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Offline detour

Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« on: September 27, 2019, 08:23:31 am »
I'll write and post this ride report in sections - one for each day of the race.  Work is keeping me busy, so it may take a few days to finish it! Unfortunately, I didn't take that many photos at the event, but will post the ones I have.

Prologue

A few of my friends entered to ride in the Tankwa Cross Country Rally this year.  I do suffer from a rather serious case of FOMO when bike riding is involved… so a plan had to be made.

At this point it is worth mentioning that I had been tempted to try my hand at rallies before.  In 2017 I bought a 501, long range tanks etc - determined to ride the West Coast Baja and Amageza the following year.  Unfortunately, Alexander passed away and the future of those rallies seemed uncertain.  I sold the bike and got a KTM 300 in its place.  There are many enduros and funduros that one can ride, so the switch made sense to me.

Back to Tankwa.  I had a few options… my 300 would work in the silver off-road class.  Someone also generously offered to lend me a 701 for the event.  And then there was my 1200GS.  Out of these three options the GS was the obvious underdog.  That is exactly why I started wondering if it would be possible to do the Tankwa Rally on a big adventure bike.  Off course there is only one way to find out…

I called Clive and asked him if there were any major step ups along the way - the kind that would not be doable on a big adventure bike.  His response was that it would be very tough to do it on a big adventure bike, but that he didn’t think that there were obstacles that couldn’t be ridden or at least avoided by taking a penalty.  He also confirmed that it hadn’t been done on a GS or 1090/1190/1290 before, so this would be a first.  Temptation raised ;)

My second call was to David Ellis (Watch his YouTube videos if you don’t know who he is!).  David said it might be possible to do it on a big adventure bike and that it would be a ‘lekker’ challenge. 

At this point my mind was made up.  This would be a good test for both the bike and for myself.  The only real failure would be to not even attempt it. The next day I entered to race in the Gold Big Bore class.  This class would run the same route as the Rally class but would navigate by GPS instead of roadbook. 

My primary goal was to successfully complete all stages in the Rally class route with myself and my bike intact.  Ideally, without having to cut out any parts of the intended route – so without penalties.  Secondary to that – and this I kept mostly to myself – I wanted to see if I could beat the total time of at least one of the Rally class bikes.  This is not comparing apples with apples, but still a valuable reference.  More on that later.

Preparation

I decided to take the bike pretty much “as is” with the exception of fitting a new pair of Pirelli Scorpion Rally tires and carrying an 18” heavy duty tube – in case one of my tires got a bad cut.  This is something I carry on longer expeditions as well.  My standard adventure toolkit stayed on the back of my bike, I wore my adventure riding suit and carried my expedition backpack from Leatt with a medical kit, 2x2l hydration bladders and some protein bars.  My goggles were also in my backpack (something that I don’t usually take on adventure rides) and that turned out to be VERY useful in the dust.

In our group we had three gazebos, synthetic grass (lent to us by Synsport), tools, consumables and all the camping equipment one needs for a weekend like this.  It is great to do this with a group of friends!

You need to take all the fuel that you’ll need for the entire race along.  I decided to take 110l for the GS – that would allow me to complete the race at anything better than 11km/l. 

I didn’t take any spare parts, spare tires, oil etc. along. 

As far as I was concerned, this was basically going to be like an adventure ride – just a bit faster ;)

BMW R1200GS Rallye, Husky 501, KTM 300
 
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Offline detour

Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2019, 08:29:48 am »
Day 0

Between fitting all our equipment, supplies, fuel for two bikes etc. on the double cab and participating in some last-minute teleconferences, we managed to leave Constantia at 11:00 on Thursday morning.  We drove up the N7 to Van Rhynsdorp, from there to Calvinia and then 60km down the R355 to HQ.  One of the vehicles in our group lost a tire to a sidewall cut… the R355 is notorious for that.

We arrived at HQ after 17:00.  The documentation process was very efficient, and we soon headed towards scrutineering with our bikes. 

To say that the GS was ‘frowned upon’ would be an understatement… I was asked several times by different officials if I knew what I was getting myself into.  Despite the frowns, my tracker and transponder were fitted, and I got through scrutineering without any issues. 

Once we got all our bikes through scrutineering we setup camp.  The wind was loaded with red dust and pumping.  At this point I wondered if the hardest part of the weekend wasn’t going to be to keep the tents grounded and semi-clean :D

The riders’ briefing started at 20:00.  After the briefing we got our GPSes back – loaded with the tracks for Day 1.  I confirmed that my GPS could load all the tracks and that the tracks corresponded – more or less – to the maps that were put up on the boards.  At this point I realized that the tracks on the GPS was for the Gold class routes and not for the Rally class routes.  The problem was soon rectified by the officials and we were ready for the next day.

By this time the wind had died down and it turned out to be a stunning Karoo evening.  We spent a bit of time chit-chatting with existing friends and making new friends before we headed to bed early-ish.


BMW R1200GS Rallye, Husky 501, KTM 300
 

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Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2019, 08:32:12 am »
Subscribed!!
If i had to explain you would not understand anyway......
 

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Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2019, 08:34:13 am »
Subscribed  :sip:

Well done on doing this on a big bike  :thumleft:
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Offline detour

Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2019, 08:34:45 am »
Day 1 – Time Trail

We woke up at 06:00, got dressed and made ourselves some coffee and breakfast.  Excitement was visible everywhere!

Shortly after 07:00 our bikes were lined up for the start of the time trail – that would be the first stage of the race for all classes.  The time trail started and ended at HQ and all classes used the exact same route.  The rally class would start first, followed immediately by the Gold Big Bore class.  There would then be a delay after which the off-road classes would start the route.  The route was approximately 90km long – if I remember correctly.

The 15 bikes in the Rally class were set off with 30 second dust gaps and before I knew it, I was on the line to start my first rally!

A few hundred meters from the start we got to a dry riverbed.  For several kilometres the track followed the riverbed by either running inside the riverbed or following single tracks right next to it.  Some sections of the riverbed were 5+ meters wide and fairly straight – the GS could run a reasonable pace there despite the soft sand.  In other parts the riverbed was so narrow (1 to 2 meters) that it was impossible to miss all the branches from the thorn trees along the ever-twisting track.  This was slow going on the GS.  Riding a big adventure bike in sand is best done with momentum and this twisty track didn’t allow for that.  I was forced to ride stretches in 1st gear and had to work hard to keep the bike in the track and to avoid getting stuck.  By the time I got out of the riverbed section I was properly warmed up (Read sweaty).

We crossed the R355 from where the route took us along some farm roads.  Here and there the route would cut across a small riverbed or piece of field to join another road.  The GS was happy in this terrain.  I got speeds of up to 140km/h on the GPS which allowed me to cool down and to relax enough to drink some water.

After about 15 minutes of riding, the tracks became a bit bumpier with occasional ruts / ditches.  On an off-road bike one can ride over most of these without slowing down too much, but the GS’ suspension doesn’t really allow for that.  I had to perform a few emergency brakes to slow right down, go through a ditch in first gear and then accelerate again.

At this point in the stage, I started wondering what a ‘clipper’ looks like.  We were warned during the riders’ briefing that there would be significant time penalties for not stopping and clipping our cards.  There were some waypoints marked on the GPS tracks, so I wondered whether those would perhaps be the clippers.  I stopped at two of the waypoints to look around for these mysterious clippers… Between the first and the second waypoint, I passed one of the rally class bikes that were overheating.  At the second waypoint, Robert caught up with me again and I stopped him to ask if the roadbook said anything about a clipper in that area.  It didn’t, so we decided to just continue riding. 

Shortly after the second waypoint we passed a spectator viewpoint.  By this time David Ellis and one other rider from the Gold off-road class had overtaken us.  The GS got a pretty loud cheer.  Most of the bikes probably did!  The next 15 or so minutes were spent riding more tracks with ruts / ditches and some single tracks that cut across fields.  Not too difficult on the GS, as long as you keep an eye out for termite nests and big holes.

The final part of the time trail took us back to the river where the stage started. By now all of the off-road classes had been through the narrow riverbed paths and more of the fast Gold off-road riders started to catch up with me.  I tried to be polite and allowed a few of the off-road bikes to pass me in the riverbed sections.  The challenge here was that there would be so much dust in the air from the off-road bikes, that I had to wait for 30 seconds to a minute before I would be able to see well enough again to continue riding. 

After a bit of manual labour, I made it out of the riverbed section and back across the finish line for the time trail.

I had a clean run with no stoppages on the stage or ‘side stand incidents’, so I was happy with my time – despite having lost 7 minutes or so to most of the Rally class bikes. 

Our next stage (liaison) was scheduled for a 13:00 start, so we used the time to refuel bikes, eat a light lunch and rest a bit.

Day 1 – SS1 and SS2

The Rally class started the liaison stage (approx. 70km) at 13:00, again with 30 second dust gaps.  We started the liaison stage immediately after them.

There were only two bikes in the Gold Big Bore class.  Nadene on a KTM 500 and myself.  Nadene used the Tankwa Rally to prepare for the Kalahari Rally (She is also entered in the GPS class there).

The speed limit for all liaison stages at the Tankwa Rally was 100km/h, so we proceeded at a fairly leisurely pace along this stage.  The stage took us South, firstly along the R355 and then onto some lesser known and smaller roads.  These roads eventually spit us out at Halfway House where the liaison stage ended.

The first and second special stages for the Rally class route consisted of two laps towards the East of the R355.  Each lap was approximately 45 kilometres long. These would start and end from the rear gate at Halfway House.  The rear gate points due East and we were set off in that direction.  First the Rally class, then Nadene and myself. 

About 500 meters from the start I realized that I was already off the GPS track.  I stopped, zoomed out and saw that I missed a right turn just after the start.  This surprised me as I had just watched everyone else follow the same road that I was on.  I decided to trust my GPS, turned around and started following the track.  A minute later I saw that Nadene had also turned around and started the same track that I was on as did one of the Rally class bikes.  The other Rally bikes were nowhere to be seen.  At this point I was leading the way on the stage – or so I thought.  The terrain consisted mostly of single tracks through fields.  The rocks were on the small size and there were quite a few turns, up hills and down hills.  The GS could handle this terrain at a reasonable pace compared to the 500s. 

After approximately 7 kilometres I was faced with a navigational challenge… two GPS tracks crossed each other, meaning I was coming from one direction and had three possible tracks to choose from.  The GPS tracks are not directional and there was no way to tell which direction to choose next.  I decided to take the track towards the left and set off.  After another three kilometres that track took me right back to the start at Halfway House. 

I stopped and explained the problem to the marshals.  Neither of them knew the route for that special, so they contacted race control by two-way radio.  Race control explained that both loops had to be run in a clockwise direction, meaning we should have started along the track that I used to get back to Halfway House – in a Northerly direction.  My immediate response to the marshals was that the roadbook guys would be completely lost.  And they were. 

I was set off again – this time in the right direction.  For the next few kilometres the terrain remained the same and I made good progress.  It wasn’t long before I started running into rally bikes heading in all directions.  Where possible I stopped and explained what had happened to them.  Some tried to follow the track from there on and others returned to the start.  It was difficult to get the right spot and distance in the roadbook and start from the middle of the stage. 

Halfway through the first lap I was passed by one of the Rally bikes and that was the last time I saw another bike until near the end of the second lap.  The terrain changed from single tracks through the fields to farm roads with spots of fesh-fesh and then to tracks running on top of sandy embankments. The embankments were tricky.  The rideable track was probably only 50 centimetres wide and when the sand threw me off course, it was very difficult to stay on top of the embankment.  There were big holes in some spots with places where you were forced to get off the embankment and back on.  This required more finesse and less momentum. 

Just after the embankments, I found my first clipper.  At least now I knew what it looked like! A short stretch of sandy farm roads followed and then we were back on tracks running through the fields.  These tracks took us around another loop and then finally back to Halfway House.  At Halfway House I was stopped for a quick check – water, fuel etc.  I was also told that the first lap would be cancelled for everyone due to the challenges at the start.  Only the second lap would count – which I then promptly started.

The second lap was a repeat of the first lap.  This turned out to be great fun as I already knew where the deeper ditches were and could therefore push the pace a little bit. 

Near the end of the second lap I passed the three Honda CRF450L riders.  They were navigating the correct track for the first time and were temporarily unsure of where to go next.  They followed me for a couple of kilometres, confirming that they were indeed on the right track.  These three gentlemen are great ambassadors for Honda!

My second lap was completed in just over 57 minutes.  This was a clean lap and I was happy with the time. 
There was another liaison stage from Halfway House to HQ.  This time straight back on the R355.  At HQ we handed in our GPSes, refuelled our bikes, had dinner and attended the riders’ briefing.  The results for Day 1 was out… As far as my primary goal was concerned, I was in good nick.  My bike and I were both in one piece and I had managed to complete the entire route for Day 1 without incurring any penalties.

Off course it is not comparing apples with apples to compare my times with those from the Rally class.  The riders in the Rally class had to navigate by roadbook, whereas I navigated by GPS.  On the other hand, my bike is twice as heavy as the rally bikes and with significant limitations in the suspension and ground clearance departments.  While it was therefore impossible to compete directly, it was still a valuable reference for me to compare my times with the Rally class.  After Day 1 my total time was 10th fastest (if I remember correctly) out of the 17 bikes riding the Rally class route. 

The wind died down just after sunset and it was another perfect Karoo evening.  Most of the riders were servicing their bikes or doing other preparations for the second day.  Everyone was sharing war stories.
BMW R1200GS Rallye, Husky 501, KTM 300
 

Offline Hondsekierie

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Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2019, 08:36:02 am »
Hats off, duidelik weet jy hoe om daardie monstrosity te hanteer  :thumleft:

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Offline detour

Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2019, 08:40:32 am »
Day 0 photos...
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Offline detour

Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2019, 08:42:12 am »
Day 1 photos...
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Offline gser

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Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2019, 08:53:05 am »
Dis nou n RR wat my aandag trek !
 

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Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2019, 08:58:19 am »
HOOR HOOR !!!!  :thumleft:


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Offline roxenz

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Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2019, 09:12:08 am »
Rallye and Adventure! Double the fun!  :biggrin:  Enjoying how you describe the actual riding in a way that we ordinary folk can relate to.  :thumleft:
 

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Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2019, 09:55:19 am »
Skryf nog ek like!! :thumleft: :drif:
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Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2019, 10:27:17 am »
Looking forward to the next installment!

Offline Kamanya

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Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2019, 10:38:19 am »
Oh, how fomo'd am I feeling now!

Gotta love the double take people have when you pass them :biggrin:
I wonder where that road goes? And that, has usually made all the difference. Appologies to Mr Frost

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Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2019, 10:53:16 am »
Did 2 Kaokoland trips with this mad man on 1200's - glad he has now found another outlet so hopefully my suffering will end - getting too old for this shit  :ricky:
 

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Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2019, 11:44:26 am »
Dit moes nogals n gesig gewees het, almal op hulle pissponies en dan die moerske Montrosity!! :imaposer:

Ek het paar jaar terug die Enduro stuff ook gedoen op n KTM 525 met kompleet nr plaat en indicators, ouens het net so gesig getrek! :imaposer:
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Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #16 on: September 27, 2019, 01:30:50 pm »
Respek ...... jy het twee GROOT ghoens aan jou.  :ricky:
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Offline detour

Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #17 on: September 28, 2019, 10:32:42 am »
Day 2 – SS3

Saturday was a big day at the Tankwa Cross Country Rally.  The Rally class route consisted of a liaison stage of approximately 70 kilometres that was followed by a special stage of approximately 400 kilometres.

The night before I looked at possible refuelling points for the marathon stage.  I decided to send fuel to DSP 3 and DSP 6.  DSP 3 would be after 220 kilometres (liaison included) and DSP 6 would be after another 200 kilometres or so.  Generally speaking the range of my GS is between 250 and 350 kilometres, depending on how hard you ride it.  The GS has a 20-litre fuel tank, so I sent a 25-litre container with fuel to DSP 3.  That would allow me to fill up there.  From DSP 3 to the end of the stage would then be another 260 kilometres.  The plan was to review fuel consumption near DSP 6 and to do a ‘splash and dash’ if consumption seemed really heavy.  Consequently, I sent 10 litres of fuel to DSP 6.

The second bit of planning I had to do was to determine what and how much to eat and drink along the way.  I used my average speed from Day 1 to calculate – more or less – how long it would take me to complete the special.  At an average speed of 50 km/h it would take me at least 8 hours to complete the special, that is if I didn’t stop at all and if I could run the same average pace I ran during a 2-hour special for 8 hours… non-stop.  This wasn’t realistic, so I estimated that – everything included – the special would require at least 10 hours to complete plus one hour of liaison.  During both specials on Day 1, I drank nearly 2 litres of water, so I decided to add a second 2 litre bladder to my Leatt backpack.  I couldn’t come up with something more creative than 4x USN protein bars in my handlebar bag... so that was what I took along to eat :D  DSP 4 (or 5) was going to be at Halfway House and there would be water to refill hydration packs. 

The liaison stage started shortly after 08:00.  It took us North along the R355 for a few kilometres and then onto some minor and private farm roads towards the West of the R355. It was surprisingly chilly along the way and I regretted having started without an extra layer underneath my adventure suit.  Not all of the roads could be done at a consistent 100 km/h, so it took us almost an hour to arrive at the starting point for SS3.  Or at least what we thought was the starting point.  The guys with the roadbooks were quick to point out that there was a discrepancy between where we were, and the distances marked in their roadbooks for the liaison stage.  We ended up using my GPS to find the exact starting point – that turned out to be another kilometre down the road at the back of a farm house.

The start was slightly tricky… a large part of the special’s route was shared by the Gold off-road class and the Rally class.  The former used a shortcut to arrive at the point where we were starting the special, so there were already other competitors on the road when we arrived.  Our route joined their route around a blind corner and some plans had to be made to ensure a safe start.  The Rally class started first, followed by Nadene and me.  The standard 30 second dust gaps were extended between some of the riders to allow other traffic to pass.

The first part of the special consisted of neglected farm roads.  Not the kind that would require 4x4, but it would require a high clearance vehicle.  There were some big rocks that had to be avoided, but it was mostly water damage, ruts and ditches that slowed the GS down.  I started losing touch with the rally bikes almost as soon as we started the stage.

Neglected farm roads made way for a 4x4 track that reminded me very much of the Old Postal Route.  Some stretches had biggish rocks, others loose rocks/pebbles and then there were sections with jeep track sand – all of these combined with lots of twists and turns.  This continued for probably 20 kilometres.  It was slowing going on the GS, albeit not that difficult nor dangerous.  There were a few riders along this stretch who experienced mechanical difficulties and a couple who had incidents in the sand.  I checked that they were okay and none of them asked me to stop.

Soon after we passed DSP 1, the road opened up a bit.  I got the GS up to 140 km/h and started to rehydrate a bit.  That was when I made my first navigational error of the rally :D At some point I looked at the GPS and realized that I was no longer on the track.  I was enjoying the open road a little too much when I should have turned into a riverbed.  The problem was soon rectified, and I was back on track.  This riverbed section was short, and the track soon changed back to lesser used farm roads and some single tracks through the field. 

The track steadily became rockier.  We went down a rocky farm road, along another riverbed section and then suddenly there was a 4x4 track that went up onto a hill.   This uphill section was probably only 80 meters long but became steeper and with more rocks the closer you got to the top.  To get a GS up this incline, one would have to keep momentum whilst avoiding the biggest rocks.  If you stopped, you would have to go back down to start over.  I made a rookie mistake… by following another rider up the incline.  She fell about three quarters of the way up and I was forced to stop.  I checked on her and picked her bike up.  More riders on dirt-bikes attempted the incline.  Some of them made it up, but others dropped their bikes or got stuck.  Watching two guys push a KTM 350 up a rocky incline is slightly demoralizing when your GS is stationary on that same hill :D  I was convinced that the GS would not be able to regain momentum from where it was standing but decided to give it a shot, before turning around and starting from the bottom again.  Somehow the Pirelli Scorpion Rally rear found a bit of traction… just enough for me to get my feet on the pegs and gain the necessary momentum.  As they say:  An ounce of momentum is worth a pound of traction!  I got over the two steps and made it to the top - to a loud cheer from the guys who had just wrestled their dirt-bikes up the hill.  Two dirt-bikes were still stuck on the incline, so I parked my bike and started helping.  I ended up riding one of the dirt-bikes up the hill and assisted the other rider with advice and motivation until that bike was also on top of the hill.  The sense of camaraderie is more important to me than the 20 or so minutes that I lost in the process.

For the next few kilometres we stayed on top of the mountain in the 4x4 track.  The pace on the GS was slow due to ditches and rocks, but not really technical.  The track eventually took us to the side of the momentum where a single track descended down.  I probably checked four times on my GPS that that was indeed where we needed to go down… proper enduro stuff.  Here is a video taken near the bottom by Willem Avenant: https://www.facebook.com/WillemAvenant282/videos/365739897663739/ I got my feet on the pegs for short sections, but in others I deliberately stalled the motor and used the clutch as a rear brake whilst moving my feet from one big rock to the next to guide the bike past and protect the sump.  A few minutes later my bike was safely at the bottom of this descent.  I walked hallway back up and spent another 20 minutes or so assisting three other riders to get their bikes past the biggest rocks.  Walking up that incline turned out to be more exhausting than taking a bike down :D

After that gnarly descent, the track opened up.  Some sections ran next to a riverbed and others on farm roads.  This provided a welcome recovery period after the rocky stretches up and down the mountain! Gradually the track changed back to something that resembled the Old Postal Route.  That lasted for a few kilometres until the track started cutting across vast open fields.  Rocky fields.  These tracks continued for many kilometres and are probably the sections where I lost most time on the GS.  It is impossible to avoid all the rocks and even at 30 to 40 km/h, I had too many close calls to count.  The rocks are just a bit too big and loose for the GS’ suspension to handle.  After the day I chatted to some of the guys on the rally bikes and they were doing 80 km/h plus on those same stretches.  Some sections of these tracks also contained a fair bit of sand.  I sped up for those sections and danced around on the bike to avoid most of the bigger rocks.  This required a lot of focus with my eyes constantly jumping between the rocks on the track, the GPS and my tire pressure sensors.  It dawned on me that a tire is often an underappreciated technology!

I arrived at DSP 3 along with two other bikes.  We refuelled quickly, urinated behind the proverbial bushes – there are no real bushes in this part of Tankwa – and headed off again.  The next hour and a bit of riding was mostly still rocky single tracks through the fields.  There weren’t any opportunities to sit down and relax, but I was making steady progress along the marathon stage by consistently riding as fast as the GS would allow.

We cut across the R355 from West to East at Halfway House – this was approximately halfway into the special.  There were some spectators and marshals at Halfway House.  They were all eager to assist with refuelling etc.  I had just refuelled at DSP 3, but had already emptied one of my hydration bladders and decided to stop to take on some water.  This was another quick stop – two to three minutes – before we started following the track that we used for SS1 and SS2, but in an anti-clockwise direction.  We were (only) 200 kilometres into the special and it felt like we had been riding all day :D

Nadene and I didn’t plan to ride together on any of the stages, but I arrived only a minute or two after her at Halfway House.  Our overall pace was very similar even though there were stretches where she was faster and others where I was faster.  For the next 100 kilometres or so we were always within a few kilometres of each other on the stage.

The 50 kilometres or so immediately after Halfway House was a lot of fun.  I knew this terrain from the previous day and the rocks were mostly flat and manageable on the GS.  There were stretches of fesh-fesh and sand, but this was a welcome change from the rocky fields before Halfway House.  It was a good opportunity to push the pace and get another 50 kilometres under the belt quickly – so I did.

With approximately 150 kilometres of the special left to go, we cut across the R355 again – towards the West.  More single tracks through rocky fields with the odd bit of sand in between.  The pace was slow but required undivided attention.

There wasn’t much sunlight left when we approached DSP 6.  A quick look at my fuel consumption confirmed that I had about 110 kilometres left on the tank with just more than 60 kilometres to go till the end of the stage.  I was already going to finish in the dark and didn’t want to waste more time putting in fuel that I didn’t need.  So, I just skipped past DSP 6 and continued riding.  At DSP 6 we cut across the R355 towards the East again.

Two things happened around DSP 6… 

Just before DSP 6 I stopped for a quick comfort brake.  Nadene caught up with me and we decided to ride the rest of the stage together.  After more than 80% of the stage it was clear that we were running the same pace anyway and we were about to do the last bit of the stage after sunset. 

The second thing was that the tracks changed to sand almost as soon as we passed our last refuelling point.  Off course it wasn’t obvious at the time for how long the sandy stretch would last, so there was no thought of turning around and putting in that 10 litres of fuel.  Not immediately anyway. 

These were real, messed up sand tracks.  And they continued for many kilometres.  We were already pushed for time and now for fuel as well.  Slowing down for the 90-degree corners was hard work… down to second on the GS and working to make the bike turn and keep it up.  Then up to third and even fourth gear in places.   Other tracks in the sand stop bothering the GS at around 80 km/h… but the terrain didn’t always allow for that.  For 30 kilometres or so I worked hard and took some risks… it was the only option. 

The sun disappeared and suddenly it was dark.  We had just entered a riverbed with about 20 kilometres to go till the end of the stage… and we were faced with two problems.  Firstly, my remaining fuel range had dropped like a rock whilst riding the sand tracks.  According to the computer, I would still make it, but only just.  Secondly, there was something wrong with the headlights on Nadene’s bike.  She had a couple of slow speed incidents earlier in the day and that must have caused something to go wrong with the lights.  Neither of us had a headlamp or other solution.
 
The best plan we could come up with, was to try and ride right next to each other so that we would both be using my bike’s lights.  The riverbed had other plans though… it was a mixture of sand and big rocks – the kind that you can’t just ride over with a GS.  And the riverbed wasn’t that wide… some passages could only allow one bike through at a time.  As soon as I got away from he by more than a couple of metres, she was riding blind.  This resulted in more side stand incidents and frustration.  At one point we spent almost 20 minutes to ride 1 kilometre of that riverbed.  I would ride my bike through a passage of rocks and then walk back and use my phone to light the path for her. 

There was about 10 kilometres of riverbed left when it became apparent that we would not be able to finish the riverbed with one light and two bikes.  We did the only thing we could… we parked the KTM in the riverbed, recorded the location on my GPS and got on the GS.  Both of us.  This bit of 2-up riding in the riverbed was an adventure in its own right.  She had to get off for some of the sections with bigger rocks and had to show faith (and HOLD ON) for the sandy stretches.  We made it back to HQ with almost no range left on my bike.  I can’t remember exactly what time we got back – probably around 20:30. There were four other bikes still on the stage when we got back.  One of them also without a headlight.  They all made it back safely not too long after us.

The marathon stage was just that… a marathon.  My total time for SS3 was something like 10 hours and 45 minutes.  Not very fast, but I completed the route without any penalties.  It was a proper test.
BMW R1200GS Rallye, Husky 501, KTM 300
 

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Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #18 on: September 28, 2019, 10:36:37 am »
Day 2 photos... there wasn't much time to stop  ;D
BMW R1200GS Rallye, Husky 501, KTM 300
 

Offline ChrisL - DUSTRIDERS

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Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #19 on: September 28, 2019, 10:49:59 am »
Lekke Detour!! :thumleft: :drif:
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