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Offline Yefimovich²

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Lesotho - Solo Ninja Training..
« on: January 06, 2009, 11:38:13 am »
Its baffling how, the moment I so much as see a photograph of a mountain range and particularly a mountain pass I’m overwhelmed with an immense sense of yearning and a terrible longing, the call I feel for the mountains has to a primal one. Perhaps my soul resides somewhere deep in a mountain range and the only time I can have some sense of purpose and a feeling of being whole is when I’m exploring them.

So as with most aspects of my life, thorough ride planning has never been a strong suite of mine, therefore its should come as no surprise that the simple act of rereading Groenies ride report changed my ride to Mozambique to a ride to Lesotho. I hastily bought an AA motoring map of Lesotho, built some Pooratech Panniers and Fitted a Dunlop D606 tyre. On the Thursday before my departure I loosely planned a route, to enter Lesotho at Ficksburg, ride to Katse, then follow the roads vaguely aiming for Sani Top. Attention would be paid to getting there, accommodation etc, as and when the need arises.

I would be carrying 10L of Fuel along to compensate for my terrible habit of badly timing my fuel stops, surprisingly they became essential through no fault of my own! Also, I had installed 12V outlets to my XT for a small air compressor and cell phone charger, I also packed spare tubes and some tools.


The Branding!  :o

My Sparkly new Pooratech Poverty Series ™ XT ™
They would prove to be single use, disposable panniers!

After leaving Pretoria at about 07H00 and an absolutely tedious ride on the N3, then on to Kestel, Bethlehem, past Fouriesburg and on to Ficksburg I finally reached the border at about 12H00, stopping numerous times for fuel, smoking, drinking etc.


One of the Fuel Stops



My first glimpse of the Mountains, Oh joy! It really is amazing, the sight of the glorious mountain ranges immediately stripped away the tedium of the journey thus far and I could feel myself slipping into journey/holiday mode, the memories of monotony and tedium of the capital slowly starting to fade.

My border experience was surprisingly painless, quick efficient service! I was quite amused at the “Toll” gate upon entry into Lesotho, a little structure with the immense barring power of a boom which was apparently permanently in the open position, no matter, I was in the Mountain Kingdom! I paid the R20.00 with a Huge Smile on my face, I had arrived, its here!


At the Border.

I then slowly made my way through the little border town of Maputsoe and turned toward Leribe. Here I struggled a little to find an ATM, which I eventually found at the local Shoprite! With a fist full of cash and an incredible feeling of anticipation I hit the road following the road signs toward Katse Dam.

I was stopped at a jolly roadblock, complete with fast food vendor, where I was asked to produce my license, my first reaction was “Run!” but I realised that I did in fact have one and even more surprisingly I had it on me. Crisis in a Lesotho prison averted!

The road from Leribe wasn’t flat for long and soon I was enjoying long, sweeping bends, growing steadily steeper, the sweeps starting to alternate with the odd hairpin, heaven! I then sped through a village (I think it was called Pitseng?) in a valley, rounded a mountainous corner and voila!, I was at the foot of  the most spectacular tarred pass id ever seen!

With a light heart and a heavy hand I started the climb! I nearly overcooked it on one occasion when some loose gravel in the apex had me clutching my heart. Periodically the steel tips of my boots would kiss the tarmac, like a kick in the head this would bring me to my senses and I would approach the next couple of corners with a little more restraint, inevitably the child that I am would overpower the adult that I pretend to be and I’d be back to boot scraping madness!

I got a little worried that the brakes may start fading and get me into real trouble, so I stopped for a ciggy (or maybe I just wanted to have a smoke and used the brakes to justify it to myself) and a few Pictures:


I adored the endless waterfalls all over the place!!




Self-Timer at work, note the Hair has gone!!



I eventually rode on, grinning all the way like a Hobo who had found the secret to turning leaves in to banknotes, taking it all in: the breathtaking, bite-the-back-of-your-hand beautiful views, the refreshing mountain air, the steadily dropping climate while the sun blazed down upon me! Magnificent! I stopped again for some photo’s, leaving the road and riding up a little hill on the side of the road:





I continued the climb, still smiling, and eventually reached what appeared to be the peak of the pass. I hastily stopped and pulled off to the side of the road once more to catch a glimpse of the road that had given me so much pleasure and taken me and the XT higher than we had been before:






Posing Again! Tsk tsk!

I felt a little foolish when I eventually started riding again and came across a view point! Oh well!  :biggrin:





More to Follow...
« Last Edit: January 06, 2009, 07:03:21 pm by Yefimovich »
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Offline EtienneXplore

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Re: Lesotho - Solo Ninja Training..
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2009, 11:47:54 am »
Flippin AWESOME Dude !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


 :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:


Offline GG

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Re: Lesotho - Solo Ninja Training..
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2009, 12:24:49 pm »
I think there are serious commercial opportunities in selling those panniers - but they must come with the graffitti  ;D

Nice!
 

Offline LeonDude

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Re: Lesotho - Solo Ninja Training..
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2009, 12:28:49 pm »
Great stuff man. Come on post the rest!
Great news, my book 'Sniffer' has seen the light of day on Amazon Kindle!
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Check out my website for free short stories!
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Offline Yefimovich²

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Re: Lesotho - Solo Ninja Training..
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2009, 01:03:53 pm »
Once at the top the signs warn of steepness, oooh! I was caught quite unawares by the immensely steep downhills, resulting in me inevitably going slightly too fast, luckily the roads were just about abandoned. I then toned my hanging on to the throttle considerably and settled to trundling along, in gear (sometimes) on a closed throttle, allowing gravity to unleash full throttle on me! This resulted in a much more relaxed ride, less noise, allowing me time to appreciate the surroundings once more.

This section of road also gave me an introduction to the locals, CaMojo had warned me of children flinging rocks at riders, I waved at all of them as I went past and was only struck twice! Not bad going then as I had prepared myself for a biblical stoning and I had planned to buy a large bag of sweets to throw at them but inevitably I had forgotten to do so!

I kept climbing and descending until I spotted what I thought was the start of Katse Dam, I may be wrong though, its really spectacular none the less!





I didn’t take many photographs of this section for fear of being swarmed by the locals. On one occasion a young girl and her friends approached me and I politely greeted them, upon which she said to me, “Give me Sweets” to which I replied, “I don’t Have” she then  proceeded to rattle off a shopping list starting with “Money” going on to “Whatever you have” I once again told her that I didn’t have anything to give her, she then gestured toward the camera hanging around my neck with a cheery “Ca-meh-rah”, needless to say this was my last stop in the presence of the locals!

The road leading towards the dam wall is wonderful, a good surface and in the late afternoon light I was constantly in and out of the shadow of a huge mountain which the road snakes along the bottom of, feeling like a naughty rat running along the skirting board of a giants house, some perspective then, occasionally catching a glimpse of the gargantuan dam! I was truly happy, the sun was on its last legs and I decided to see if I could find a place to overnight at, at the Dam. Stopping at the dam, I felt I had rewarded myself. Today, on this road, in this country, I felt a god amongst men!

Some Photos of the Dam:




At the Orion Katse Lodge I got a room for the night at R400.00, in the Hostel-like main building overlooking the dam. I unpacked the bike and fell asleep on the bed only to wake up at 01H30 the next morning, pretty pooped then, it has to be said that I had overdone things a little the night before my departure!


The Room,

Understandably I was awake way before most of the other patrons and I had a reflective ciggy overlooking the beautifully calm and reflective surface of the dam. I haven’t had such a fulfilling few minutes in a very long time, able to push aside the constant bombardment we face in the times in which we live, able to process and make peace with the happenings of what has been an extremely challenging and taxing year and concentrate on the shining, joyous beacon of light that is the start of the gravel roads towards Thaba-Tseka.

Some of the Dam:







After a hearty, if expensive (R100), breakfast I slowly repacked the XT and headed out, following the road signs towards Thaba-Tseka and the start of the gravel. And there it was!





These roads were spectacular! The surface was good and it afforded me security enough to have some fun, long fast sweeps, little hills, big hills, the occasional hairpin! Absolute, unadulterated heaven! The road was however consistently top-trumped in the magnificence department by the surroundings! The views aren’t breathtaking, there’s a gangtersim quality in the effect they have on you, they rob you of your preconceptions of majesty and magnificence and simply force themselves on you, leaving you gasping for breath and lost for words!














« Last Edit: January 06, 2009, 08:27:45 pm by Yefimovich »
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Offline Malibu

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Re: Lesotho - Solo Ninja Training..
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2009, 01:20:49 pm »
OMG!  You look blimming fantastic with the new haircut!   :thumleft:  Does your helmet still fit?

And a huge  :thumleft: for a super RR! 
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Offline ActionAnt

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Re: Lesotho - Solo Ninja Training..
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2009, 02:11:00 pm »
Great RR!
Any stone-throwing incidents?
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Offline Tr0jan

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Re: Lesotho - Solo Ninja Training..
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2009, 02:14:34 pm »
OMG!  You look blimming fantastic with the new haircut!   :thumleft:  Does your helmet still fit?

And a huge  :thumleft: for a super RR! 

HAHA, het gewonder wie is in die foto... ;D
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Offline bmad

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Re: Lesotho - Solo Ninja Training..
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2009, 02:49:32 pm »
Great RR!
Any stone-throwing incidents?

ha ha, someone only looks at the pictures  :imaposer:

 :peepwall:

Yefimovich, this is an awesome report  :thumleft:

I love your writing style, very comical (in a dry sense) and entertaining.
Thanks for taking us along. looking forward to the rest.

 :biggrin:
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Offline MrBig

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Re: Lesotho - Solo Ninja Training..
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2009, 02:50:52 pm »
Man that looks like a lekker ride!
Good report as always - thanks.

Is the new haircut to match your hands?   :peepwall:
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Offline Yefimovich²

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Re: Lesotho - Solo Ninja Training..
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2009, 03:11:54 pm »
Thus far I had been riding on what felt like the plateau, the road rising and falling ever so slightly. Suddenly I started quite a descent into the valley bellow and crossed my first river (on a bridge) On the other side the climb started again, I was blown away by the road rising alongside the river snaking far below. This set the trend for the next section of road all the way to Mokhotlong. The rises also got higher and higher, allowing me to catch a glimpse of where I had come from, a speck of a road far, far below in the valley! The huge river far below was starting to look like a little stream! I was struggling to process the bombardment my senses were under, even here, now, writing this i'm left flabbergasted, I shall attempt to let the photographs do the area justice!































When I told people I would be carrying extra fuel, I was told it wasn’t necessary and I was just wasting space and adding weight. Well, HA-HA! The plan was to refuel in Mokhotlong and the bike died as I rode into the, for want of a better word, filling station. I was then told they only had diesel! Out of the pooratech comes the petrol, no problem, I was extremely pleased with myself! Incidentally the other station I found was also out of petrol! The alternative, having to push or beg for petrol, would have put a huge dampener on what had been an extraordinary day.

The clouds had been brewing for the last few kilometers before my arrival in Mokhotlong and upon leaving back the way I had come to take the road to sani, it started raining relatively hard! Oh joy! It was actually a lot less unpleasant than what I had imagined it would be! The first part of the road to Sani is yet more mountain pass, although here you don’t get the views of the mountain ranges, you get a view of the next, even bigger mountain you’re about to ride up the side of! Unfortunately I didn’t get many photo’s of this road as I was trying to make decent time before the storm really came, a round of fisticuffs with the mud monster here would probably have resulted in me being found years later at the bottom of a gorge! After the spectacular climbs and descents the rain subsided a little and the road met up with the river once more and followed it for many beautiful kilometers! I couldn’t help wondering that the rain was payback for me writing “All Mountains Are Poofters” on the side of my panniers, lesson learned, I say!

The Surface of the riverside road was getting quite rough, rocky and slippery, giving me a scare or two along the way.  A had quite a brown moment when, the road surface was pretty good I started pushing quite hard and as I crested a little rise I was greeted with a river crossing the road! I wasn’t certain how deep it would be, so I performed what must have been a spectacular, shouty, panicky emergency stop! It turned out to be very shallow, probably from the current rains, this was the first of numerous stream crossings en route to Sani.


The Mountains we very angry with me indeed!





















The Road rose once more and started descending onto what appeared to be an open plain, however, this decent wasn’t as rosy as all the others had been, the surface was badly broken, rutted and strewn with slippery rocks, my panniers were fast detaching themselves, quite hard work! All the while the rain fell ever so gently reminding me of my grave error, at the bottom of the pass the road was flat, the surface was good and I pushed hard trying to outrun the now inevitable storm to come! Before I knew it I was surrounded by thick mist, this slowed me down somewhat. I pushed on, as fast as I dared and before I knew it Sani Top!





I think the mountains must have sensed my regret and heard my muffled, foot shuffling, apology, because upon my arrival the heavens really opened, rain in buckets, hail in supertankers! Phew! Was I glad to be at the Sani Top Lodge, I would spend the night here, entertained by the German backpackers, dozing by the fireplace! A day truly worth remembering!












I was following in the footsteps of the Brazilian XT600 club and many many wilddogs, I salute you brethren!







More to Follow….
« Last Edit: January 06, 2009, 03:14:36 pm by Yefimovich »
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Offline IceCreamMan

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Re: Lesotho - Solo Ninja Training..
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2009, 03:23:27 pm »
Excellent  :thumleft: :thumleft:
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Offline Cave Girl

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Re: Lesotho - Solo Ninja Training..
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2009, 03:44:32 pm »
Brilliant report and great pic's thanks!!
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Offline The TRANSPORTER

Re: Lesotho - Solo Ninja Training..
« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2009, 05:14:52 pm »
Very very nice stranger....... :thumleft: :thumleft:

Believe me that nice smooth roads could change into "snot" very quickly....... :thumleft: :ricky: :ricky:
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Offline TerrorSA

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Re: Lesotho - Solo Ninja Training..
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2009, 05:46:20 pm »
Thank you so much with sharing your trip with us, you have taken great pics :thumleft:
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Offline LouisXander

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Re: Lesotho - Solo Ninja Training..
« Reply #15 on: January 06, 2009, 06:04:09 pm »
Fokkit, jy lyk funny sonder die hare broer!!!

Mooi report en awesome photos!!!!
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Offline Yefimovich²

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Re: Lesotho - Solo Ninja Training..
« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2009, 06:25:36 pm »
The storm was tremendous and I heard from the barman that four locals had been killed when a colossal lightning bolt had struck their hut! Quite a shocker! The morning dawned cold, wet and extremely windy.  The manager had allowed me to pull the XT into the courtyard formed by the two wings of the main building, judging by the way it was swaying it back and forth on the stand, thank goodness I had thought to ask him, wouldn’t have been pleasant to wake up to find my lady upturned and soaking!

I was tremendously excited about going down Sani Pass, expecting it to be a defining moment in my life! I quickly repacked the bike and made my way down the hill to the border post, the bored looking official grunted in response to my perhaps overtly jovial “good morning” and stamped my passport without looking up from whatever he was doing (pornography presumably) and I was on my way!





The Sani Pass to come:









Nothing could have prepared me for the Sani pass, I had a very different picture in my mind, half expecting a slightly rocky and bumpy mountain pass! Pah! The previous nights’ heavy rain had washed away a lot of the surface and left only slippery rocks which tugged and pushed the front wheel left or right, coupled with the fact that I was going down the pass, constantly checking the speed so I don’t “run away” and end up at the bottom of the pass without actually using the pass, made it quite a tricky and demanding ride. About a quarter of the way down I lost the battle and toppled over, I made a valiant (probably comical) attempt at staying upright but eventually succumbed to the invitingly rocky surface!



Regardless of the relatively hard work, this has to be one of the most stunning passes around, in between fighting the XT, I nearly fell off at the sheer magnificence of the road, the beauty that surrounds it and the challenge of riding it!














Note the taxi half way up! What a testament to the toughness of these vehicles, up and down the Sani Pass all day everyday!



About halfway down I stopped to have a ciggy after all me hard work, I suddenly heard the unmistakable rumble of fellow comrades on motorcycles!







It was CaMoJo, whom I’d met in Runner’s shop on Friday, and company coming up the pass! The first like minded people I had met in days, they stopped for a smoke and we shared a quick chat, the TransAlp was sounding a little sick and I do hope it made it up the pass’ steeper bits further up! I relished meeting these guys, and sharing a smidgeon of each others’ journey, this is one of the reasons why I love riding, meeting people and within minutes sharing stories, experiences and advice, cutting the bullshit, as if we’re family!



The bottom half of the pass was awesome! Challenging but a lot less steep so the throttle could do a little talking and fun was had by all! The 4x4ists really got my blood boiling when I met them coming the other way, sticking to their lines even if it meant I had to pass them on the far right hand side of the road!

Some more Photo’s:











All too soon I had reached the Border, once again the re-entry was quick and painless and I was soon on my way again, the stretch from the border is more or less the same as the last stretch in Lesotho, utterly joyous!!



Last Shot of the Mountain Kingdom, I felt I owed this country so much after all the pleasure it had given me in the last 48hours, the stone throwers were a little disconcerting, but I think I’ve worked out why they do it: they’re peeved because they were born in one of the best riding countries in the world without a motorcycle, now that’s enough to drive anyone to stone lobbing!


The Border




Now I’ve also got one of these!



The road then flattened out and the surface became hard-packed once more affording me the chance to open the XT up a little for the first time in a while, until I got stuck behind this Douche on an XT660R, if its you, I apologize, but on Monday the 22nd of  December I wanted to murder you! By the way, I’ve always maintained it to be good etiquette not to pass a fellow dirt rider without their say so, call me old fashioned!




I needed to get to Himeville to get some fuel and to have my, by now, very broken panniers seen to. I was planning to turn around and do it all again in reverse but I had to get home before Christmas due to some unforeseen circumstances.  In Himeville I met a guy on a F650GS having his clutch lever repaired at the local auto shop/Yamaha dealer, I duly joined the queue, and soon enough the owner gave me some capscrews of the precise length and the correct allen key! Problem solved! Thanks a million! I then proceeded to the Himmeville arms to pay my bill from Sani Top and on to Underberg, Bulwer, past pietermritzberg to Mooirivier. These roads are also extremely scenic and contain many fast sweeps and the occasional off camber corner, however it all paled in comparison to the mountain kingdom, knowing that I wouldn’t see it for quite some time was like being forced to leave the love of your life, however much you want to stay, I had to leave!







I followed the road, going through one tedious little town after another, heading in the general direction of the GoldenGate National Park where I had planned to stay the night before heading back to Pretoria the following day. On the road between Bergville and Harrismith I was passed by some idiot cager who, as soon as he had passed me, slowed down to 100kph, this really got me going! He then suddenly turned off, without indicating! I stopped and turned around (to go and give him a piece of my mind, naturally) and saw that he had turned into the road leading to an ATKV resort, the anger ebbed away and I decided to spend the night there, those places are always fun!

I loved the caravaners, with their little homes away from home, getting horribly drunk in the rain! They were terribly fascinated with me and my baaik and laughed at my tiny tent! I proceeded to get myself accidentally inebriated (it happens, seriously) and had a wonderful nights sleep surrounded by these jolly folk! Highly recommended!


12V’s in Action!


The Tent that I was laughed at for owning.






My protégé!

The next morning I made a run for Clarens to go and see what all the hype was about and buy something for my pillion, riding past the famously windy Sterkfontein Dam, the GoldenGate and the pass within was breathtaking and the little child within that I thought I had tired out in Lesotho came running to the fore once more!






The GoldenGate.


I nearly fell off when I spotted the Famous KTM recovery vehicle!!


Clarens is a quant little town filled to the brim with Yuppies and art galleries!

On the return journey through the Park, just beyond the pass, I spotted this sign:



Now, when I was in Runners’ store he told me about a road running from, I suppose, roughly here and running to Kestel, the lightbulbs flashed bright! Whoo-hoo! What a glorious stretch of road! A relatively steep climb followed by a wonderfully surfaced road rising and falling in time with the rolling hills, spotting the occasional Zebra, one or two water crossing and eventually meeting up with the tarmac just outside Kestel! What a treasure! What a parting Gift!

















Hereafter it was with a heavy heart that I mounted the blacktop once more, wending my way to Harrismith and then the N3 back to Pretoria.  Lesotho and to a much lesser extent natal and the freestate had given me so much over the past four days that it was with an even heavier heart (and sore bum it has to be said) that I arrived back home, forced to go back to dreaming of breaking away to the great unknown, the rolling hills, towering mountains and above all the glorious dirt roads that makes adventure motorcycling the best form of traveling in existence! Yes my XT was uncomfortable, yes, it isn’t the fastest machine in the world, yes, half the time I had no idea where I was, but boy oh boy did I build memories, ones that will remain with me forever, hopefully ill be able to build upon these in the very near future!

The End. :P
« Last Edit: January 06, 2009, 06:38:59 pm by Yefimovich »
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Offline Smithey

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Re: Lesotho - Solo Ninja Training..
« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2009, 07:28:17 pm »
Someone skinhead stole Yefi's bike  :imaposer:

Great ride and report dude  :thumleft:
 

Offline Hondsekierie

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Re: Lesotho - Solo Ninja Training..
« Reply #18 on: January 06, 2009, 08:13:50 pm »
Thanks for sharing, I really enjoyed it and hope to see more RR's from you in future - what a pleasure O0

Just love your writing style and free adventurous spirit :thumleft:

Solo is the way to go
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more"
 

Offline Jovan

Re: Lesotho - Solo Ninja Training..
« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2009, 08:34:57 pm »
awesome RR yefi, cant wait to do it myself