange rivers banks…

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Offline JesseH

Re: Honda Quest True Adventure 2018
« Reply #132 on: November 07, 2018, 11:22:31 pm »
So to add my bit to the story up to this point:

This is my summary of the first couple of days -
As was said before, nights one and 2 of the Quest were rather trying for us all. From night watch, cold weather and scorpions to wind and sand klapping us hard through the entire night. It was tough! We hadn't slept well the night before the journey to Cape Town. Denzil and I travelled all day (from Nelspruit) to get to Ceres on Wednesday night. Late night and early wake up to get to Kaleo on the Thursday. Travelled all day to get to Springbok. Froze in the tent. Night watch. Sleep again. Early up to kit up and pack up camp.

Day 1 of riding was fairly easy and slow going to get used to convoy dynamics, the bikes, team mates and the heat etc. but it was a full day the saddle and in hot gear. It was on this first day that we realised how much fluid we'd  be drinking. Each of us had 2 bladders of around 5-6L in total. I consumed between 6-7L of water per day - just while riding and not including at camp (mornings and evenings).

Day 2 hits and so does the thick sand and more heat. We packed up camp and left the banks of the Orange and went straight into the first section of THICK sand! Proper 2 spoor thick, 4WD low range type sand for a few kay's. All this after not much sleep in the last 72 hours! It was a rude awakening and as I said, it was tough!

Old Melkbosboom to Goodhouse in a big southerly loop to avoid a section of sand that Hardy said would swallow his Land Cruiser. Sounds like a wise choice to avoid it to me! Especially if you're near the back of an 18 bike convoy, each one churning up the tracks even more.

We were taken through a sandy riverbed section as well and briefed just before we were allowed to go through the ravine one by one.
"This next section is heavy thick sand. You are being scored on your sand riding skills. You are supposed to stay within the two spoor tracks because leaving the tracks is easier and that's not the point. We want to see how good you guys are so stay in the tracks as much as possible." Thanks @Kamanya  :o

Uhhh... Ok! This is scary... The added pressure on us was visible on our faces. Well except for Denzil The-Pro-Elite-Superman-Bike-Rider-Roof-Of-Africa-man who nailed the section without even breaking a sweat and wanted to turn around and come back again.
For me this was big pressure. We need to perform but we also need to look after these bikes. Of course we don't want to break the bikes and especially break ourselves on Day 2! I was very cautious. I also wasn't quite comfortable with the DCT box just yet. It's a mind thing though, I needed to get it in my mind that the bike "knows" what to do. I just need to pilot it and it'll sort me out.

Eventually my turn came, I was about the 10th bike through and the track was really churned up by now. I went through the motions: Ingnition on. Gravel mode. TC off. Abs off. Select Drive. Hit it!
I am a fairly competent rider and told myself "just relax, keep loose, keep calm. Stand up, look up, open up". Off I went and set off well. Going around the bend and beyond where we weren't able to see at the start. I think that's what made it harder. We had no idea what was coming up ahead as the riverbed meandered through the ravine in a multiple "S" fasion and when we started off we could only see about 100m ahead and then the first 45 degree right hander came up and one by one the riders disappeared around the corner only to hear the growl of the parallel twin motors growing more and more feint as we went further in.

So there I was doing my best to perform well, to stay in the tracks and keep my momentum going. Every hundred or so metres there was an instructor or a Specialised Adventures crewman watching us. I got closer and closer to the end and could eventually see the rest of the riders all stopped up ahead about 500m off. Then... I fell on my pip... right in front of Charl :peepwall: and got my left leg trapped under the bike and couldn't get up. DANG IT! I was doing so well... He helped me up, pointed and laughed at me and said "there's the finish, get going because there's another rider coming". I was unhurt and quickly fired the beast up and made my way up the last 100m or so of the track.

Once that was over I spoke to few of the guys and Rickus mentioned he was using Sport II setting on the DCT gear box in the sand as it held the gears longer and would stay in 2nd gear. I liked the sound of that and before we set off again I made sure to ride with it like that. OH! MY! WORD! Sport II was a revelation for me! There was quite a bit of sandy stuff up ahead and @JannievandieVaaldam and I started STYLING! This bike came alive and was so much more ride-able for us both. We klapped the next sections dakar-style and were really starting to enjoy the bike in the sand. As heavy as it is and as much of a handful a big dual purpose machine is in sand, this was like a new bike. We found our mojo! The Sport II setting really made the rest of the sand and rocky incline sections (which you will hear about later) that much more easy and enjoyable. My only regret was not finding this setting before the test section in the riverbed.

We stayed at Oewerbos Camp on the banks of the Orange again near Vioolsdrif that night. It was a welcome sight! Green grass, lovely green trees to break the potential of any wind. It was so welcome because we knew that we weren't going to be chowing sand for dinner like we did the night before.

We were offered a lekker little 5km (not-so) easy paddle down the Orange River. That was an opportunity no one wanted to miss. I think we all wanted to take this trip in in its fullest but perhaps had a different idea in our heads about paddling down the river. We all skeemed "Yeeeha, riding a few raging rapids sounds like a nice end to an Adrenalin filled day! Hells Yeah! HIT IT". But it turned out to be the most sedate canoe ride ever. We wanted speed and danger ek se. We were praying that it would quickly rain in Lesotho somewhere so that the water would maybe rise a bit and push us a little faster. Hey, we were tired, Okay!? And 5km takes long in a deflated rubberducky dinghy boat thingy and the soft flow of the river. We did have little races and much banter and fun. It was totally worth it! We eventually got back to Oewerbos soon after dark and were greeted with ice cold beverages to keep dehydration at bay :thumleft:

We were all still on a high, all in good spirits and keen to get food in our bellies, listen to a couple of enjoyable presentations and get some sleeeeeep!
« Last Edit: November 08, 2018, 12:19:40 am by JesseH »
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Offline JesseH

Re: Honda Quest True Adventure 2018
« Reply #133 on: November 07, 2018, 11:38:36 pm »
Some pics I took of the first 2 days

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Offline JesseH

Re: Honda Quest True Adventure 2018
« Reply #134 on: November 07, 2018, 11:43:01 pm »
And more

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Offline weskus

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Re: Honda Quest True Adventure 2018
« Reply #135 on: November 08, 2018, 07:40:24 am »
Nice one..
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Offline Losper

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Re: Honda Quest True Adventure 2018
« Reply #136 on: November 08, 2018, 08:20:20 am »
Day 2
Video and story by: https://www.kalonfilms.com/

The evening had been a thorough adventure of another sort as a massive wind had torn through the camp just as supper was being made and continued right through the night; Nature, not content to offer up the wonderful treasures of the desert sand trails, saw fit to liberally sprinkle more sand on all of us through the night (and supper)
The Namaqua Eco Trail often features in the top 3 Desert Adventures for both 4x4s and Dual Sport bikes in South Africa. Far less bikes take on the challenge simply because deep sand is not so easy and fewer still would even consider it on a big Litre Class Adventure machine like the Honda Africa Twin.

But, as Honda Quest is all about finding the ultimate Adventurer, sand skills are a must and where better to test them?
In the early morning the teams were riding well with the sand monster claiming only the odd tip over from time to time. (Sand Monster = a term many used to personify the fears many have with sand riding)
It was just before midday that the first major test appeared; Several kilometers of dry riverbed that snaked its way up a canyon section. The starkly beautiful walls trapped and reflected the heat of the midday sun making it a doubly formidable challenge. Any mistakes being punished by the heat and the watchful eyes of the instructors. An added degree of difficulty was that for it to be considered a clean run, the contestants had to stay in the much more difficult 4x4 track, rather than the easier method of riding on virgin sand.

What followed was 60km of rocky climbs and sandy riverbeds all presented in the iconic vistas of the Orange River and Richtersveld Mountains.

A few found their limits, yet soldiered on, not willing to throw in the towel and jump into the Cruiser, effectively ending their and their partners Honda Quest. Notably, quite a few had very little sand experience and with the odd helping hand as well as some judicious advice can now call themselves veterans of the Namakwa Eco Trail
Once into the camp on the banks of the Orange River at Oewerbos, they still weren't finished for the day. The next challenge was a 7km paddle. Whilst refreshing after the heat, as if they had not already done enough, their arms were given another workout.
All competitors were, prior to arriving on Quest, were given unique and diverse topics of interest yet all relevant to the sections of the routes we would be travelling. Every evening one or two of them would be required to present a 10 minute talk on their topic, even after such a tough day.
Sleep came easy after that!!!!
Tomorrow they will be riding the Western side of the Richtersveld, a far more rockier prospect!
« Last Edit: November 08, 2018, 11:15:12 am by Losper »
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Online teebag

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Re: Honda Quest True Adventure 2018
« Reply #137 on: November 08, 2018, 11:53:48 am »
As was to become the routine for the next 9 days, the camp roused with murmurs, mutters, hoes and poep as the sky lightened and people began their morning rituals, sorting and packing of gear and bikes.  Some had a routine while others seemed more haphazard, but in the end all had to arrive at the same point before being ready to ride for the day. So the 1st few hours of every morning would consist of ablutions, pills and potions (this was a morning and nighttime ritual) sorting and packing ones personal bags, kitting up - stage1, filling hydration packs, packing stretchers and chairs (fewer bothered with tents each night), packing the Iveco, coffee, breakfast and kitchen duties (yay the pap pot), Bike prep, chain clean and lube, bike PRI (instructor supervised), camp, ride and overall hi-level route briefing, kitting up stage2, final ablutions, convoy order - and go!

We left camp and headed back through town to cross the N7 eastwards before leaving the tar to cut a diagonal route towards the river in the north. It was good to be back in this part of the world and the vistas and scenery shout Adventure, vast rugged landscapes and roads that disappear into the distance - better yet, not another vehicle in sight.

The 1st few km of gravel highway were un-nerving for me, so many little things that were not familiar to me, riding in such a large group, on such a large bike, not being able to just stop and adjust or take in the scenery, but the most unnerving thing was the way the bike was behaving, it seemed to want to throw me off at every opportunity.  Now I have owned and ridden larger bikes before, but I have settled on smaller and lighter as my personal preference, but this thing would shake its rear at the sight of any loose surface, and it was a case of hang on and ride it out - I started watching others in the group to see if they were experiencing the same, but everyone else seemed to be chilling and enjoying themselves. Eventually we stopped for a break and Denzil came over to me and asked if I was ok, because my bike was looking a little un-settled, we discussed with Andrew and agreed we should check tyre pressures and maybe tweak the suspension settings a little - turns out my pressures were close to 3 bar (so much for PRI ;) ) and the the front fork settings were very different on each side from the factory - so we lowered the pressures and set the adjustment to somewhere in the middle of the range, equal on both sides.

Drink, rehydrate, snack, pee - ride.

Miles better, the ass waggle was gone, and so we settled down into the rhythm of the landscape.

As the day progressed and we moved closer to the river, the tracks became more and more track like, not realising how loose things were getting I nearly threw the bike down in a left hand bend, but somehow managed to hold on, we stopped for a break but with no shade to be had we moved on quickly and started the decent to the river.  A twisty sand section nearly had me on the ground again, but I managed to paddle my way through final stretch.  A little further and there was another run of thickish sand, at the end of which one of the Landcruisers was parked, directly above and in the centre of the run was the drone (now I am no genius, but that must indicate a good photo opportunity, otherwise why would the cameraman go to all the trouble?). Sure enough like a moth to the flame I ran out of talent, right where I was supposed to.

I hit the ground running and quickly had the bike back up and started, in my haste I forgot to disengage traction control completely and promptly dug a nice big hole with a size 18 Metzeler Karoo 3 :(  Denzil and Stephan helped me get going again and the convoy stopped under the only "tree" in the area to rest and rehydrate.

Several of the party seemed about to take a nap as the radio crackled and Hardy called us down to the river,  we set off again through a mix of sandy and rocky terrain toward the waiting vehicle at the edge of the river.  Eventually we all parked up and did not need a 2nd invitation to cool off in the waters of the Gariep (Orange) - it was heaven, the only thing missing was an ice cold beer and according to Jessie a pizza.

Hardy called a few of us over and told us to kit up and meet the crew on the small plateau away from the river.  In turn we were each spoken with and given pointers by the instructors as to what we needed to work on when facing the "sand monster", before being set free to go and apply our new found knowledge. Andrew had some good advice for me about being more relaxed and loose on the bike, to shift my weight back a little more and to keep my head up.  All of which had me feeling way more confident, and before long I actually started to enjoy myself.  I hindsight I should have found some really thick sand to play in (but more on that in tomorrows report)  For now, everyone seemed pleased with my progress.

The rest of the camp eventually moved up to the plateau and we set up camp for the night. As the sun set we were marvelled by the colours reflected by the surrounding landscape and we all knew the adventure had well and truly begun.

Then the wind began to blow...

« Last Edit: November 08, 2018, 12:02:09 pm by teebag »
 

Offline Kamanya

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Re: Honda Quest True Adventure 2018
« Reply #138 on: November 08, 2018, 03:19:48 pm »
“Would you like to write for us? Come to Bootcamp, we’ll see how it goes, then, if it works out and you’ve got the time you can join our team for Quest 2018.”

Hmmm, I’d love to, I’ve got a ton of work to shift and do I get to ride?

“Maybe”

And so started my Honda Quest for the second time.

Apart from the media liaison thing, my role was also to include what I do professionally – observing dynamics, coaching and psychometrics.

I was generously supported by one of the psychometric companies that I use; Luminalearning.com They agreed to sponsor a full suite of tests for both the Finalists and the Staff. The purpose was to aid the finalists in connecting with their team mates and overcoming hot spots that their personalities may create whilst on Quest. The purpose in getting the staff to do it too was there is just as much opportunity for learning for us as the finalists.

Each person was given their results before they embarked on Quest and told to upload a free app called Lumina Splash. (go check it out yourself - https://splash.luminalearning.com/)  Once they then knew who their team mate was, it was possible to scan in their partners profile and compare and contrast their traits. Apart from the tips they got, it also made for a good few laughs.

On the first day at Springbok, I invited all to do a few things;

First was that one of their tasks, not only as competitors but brand ambassadors too, was to upload during the event at least two 20-40 second videos as a team of their experiences to their and the Honda Adventure Facebook pages. One had to at least be in before the rest day. This was quite a challenge as signal was rare in the places we travelled. Also, time to do so was in short supply. Even though we had 10 days, there weren’t many moments where, if they were not being kept busy, they were catching up on much needed rest.

Also, as much as Honda Quest was going to be an amazing journey of a lifetime into places many seldom go, I also asked everyone to consider that this journey was also an opportunity to explore their inner selves too. It was a rare moment to unplug from their normal worlds and take time to learn somethings new to them about themselves and others. How were they to be different once they got to the end? What would they be able to take away with them from Honda Quest that was more than just great memories and photo’s (and hopefully a bike!). It was not just an invitation, it was going to be a requirement of the competition too.

All of us do adventure riding not just because of the riding, but because of what it does to us.

I had a personal goal that I was going to work towards too; Coming late into the well-oiled Specialised team, I wanted to be a good team player whilst adding to the product. It might seem a modest goal, but though I work with associates on projects and get to co-facilitate from time to time, I am essentially a one man band. Here, being in a very pressurised highly competent team I was keen to add to the mix and not upset it. I am generously blessed with high ego strengths that whilst they’re useful for many things, they aren’t always appreciated and can overwhelm or irritate.

So, day 1 proper I was in the cruiser with Hardy. Air-conditioning on a dual sport adventure has its place, especially here!

At one of the stops, I checked with all the teams, only one had fiddled with their suspension settings and tire pressures. I got the impression that many just ride and seldom fiddle. Suspension is for most a dark art and not many know what to do with the clickers and settings. Everyone was riding on waay too hard tire pressures for the conditions. I suggested some changes for the suspension to all and to make an effort at fiddling to see what worked best for them.

We left the convoy not long after that and took a shortcut to where we’d camp. We made a serious error. We arrived too early. The temperature was in the 40’s, no wind and worse, no shelter. It was brutal. I managed to do a bit of work, but was soon forced into the river or under the vehicles.

Later, the group arrived hot and sweaty and didn’t waste any time getting out of their gear and into the river, some opting for a gear and all swim. Once cooled off, for some who’d struggled with the first bit of sand, there was a sand after class. It was great to see those who in just 30 minutes made huge progress getting a big bike to behave more or less in deep sand. Knowing what was ahead, it was going to be needed.

Much later and in a howling sandy gale and head torches, we had our first scoring session. The whole team were each responsible for an aspect of the competition. Last year, we had much debate over what actually went on when we saw them huddled over their papers. Well, all I can give away is that each score was thorough, deeply debated and democratic. Riding skills was only one of several aspects of each contestant and team. Contestants were judged on not just their own but their teams and in the greater team too. We spent many many hours over the days going through the process.

Supper was a new experience, nothing dished up, because of the wind, didn’t have sand in it.

Top tip if you sleep outdoors out of a tent – sleep feet towards the wind. You’ll have a much better evening for it.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2018, 04:01:14 pm by Kamanya »
I wonder where that road goes? And that, has usually made all the difference. Appologies to Mr Frost

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Offline Hollywood

Re: Honda Quest True Adventure 2018
« Reply #139 on: November 08, 2018, 03:23:32 pm »
@Hollywood’s Quest 2018…

Day 2

It was an early morning on that bloody windy, yet breathtakingly beautiful sandy monster of a dune. You couldn’t lie inn, there was just too much sand in the sleeping bag.

Team 1 & 7 had kitchen duty that morning, so we quickly prepped all the riding gear that we could and made our way to the Kitchen-Cruiser, snuggled up against the side of the big Iveco Logistics Truck. The wind had subsided a little from the previous night’s howling pelter to a gentle push. Just enough to kill the flame of the gas cooker on which the Specialised Adventure team prepared our “slap-pap” for the morning… So, into the back of the Iveco I went, to stir the pot and eventually dish up for the hungry mass of adventure maniacs. As the Afrikaans saying goes: “die pap was dik aangemaak”. Like semi-dried tile glue, actually. Ag well.

It filled the gut really well, and we appreciated all the trouble the Specialised Adventure staff went through to help make this an unforgettable experience. As I told my teammate earlier that morning when we (rather grudgingly) rouse from our cocooned sandy sleeping bag tombs…

“Hey, just look around at all these vehicles and people! All of them are going through trials and hardship, just so 14 of us can go on a moerse nice bike trip!! How lucky are we…?!”
“Ja, wragtag” Rickus replied in a heartfelt positive tone. A tone that would later be slightly subdued to a diplomatic grunt, after he spent an hour scrubbing the burnt pap pot.

Chores done, Pre-Ride Inspection ticked off, and the last of the mornings fresh water rationed between all the contestant’s hydration packs, we set off into the hills. It took us all of 2 kilometres to realise that today was going to be a sandy day. No problem. It was better than another sandy night. We couldn’t wash up that morning so, a heavy fall in the sand would be like last night’s nap in the Nubian desert.

On que, guys started dropping in the deep sandy spoor. This was the trend that the rest of the day would follow. Especially during the mid-day Sand Test. Eish. It caught me out, badly.

The DCT has a setting that changes the gearchange ratio of the Africa Twin. There’s the normal DRIVE, and then there are 3 different levels of SPORT. Poepol, chose the normal smooth DRIVE option when I headed into the testy riverbed winding through the canyon! Too smooth!!! Thus, 2nd gear (the ideal gear for this spell of sand riding) took ages to kick in, and when it did, it almost immediately handed the work over to 3rd gear, causing a low revving constant acceleration. Now, many of you would say… what’s the problem with accelerating? Well… nothing if there weren’t any rhythm-breaking 60degree turns in the 2-spoor riverbed with a hell of a lot of diagonal razor sharp lurkers and variety of huge boulders spread around for fun!! Hanging in 1st gear kept my front wheel digging inn, and 3rd gear was way to fast, forcing me to brake or gear down manually in the tight turns, and dig the front inn, again. It wasn’t pretty. Rather disappointing.

Later, during the day I found that SPORT2 was a great setting for sand, as it quickly shifted to 2nd gear, and held it there at revs. Making it easier to manage that shovel of a front wheel. Too late. The sand test was done.

Life-lesson for the day… In life, you can’t always choose how and where you get into trouble, but you can choose how you get out of it.

The rest of the day was picture perfect. Beautiful Richtersveld vistas. Climbing hills with challenging rocky single-track. The only Halfmensboom/Elephants Trunk tree that I spotted throughout the trip, and some thick sand at the end of the day, giving me the opportunity to prove to myself that I wasn’t a total sand-poepol after all. Even, if it was just for my own benefit.

We arrived at our overnight spot. Oewerbos, near Vioolsdrift, on the banks off the Orange river. Rickus told us that they make great Pizzas there. This caused @JesseH to drool, intensely. A drool that he had for the rest off the trip, as we all felt dipping into the delicacies at the restaurant would be disrespectful towards the wonderful Specialised Adventure staff, going out of their way to cook our lovely meals every day.
Case in Point: they served tasty jaffles on our arrival at Oewerbos. It went down swimmingly with an ice-cold cooldrink.

Speaking of swimmingly…
On arrival, Hardy announced that he had planned a special canoe ride for us all, but decided to cancel it, due to the strenuous day we had in the oven-like Richtersveld canyons.

WHAT!?!?! A canoe trip?!? Off course we all want to go!!

And so, the Quest2018 masochist’s river paddle event started. We were all in high spirits and insisted that everyone go for a paddle. Off we went on the back of the Cruisers, 7 km’s up-stream. We had a quick health and safety briefing, and as The Boss put it so eloquently in his 1980 album: “…and into the river we’d dive….”
Team 7 was first to push their way onto the water, off course. Bullies.

During the last couple of days we heard the following statement over, and over again… “Remember, Quest is NOT a race!” So, the paddling quickly turned into a series of sporadic dices between teams. Some had a little less weight to float than others, which I believe, was hugely unfair, but nonetheless, all raced to their hearts content. Some cramped up. Some dried up. Some gave up. But all made it back home to Oewerbos in the dark off night, to a welcome cold beverage!

…team 7 finished in an admirable 3rd position…

3 Mentionable events happened later that night, just before we all started our nightly symphony of snoring.

1.   3 Participants regaled us with lovely presentations about Namaqualand, the Quiver Tree, and The Orange River. Our lives were all a little richer for it.
2.   I accidentally spilled my late evening bederfie-koffie at the foot of my stretcher (picture attached) …Bliksem…
3.   I realised that I neglected to assign the wooden spoon to a worthy contestant the previous evening! Before we fell asleep, we needed to remedy this grave oversight as soon as humanly possible…or at least, right after the teams finished up with kitchen duty.

While waiting, my team mate perused his Facebook page using his Namibian SIM card and reported that we had a Birthday boy in our midst! The perfect candidate as first recipient. So, it came that Stephan van der Merwe (very Afrikaans name for a very English gentleman) became the inaugural holder of THE SPOON. A trophy too which he would add much more meaning and value over the following 24 hours. More than I could ever have hoped for.

Speaking of hours… by this time it was close to midnight, and we all turned in for the night. Being up since 5am was taking its toll. The Quest organiser’s route would surely be a little easier on our tired bones tomorrow. Surely?
 
…wishfull thinking…
« Last Edit: November 08, 2018, 03:50:06 pm by Hollywood »
Addicted to riding big bikes in tricky places.
Rode most of Southern Africa.
Currently riding a slightly pimped black Africa Twin Manual, named Fezile