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Author Topic: Mixing Oil & Water = Pongola 500 + KTM 890R  (Read 1482 times)

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Re: Mixing Oil & Water = Pongola 500 + KTM 890R
« Reply #20 on: October 27, 2021, 07:00:59 pm »

I was beginning to feel the effects of the morning thus far. A warning I failed to heed. I opted to rather attempt to remedy my rapidly dwindling energy with simultaneous mouthfuls of biltong, chocolate and jelly babies all washed down with copious quantities of energy drinks. Refilled my 3l camelback – the first of 3 refills. On a km/l basis my bike was almost more economical that I was, and the worst by far was yet to come.

Suitably convinced I had done all I could to re-energise, I fired up my ever willing 890 which at this point felt like an oversize Rottweiler straining at its leash paying scant regard to the choke chains’ best efforts to restrain it, dragging all and sundry along (it must be all those Rottweiler parts my KTM890 pathfinder Noneking keeps recommending – and I sheepishly keep adding to my bike).

Oh shit, what the hell was I doing. With increasing mix of trepidation and excitement I set off, needing to make the halfway mark before the cut-off time of 11h30 beyond which we would be barred from the rest of the red route. This could not occur, I had come all this way primarily to ride the route, but equally to do the 40km in the Mkuze riverbed, which was right at the end. Well….not quite. More on that later!
Shortly after leaving I stated noticing dust being thrown up by the bikes in front. Things were drying out, the mud would diminish. Excellent! My relief would be short lived. What I failed to take cognisance of was the complete vaporization of the any semblance of cloud cover. It was getting hot. Very hot!


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Re: Mixing Oil & Water = Pongola 500 + KTM 890R
« Reply #21 on: October 28, 2021, 10:24:51 am »
Riding the backpaths toward Tembe elephant reserve
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Re: Mixing Oil & Water = Pongola 500 + KTM 890R
« Reply #22 on: October 28, 2021, 01:24:45 pm »
The route threaded its way between two lakes along the banks of the Pongola River. Magnificent country tracks linked by cattle paths and other single track. As a bonus the mud was hardening. And then . .. . . .

On receiving the tracks a few days before the ride, I downloaded them and tried to squeeze as much data as is possible to plan my ride – FAT CHANCE. However, my various maps, Google Earth and other sources indicated that areas would be tough, labels like “4wd drive required” was amongst those, and the track we were to follow left this 4wd only track and headed into the bush!. They may as well have put “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!” across the start line and leave it at that. I was about to innocently cross the point of no return.
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Re: Mixing Oil & Water = Pongola 500 + KTM 890R
« Reply #23 on: October 28, 2021, 01:38:05 pm »
As soon as we were directed off the track, if it qualified as a track, clearly indicating 4wd required, we hit sand, and lots of it. As a rather infamous event medic would have put it, just 300m of sand - 300m deep!

Now I know sand can be conquered with speed. However, there are a few aspects that get in the way of this, firstly you need to get up to speed. Secondly, whilst all instinctive reactions are screaming at you to slow down, your training is telling you to keep going faster, causing a huge dilemma at just around your right wrist.

When I was able to get the message through to the throttle, get the speed-up, the track would throw a corner in the way, options are slow down to execute the required turn, bash on straight - hope to miss whatever is in the way until you can stop, or just lay the bike down. I used all the options, often not exclusively. I also discovered that an open full face helmet make an exceptionally effective emergency brake. Particularly when hooking the open part in the sand.

Now I know Dallie and the other mannne wat ken, will drive the bike through the corner like a jet ski. I tried often and discovered that my memory may be fading, but all those old injuries have memories of their own and they remain as sharp as ever.

Eventually, i made i to the fence line of the Tembe Elephant park. Stopped in the shade to slurp out litres 5 - 6 of the day, and muster the strength to head on.
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Re: Mixing Oil & Water = Pongola 500 + KTM 890R
« Reply #24 on: October 28, 2021, 01:40:34 pm »
Fantastic RR, I am in all the way.
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Re: Mixing Oil & Water = Pongola 500 + KTM 890R
« Reply #25 on: October 28, 2021, 03:33:55 pm »
Time to hit the turn and get back to riding.
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Re: Mixing Oil & Water = Pongola 500 + KTM 890R
« Reply #26 on: October 28, 2021, 03:35:05 pm »
Apologies for the double photo - recollection of events has me fumbling my keyboard.
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Re: Mixing Oil & Water = Pongola 500 + KTM 890R
« Reply #27 on: October 28, 2021, 03:39:20 pm »
Now things were looking up. A STRAIGHT, albeit very sandy track all the way to the Moz border. I quickly got on the gas, vetoing all protestations from old injuries, rational adjudication of the implications, and plain old common sense.
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Re: Mixing Oil & Water = Pongola 500 + KTM 890R
« Reply #28 on: October 28, 2021, 03:43:22 pm »
The fence, or more specifically rather sturdy fence poles on my right were of concern. Hitting one of them at the 80 – 100kkm/h, the speed that seemed optimum on this track, would be something of a show stopper. The left hand spoor had tree branches that seemed very lonely and kept tugging at my arm to get me to join them. Another wrinkle in the system is that it seems that the race rats up ahead either found it tricky to remain in a straight stripe, or they were revelling in the joy of being freed to abuse their throttles to the max. They were laying intricate zigzag tracks all the way. These even at reasonable speed kept threatening to tuck my front wheel under my bike.
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Re: Mixing Oil & Water = Pongola 500 + KTM 890R
« Reply #29 on: October 28, 2021, 03:45:17 pm »
UP, was my theme for this section – stand UP, open UP, look Up – Up worked for me.

Eventually spitting me out into the Moz border fence, a 90 degree turn and heavy wooden boom across the road.
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Re: Mixing Oil & Water = Pongola 500 + KTM 890R
« Reply #30 on: October 28, 2021, 04:24:10 pm »
Strangely even riding in a straight line was exhausting. I stopped on the border line, made the 90 degree turn to head East and contemplated the boom across the road. Whichever Einstein constructed this had omitted to consider putting on a counter weight to the boom!

Here I am, hot as hades, humidity way off any semblance of acceptability, 300m of sand – soft all the way to the bottom, a motorcycle needing more hands than I had to get it moving forward AND a boom that needed to be held open.

It was not like one could just hold the boom up with one hand and move on through using your other hand, or quickly scuttle under it before it crushed your skull. IDIOTS!

Scratching around I found that they had followed the work ethic adhered to in most of SA inc, and left their off cuts right where they had cut them. Gathering a few of these, I was able to construct a way to hold the boom open sufficiently to get myself and bike through the boom. However, doing so in boots and soft sand was exhausting.

The track along the border was sublime. I got lulled into a false sense of security and ending up going far too fast, crested a dune only to be faced with what looked like the unfortunate field that had hosted the battle of the Somme! A troop of 4x4’s had clearly tried to come up the face of the dune and got stuck, whereupon they had sat on their accelerators churning up massive cross axle holes all the way down the face of the dune.

Standing hard on my rear brake had my back end coming round to both check that I was still there and swinging to the other side to crap on me from that side. Somehow between the back-end chastisement, the field of craters, steep descent and all the travel my suspension was able to give me I popped out on the other side, and had a somewhat more subdued ride for the rest of the way.

Along the Thembe fence was the most magnificent elephant bull I have ever seen, with long swooping tusks ambling along the fence. Regrettably at this stage I did not have the energy to stop and take a photo, would have lost it anyway along with my phone still wandering the Makhathini flats. We greeted on another and both went on our respective ways.

My bliss on this track was rudely terminated. The route forced us onto yet another snaking, winding, deep rutted track with 300m deep sand under it. All the way to Manguzi. To be fair, it probably was a perfectly fine track, but I was well beyond the task at this point.
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Re: Mixing Oil & Water = Pongola 500 + KTM 890R
« Reply #31 on: October 29, 2021, 09:04:51 am »
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/bQ5xggFq02Y" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/bQ5xggFq02Y</a>

A section of the fence line, which looks positively tame versus how I remember it.
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Re: Mixing Oil & Water = Pongola 500 + KTM 890R
« Reply #32 on: October 29, 2021, 09:08:42 am »
Awesome Boris!
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Re: Mixing Oil & Water = Pongola 500 + KTM 890R
« Reply #33 on: October 29, 2021, 09:08:56 am »
brilliant descriptions! keep it up
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Re: Mixing Oil & Water = Pongola 500 + KTM 890R
« Reply #34 on: November 03, 2021, 12:28:22 pm »
The tight track, deep ruts and 300m deep sand were not responding well to the heat, which meant I was in survival mode. Fighting my way along the track was exhausting, regularly having to catch the bike as the front wheel went on its own mission. I started weighing up the energy required to catch the bike and wrestle it back upright versus just falling over and picking it up as to which was the lesser of two evils.

After what seemed to be an eternity I washed up in Manguzi, at the halfway mark. Surprisingly arriving with an hour to spare before the cutoff time. Any aspirations of smugness were immediately extinguished when I learnt the group in front of me were an hour ahead.
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Re: Mixing Oil & Water = Pongola 500 + KTM 890R
« Reply #35 on: November 03, 2021, 12:29:49 pm »
I rolled to a halt in front of the shop near the petrol pumps. Found a spot just within the shade to park and proceeded to roll off my bike and against the wall of the shop. Stipped off all I could, within the parameters of decency – albeit anything other than cooling down was far from my mind. There I sat. Literally. Vaguely conscious of the world around me, cars coming and going, petrol attendant rushing from car to car, the odd beggar – probably assessing if I was in any state to resist a smash and grab move on their behalf. I was not, these activities formed a blurred backdrop to a semi-comatose state as I willed some life back into my body.
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Re: Mixing Oil & Water = Pongola 500 + KTM 890R
« Reply #36 on: November 03, 2021, 12:30:42 pm »
After about 15min, I managed to get a few energy bars down and the last glugs  of water that I had in my camelback. It took me another 15min to be able to stand up and buy another 6 liters of water and 4 Super M’s – chocolate milk to the rescue! In my cycling days, we figured out that chocolate milk was an amazingly effective recovery drink. Let's hope it had not lost its magic.
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Re: Mixing Oil & Water = Pongola 500 + KTM 890R
« Reply #37 on: November 03, 2021, 12:31:58 pm »
Surprisingly some semblance of life slowly crept back into my abused body. I could even go from seated to standing without getting too dizzy and the world dimming on me. Time to send a message to my wife. No phone! Bugger! This is where a Montana 700 comes into its own. I quickly typed a message that I was at the halfway mark, had lost my phone and was heading out. The Montana can send an SMS and email via its satellite link-up, very handy when you lose your riding mates in the middle of nowhere with no signal as we often did, and nice to know at the press of a button one can summon help. In the past we have battled to get the rescue service to our locations, even when you are able to send them a pin, which they generally disbelieve is accurate as there are no roads or any other form of civilization anywhere near – just as we like it. Until we need to casavac someone.
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Re: Mixing Oil & Water = Pongola 500 + KTM 890R
« Reply #38 on: November 03, 2021, 12:34:48 pm »
As I pulled out of the stop almost an hour later after having crawled in, a group of riders rolled in being hurried on by the team manning the table. The message was clear, better get a move on.

Rolling out of Manguzi I expected some forest track with difficult dunes as the route went past Mabibi. We had got stuck in those dunes in a 4x4 many years ago.

Initially, things went well, though the heat was still rising. I was subsequently told that this area has only two seasons, summer and Hell! I figured Hell had come early.

The twee spore tracks were treating me well. It was just the steeper sections where 4x4’s had done their cross axle fest going up that were causing me some grief. Then the twee spore track started to stutter, the incidences of tricky dunes increased, it was getting hotter, my Super M’s were waning.

An hour after leaving Manguzi, things were getting desperate in my domain. I needed some shade and recuperation. When I had mentioned I was going to give the Pongola 500 a try, a friend told me the previous year some riders came across a fellow rider lying in the road. Fearing the worst they approached him, asking if he was ok. On hearing the voices of others, his lifeless body moved, he lifted his head and said he was ok, but F*^$@d! And rolled over back into the sand. The memory of this tale at least brought a wry smile to my face, as I too dived under a bush and lay there for quite some time.
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Re: Mixing Oil & Water = Pongola 500 + KTM 890R
« Reply #39 on: November 03, 2021, 12:35:48 pm »
After probably a 10min power nap, I forced down another energy bar and drank 20 glugs of water. I had ridden 200km needing now over 10l of water. My 890 must have been chuckling at me, with similar consumption numbers.
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