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Author Topic: Ri Ride: Old Postal At Last (20 - 22 December 2019) (Warning: Very Wordy)  (Read 12642 times)

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Offline Ri

Prelude

I planned a hot, gasping, sweaty, steamy weekend.

Then permission slips are revoked and the Cederberg hike is off. A party of winy women plan to smoke up my patio with braai and cigarettes on Saturday, and I already took half day leave for Friday.

Stuff that, I’m going to the Cederberg anyway.

Bucket list routes scroll through my thoughts. Old Postal? I could camp at Oasis and if someone plans to ride Old Postal, try to join them. I toy with the idea of going it alone, but I’m not (that) foolhardy. I do however feel slightly ashamed of saddling some poor sods with my slow-riding self.

Uncharacteristically, I post a short WhatsApp to a biking group that I’m going to Oasis and maybe ride Old Postal. Due to the very short notice, I’m surprised when @ultraflight (Keith) straight away asks whether he can join me, and how many riders are going. More than welcome, I assure him; just the two of us.

Keith would prefer 4 or so riders as it’s more social and in case of a breakdown, to distribute luggage and pillion a rider. My plan is to leave my luggage at Oasis and ride a loop. As to breaking down… he rides a KLR650 and I ride a DR650: bullet-proof bikes if ever there were any. A breakdown is not impossible, but it isn’t likely.

But I agree that he can post an invite on the group, and soon there are a bunch of whiny wishicoulda’s and 2 more takers. I feel a tingle of excitement. I’m going to face Old Postal, following in the tyre tracks of my girl rider crush, @Minxy.

Too late on Thursday night I start packing, and notice Blue’s recently thrice-patched front tube is flat again. I swear under my breath. Clearly we did a bang-up job - not - but at least it got me home. If I’d washed the bike, as I solemnly undertake to do after every ride, I might have noticed sooner. Thankfully @Jehan , who car pools with me and is now also riding his bike to work, is bringing chain lube in the morning. I fire off a late SOS, drag a few stumps of wood into the garage, and go to sleep.


Friday

Friday morning at 4:30 I drag my unrested body out of bed. At 05:00 I grumpily open the garage door to a chirpy Jéhan. He tips Blue while I position the wooden stumps under the bash plate for support. We do the same with Gentleman, the wheel donor bike. With Jéhan’s help, I wrestle the front wheels off of both bikes and swap them around. I’ve never appreciated having donor DR650’s more than this morning, no need to mess around with the guts and the tubes.








I struggle to get the axle through the wheel and aligned to the other fork to grab the thread, but with some manhandling and woman swearing, it finally tightens. Despite my tiredness, I’m delighted - I love spannering.








Soon we are on our way, heading down the N2 into town.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2020, 10:22:48 pm by Ri »
 

Offline Tom van Brits

 :sip: 8)
 

Offline Matewis

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Offline Ri

Keith created a group on the app Life360 for us to track each other, and one familiar and two unfamiliar faces can suddenly follow my every move. One guy plans to leave after lunch, and the other isn’t sure about his plans yet. I wonder if only Keith and I will end up riding Old Postal. No matter, Keith has ridden it before, and as we're looping back to Oasis we won’t carry luggage.

At 11:00 Keith and I meet at the Engen in Plattekloof, from where we wend our way to Paarl on tarred and untarred roads, staying off the N1. When we hit gravel, Keith lets down his air, and checks Blue’s tyres too. The front doesn’t need deflating (oops)






From Paarl, Keith leads me up the gravel path, through the maze of plantation roads that lead to the top of Du Toitskloof Pass. Deep ruts, sparsely filled with flat rocks, dissect the wide, smooth wide hard packed roads embedded with sharp rocks.

In the beginning it is smooth, and it looks good.














Paarl valley vistas




… and beautiful mountain scapes




Keith warns me of the very steep, rutted, rocky off-camber hairpin bend onto the Du Toitskloof Pass road. It needs to be taken at the right angle, and with momentum, to reach the top. I linger, taking photo’s, and when I hit the long steep uphill, Keith’s bike is parked in the middle. I accidentally accelerate while trying to brake, and almost rear-end the KLR, sliding to a stop and toppling over an inch from the back wheel. I manage to catch it, but my nerve evaporates.











Hard to imagine the severe drought that reigned up to a few months ago.




After almost buying a plot; Keith carries on ahead and I hold still for a moment, to steady my nerves.






We reach the top without incident.
 

Offline Minxy

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Goodie :) Always love your ride reports, you capture the emotion so well! Can't wait to read more :D

Old Postal is such a gem of a route, we enjoyed it thoroughly when we did it earlier last year :ricky:
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Offline woody1

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Offline roxenz

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Yup, Ri ride reports are always good reading.  :thumleft: :)
 

Offline Ri

Thanks for the kind words, glad you enjoy it!
 

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Captivating read
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Offline Oubones

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Re: Ri Ride: Old Postal At Last - 20 - 22 December 2019 (Warning: Very Wordy)
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2020, 09:01:37 am »
Good report as always!
Thanks, enjoying riding with.
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Offline mike gs

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Re: Ri Ride: Old Postal At Last - 20 - 22 December 2019 (Warning: Very Wordy)
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2020, 09:06:07 am »
Ri, I love your writing. You drag me right in! I can almost feel I'm with you guys. Great stuff so far. Thanks.

Sent from my SM-G950F using Tapatalk

Love life!
 
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Offline Ri

Re: Ri Ride: Old Postal At Last - 20 - 22 December 2019 (Warning: Very Wordy)
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2020, 09:17:54 am »
I’m keen to ride more gravel, and Keith is keen to do the Droëlandshoek/Kareekloof Conservancy road I re-conquered two weeks ago, but after the plantation roads I don’t have enough nerve or energy left and decide to play it safe.

It’s disheartening how quickly I lose confidence between rides; the “wins” don’t seem to stick for long.

We swing down the pass and through Slanghoek Valley, stopping for a break at the low water bridge where my bike had the front wheel puncture two weeks ago.




Beautiful spot, popular for picnics and tube changing




The weather is perfect too; a cool breeze follows us all the way





We pass through Ceres and Prins Alfred Hamlet and ride up the beautiful but dreaded Gydo Pass, my eyes involuntarily drawn to the fateful hairpin bend, haunted by the “horries” Dwerg mentions in his accident thread. We soon reach Oppi-berg where we fill up, and I insist on treating Keith to an ice cream cone at the local Spar. It is huge and tasty and very sweet. I want a chocolate cone, but there is less than a scoop left over. Without thinking, I tell the friendly lady to top it up with a little vanilla ice cream.

To be clear, their “scoop” is a loose conglomerate of three huge scoops rolled together. The chocolate ice cream is more than enough for me, but to make up for the perceived lack, the sweet lady really lays on the vanilla. I suffer brain freeze trying to eat it all before it melts in the hot sun, and so sweet I can feel it oozing out of my ears.




Then we tackle the last 67km to Oasis, and I set the pace again. We soon roll into Mount Cedar for a break, and Keith, with a broad smile and eyes alight, grabs me in a side hug. It seems he enjoyed my moderate pace immoderately. I do tend to force sweepers to slow down and smell the dust and take in the scenery.



First order of business is a bathroom break. After my two-week solo stint I’m much more comfortable with “veld toilet”, but if I know facilities are close by, I’ll still rather hold out. Peeling off layers of sticky clothing in the veld is unappealing. Apart from being time consuming and a bit gross, it is the quickest way to summon traffic on a deserted road. I can stand with pants unzipped for 10 minutes peering around and listening like a hawk, but the moment I lean over with my pants around my knees, baring a pale sliver of lard, lo and behold there appears on the horizon a farm vehicle carrying a load of workers.

We decide to have coffee, as it comes with koeksisters which Keith rates very highly but which they don’t sell anymore. While we wait for coffee, I look around the shop and spot some craft beer, and buy a blonde IPA for later.

Keith checks Life360 and his WhatsApps and informs me that one rider joining us, Gary, has overtaken the other rider, Steve, who left town first. Steve is battling an oil leak on his oil tanker and at Prince Alfred Hamlet, BMW instructs him to pull over and wait for them to come fetch the Beemer. He won’t be riding Old Postal this weekend. I’m a tad disappointed. Apparently Steve is a Swiss yoga instructor with flowing blond locks who rides the 1200GS like it's a scrambler.

When the coffee arrives, the koeksisters are a disappointment: soft, soggy and overly sweet. The lovely setting makes up for it though, and we have a good break, before we head over the last hill to Oasis, arriving fairly early in the afternoon.







« Last Edit: January 03, 2020, 09:22:23 am by Ri »
 

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Re: Ri Ride: Old Postal At Last - 20 - 22 December 2019 (Warning: Very Wordy)
« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2020, 09:30:12 am »
Lekker Ri  :thumleft:
You lot down that side of the country are really blessed with all the riding right on your doorstep  :ricky:
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Offline woody1

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Re: Ri Ride: Old Postal At Last - 20 - 22 December 2019 (Warning: Very Wordy)
« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2020, 09:40:18 am »
When the coffee arrives, the koeksisters are a disappointment: soft, soggy and overly sweet....

I like a FRESH hard koeksister but it must be full of syrup.
But on the other hand I also like a koeksister that was lying in a plastic bag in a hot car.....just like the one you described.
Soggy wet and sweet. :laughing4:

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Offline Ri

Re: Ri Ride: Old Postal At Last - 20 - 22 December 2019 (Warning: Very Wordy)
« Reply #15 on: January 03, 2020, 10:40:35 am »
When the coffee arrives, the koeksisters are a disappointment: soft, soggy and overly sweet....

I like a FRESH hard koeksister but it must be full of syrup.
But on the other hand I also like a koeksister that was lying in a plastic bag in a hot car.....just like the one you described.
Soggy wet and sweet. :laughing4:

If it's a proper 'sister, there will always be a bit of a crunch to it no matter how long it lay in the hot car. This syrup was just too sweet. A proper koeksister glistens slightly on the outside, but you don't know how much syrup it holds until you bite into the crunchy shell and it flows out, with a hint of tartness or ginger to offset the sweet, and it never gets dry :drif:
 

Offline roxenz

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Re: Ri Ride: Old Postal At Last - 20 - 22 December 2019 (Warning: Very Wordy)
« Reply #16 on: January 03, 2020, 10:49:50 am »
Thanks for the pretty pictures Ri, especially the river at the Slanghoek low water bridge. As primary school kids, we had home made "sinkplaat kanos" which we kept there and played "pirates" with a kleilat and a heap of black mud (dug from under the "palmiet"). Best of times...  ;D
 

Offline Ri

Re: Ri Ride: Old Postal At Last - 20 - 22 December 2019 (Warning: Very Wordy)
« Reply #17 on: January 03, 2020, 11:05:37 am »
Thanks for the pretty pictures Ri, especially the river at the Slanghoek low water bridge. As primary school kids, we had home made "sinkplaat kanos" which we kept there and played "pirates" with a kleilat and a heap of black mud (dug from under the "palmiet"). Best of times...  ;D

Sounds idyllic :biggrin:

We also grew up near open veld with a little river and a dam for kleilat gooi. And the darned 'sinkplaat kano' always starts sinking in the middle of the dam ::)
 

Offline Ri

Re: Ri Ride: Old Postal At Last - 20 - 22 December 2019 (Warning: Very Wordy)
« Reply #18 on: January 03, 2020, 11:06:00 am »
Keith takes occupation of his tent and I set up camp next to it. It is hot. After Keith opens my craft beer, I quickly unpack the bike and store all my stuff. When Gerrit sees my camp, he insists on fetching me a nice firm mattress from the store room. We carry it on our heads, marching like uneven ants to my tent, where I manage to fold and stuff it in like an oversized marshmallow. It fills almost the entire tentlet.




I don my swimwear and quickly dunk myself in the ice cold pool, trying to warm up by splashing around, gasping like a distressed goldfish.

Keith tries to get into the pool, but the water is too cold for him and he quickly exits. I notice a tiny frog clinging to the side of the pool, unable to get out, and take it in my hand. I scan around and spot another tiny frog hanging off a pipe and pick it up as well. Keith opens the lid of the pool pump and finds an even smaller dude which I also grab.

I instruct poor Keith to hoist me out of the pool. I don’t want to let go of the little frogs nestling in my palm because I want to take a photo. But as soon as they’re high and dryish and feel the sun on their clammy little backs, one makes a spirited bid for freedom, painting a high arc into the unknown. The smallest frog clings to the bigger frog’s back as they nervously scoot around on my palm, and I reluctantly set them down some distance from the pool, photo opportunity gone.


True oasis










Keith meets up with overseas travellers who recently bought KLRs with his assistance and they sit at the restaurant, discussing routes to Namibia.




The last member of our Old Postal party, Gary Leader, arrives. I have a brief impression of bright blue eyes capped by thick straight marmalade caterpillar brows under a clean shaven head, before he bends over his smart phone and cigarettes, lost to the analogue world.




My favourite Oasis faces: Gerrit and Wayne




When I return to my tent to change swimwear for dry clothes, the group camping next door hijack me for a chat. The father, a friendly guy named Martin, and his wife, their two sons and one's girlfriend, and the wife’s mother, come to Oasis to camp and the boys to learn to ride plastics. I join their table, still clammy, and Martin plies me with his wife’s red wine, eager to talk bikes and adventure riding. He is very keen for his wife to learn to ride, but she looks unconvinced, eyeing my assortment of bruises.

As dusk falls, I excuse my shivering self a moment to dress drily, and carry on chatting with them until their dinner is ready. Then I head up to the restaurant for my own dinner of half a something something, still sated from the ice cream. There are a number of friendly, handsome, French-sounding youngsters around, seemingly on a hiking and climbing holiday.

Gerrit and Jacques try to ease my nerves about Old Postal, saying it’s not much worse than the Eselbank/Wupperthal road. Knowing the Eselbank/Wupperthal road isn't exactly a picnic either, this doesn't console me much. I head to bed early and surprisingly sober, plug my ears and manage to sleep well enough, very likely contributing to the chorus of snorers around me.
 

Offline Black_Hawk

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Re: Ri Ride: Old Postal At Last - 20 - 22 December 2019 (Warning: Very Wordy)
« Reply #19 on: January 03, 2020, 11:06:57 am »
Thanks for sharing RI, can't wait for the rest  :thumleft:
« Last Edit: January 03, 2020, 11:10:44 am by Black_Hawk »
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