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Offline Xpat

Rat racer's weekend getaways
« on: August 23, 2020, 09:12:53 pm »
Intro

I have been fortunate enough to enjoy extended sabatical in 2017-18. I used it to explore in my estimate the most exquisite riding spots of southern Africa, such as Kaokoland & Damaraland, Bots bush and sand, Lesotho mountains, and Moz tropical coastline.

All good things come to an end and last year it was time to rejoin the rat race again. This inevitably limits the riding time mostly to weekends. Luckily, Gauteng is the best location in SA for weekend exploration as it is positioned centrally between the best SA riding spots. Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Swaziland, North West being in the weekend striking distance, while Botswana and Lesotho are well within the reach on extended weekends. This provides for great variety of riding terrains and scenery. 

This required some adjustments, the most important being the bike. My main tool for sabatical when time was no constraint was KTM 500, which was the perfect tool for extended exploration into really remote corners of Africa where lightweight minimalism is paramount for either being able to just get there (e.g. remote corners of Lesotho, where no adv bike can get), or to allow for extended range on remote multi day / week offroad trips, where bigger bike and resulting fatigue would become very limiting.

For weekend trips, when fatigue is not such a big factor (indeed proper workout may be beneficial after workweek of farting into chair in front of computer) while the ability to cover distance quickly is, it was time to get a twin again. By fluke rather than by design I ended up buying for a very good price KTM 990S. I actually snatched the bike initially for commuting (which was really retarded idea and I rectified it promptly by getting the best commuter solution - scooter), but luckily the bike turned out to be just what the doctor ordered for the weekend trips. I always wanted one as they are fantastic bikes, but always shied away because of its limited range, which would become hindrance on remote trips. But for weekend trips the range is good enough, and I still have 500 for that once / twice a year multiday exploration into the sticks.

The intention of this thread is to capture some of the weekend exploits I have done, or might do in the future.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2020, 09:19:29 pm by Xpat »
 
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Offline sidetrack

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Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2020, 09:17:41 pm »
Lets see them  :thumleft:
Little by little, one travels far
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Offline Sheepman

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2020, 09:20:56 pm »
Follow  ;)
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2020, 09:49:11 pm »
Botswana fence run (23/24 Aug 2020)

The plan was simple:
Day 1 - gun it as quickly as possible to Ramatlabama border post west of Zeerust (or north of Mafikeng), turn north and follow the Bots border to Tlokweng border post, and then further on to Derdepoort, with sleepover at Moselasela lodge at the backend of the Madikwe National Park.
Day 1 - take dirt highways to Thabazimbi, sniff around Waterberg and Marakele NP a bit and then head south on the main Rooiberg / Asen / Letlhabile dirt artery. If time allows do some bundu bashing along Tolwane.

I have done this trip before twice and knew that the area along the border provides wealth of juicy tracks to be ridden, and was keen to explore some new sections I haven't done before.

@BuRP (Bart) got a whif of my plan and was keen to join to run in his spanking new 790 Rally. It is a long way (first day was almost 600 km, about 150 of potentially quite demanding sand tracks), so we met on Sat morning at ungodly 6:30 at the Total garage on N14 and after fill-up gunned it west on tar through Magaliesburg to Koster, where we hit dirt to Zeerust.

After another fill-up in Zeerust (did I mention 990 has limited range? 790 not so) we gunned it again on dirt west to Ramatlabama, where we arrived after 11:00. Bart did suffer quite a bit early in the commute from the cold as he optimisticaly came in Leatt enduro jacket without any windbreaker. By the time we arrived to the start of the border track the temperature raised to more palatable levels, so I shed all my thermal gear and we set off.

I will let the pictures with some commentary tell the story.

For the first few km we stuck to the border fence. The grass has been burned which gave the ride a bit of macabre feeling:












Ten or so km in we turned inland a bit to follow windy sandy double tracks through grassland and later on Aloe forrests:






































« Last Edit: August 23, 2020, 09:50:56 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2020, 09:58:02 pm »
Further on towards Lobatse border post (about half way through between Ramatlabama and Tlokweng) the track crossed mountains and the whole scenery gets more rocky and 'Kaokolandy':












Dashing bikers like the two of us naturally couldn't avoid attention of the local honeys. Luckily we survived this encounter unmolested:











« Last Edit: August 23, 2020, 09:58:57 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline Xpat

Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2020, 10:05:44 pm »
After the first mountain range we t-boned tar road between Zeerust and Lobatse, just a km or two from the border post. We detoured few km inland to Gopane for another re-fill. No we weren't out of fuel yet, but petrol north of Gopane is scarce commodity so better safe than sorry. After short break we gunned to north on dirt highway for about 10 km past Ngotwane dam, where we headed west again to reconnect tracks along the border. It is possible to do this all along the border, but we were a bit short of time so opted to skipt short section of track north of Lobatse.

This whole area is mostly unfarmed tribal land (I think), so big colorful farm came as quite surprise (well to Bart probably - I have been there before  :peepwall:):



We circumnavigated the farm from the west and hit the tracks again. Sand in this portion was significantly more tricky then before and required quite a bit of effort to stay upright:















































« Last Edit: August 23, 2020, 10:16:12 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline DaveT

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Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2020, 10:18:50 pm »
 :ricky:

Keep it coming
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2020, 08:28:28 am »
We have reached one of the bigger double tracks, still good 40 - 50 km south of Tlkweng. It was getting late and Bart was loosing energy quickly in the sand. We considered our options and decided to bail out to the next dirt road and take chicken route, a we still had probably 120 - 150 km to do and weren't keen to do it in dust and dark.

The 15 km connection to dirt road turned out quite scenic:































« Last Edit: August 24, 2020, 08:30:32 am by Xpat »
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2020, 08:38:58 am »
Once on the dirt road we gunned it up racing the setting sun. Last 40 km we were running along the Madikwe NP fence and got lucky with some nice sightings, including rhino family and elephants. If it wouldn't be for Barts Acrapovic, I could have got even picture of the elephants  :pot: The loud pipes are really good only to impress your neighbour's wife or daughter, in the real world  they are just pain in the ass and completely useless.































We arrived at the Moselasela lodge just as the sun was disappearing behind horizon


« Last Edit: August 24, 2020, 08:40:07 am by Xpat »
 

Offline sidetrack

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Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2020, 08:49:05 am »
Too good  :thumleft: :ricky: Cant wait for the weekend to get on some dirt myself.

I don't know if it's the camera angle but the bars on your bike seems like they are pointing down, they angle back like on a bicycle. Is it the stock bars, did you rotate them like that ?
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Offline Xpat

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2020, 08:50:36 am »
Too good  :thumleft: :ricky: Cant wait for the weekend to get on some dirt myself.

I don't know if it's the camera angle but the bars on your bike seems like they are pointing down, they angle back like on a bicycle. Is it the stock bars, did you rotate them like that ?

It's just the wide angle lense distorting them. They are standard 990 bars.  :thumleft:

Offline sidetrack

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Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2020, 08:53:38 am »
Too good  :thumleft: :ricky: Cant wait for the weekend to get on some dirt myself.

I don't know if it's the camera angle but the bars on your bike seems like they are pointing down, they angle back like on a bicycle. Is it the stock bars, did you rotate them like that ?

It's just the wide angle lense distorting them. They are standard 990 bars.  :thumleft:
:thumleft: Thought that would be a weird bend to ride with !
Little by little, one travels far
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Offline Xpat

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2020, 08:53:44 am »
@sidetrack: Bart and I are doing Penge pass next weekend. So come and join - show us what Tenere can do... :peepwall: :pot:

To be fair, we will be using 690 / 701. I wanted to go on 990, but it is in desperate need of maintenance after months ob smashing it through DeWildts whoops.

Offline sidetrack

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Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2020, 09:03:16 am »
@sidetrack: Bart and I are doing Penge pass next weekend. So come and join - show us what Tenere can do... :peepwall: :pot:

To be fair, we will be using 690 / 701. I wanted to go on 990, but it is in desperate need of maintenance after months ob smashing it through DeWildts whoops.
Last time I visited Penge on a 660Z I crashed 20 plus times and cried like a little girl. I'm doing either Thabazimbi or a Lydenburg - Hazyview - Sudwala loop this weekend with Saddle Up. But maybe next time  :thumleft:
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Offline MonkeyNot

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2020, 09:46:48 am »
sub :sip:
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Offline billy-joe

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #15 on: August 24, 2020, 10:42:46 am »
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Offline BuRP

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #16 on: August 24, 2020, 11:27:54 am »
I'm useless at two things - yeah, a lot more but these two pertain to this pasttime as described & displayed - for which my thanks @Xpat  :thumleft:

First I will ride past a Tyrannosaurus Rex stood one meter next to the track, I simply will not see it.... so let alone smaller game like say a group of Elephants or so  :P
A gargantuum Ant on the track I may see though, or a dungbeetle or why, as this is where I tend to look. I've been kakked out already by friends many a time because I didn't greet them, waving and honking and being obnoxious to attract my attention - which proves to be focused solely on the road/traffic, sorry.

This may be emphasized by my second shortcoming, which is I prove not to be a very skilled sand rider on winding tracks.
Practice tends to make better, hopefully one day perfect even - and here I will say that Xpat on his heavy 990S makes it look easy.
@Runner , you better improve on my standard steering damper this week, thicker oil or why, make a fggn plan please, jy's mos n Boer - for it does zero at the mo, way less than my old R ...  :-\

Let's not forget I should get out more, if only to get ride-fitter so I can tackle the sand better & longer!
All the incentives are there: this was a stunning ride gents, indeed close to our GunPoint's homes, and genuinely affordable: petrol & accommodation, the latter superb whilst downright cheap, R350pp self catering (google Mosela Sela Lodge).
Oh, give Mike-the-Malawian a tip when you leave, he's the only person we saw there (no other guests) and he took great care of us, he made a superb sauce with the pap plus he seems to take really good care of that whole complex!

@MonkeyNot , the Rally now suspends - yay, it helps me now instead of fights me  :thumleft:
I've drastically reduced all preloads, front to 0 even, plus softened all damping settings to less-than-'Standard' (the softest in the manual).
From here I may tweak a lil more but it already floats over even short undulations, washboard ditto - lekker!
The forks especially so, it soaks all, even deep ruts, already much better than my (properly adjusted of course) R did.

Carry on please Xpat, for I know you have a gazillion more photos  ;)
Whoever in Gauteng reads here get out there, some of it can even be done in only one day, just leave a bit earlier!
« Last Edit: August 24, 2020, 11:42:40 am by BuRP »
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Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #17 on: August 24, 2020, 11:36:56 am »
Geez Xpat, you would having so much more fun in Sweden!!  :biggrin: :eek7: >:D
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Offline BuRP

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #18 on: August 24, 2020, 11:39:56 am »
Oh, this will go in next time Xpat - it'll sound like a wuss but game seems to like that more.
Sorry  :P
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Offline Xpat

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #19 on: August 24, 2020, 02:05:02 pm »
Geez Xpat, you would having so much more fun in Sweden!!  :biggrin: :eek7: >:D

Who knows - maybe when the time comes to leave SA I might enjoy some Swedish dirt roads. Until then I will make sure to enjoy every nook and cranny of Africa I can get to  :thumleft: