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Offline GeelKameel

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Four days and 10 Eastern Cape dirt passes
« on: July 21, 2021, 11:30:32 am »
Four days and 10 Eastern Cape dirt passes - Day 1

Touring and discovering new parts of our country took on a completely new dimension when I started riding off-road with a motorbike many years ago. Once you start riding off-road, it is like seeing our country through a magnifying glass instead of through binoculars.
I spent my entire youth in the Eastern Cape, and was fortunate enough to live on a farm.
Part of life on a farm entails traveling all over the district and to neighbouring towns for matters related to the farm. Through the years you get to know those roads, landmarks and areas quite well. You even tend to believe that you have seen and know all there is in the area.
But...
The regular feature of mountain passes by Trigve Roberts made me realise that I grew up within an hour’s drive from many many of these passes without knowing about them!  My bucket list was filling up very quickly!
During December 2016 I had a chance to go and see as many of those dirt passes as I could fit into the four days I had available. It took a lot of planning to find a route that included as many passes as possible and also keeping the daily distance below 300km. The number of riders changed continuously, eventually we were four. Myself and three young people from Patensie.


The tour started in PE, with sleepovers in Fort Beaufort, Gubu dam and Bedford. The first day took us through Shamwari Game reserve to Grahamstown. Then R67 via Ecca pass (tar) and Smaldeel (dirt detour) to Fort Beaufort.
Day 2 we travelled through Katrivier Valley, Fullershoek pass, Blinkwater pass, Katberg pass, Seymour, Michels pass, Hogsback, Wolfrivier pass and Dontsa pass to our camping site at the Gubu dam.
Day 3 from Gubu dam to Bedford via Keiskammahoek, Cathcart, Whittlesea, De Beers pass and Wienandsnek. (On this route we travelled through another two unnamed passes)
Day 4 from Bedford to PE via Cookhouse, Slagtersnek pass, Waainek pass (what a special treat was this pass!) and Somerset East. Then all tar to PE.


Map of the complete trip:

 


Map of Day 1
 
We started four hours earlier than planned from PE, so we decided to do some dirt roads north of the N2. The route on Day 1 included more dirt road than we had originally planned.
We had breakfast at Nanagga, then a bit tar (~15km) on the N2 to the turn-off north onto R342.
After about six km on the R342 we saw the Shamwari entrance and decided to ask permission to drive through towards Sidwell, Highlands and Grahamstown. Permission granted and off we went.
 
Very soon we saw some kudu, warthogs and springbok. Although the trees and bushes appeared quite green and lush, the grazing was very short and dry. Clearly the drought has taken its toll.
 

The day was very hot and we stopped whenever we came across some shade.
 
 

A good dirt road took us out the other side and past some smaller private game reserves (no animals seen), past Sidbury and the Highlands rail siding.
 
 

Close to the Highlands siding (26km short of Grahamstown) we saw a majestic stone bridge that takes the railway line over the road. This railway was built in the early 1930’s as part of the DeAar-PE rail network.
 

 
Near the Cold Spring siding close to Grahamstown, I noticed a lone steel water tank alongside the railway line, rusted and abandonned  --- against the backdrop of three modern wind generators.
 
 
In Grahamstad het ons lekker te ete en te drinke gehad, en ook vleis en drinkgoed gekoop vir die aand se braai.
 
 
Grahamstad is ‘n mooi dorp met aantreklike geboue
 
The Observatory Museum dates from 1820. In the tower above the building is the only Camera Obscura in the southern hemisphere. It basically is a mirror that works something like a periscope and projects the outside view onto a panel on a table inside the building.
Nogal indrukwekkend!
 
 
Above: The majestic Grahamstown Cathedral was inaugurated in 1952

Below: The Statue of Peace (Winged angel presiding over a soldier that died in the SA 1899-1902 war) in front of the Commemoration Church 1850)
 

Hiervandaan teerpad op die R67 tot by die afdraai na Smaldeel/Gardenersdrift. Ons het deur die Eccapas gery, wat altyd ‘n groot plesier is met sy skerperige draaie en mooi uitsigte.
Op hierdie foto kan mens daar oorkant die nuwe (~1960) teer pas sien en ‘n entjie onderkant hom die merke van die ou Queens’s Pass (Andrew Geddes Bain, 1837).
Hierdie Eccapas het ‘n klomp draaie wat kort opmekaar volg. Dit is baie lekker om te ry met ‘n motorfiets, al kan jy nie juis vinnig ry nie. Die draaie is te skerp om vinnig te kan ry.
 


Die Smaldeel afdraai is waar die ou bekende paaie begin.
 

Deesdae word die ingange beman met ‘n valboom weens die grootskaalse veediefstal.

 

 
 

A winding and often bit rough tweespoor took us past the Windsor farm, Koedoeskloof, LaMotte, Vlaknek, along the Koonap river, past Sewefontein and Driefontein to Rietfontein (where I grew up).

While savouring old pleasant memories of the farm, I gave my friends a quick brief about the farm.
Rietfontein has been turned into a game farm, like many farms in the area. A major contributing factor is the stock theft of sheep and cattle. Game cannot be herded or caught like the traditional live stock.

 
At this particular spot are two of the traditional routes that the kudu used to flee into the neighbouring farm to escape when they notice hunters on Rietfontein. Now they are blocked by high fences, like all along the border of the farm (and all over the Eastern Cape).
 
Two pictures of kudu at this spot, taken with a primitive camera many years ago.


Sad to see the effect of the exceptional drought, apparently the worst since 1983. I believe the game farmers are starting to put out feed for the game as well, especially the larger game like kudu.

 

From here northwards on the Gardnersdrift road past more farms, amongst other the farm of the late Hennie Greeff who started to mix and sell the well-known Woodoc “Food for Wood”. Initially in small scale production from the farm. The demand grew such that they had to set up a factory in Fort Beaufort town.

Volgende stop Smitskraal, my neef se plaas. Great om hulle weer te sien na al die jare. Die werf lyk goed, met al die groot bome. Dit was baie warm en ons het baie van die plaas se koue koelkaswater uitgedrink!
 


Hierdie plaashuis is ongelukkig deur inbrekers geplunder en tot op die grond afgebrand vroeg in 2021


Van hier af 5km met ‘n direkte pad na Rietfontein se werf, verby die “Sondokollo” huisie (as kinders was ons bang dis ‘n spookhuis!)
 

By Rietfontein plaas is die bekende “ou tuin”. Dit is onderkant die wal van die fontein se dam.
 
Die twee dooie akkerbome bome is ongeveer 100 jaar gelede geplant deur my oorlede oupa se broer, toe hulle kinders was op Rietfontein.

Rietfontein plaas se buitegeboue, alles van klip. Dit is n klein fort wat rondom 1812 gebou deur die Engelse soldate tydens die konflikte aan die Oosgrens.

Let op die vertikale skietgate teen die klipmure. Links was die wagkamer waar prisoniers oornag gehou is en die gebou regs was woonkwartiere.
 
Die werf en woonhuis soos dit vandag lyk.




Rondom 1900 het die huis so gelyk….nadat Oupa Grootjie ‘n stoep aangebou het en paar vensters en deure ingebreek het.
 

From here 21km to the town of Fort Beaufort. The road was in good shape, with many landmarks still where they belong.

This sneezewood tree has been here since I can remember.

Fortunately these trees were spared when the road was widened 50 years ago.
 

In Fort Beaufort town we booked in at the guest house (bed only). 
Before settling down, we had to find some ice.
What a mission!!!
The only garage was sold out on ice, the hotel had no more ice, the supermarket was closed and there seemed to be no café in town any more. Fortunately we saw an A4 sheet of paper against a tree in the main street. Follow the arrow ….. but the arrow did not really point in a sensible direction. So we circled the block and found another A4 sheet fixed to a gate. Yes, plenty ice, at a price though !     
Chatting to the ice man, we learned that he knew it was very hot and bought all the ice he could get in town, selling it at a premium.

 


Back at the guesthouse we succeeded in one more mission --- getting four wide bikes (including a 1150GSA) through a 800mm gate for safe overnight storage.
Happy relaxing after a pleasant day of riding.


 



Link to Day2 :
http://mrcap-archive.bmwclubs.africa/mrcap-archive/four-days-and-10-eastern-cape-dirt-passes-day-2.html

Link to Day3 & Day4 :
http://mrcap-archive.bmwclubs.africa/mrcap-archive/four-days-and-10-eastern-cape-dirt-passes-day34doc.html

« Last Edit: July 23, 2021, 07:40:40 pm by GeelKameel »
 
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Offline Amsterdam

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Re: Four days and 10 Eastern Cape dirt passes
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2021, 12:25:15 pm »
Thanks for this.  Looks like a few days of scenic riding.
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Offline DUSTRIDERS

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Re: Four days and 10 Eastern Cape dirt passes
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2021, 01:11:31 pm »
Sub, geniet altyd jou RR's jy's behoorlik omsingel van die Tenere's die keer!! :thumleft: ;)
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Offline OomD

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Re: Four days and 10 Eastern Cape dirt passes
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2021, 03:10:07 pm »
Jy's so bietjie laat met hierdie RR, net so 5 jaar of so... maar nooit te laat nie! Dankie vir die deel, dit lyk besonders!  :thumleft:
 

Offline GeelKameel

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Re: Four days and 10 Eastern Cape dirt passes
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2021, 04:21:47 pm »
Jy's so bietjie laat met hierdie RR, net so 5 jaar of so... maar nooit te laat nie! Dankie vir die deel, dit lyk besonders!  :thumleft:
Jy is reg, dit is lank gelede.
Maar daardie roetes en passe is steeds daar en moeite werd om te gaan ry.
Die Waainekpas (dag 3) en Fullershoekpas (dag 2) is twee juwele wat min mense van weet.
En Katbergpas en Michelspas (Hogsback) is ook besonders en is paar km van Fullershoekpas. Ek weetnie wat die toestand van Michelspas op die oomblik is nie - hy is groenroete na' herstelwerk maar het rooi kolle agv verspoeling na' swaar reen.

Ek lees graag ou trip reporte en ek het vanoggend besef hierdie drie-dag trip is een wat ek op WD moet deel.

« Last Edit: July 21, 2021, 06:46:40 pm by GeelKameel »
 
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Offline GeenSand

Re: Four days and 10 Eastern Cape dirt passes
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2021, 05:36:51 pm »
Ek dink ek het so paar weke terug waainekpas gery. Pragtige pad wat later 2spoor en hekke kry?


« Last Edit: July 21, 2021, 05:40:10 pm by GeenSand »
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Offline sidetrack

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Re: Four days and 10 Eastern Cape dirt passes
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2021, 06:01:04 pm »
Lekker ride !
Little by little, one travels far
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Offline Wolzak

Re: Four days and 10 Eastern Cape dirt passes
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2021, 06:11:32 pm »
Dankie, altyd lekker om terug te gaan waar jy groot geword het. :thumleft:
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Offline 2StrokeDan

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Re: Four days and 10 Eastern Cape dirt passes
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2021, 07:48:46 pm »
Very beautiful and makes one want to go yourself.

I have travelled Mitchelspass/Michelspass? years ago with WildWood, going out of Hogsback, and the big bikes in the group had it tough. The pass was badly eroded.
 

Offline Dutchman81

Re: Four days and 10 Eastern Cape dirt passes
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2021, 08:48:07 pm »
Julle kon by my ook gebly het op Fort Beaufort, groot hek vir fietse, braai plek en ys geen probleem
Mooi trippie dankie vir die deel

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Offline GeenSand

Re: Four days and 10 Eastern Cape dirt passes
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2021, 09:32:44 am »
My friend in somerset just send me this...
Take nothing but photos
Leave nothing but tracks
Kill nothing but time
 

Offline Ri

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Re: Four days and 10 Eastern Cape dirt passes
« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2021, 02:14:11 pm »
How hot is this area in December?
 

Offline edgy

Re: Four days and 10 Eastern Cape dirt passes
« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2021, 02:17:20 pm »
How hot is this area in December?
Its pretty hot there...upper 30`s quite easily!
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Offline GeelKameel

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Re: Four days and 10 Eastern Cape dirt passes
« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2021, 02:40:39 pm »
How hot is this area in December?
Op ons trip was dit 40C op die tweede dag.
Normaalweg 30 tot 35C op die vlaktes, bebosde dele voel biki koeler.
Drink genoeg water en stop gereeld, dan is die hitteprobleem heel hanteerbaar
« Last Edit: July 22, 2021, 02:45:05 pm by GeelKameel »
 

Offline Ri

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Re: Four days and 10 Eastern Cape dirt passes
« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2021, 07:04:28 pm »
How hot is this area in December?
Its pretty hot there...upper 30`s quite easily!

Eish... is it humid or hot and dry? I get nosebleeds in the Karoo at those temps, but it's very dry in the Karoo.


How hot is this area in December?
Op ons trip was dit 40C op die tweede dag.
Normaalweg 30 tot 35C op die vlaktes, bebosde dele voel biki koeler.
Drink genoeg water en stop gereeld, dan is die hitteprobleem heel hanteerbaar

Dankie. Ek wil lankal die Ooskaap verken, maar ek gaan eers in Desember geleentheid hê daarvoor.
Ek ry altyd met 'n water "bladder", ek vergeet net om van die ding te drink :lol8:
 

Offline GeelKameel

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Re: Four days and 10 Eastern Cape dirt passes
« Reply #15 on: July 22, 2021, 07:24:55 pm »
Julle kon by my ook gebly het op Fort Beaufort
Ai man, baie dankie, ongelukkig nie geweet van jou!
Wanneer ek weer daarlangs ry.....

Sien jou Messages, ek het jou n boodskap gestuur.

Ek was in 2010 daar in FB om te kyk hoe dit lyk waar ek grootgeword het. Die plaas en die dorp en omgewing.
Van daardie trip het ek ook 'n storie geskryf en op die BMWMCCC se Forum gelaai.
Daardie Forum bestaan ongelukkig nie meer nie, Die webmasters wat dit toegemaak het, het 'n  Faceboek tipe plek geskep met 'n Argief met al die 400+ tripreporte. Ongelukkig geen moeite gedoen daarmee en baie trip reporte het hul formaat verloor, onder andere my 2010 storie "Baie Jare Later" Die teks is daar maar geen fotos.
Miskien moet ek daardie storie ook hier laai (al is dit 11 jaar later....)
« Last Edit: July 22, 2021, 09:40:02 pm by GeelKameel »
 

Offline Dustbiter

Re: Four days and 10 Eastern Cape dirt passes
« Reply #16 on: July 23, 2021, 07:53:33 am »
Baie dankie vir die deel, GeelKameel.

Really brings back many happy memories of travelling in that area - my "backyard" for many years!
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Offline Vaufi

Re: Four days and 10 Eastern Cape dirt passes
« Reply #17 on: July 28, 2021, 03:00:08 pm »
Very nice RR. Brings back memories.... Pity you took the N10 on the way back to PE - instead on the R335 you missed the little known Suurberg Pass and the little Doringnek near Addo.

Thx for sharing.

PS: I just saw you had decided against the Suurberg Pass. I suppose after the three days of dirt the tarmac was more than welcome  8)
« Last Edit: July 28, 2021, 04:01:54 pm by Vaufi »
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Offline GeelKameel

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Re: Four days and 10 Eastern Cape dirt passes
« Reply #18 on: August 01, 2021, 12:29:20 pm »
Very nice RR. Brings back memories....
PS: I just saw you had decided against the Suurberg Pass. I suppose after the three days of dirt the tarmac was more than welcome  8)
We were running bit late and Zuurberg being close to PE, we decided to do that detour another day. Besides, we have all done the Zuurberg before.
Dec'19 my son-law and myself did the Zuurberg again. Like so many Eastern Cape passes, one can ride them over and over again, enjoying it each time.

The Dec'19 Zuurberg ride:
http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=246935.0