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Author Topic: 5 Karoo's, 4 punctures, 6 bike drops and the Overberg - 1300km in 3 days  (Read 1214 times)

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Offline MildlyWild

After way too much riding abstinence, a bit of planning and lots of anticipation it was finally time to pack the bikes and head off on our 2 wheeled, 3 day adventure to escape "the new normal" and taste some fun and freedom again.
Me on my black-sheep-of-the-family BMW G650 XChallenge and Tiaan on his much underrated Honda (ridden like an Africa Twin) TransAlp 700.

Maybe some background 1st.  I've only been riding again properly (and even this is debatable) since May 2019 when I bought this bike - before this there was a 11 year gap back to when I had a KLR650, with another 14 year gap back to my Honda MTX50, which I rode like a typical hooligan in the Baakens Valley despite the fact that my nickname among our inner circle of friends was The Pope at the time. My current 17 month riding stint on the X was unfortunately interrupted for 3 months by a silly little 30km/h fall (I blame it on 24 years of mountain biking nature kicking in at exactly the wrong moment) which ended in a 3.5hr knee op and many months of rehab to repair some ligaments, a tibial plato fracture and torn meniscus.

I chose the X for a few reasons - I like the type of bike, it was relatively cheap and seems to tick all the boxes for me. These boxes being able to comfortably (with cycling shorts and earplugs anyway) cruise at 120-130 (with 170 being possible), being able to handle as much rough terrain as my skill will allow and not having me worry too much aesthetically when I drop it. And I do. Often it seems. The Toura tank also gives me the range I like - 450km+ between the 2 tanks. Oh, and it is quite light - about 183kg with 25L petrol and the pannier racks on. Probably the most under rated DS bike around, and for the life of anyone who owns or have owned one we cannot fathom why ze silly Germans only made about 3200 of them (might have been closer to 2600, but my memory fails me and I'm too lazy to go dig up the figures). I think on the forum someone likened some bike (might have been the T7) to a Boerperd, and the X is like that - can do anything and go almost anywhere, albeit not perfectly, without the rider worrying about a losing a horseshoe or in my case adding a few scratches to the tank.
Oh, at 1.89m tall I feel a bit like one of those wind turbines, and although that "delivery bike screen" does not scream hardcore adventure rider it does keep the wind off my head at 130km/h. And I am mostly a function before form kind of person

Tiaan, after having ridden a 900 road bike during his stint in the army many moons ago, have now been riding again for 2 years, and maybe one day someone will convince him that he cannot ride the Alp like an Africa Twin. I doubt it though. Over that baaaad section into Gamkaskloof, with it bottoming out time and again? No problem. Loose, rocky trails? Check. Riding the Amazon river in the Tankwa on his very 1st venture ever off the blacktop? Done (pic added) Thick Eselbank sand with his wife on the back? Why not? Ok, this one did end with a few broken toes for his much better half, but let's not go there now. Point is he rides that bike almost anywhere, and with the pending 21" front wheel conversion he might start thinking he is Chris Birch. Except that Tiaan probably drops his bike a bit more often as well, but luckily he is as strong as an ox and usually has no problem getting the not so much featherweight Alp right side up again.

Update - new 21" wheel is fitted, looking a lot more aggressive and awaiting its 1st ride this weekend
2nd update - Tiaan is now raving about how that wheel has totally transformed his ride, to the point where he now sommer wants to go and do the Dakar

« Last Edit: November 11, 2020, 07:48:58 pm by MildlyWild »
As a man thinketh, so he becomes...

Offline MildlyWild

For this particular trip I had some special treats in mind, some of which we did not get to and hence we are now forced to already start planning our next getaway...
Cue evil laugh  >:D
 I wanted lots of off road riding, and not just the normal Tankwa roads either. We headed off bright and early on Friday morning. Ok, not that early, it was already 7am when we left the Engen garage on the N1 outside Kraaifontein. I think we need to work on our early getaway skills a bit so we can fit in more hours of fun in a day. Anyway, we decided to start the day going over Du Toitskloof pass this time, enjoying the splendour that Thomas Bain and his gang of Italian POW's dished up for us.
As a man thinketh, so he becomes...

Offline ChrisL - DUSTRIDERS

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Offline MildlyWild

We fell (three times actually, without any damage ;D) short of our original planned route on day 1, but more on that later.
We usually only cruise at around 105-115km/h on the black stuff, unless it's getting late - at this pace we can relax, chat and take in the scenery, although with the 16-47 setup the X's heart is then beating a little too slowly in 5th to feel really alive. It only really perks up when it hits 120 so I'll probably go back to the original 15-47 ze Germans wisely put on it.
 At Rawsonville weighbridge we swung right, and then left to cut through the Slanghoek valley before passing Wolseley and over Mitchell's pass into Ceres for a breakfast sandwich, some coffee and fuel to make sure Tiaan's 320km range does not force me to do an unnecessary transfusion from my petrol tanker in the middle of the Tankwa.
Ceres' streets looked like Bangladesh, with it being month end and Friday and all, but we managed to escape safely before the hordes would start swaying about.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2020, 09:38:45 am by MildlyWild »
As a man thinketh, so he becomes...

Offline MildlyWild

To tick it off the list I chose the Swaarmoed and Bo Swaarmoed passes after leaving Ceres before joining the main trek route again, following in the hoof prints, oxwagon trails and tyre tracks of thousands of settlers, travelers, adventurers and soul-seekers who have used the Karoo Poort to journey north before us.
Shortly after exiting the poort we turned right towards Sutherland, which we would not see until many kilometers of solitude, a fierce battle to the death and some ornery rocks causing horizontal adventure bikes later.
As a man thinketh, so he becomes...

Offline MildlyWild

This road for a while runs north almost parallel to the main Tankwa highway, but is much nicer with a lot less traffic, while also offering access to the infamous Tankwa Padstal. We opted to skip the babelaas breakfast this time, with my mind set like flint on the not so well known Koedoesberg pass.

At this point I just have to mention that I am not 100% sure whether this pass is really open to the public, but my research did not show otherwise and the farmer about 100m off the road on the other side did not seem bothered. If I am wrong, please let me know, and I will gladly avoid that piece of 2 spoor before I end up joining the tractor and trailer halfway down the ravine about halfway up the pass.
But I'm jumping ahead of myself. The gravel road heading there is pretty and fun and a wide solid rocky section as a shortcut through the river gave me the chance to go properly off road. I could get used to that :-)

Just up the road we came upon a battle of the strongest, survival of the fittest - 2 small testosterone filled male tortoises silently fighting for territory, aka a chance with the ladies, which ended up with the smaller of the two crawlers lying pens en pootjies in the air.  Tiaan kindly disrupted the natural flow of things by picking up both of them and putting them in the veld. We might never know how this seemingly innocent act have altered the direction of the universe.

Around here the veld was absolutely covered with purply pink flowery bossies - truly spectacular, considering the arid surroundings. I sincerely pray that the whole area will get so much rain over the next 2 years that it will become a place where life flourishes in abundance.
As a man thinketh, so he becomes...

Offline MildlyWild

After turning right off the main drag a funky flowy 2 spoor led us to base of the climb and I was the 1st to tackle the steep jeep track. Relatively solid footing soon gave way to loose fist sized rocks and smaller stones, which had me skipping, bumping and bouncing to and fro like a drunk driver. Or an amateur adventure biker  :imaposer:
I managed well enough without grinding through any of my teeth, even having the bravado to steal a few sideways glances to the tractor and trailer wreck below, and stopped about halfway to watch Tiaan come up.

He demonstrated perfect zigzagging technique over the loose stones and rocks in an attempt to avoid either falling over, or falling over the side of the steep drop to the left.
He managed to avoid 1 of those...  :pot:
As a man thinketh, so he becomes...

Offline MildlyWild

Damn, I wish a photo could do the actual terrain justice - looks like a piece of cake, but this was definitely the hardest section to ride up I've ever done -especially once you've stopped or fallen over on the wrong section and have to pull away again
As a man thinketh, so he becomes...

Offline MildlyWild

After passing me his zigzagging (no offense Tiaan - this trail was seriously gnarly for me) landed him right at the edge of the drop, and as mentioned when you stop it is really hard to get going again on some of the looser parts.

In the process he ever so gently laid his bike down for a rest. I rode past to find a suitable place to stop and come to his aid.

But, not wanting to be left out of the action I also promptly put my bike down when the loose rocks kicked out underneath my rear tyre.  I swung the bike around almost 180 degrees on the narrow trail - had the spinning rear tyre found something to grab onto my bike would probably have slid, cartwheeeled or rolled down that slope and recovery would not have been possible back up where it came from...

Tiaan trudged up to help me get going again after I dragged the bike back around to face the right way - this is where that Touratech (crashbar) tank really protects the rest of the bike nicely :thumleft:

After parking the bike higher up I walked down to help Tiaan upright and to get going again
As a man thinketh, so he becomes...

Offline skydiver

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This sounds like an interesting trip.
I will follow with interest.  :ricky:
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Offline MildlyWild

With fans whirring and sweat flowing freely we made the top, rewarded with a really beautiful view to either side.
At this point we decided it would now be a good time to drop the tyre pressures a bit...  Might have been good to have done that before this climb :lol8:
Going down the other side was quite sketchy with even more loose rocks and stones, and I dare say it might be even harder coming up from the north.  Better learn to ride standing up very well before you head there.
Koedoesberg pass was definitely the most difficult terrain I have ridden so far and the feeling of satisfaction was huge. Tastes like more...
« Last Edit: November 06, 2020, 09:43:57 pm by MildlyWild »
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Offline Offshore

Sub, :thumleft:
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Offline dw1

Cool report - keep going   :thumleft:
Current KTM 950 Adv, R80G/S x 2, TW200,  DR200 Djebel,, XR500R
Previous: YAM AG175, BSA Lightning 650, XT500, KAWA KZ1300, XR500R, VF750-4 BMW K100, WR45,0 DR650 x 2,  XT600 Tenere, XR200,

Offline MildlyWild

Coming down Koedoesberg we eventually joined up with the road to the famed Ouberg, the undisputed queen of Northern Cape passes. She is an absolute beauty, and I will happily go back to ride her roughly for a 3rd,4th and umpteenth time :ricky: :ricky: :ricky:
By the way, the road is not bad at all at the moment and can be ridden or driven with basically anything.  Respect to our forfathers who went up and down there with ox wagons though...

Side note - the old, faded sign on the Tankwa side, in afrikaans nogal pointing the way is true vintage, really beautiful and can never be replaced with one of the same character - lets try and keep this one sticker free please...?

At the lookout point about 2/3 up we stopped for the obligatory photos and scavenged a dead bossie which we lit in the fancy fire pit to sacrifice a few lekker cheese grillers on my newly modified roostertjie. This would be the 1st and last time I would have the pleasure of using my roostertjie - always run a bungee or strap through anything you want to secure on the bike, even if you think it is pulled really tightly over the top. Lesson learnt, because my roostertjie will now be used by the person who picked it up somewhere in the Roggeveld on the way to Laingsburg the following day  :crybaby2:

At the top of Ouberg Pass we would leave the Tankwa Karoo behind us and enter the Great Karoo.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2020, 10:17:32 pm by MildlyWild »
As a man thinketh, so he becomes...

Offline MildlyWild

Originally the plan was to head straight to Merweville from the top of Ouberg Pass, but the heat and sweating on Koedoesberg and the worsrolletjie on Ouberg made us a little bit thirsty, so we easily took the short detour to Sutherland (which was part of our route the following day as well).
 Here we filled up the bikes and grabbed a beer (ok 2) at Jupiter, where we had a lekker chat with Dolla and Lelanie.  If I recall Jupiter (B&B / pub / restaurant / venue) has a new owner and they are renovating the place in phases - visit them when you go to Sutherland, it is worth it :thumleft:

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Online Ian in Great Brak River

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Looks like no lack of excitement on this ride ... :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 MildlyWild

Looks like no lack of excitement on this ride ... :thumleft:

For sure - luckily no excitement that ended up costing too much ;D
As a man thinketh, so he becomes...

Offline MildlyWild

Leaving Sutherland at around 14:30 we still had plenty of time to get to Merweville and then to my cousin's farm. Or not ::)

A short ride on the blacktop over Rooikloof Pass (our 7th for the day) brought us to the turnoff to Merweville, a lovely gravel road that I have miraculously never driven, ridden or cycled before, where a quick GoPro adjustment was done while we waved the KTM boys goodbye on their way down Verlatekloof Pass.

On top of the plateau the gravel road was really good (too good) so we cruised along at a fair pace.
A side note: we use the Spirit bluetooth systems and chat quite a bit. Line of sight range is probably around 400-500m, but a sharp bend, dip or rise breaks comms quickly.  Talk time on mine is around 8 hours

With reception bad due to the wandering road and not too much dust to show Tiaan behind me it took a few minutes sitting next to the road before I decided to go and look for him. A few kays back I found him fussing about his bike - flat rear tyre.  And his 12v pump that worked when tested before the trip was playing possum. Because I have never seen a dassie play dead in this part of the Karoo before - they have all been genuinely dead when I checked, usually from a sudden onset of lead poisoning  :angel11:
No problem though, since I only always use my trusty bicycle hand pump and 24 years of mountain biking have given me decent experience and endurance in that regard.  We gave it a bit of pressure and decided to head to a farm house close by to fix it there and hopefully use a bigger pump. No luck though - this one was deserted (a very sad state of affairs throughout the country), but at least we had a clean place to work.  Now Tiaan, being mechanically seriously well qualified, is also not slouch when it comes to changing tyres as he often swops his road and 50/50 tyres on his bike at home - sometimes I think he just does it because he is bored.  The tube revealed a weird chafing kind of puncture which we put down to a possible pinch with the reduced pressure in the TKC80.  Out came the patch kit (for some reason he did not have a 17" spare tube this time), puncture sorted.  It took close to 450 strokes with my little pump to get to 1.9bar - yes, it is a good arm workout. Some might disagree with the use of the word "good", but I am old school and don't mind.

On we went and onto Rammelskop Pass and Allemanshoek Pass, which is basically parts of the same pass.  As a side note - my uncle has lived most of his life around these parts and was totally lost when I mentioned going down Rammelshoek - to the locals that is Rooihoogte.  Now a pass like this by any name would ride as sweet, and Rooihoogte did not dissapoint - the views are amazing, sections of it is steep enough to require about 400m of tar and I would totally stay away from it in the wet, never mind snow.  Going down there the air brake on my thumper came in really handy.  OK, it just sounds like that, but the compression in 1st gear is impressive.

« Last Edit: November 11, 2020, 08:01:58 pm by MildlyWild »
As a man thinketh, so he becomes...

Offline MildlyWild

Darn, getting cramps in the 3 fingers I type with, and I'm still on Day 1  :imaposer:

Anyway, I go down Rooihoogte, hit the rolling flat and ride, and realize a bit later that Tiaan is not coming.  Turn back again, and find him already busy removing the back wheel again.  Long story short, the patch had come loose.
By this time the sun is getting low, Merweville is still about 50kms away and the idea of tackling the last 50km from there to the farm does not sound good anymore as that is an awesome,  albeit relatively slow riding road leading over Karelskraal pass back to Sutherland that would take about another 70min to ride, with locked gates where I luckily have access  :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:
But I digress.  This time I donate my 18" heavy duty spare tube (that thing weighs 3.5kgs, no jokes) and we fit that.  Not that easy actually to fit that thing into the 17" tyre, but we did and another 500 or so strokes (taking turns ;D) took it to 2 bar.
The sun was setting as we packed the bike again.
Luckily we make sure that we always have enough to drink and snack on, although I had started considering camping there for the night and leaving R1200 in a farmer's honesty box in return for a lamb to braai.
But since my uncle stays in Merweville we had a good alternative and headed off.  After that stretch of gravel at night a set of spots is most definitely on my list of things to buy - with the orange cover on my headlight I reckon 10 candles would have been just as good, if not better.  Tiaan with his spots on was in a hurry, and behind him I was not having fun at all - all the time guessing whether I was on the smooth section of gravel or the middelmannetjie while praying I do not come off the bike at around 90km/h. Seriously, that last pic looks a lot like what I saw that night.
We made Merweville around 20:30 and rolled into my pleasantly surprised uncle and aunt's yard, with Temba (the biggest Rottweiler I have ever seen) luckily not mistaking us for a late dinner snack.  A late dinner for us, great conversation and much needed shower later we fell into bed, grateful that we were not actually lying on thin blow up mattresses that night

End of Day 1 - the best day on a bike for me so far
« Last Edit: November 11, 2020, 08:04:36 pm by MildlyWild »
As a man thinketh, so he becomes...

Offline MildlyWild

End of Day 1 - the best day on a bike for me so far.  It was about 440km and many hours of riding
« Last Edit: November 07, 2020, 09:43:35 am by MildlyWild »
As a man thinketh, so he becomes...