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Author Topic: West Coast and Richtersveld: Bloody hell!  (Read 4423 times)

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Offline ROOI

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Re: West Coast and Richtersveld: Bloody hell!
« Reply #20 on: October 10, 2008, 02:26:51 pm »
Good write up so far. Keep it up :thumleft:

Between Koekenaap and Groenriviermond there are a k@k huis full of tracks. Some are hell to ride on a loaded bike as the sand is very fine and deep. PT for sure. :imaposer:

Yeah and off course being gauties we had to ride the ones closest to the ocean  for the view  :dousing:
No fukking chance of appreciating that  :imaposer:

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Re: West Coast and Richtersveld: Bloody hell!
« Reply #21 on: October 10, 2008, 02:29:39 pm »
Jislaaik - very good so far.

I LOVE the 1st paragraph.

At work I usually scan a RR and then go home and read it later that night properly.

1st two sentences and I was hooked.

Eagerly waiting for the rest.

02/02/12 - RIP Glen - the Arrow of Elliot and the little man with the big heart that truly was larger than life.

You have touched us and left us better for having known you - even if it was only briefly.

For grabbing the moment and living the day It's been way too early that you were taken away


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Re: West Coast and Richtersveld: Bloody hell!
« Reply #22 on: October 10, 2008, 02:31:36 pm »
Day 4:
I woke up at 04:30. Marie-Louise was still sleeping and I just lay there going over every detail of today's trip. Especially the bike. I had recently started servicing the bike myself, which thanks to the other Wilddogs at our first tech-day, had removed all my fears on working on the KTM myself. Having done the last service in my own garage, removing even the carborators, and cleaning them, I knew that all was well. But still. At first light I went over the bike again, just to make sure.

Checking and packing the bike

The tar road to Alexander Bay was uneventful, with the only vehicles going the opposite direction to ours. I had long had this obsession with Alexander Bay. Not only is the town my name-sake, but it is also the northern-most town on the west coast of South Africa before crossing into Namibia. Reaching the town, we found the filling station the only building outside the 12ft fence surrounding the entire town. Having only done 80km, I refueled anyway. By this time I had learned to take on fuel wherever possible, as one was never sure if the next filling station would be dry.

At the gate to Alexander Bay

Getting into the town wasn't much of a hassle. We signed our names into the book at the gate, was issued a permit, and off we went. Now let me tell you. This is not a town. Its a mining community. All the buildings and houses look the same, and all painted in the same dirty off-white color. The only indication that a building was a shop and not a warehouse, would be a small notice on the wall. But, even here, there was a guest house. We followed the roads closest to the river, hoping to be able to see where the Orange river (Gariep) reaches the sea. The river area here is wide and consist of a marsh, so no luck here. Five minutes later we took a picture at the gate, and exited the town. So much for Alexander Bay. Not even a coffee shop. Eish.

The tar road ended with the turn-off to the border crossing to Oranjemund, and we found our self with the orange river on our left, on a decent gravel road heading east.

The road leading east along the Orange river.

Somewhere I missed the GPS warning of a approaching turn-off, and only noticed the GPS telling me to turn back when I saw a town approximately five kilometers away. I did not see any turn-off or any signs, so I put the KTM in second gear and idled back the road we had just come. 15 Minutes ago we had past a blue Toyota hilux pick-up, and I saw it approaching from the front flashing its lights, and slowing down. I stopped, with the driver approaching me. He had stopped to ask if we were lost. Which indeed we were. He confirmed the direction on the GPS, and soon we found ourself on a 4 meter wide gravel road heading into the hills. After being quite cold the previous 3 days, it was getting hot fast. After 20 minutes we stopped. I removed my jackets inner and my wife stripped off some of the long shirts she had on under her leather jacket.

Removing some excess clothing. Their were dozens of insects. ML could not get a pic with me not smacking them!  ;D

It was extremely quiet. So quiet that one could almost hear the silence. The air was clear and the surrounding area breathtaking. I was so happy to be here, and as I do often when riding, I started singing in my helmet.

The twisting road led us away south-east of the Orange River and soon we could not see anything green anymore. Only sand and stones. At DP1 we decided that the road was okay, and continued.

Decision Point 1 (DP1)

We could do 80km/h, and the distance to DP2 was rapidly decreasing. We found two goat herders on the side of the road, and was passed by a minibus at DP2, but other than that, no humans. At DP2 we drank some water from my camelbak, and I emptied the 5l jerry can of fuel into the tanks. Both the fuel tanks were full to the brim now.

Refueling at DP2

Soon we reached the turn-off to Ekteenfontein. This was clearly not a main route, as the road rapidly deteriorated to a two path track with us doing 30km/h. The road was twisty and clearly followed the dry river bed. Often we would have to cross the river bed through thick sand. After day two's sand, I had conquered the sand monster and all went well.

It was tiring to ride as the massive stones and deep ruts made for a slow and bumpy progress. Having the GPS counting down the distance to the town gave us a mental boost, and coming around one of the twists on the mountain track we entered the town. Again, not much I can say about this settlement. A shop/ bottle store, a couple of houses and kids running in the street asking money. That was it. We passed through 1 minute later doing 40km/h in second gear. The PNR was approaching. This would be the last time we would have the opportunity to return to decent roads. After this we could not turn back, and would have to continue come what may. We decided that the road looked okay. We would proceed following the tracks4Africa track around the south-eastern border of the Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.

The initial okay road, soon become crap. I could not get to third gear and in the 37 degree heat, the bike was heating up again. The fan was on, but the temperature indicator constantly stayed one bar from max. Soon I could not get out of first gear, as rocks would make way for sand.

A stretch of track after the PNR. The conditions were so bad at certain points, that to stop and take a pic whould be hazardous

Every now and again we would round a bend, and would be faced with either a 40 degree descent or a 40 degree climb. One of the descents was paticulary bad. Big boulders and sand. The rear brake could not keep the heavy bike, and locked as it lost traction. The big KTM started to skid sideways on the incline. The only way to get it straight again was to release the rear brake a bit. This in turn caused a massive speed build-up. So it went down that rock. Skidding, side-slipping, bouncing off rocks. 5 minutes later we stopped at the foot of the descent. I was knackered, as was my wife. I had to stand to be able to maneuver the bike at such slow speeds, which left her no where to hold onto and with no view of the road. Arms tired and very happy to have come down there in one piece, we took a break and looked back. There was no way one would be able to go up there with a fully loaded bike. No way. Keep that in mind if you ever want to travel that road by bike. Come from Alexander Bay, not Vioolsdrift.

Again we were following the river bed. The GPS showed 2 kilometers before reaching the end of the Heksepass, and I was feeling quite chaffed that we had made it unscathed, when we both smelled  fuel. My first thought was to keep going while the engine was running so we can at least get out of this hell hole, but the fuel smell had me worried. We still had 80km to go before we could get any fuel again, and the pass had used a lot of fuel. As we dismounted I saw fuel flowing from the right tank. I t seemed like it was coming from the overflow. I opened both the caps, and fuel spouted from the right cap. It seemed that the right tank vent had become blocked which in turn had caused the two tanks not to equalize. We had been riding on the left tank for 90 kilometers. Since the PNR. I left the fuel caps open and soon the tanks began to equalize. At this stage all I wanted to do was get out of the pass. If we broke down here, we were stuck. With only a mouthful of water remaining in the camelbak, I did not want to get stuck here. As soon as the right fuel tank had de-pressurized and was equalizing with the left, we mounted again and pulled away.

This pic was taken as we stopped to check out the fuel smell.

Just as I selected second gear, the engine cut out. I immediately pulled the clutch and pushed the start button, and the engine started again, but as I let go of the clutch it died again. Damn it to hell, I thought and stopped. We were 800m from the end of the pass, but still in a valley between two hills. It was scorching hot. I confirmed our water situation, no water. This was not good, I though. No water, no traffic and 20km away from Kotzehoop. In this heat, we would not be able to walk the way with the heavy motocross boots and gear. I would have to fix the bike.

Checking out the bashplate. We had gone over some serious rocks, and I feared that one of those could have damaged the wiring harness

After starting the bike, then putting it in gear, releasing the clutch, and having the engine cut, I knew it was the kickstand cut-out switch. This little device prevents one from pulling away with the side stand extended. I have read somewhere of someone also getting stuck due to this bloody thing. I removed it, and checked it out. It seemed okay. No obvious damage. Movement was fine.

Checking out the kickstand cut-out switch

 I even started the bike a couple of times and played around with the movement of the arm. No luck. I would have to cut it, and hot-wire it. I wished I had paid more attention when I had read the article about the other dude. I should have removed the stupid device then.

Marie-Louise had walked back to where we had stopped just now, hoping to find something lying in the road. I had let her. Although I knew there probably was nothing there, rather have her doing something, than sit and worry in the heat. Just then a cricket hopped under the bike in the shade. I let him. No reason for him not to get some shade.

I unclipped the cut-out switch wiring from the wiring harness, then cut the wires with my knife. I now had three wires, any combination which could have us drinking ice cold beer in 30 minutes. My first try was unsuccessful, but on my second combination, the bike started and got into gear as well. I was overcome with joy. 10 minutes ago we had prayed for a solution, now we thanked the Lord. Having no insulation tape, I took a band-aid from the medi-kit, and insulated the wires. Then tied them to the fram with a cable-tie.

Fixed and ready to pack and go.

We packed the bike again, and went for Kotzehoop, and the camp site. 600 Meters later we were out of the pass and onto a gravel road. Although bad, we could do 60km/h with the GPS showing our ETA in 18 minutes.

Artwell at Bushwacked, Fiddlers Creek must have seen we were wasted, and opened the bar for us to get some beers. We had made it. I was happy, as was my wife.

My first beer after reaching Fiddelers

Our caravan. This is the only accomodation on the campsite at R100 per person. The rest are all campsites for R50 a head. All campsites are secluded from each other with each having a sink and small lapa/ kitchen

The next two days we spent swimming in the Orange river and resting. The camp site is a stop-over for overland safari groups in trucks moving on to Namibia.

Next morning at Fiddlers Creek

Apart from the staff, we were the only South-Africans there, Marie-Louise's parents having joined us from Hopefield. I felt like a tourist in my own country. We even had time to fit a downstream river rafting trip in on our first morning.

On our way to the drop-off point upstream at Vioolsdrift with some tourists.

Paddling down the Orange. Althought we encountered 4 rapids, the river at the rapids are so shallow that one can walk through it.

Two days later, we took the N7 back home.

Ready for the ride back home

It was a awesome experience, and I would like to go back someday soon, but having now done the entire west coast from Cape Agulhas to Vioolsdrif, I had already started planning next year's mission, up the Molopo to Beitbrug. My wife's keen. Man I love my wife!  :biggrin:
« Last Edit: October 10, 2008, 02:47:36 pm by Camelman »

Offline I&horse

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Re: West Coast and Richtersveld: Bloody hell!
« Reply #23 on: October 10, 2008, 02:36:31 pm »
A cool car I found in front of the Spar. It had a big white D badge. Anybody know what the make is?

I think its a Citroen
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Offline Staffie

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Re: West Coast and Richtersveld: Bloody hell!
« Reply #24 on: October 10, 2008, 03:25:46 pm »
Dude !
Fantastic report. Looks like you had tons of fun ! Although at the time it must have been hell !
Well done and welcome back !
throw a dog a bone for Pete's sake !

Offline MrBig

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Re: West Coast and Richtersveld: Bloody hell!
« Reply #25 on: October 10, 2008, 03:56:14 pm »
Nice one!
It's never easy with a heavy scoot on bad tracks.
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Offline tok-tokkie

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Re: West Coast and Richtersveld: Bloody hell!
« Reply #26 on: October 10, 2008, 05:51:14 pm »
Very well written.

I have been on that road from the salt pans to Groenriviermond and am amazed by the distance you covered that day & that you got though there on a big heavy bike with luggage & your missus.  That is hectic.

Good that you have started looking after your own bike because you sorted out the problem with the side stand.

That is a seriousc route to have done solo (so to speak).

Offline daveh

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Re: West Coast and Richtersveld: Bloody hell!
« Reply #27 on: October 10, 2008, 06:32:22 pm »
Very interesting read, but solo .. wow well done , I am even too nervous to go to the cederberg solo. ???


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Re: West Coast and Richtersveld: Bloody hell!
« Reply #28 on: October 10, 2008, 07:03:53 pm »
Good one Camel :thumleft:

Offline buzzlightyear

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Re: West Coast and Richtersveld: Bloody hell!
« Reply #29 on: October 10, 2008, 07:44:15 pm »
Wow, good report!

Respect for doing bad stuff two up on a heavily laden bike  :thumleft:
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Re: West Coast and Richtersveld: Bloody hell!
« Reply #30 on: October 10, 2008, 09:03:16 pm »
Nice trip and Ride report Camelman and missus.  :thumleft: :thumleft:
Ek val graag!!!


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Re: West Coast and Richtersveld: Bloody hell!
« Reply #31 on: October 10, 2008, 09:23:30 pm »
Thanks all!

It is true that one should not do routes like that solo, or at leaast one should let someone know at your destination what your entended route is, and your ETA. If something does go wrong at least someone will come look for you. similar to a Aircraft Flight Plan. I thought of the above when I was lying under the bike in the dirt.  ;D

Another need must be enough water and a sat phone. The sat phone and a Euro Assist card for the next trip is on my list.

A saying I coined while on the road and thinking of all the what if's....

'If one waits for the perfect conditions to ride, it will never happen'

That's my moto. So if need be. I'll do something similar solo again, but I'll log my 'Flight plan', and have a communication device and water.

On the other hand. I did, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda on a Susuki DR250 solo. And I'm still here to tell the tale, but yes, my missus. For her sake I'll prep more.


Some of you guys can come with!!  ::)

Offline Plothond

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Re: West Coast and Richtersveld: Bloody hell!
« Reply #32 on: October 10, 2008, 09:40:30 pm »
Well done
Nice report and lekker trip. It's one of the next ones on my list

Btw - I might be that "other dude" wrt the s/stand switch - Lesotho last year
I used to be indecisive, but I'm not so sure anymore

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Offline Doringboom

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Re: West Coast and Richtersveld: Bloody hell!
« Reply #33 on: October 10, 2008, 09:46:56 pm »
Bliksem :o This is hardcore, gripping stuff! Well done to the two of you! Skilfully written and with beautiful pictures! Thank you sir.

Offline Snafu

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Re: West Coast and Richtersveld: Bloody hell!
« Reply #34 on: October 11, 2008, 12:10:07 am »
Good stuff Camelman.

The West Coast is very special!!
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« Reply #35 on: October 11, 2008, 11:40:33 am »
Hey Mr. Al !
Well doen boet.Respect , Cant say I would have enjoyed all that sand , but maybe next time I`ll go with you.
You write very well  especially for a boertjie.
Glad you and Mrs C got home safely.
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Re: West Coast and Richtersveld: Bloody hell!
« Reply #36 on: October 11, 2008, 01:33:44 pm »
awesome ride

You really look knackerd in this Pic

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Offline tok-tokkie

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Re: West Coast and Richtersveld: Bloody hell!
« Reply #37 on: October 11, 2008, 02:04:23 pm »
The boot on that car does not look like the Citroen Light 15s we had.

EDIT: I have found another photo & it is just the same as the one you photod.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2008, 02:07:50 pm by tok-tokkie »

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Re: West Coast and Richtersveld: Bloody hell!
« Reply #38 on: October 11, 2008, 03:53:31 pm »
Hats off to you both and especially the wife..... :thumleft: how could it be possible to spend better time together than sitting between her legs all day and experience the best life has to offer. 

It really brings you closer together and forms a special bond for sure... :love3:
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Re: West Coast and Richtersveld: Bloody hell!
« Reply #39 on: October 11, 2008, 04:30:09 pm »
Awesome RR! I liked it a lot!
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