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Author Topic: Lesotho Boogie Woogie  (Read 4986 times)

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Offline Xpat

Lesotho Boogie Woogie
« on: January 05, 2019, 09:36:13 pm »
Introduction

First of all - boogie woogie: Tony who initiated this trip came up with that and the rest of us born after the WW2 just assumed that it’s a made up noise he probably uses to endear himself to infants. Back home, quick interweb check revealed it actually has meaning. Here an excerpt from Wikipedia: “Boogie-woogie is a musical genre that became popular during the late 1920s, developed in African-American communities in the 1870s”. Now it started to make sense taking into account how ancient and African Tony is - it was clearly a subconscious flashback to his youth and he expected a lot of knee action on this trip. He wouldn’t be disappointed.

Here a video example of Boogie-woogie:


Just to be sure - for those who may want to skip this enlightening video I would like to point out the second comment below this video: “The blonde isn't wearing a bra.  I know that isn't important in the scheme of things; but, I seldom scheme at things...”...

Tony (TK in WD lingo) came up with the idea of this trip and he roped in his usual riding partners - Bertie (Straatkat), Greg (GregF) and Henk (Chopperpilot). I was invited to join in later on when I returned back from overseas.

The initial plan was the typical thorough Tony job: we will trailer bikes to Clarens and have 4 days of riding around there. Knowing that for some in the party 4 days of riding (+ 2 days trailering there and back) is an opportunity that comes about once in a decade, I wasn’t thrilled to waste 4 days around Clarens which is a nice weekend destination for heavy tourists with artso pretenses, but doesn’t have much to offer to a lowly DS loving bunch like us.

So I suggested an alternative that would provide for more meaty and exquisite DS riding - 4 day loop starting and ending in Katse dam:



The plan was to trailer to Katse and from there ride as follows:

Day 1: Katse to Mohale, following track I have plotted last year offroad over the mountains.
Day 2: Mohale to Semonkong, including Jockstrap and Baboon’s passes
Day 3: Semonkong to Thaba Tseka via Mantsonyane shortcut
Day 4: Thaba Tseka to Katse following some new routes I found last year, including river track all the way up to Katse dam.



I expected some resistance due to longer commute (Katse vs Clarens) and the more technical nature of the route, but the plan seem to have been quickly accepted. Not long after though Henk pulled out stating family reasons, but I couldn’t help wondering if it wasn’t the new route that swayed him to stay away… :pot:

I checked with Bertie who I expected to be a bit apprehensive and managed to calm him by explaining that there isn’t any bit too difficult for him to ride - maybe with some help from us in few places. Which I was kind of semi-confident about - the individual bits were all doable, I was just not sure what will happen when we will string them all together into 4 solid days of riding without any rest in between.

Then I checked with Tony. I knew he procured two non-running 525s over that last year (I guess in a hope that them may breed him brand new 500 if he leaves them alone or some such) so I expected him to bring one of the 525s. But it turned out none of them was working yet (nor the attempt at farming 500 came to fruition yet), but no worries, said Tony, he will bring his TE610. Which is what I was worried about. While Tony, older than me and yet still way stronger physically and mentally, could probably wrestle that whale through each individual day, I knew it would become a major liability for him in 4 days of solid riding. He didn’t want to budge initially, but I eventually managed to sweet talk him into rather bringing his Beta 400 with a Coke bottle or two for petrol to extend the diminutive range. Granted, that Beta thingy will be the sore on the eye in otherwise purebred orange 500 lineup (and will end up sucking some of their blood as we will see later), but at least it was light.

I didn’t bother calling Greg - he is the type who given the choice of perfectly fine steep pass made out of coconuts sized sharp rocks and nearby vertical cliff will go for the cliff every time. I actually hoped he will bring his TE630 to even out the playing field a bit. He did not, so the final score was 3 x KTM 500 & 1x Beta 400.

Henk was still out, so I checked with Losper if he doesn’t want to join. He was keen, but eventually couldn’t make the dates, so we at least tortured him by sending lots of photos of pretty passes as we were riding them - Lesotho back & beyond seems to have much better 3G coverage than most rural SA.

With that all settled we were good to go and set to meet up at Katse on 29th of November for a start next day.

The perpetrators:

Bertie (Straatkat) - on the right:



Tony (TK):



Greg (GregF):



And myself (that would be Martin since I outed everybody else):



Edit: Attached are the GPS tracks for the routes we took each day.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2019, 05:03:01 pm by Xpat »
 
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Offline Xpat

Re: Lesotho Boogie Woogie
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2019, 11:34:53 pm »
Day 1 - Katse to Mohale

The rendezvous point for the trip was Katse lodge, where we converged day before from different directions. I have been in Lesotho already for a week exploring eastern Drakensberg escarpment, so I had relatively short commute from Maloraneng lodge in the valley below Letseng mine to Katse, where I arrived in the early afternoon.

The other three were coming together from Joburg. Given the age of some of the participants with associated insomnia, it wasn’t entirely surprising that we start receiving Whatsapp messages at 3:00 am about how they are going to start at 7:00 am sharp from Joburg or some such. So when nobody arrived by 6:00 pm I started to worry a bit. By 7:00 pm I have finally received message that they are in Fouriesburg - quite an achievement, considering it is about 330 km from Joburg, they probably went through Durban or something. When they still didn’t arrive by 10:00 pm I started to worry, that all that worrying is not good for my health and rather went to sleep.

I was glad to see in the morning that they eventually made it - apparently the Mitsubishi something they arrived in was overheating going over Lesotho passes and they had to stop frequently. Anyway, they were here, geared up and after breakfast we set-off (the cars were parked for the trip at the Katse lodge).










The plan for the day was to follow cattle tracks over the mountains to the Mohale dam for a sleepover at Mohale lodge, basically crossing from Malibiamatso river valley (the river flowing into and out of Katse dam) to Senqunyane river valley (the river flowing to and out of Mohale dam). The route had 3 distinct parts: first climbing from the Katse dam at about 2200m altitude to the top of the ridge between the two valleys at about 2900m, then following the top of the ridge for 10-15 km across to the Senqunyane valley, and last descending down to Senqunyane valley and following the river all the way to the Mohale dam & lodge.



We set-off on the dirt road following the south shore of Katse dam and after about 10 km turned onto rough double track heading up the valley first through a village and later on the open slopes above the village:




Soon we scaled the first ridge and the main much higher ridge we had to ride up came to sight. I knew from my prior rides that getting up on this ridge, especially up the top part was the most difficult bit for the day, and warned the others. The main ridge is on the top right of the following image and you can clearly see the cattle tracks we were to follow up there:




Getting to the set off point for the climp up the ridge on the other side of the valley:







Greg waiting at the bottom of the valley at the start of the main ascent - the cattle tracks will quide us up, thugh we will avoid them initially and use them only at the steepest top part:






As I've done it before, I went first to show the others the best route IMO. The approach was easy - gun it up along the cattle tracks more or less straight up as high as one dares to (the slope became more steep at the top, plus there were rocks and holes in the slope so one had to watch what he is doing otherwise cartwheel became very real option with all the 500 power at the rear wheel), and then drop into the cattle tracks that zig zag through the toughest top part.

I've made my dash as far as I dared and then stopped to take picture of the others. Greg gunnig it up:
















Bertie climbing up in less flamboyant style:







Everybody made it to the first base without much drama:







Here Greg decided to do his own thing and instead of following the sensible advice of elders (I'm few years older), he just wanted to gun it up the slope to the right. Despite inauspicious start (seeing his straight away even before he set-off) he persevered - and lost naturally:







He made it quite far (he is somewhere in that picture), but eventually had to come back and follow the wise ones:




Tony scaling the next steeper section up the ridge in style watched by Greg and local herdboy:










Where we regrouped for the next section - the toughest one:




































Bertie struggled a bit, but pushed on. Unforunatelly at this point he is about to flip the bike which ended up on top of him.




I didn't take picture of the aftermath as this didn't look like laughing matter even to the cynical bastards like us and Tony and I rushed in to pick the bike off Bertie. I was really worried that he might have broken leg or both as the bike seemed to drop full force on them, but per usual Bertie just stood up and said he is fine. He was a bit rattled and his mood fouled for few moments before he rebounded and agreed to continue provided we ride his bike to the top of this bloody ridge.

It was quite a wake up call as a broken leg would stop the trip right there and more importantly trying to get Bertie with broken leg off that mountain would be a logistical nightmare, probably involving helicopter. So I was greatly relieved that there were no broken bones. As an X-ray month later shown, Bertie actually did break a leg there - fibula in his left leg. As I was told when I broke mine, that is considered just a flesh wound, and Bertie manage to grow his one back together even without knowing it is broken. As you can see it seems more or less mended by now:




So the broken leg seems to be kind of tradition on these group rides of ours as I broke mine on our ride together in Swaziland. The only difference really was that when I broke mine (together with tibia) I laid in a dirt right where I fell and cried like a bitch until they Voltarened me to the lepricorn dimension and then transported me in complicated logistical operation involving two different ambulances in two different countries to a hospital, while Bertie may have lost it for a minute and use few expletives, after which he calmed down walked to the top of the ridge, sat on his bike and continued with the ride. Apart from that it was more or less the same...
« Last Edit: January 06, 2019, 12:24:17 pm by Xpat »
 
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Offline Ian in Great Brak River

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Re: Lesotho Boogie Woogie
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2019, 12:20:36 am »
Another epic on the way ....

 :thumleft:
1978. It's 6am, mid winter...two up on a XL 185S ... off to my first casino ever with all of R40 and we've got a full tank of fuel, so enough to get there we reckon.... that's determination...

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Offline Straatkat

Re: Lesotho Boogie Woogie
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2019, 12:20:59 am »
Firstly I want to thank Xpat (Martin) for sharing his awesome routes that he spent weeks exploring on his own with us, it was magical to have those routes to ride and they were ridden before, so there was never a point where we had to turn around because we could not get through a certain part. After my little mishap in the morning of the first day, I actually got off very lightly probably thanks to my Alpinestars Tech7 boots, riding up steep mountains should probably be left to the 30 and 40 something year olds, not some-one more than halfway past 50, but hey I tried! My injury would impact on the rest of my trip, but if you are given lemons, make lemonade!

When we reached the mountain climb, Martin nonchalantly rode almost all the way up, almost like he has done it before! On a previous trip his bike cartwheeled down that same mountain, so take it from me, that is higher grade stuff! Tony and Greg ride gnarly stuff all the time, so they were fine. For me it was like 200% over my ability!
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Offline Xpat

Re: Lesotho Boogie Woogie
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2019, 09:05:14 am »
Once we made sure Bertie is OK, we turned our attention back to the climb. We still had about 50 - 60 altitude meters to do. Tony and Greg went to look for  a way up in the wrong direction so I pointed them to a single path heading off the washed out cattle tracks in the opposite direction of their search. We regrouped at the start of the path once we got all the bikes out of the deep ruts of the cattle path.







After little rest we hit the path that took us zig zagging all the way to the top of the ridge. Greg went first:
















Then Tony:













And then Greg again took up Bertie's bike, while Bertie hiked up the slope (the valley far below at the bottom of these pics is where the Katse dam is and where we came from):







I followed last and caught up with them near the top where I had to show them how to get up the last piece (basically just gun it up over rocks and ruts):










At the top we took a break and enjoyed the view and the fact that the toughest bit has been conquered. There was still plenty of juicy riding ahead, but this bit has the biggest potential to bite and as we have seen, it did. Bertie was the typical trooper, refused to go back (I offered to escort him back) and pushed on with us for the rest of the day.

Bertie walking up the last bit, while Greg heads down to bring Bertie's 500 up the last bit:



As is usual in Lesotho everywhere, we had a company of couple of herdboys watching over their herds from the top of the mountains.











« Last Edit: January 06, 2019, 12:26:25 pm by Xpat »
 
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Offline Xpat

Re: Lesotho Boogie Woogie
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2019, 09:23:07 am »
After the break we followed reasonably flat top of the ridge for the next 5 or so km heading west. After the workout on the climb the riding was comparatively much easier, but still proper offroad riding over the rocks and bushes following cattle tracks.





















We took another break at empty herdsmen hut before we were to hit another major climb for the day - though this one much milder than the first one.




Tony executing dismount he learned in the 19th century:










Behind Bertie and Tony here is the climb we had to negotiate next. On my first ride here I made a mistake of followin cattle tracks running to the left of that mountain down to the next valley and it took me good 4 ours or so to get out of that valley back onto the ridge and then to the correct valley further on - I had to sleep out in the mountains on that run. So I knew better now and we could avoid that costly mistake.




We had a little chow to keep the energy up for the next half of the day:


« Last Edit: January 06, 2019, 12:29:27 pm by Xpat »
 
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Offline Xpat

Re: Lesotho Boogie Woogie
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2019, 09:45:58 am »

Offline TK

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Re: Lesotho Boogie Woogie
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2019, 07:57:24 pm »
OK Martin........ You suck. Will that make the next page.

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Offline TK

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Re: Lesotho Boogie Woogie
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2019, 08:03:05 pm »
Bertie mentioned a descent pair of boots made the difference to a potentially disastrous trip.

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Offline Xpat

Re: Lesotho Boogie Woogie
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2019, 08:04:58 pm »
After the lunch break we kitted up and headed up the hill we were sizing up through the lunch. As I've done it before I headed up first to show the others the best route and the others followed.

Greg heading up - you can see the hut and kraal where we had our break on the oppisite slope:










Bertie made it up without a glitch:




And Tony sweeping:










« Last Edit: January 06, 2019, 08:06:11 pm by Xpat »
 
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Offline Xpat

Re: Lesotho Boogie Woogie
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2019, 08:07:03 pm »
OK Martin........ You suck. Will that make the next page.

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Well, it helps!  :thumleft: Few more back and forths and dick picks and we are there  >:D
« Last Edit: January 06, 2019, 08:07:31 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline Straatkat

Re: Lesotho Boogie Woogie
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2019, 08:21:35 pm »
The idea of getting up on the mountain and then riding along the top is quite a novel idea for me. It is proper off road with rocks and bushes, we pretty much each chose our own route to more or less get where we want to go, constantly watching for lurkers behind bushes, quite nice riding on top and of course with the vantage point that you have from up there the views are just stunning.
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Offline Xpat

Re: Lesotho Boogie Woogie
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2019, 08:35:08 pm »
Once everybody made it to the top, we followed the ridge for the next 5 - 10 km all the way to the Senqunyane valley.  The terrain got more open and we were drifting each in our own pace towards the valley.


































Heading towards the end of the ridge and descent to Senqunyane valley ahead:




Tony admiring the scenery:






















Senqunyane valley and the last stop before descent:





« Last Edit: January 06, 2019, 08:39:23 pm by Xpat »
 
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Offline Xpat

Re: Lesotho Boogie Woogie
« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2019, 08:43:50 pm »
Bertie mentioned a descent pair of boots made the difference to a potentially disastrous trip.

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That may have been actually the cause of the incident - Bertie using descent boots on an ascent...  :lamer:

Offline TK

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Re: Lesotho Boogie Woogie
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2019, 08:45:18 pm »
This Pic is my favourit of the trip. The views of this part of Lesotho are the best.  Lebensraum.

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Online Tom van Brits

Re: Lesotho Boogie Woogie
« Reply #15 on: January 06, 2019, 09:23:47 pm »
Lekker trip, I cant do a ride like this but I am thinking of hiking trip there some time to see a bit more of the Mountains.
 

Offline Straatkat

Re: Lesotho Boogie Woogie
« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2019, 09:37:37 pm »
A few pics of the start of the trip.
Please excuse the quality.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2019, 11:39:20 pm by Straatkat »
Current rides: Husqvarna TE 610 (2009),  KTM 950 SE(2007)
 KTM 500 EXC (2016)
18 till I die.
If hard work pays, show me rich donkey.
 
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Offline Straatkat

Re: Lesotho Boogie Woogie
« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2019, 11:41:59 pm »
Bertie mentioned a descent pair of boots made the difference to a potentially disastrous trip.

Sent from my EML-L09 using Tapatalk

That may have been actually the cause of the incident - Bertie using descent boots on an ascent...  :lamer:


Yes Martin, that is definitely the reason for the fall. Got to wear the correct boots for what you are doing. Focus, I must Focus!
Current rides: Husqvarna TE 610 (2009),  KTM 950 SE(2007)
 KTM 500 EXC (2016)
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If hard work pays, show me rich donkey.
 

Offline Ri

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Re: Lesotho Boogie Woogie
« Reply #18 on: January 07, 2019, 07:40:25 am »
Lovely photo's, entertaining storytelling - the makings of another great report :deal:

OK Martin........ You suck. Will that make the next page.

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I'll just leave this here...   :peepwall:
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Offline IanTheTooth

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Re: Lesotho Boogie Woogie
« Reply #19 on: January 07, 2019, 10:16:03 am »
Complete aside but my first job in Penicuik, Scotland was for a dentist called JF Mitchell who was married to one of the Andrew's sisters (of boogie woogie fame.) He also got shot in the States in a dodgy land deal and returned to Edinburgh a wiser man.
The dog that caught the car. What now?