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Offline wino

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Our Soma
« on: December 06, 2009, 12:12:11 pm »
What you are about to read is a work of fiction and imagination (except LS being abused by his pink mattress).

Day 1

The trip has been in the making for a while, with the usual fanfare of pre-trip discussions consisting of emails, beer, meetings, wine, sms’, beer, women (inserted for those who know about these things).

For my own part, everything was packed well in advance, with a repack due to excitement a few days before the start. The bike was given a once over and a pat on the behind … a few times.

Come Saturday, the day before the start, the rain pisses down, with no indication of a reprieve for the Sunday. Respect to the rest of the group: no sms coming through that we should wait a day. So, come Sunday, goodbyes to the wife and kid and off to meet up in Melkbos.

The rest of the group:
LS: tour guide; beer fetcher (the most honourable deed of the trip and well appreciated at the time); pink mattress abusee.
Butch: shafted (by bike); purple haze farter.
Sot: the ai (luidier); coffee maker; swirl drinker. (For an insight into the workings of this person, read Lyall Watson’s: The Secret Life of Inanimate Objects.)



The first leg of the rain trip up to Garies along the N7 is without incident, apart from the wet and wind.



I constantly think of the gravel road from Garies to Noup that lies ahead. I hope, that by some kind of happening, the gravel road is either bone dry or has in the meantime been tarred. Alas, my hope in vain. We are greeted by the mudmonster. It does not take long for me to surrender to its enticement and I slide the bike from one side to the opposite side of the road, deftly putting it down and graciously accepting defeat. Ok, so that is out of the way, we have established the order. No further need for power struggle.














At one point, I notice in the distance a black bundle. I strain my eyes, but cannot make out any movement and become somewhat worried. Definitely someone down, but I cannot rush as the mud does not allow for tricksssy riding. Eventually I reach the scene. Sot pulled a show of bravado upon himself, riding through a huge puddle and got pulled down to earth. The mud made it too difficult to pick the bike up himself, and after some fancy footwork we get it up.





I must admit, on this stretch I developed admiration for the X and the way LS handled the machine. There was just no comparison with the laden TA and me. But, Sot played his hand as well – crossing one particularly long stretch of puddle mud I notice an unwavering bike in my mirror, coming through with ease. I immediately think that it might be LS, only to be surprised by Sot, riding in trademark style with his bum way back on the back luggage. I can honestly say that there are only 2 persons that I regard as fusing with a bike: Welshman (probably due to superior weight compared with his bike) and Sot.

Arriving at our destination: breathless by the sheer ambience (I hope that this word is not regarded by some as the same as terroir) of the setting. Wet, but happy.


 

Offline wino

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Re: Our Soma
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2009, 12:13:34 pm »
Day 2



There is a bit of reluctance to leave, it is just such a magnificent spot. We could always stay the week and make up a ride report, complete with photoshopped pics.







Back to reality though, the first issue. No start for the katoom. After some fiddling with the battery, an observation is made that the side stand is still out; hence the bike would not start. Oh, what a joke (to be proven).



Next up, the X – no start. Some fiddling again with the battery, connectors and ‘ander goeters’ prove unsuccessful. Ok, so after a few hours we decide that the Everest principle is going to be applied, ie the bike and rider will be left behind.



A sad time, and we go back to the house for a last coffee, LS staying behind with his bike.



As I am sipping on my beverage, miraculously, the sound of the X! Ha! The earlier advice of throwing water on the machine, which only elicited some eye-under-the-brow responses did the trick! Smiles all around and we set off.

Eventually we reach Port Nolloth for fuel, after some faintly interesting mud patched gravel and a dead eye dick straight black top.













Then, back in country again and head up into the Richtersveld. Granted, we only do a small portion of the area, but I am blown away by the setting! The ride provides some twisties, sandy patches, muddy patches, high speed stretches, an ‘oh-my-!@#$-I’m going-down-hang-on-to-the-bars-take-me-no-I’m-too-young-you stupid speeding ignoramus’ section, against the changing backdrop of mountains, vlaktes and koppies.



















































Riding sweeper for a while, seeing the others in front I think that they must indeed be enjoying themselves, as well.

However, the last stretch through the mining area is a bit of a downer. It just paints an ugly scene to see the mining going on.

We are too late to cross the border and get the camping area to ourselves. A ripoff payment for the camping spot, though. If you ever buy goods at the local shop, try and enter into a conversation with the store manager and try and elicit more than singular ‘No’’s from her.










 

Offline wino

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Re: Our Soma
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2009, 12:14:31 pm »
Day 3







The proven joke. The katoom does not start. A call to Adventurer (thanks for the advice!), getting the batteries recharged does not provide a solution. So, after some phone calls, Butch gets sufficiently sorted in terms of outside help. Again, with heavy hearts, we are ready to say goodbyes.

LS donates the remaining whiskey and a long loved shirt:



We decide to go do the border formalities and then come say final goodbyes. These formalities take some time and as we get ready to walk down to say goodbye to Butch, the sound of a bike starting … the katoom! Once again, water thrown onto the machine did the trick.

Happiness all round, but still the nagging feeling that a decision needs to be made on whether Butch will go with the group, or whether he should rather look at other alternatives. Luckily, Butch pretty much made the decision himself, and I must say: Well done, Butch! In essence, he would cross the border with us, but go up to Rosh Pinah for pre-arranged support, we would go eastward along the river.













It is the first time that I experience the loss of a member of a tour party, and when I give him a final, sad wave, I could not help thinking whether we should not have stayed with him rather. This thought lingered over me pretty much for the rest of the trip.



Winding our way along the river, an easy ride as we do not have many k’s to cover for the day, since the visit to Brukkaros is mutually cancelled.

A german traveller:

























We eventually reach the Gamkab river, where we are to spend the night. Apart from a particularly sandy section that had me riding in all directions of the compass, the ride is not too difficult and we reach our spot.





















The German that we met earlier told us about a Spar close by, and LS decides to go do some shopping. He returns a bit later with some beers and other goods. One of the most memorable beers I’ve ever had.











LS decide to go public with his pink mattress.



A content man.




 

Offline wino

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Re: Our Soma
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2009, 12:15:25 pm »
Day 4

An early rise to watch the sun rise, and to get out of the canyon before the heat sets in.





The rest of the river bed and the exit route is a pleasure to ride.











Then it is onto the D316  to Ais-Ais for petrol, more than anything else.





















The road up to the Fish River Canyon is certainly not boring, as it winds its way through the koppies. Then, the canyon:



















The canyon itself is simply breathtaking, with the tuareg pushing the limits for artistic reasons.

From there we pass the well known Canon Roadhouse.



It is a few k’s thereafter that LS nearly gets bludgeoned by an ostrich running at great speed across the road. From my viewpoint, it looked comical, but I’m sure LS had a bit of moment there. Not long after, LS again escapes from wildlife when two bucks run across in front of him.

The road to Grünau is without incidence, apart from the fact that every few k’s we hit sandy spots to the degree that it becomes a bit monotonous.



Once at Grünau, we decide to have lunch and take stock of where we are heading.



Consensus is reached that ‘Warmbad’ sounds like a cool place, especially as the map indicated warm water springs. We head south. In Karasburg we stock up on some goods and head for Warmbad. LS decide it is time for some ‘me time’ and leaves us in a vapour while Sot and I merrily chug along.



Coming into Warmbad and seeing the resort in some contrast to the rest of the town: where are David Lynch and Bobby Peru?

There is a sad story behind all of this, but in brief the resort has just been renovated and was ready to be transferred to a buyer, when the buyer indicated that it cannot go ahead with the purchase. It has been awhile since and the resort has been lying dormant in the meantime. And the town suffers severely.



The entrance to the police station:







The resort:







Although the resort is closed, they do us a favour and let us rent the ‘huts’. I really don’t know what to call them. Each one contains only a stretcher.





After some relaxation, LS and I decide to follow Sot’s request to discover the nightlife of Warmbad. We head to a shebeen.



There is only one other person in the joint. As soon as Sot enters the door, the local points to him and exclaims: “BASTER!” I have always wondered about Sot’s pedigree, but it has now been settled by and expert witness.





We have a few beers and as the sun sets, some young girls and a guy hang around outside. I am not entirely sure what to make of it, for fear of stereotyping.



After a while we trudge back to the resort. Sot dishes up a foul looking dish of oiled tuna and smash – the oil was not removed. A good time to play the vegetarian card. LS hooks up the iPod and Afrikaans music gets the nods.
 

Offline wino

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Re: Our Soma
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2009, 12:16:58 pm »
Day 5

A bit overcast, but it makes for good riding conditions. The road to the Onseepkans border post, especially once you can see the mountains, is just spectacular.





























At the SA side of the border, Sot gently informs me to keep my cool – I have an intense dislike of bureaucratic displays of power. All’s well and we carry on, on the shittiest road of the whole trip. The sandy rattler. At one area a grader is at work, and I decide to ride in the part that has been graded. Bad mistake. The graded part consists of about 10cm deep of sand.











Eventually, what seemed like an hour of passing gall stones, we reach Pofadder. The KLR’s rear brakes (or rather the remaining metal – the pads are gone!) grip the disk. After a cooling off period, the calliper is disengaged and tied to the frame. A call is made to Groenie to bring some pads to the Bash. Thanks Groenie!



LS in one of his many human forms:



We then sink into the black top leading to Kuruman. UGH!

The only thing interesting on the road is the graffiti underneath these shelters. LS not impressed:



The road from the highway up to Augrabies falls provides a stark contrast between absolute green, lush vineyards and barren land.

We arrive at the resort and after some negotiation, it is decided that LS will share a bungalow, while Sot has his own. LS open the bungalow door … only a double bed is noticed. An awkward silence … LS jumps forward, lifts the duvet and finds that it is actually two single beds. Close call.

We check out the falls and treat ourselves to a good supper. We also find out that Butch is waiting in Springbok where someone will come pick him up.














 

Offline wino

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Re: Our Soma
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2009, 12:17:37 pm »
Day 6



Our first destination is Upington. The ride through the Kakamas area is at least a lot more interesting than I anticipated. We have breakfast in the Wimpy.





A woman overhears (probably listened intently) Sot’s situation with the brakes and points us to a motocycle mechanic in town. A quick call, he’s got some pads in stock. We spend a good 40min riding in a complete circle to try and locate the shop. It is getting hot and the traffic, although sparse compared to what we are generally accustomed to, irritates me.

What a nice guy and good setup. If ever you need assistance in the area, visit him.



LS has a private issue to attend to in Springbok and we split up. Sot and I eventually leave town and take the gravel route down to Groblershoop.

















Just before the town, we meet up again with LS and we ride the well trodden road to the Bash venue.

It is good to see some old friends again!
 

Offline wino

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Re: Our Soma
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2009, 12:18:10 pm »
Day 7

Bash day!




 

Offline wino

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Re: Our Soma
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2009, 12:19:09 pm »
Day 8

We ride out early and head out to Marydale for fuel, with the idea of going down to the Verneukpan area. Eisbein passes me on the gravel before Marydale – jeez, you do look comfortable on your machine zigzagging across the middelmannetjies!



No petrol in Marydale. We are running low and decide to nurture the bikes down to Prieska. Here, the suggestion is made to point the bikes home, especially since LS was getting seriously ‘homesick’. We decide to see how the day goes on, but at Three Sisters, we give our blessing for LS to speed along alone.

In front of the Apollo Theatre in Victoria West – to be closed down:





Laingsburg is where Sot and I decide to push through home. In Worcester we have a cup of coffee and say our goodbyes. It is good to be home.

Unofficially, the last part of the trip for me was the full body massage that my wife booked for me. A happy ending, indeed.

Butch’s journey

At Rosh Pinah, I gave the bike a good wash and promptly proceeded to get comfortably numb, feeling somewhat sorry for myself. Slept like a baby.
The next morning - bike won’t start, but I’m not surprised – this is what it’s been doing since the start of the trip. Won’t even jump start. The plan was to arrange transport for the bike back to Cape Town, and then head back home myself, but things happen at a different pace in Rosh. So in the mean time, Scrit’s brother arranged for everyone and anyone who knew something about bikes, to pop in and advise. Put the battery on charge, checked wires, cleaned contacts, you name it. No go. Until early evening, the n’th advisor tried a different method to jump start the bike – connect the + jumper to the copper bolt on the right-hand side of the bike, where all the wires connect, and the – jumber to any part of the motor, close to the left foot peg seemed like a good place. VOOOMM!!! I was so happy that I promptly proceeded to get comfortably numb, feeling less sorry for myself. Slept like a baby.
Early morning and the plan was to jump start the bike and head straight for Noordoewer, then cut across to the bash, staying on the main roads, just in case. Bike jump started without hesitation and off I went, following that beautiful stretch of road next to the Orange River. Stopped at Noordoewer to fill up, put key back into ignition – nothing! I know the drill by now, but wasn’t looking forward to doing it every time the bike is switched off. This time, not even the magic jump start method worked. Just nothing. The lady at the filling station was kind enough to let me store the bike in her lockup garage. New plan – fetch LS’ bakkie in Cape Town and come get the bike. It started to rain, again! Got a lift on the back of a bakkie to Springbok. Made a few phone calls. Mrs LS knew someone, who knew someone, who knew someone, who could give me a lift the next morning. I booked in at the nearest backpackers, and requested the luxury suite. Showered, dressed warmly, walked up the Godfathers and promptly proceeded to get comfortably numb, feeling most sorry for myself. Slept like a baby.
The rest is pretty uneventful – got a lift with to Piketberg, from Piketberg to Melkbos, took the car to Mrs LS, swopped it for the bakkie, went home and promply proceeded to get comfortably numb. Slept like a baby. Left early the next morning, with Mr Butch for company. Dropped him off at Godfathers while I fetched the bike from Noordoewer, came back a few hours later only to find him comfortably numb in the company of the locals. Booked into a guest house for the night and left early the next morning, back to Cape Town. Dropped the bike off at KTM, where they are still trying to find the fault.
Not the journey I had in mind, but a journey nonetheless.
Many thanks to all those who helped and advised – Adventurer, KTM Cape Town, Kappie Steyn for the lift, Mrs LS for the bakkie, Loftie and family for letting me stay with them in Rosh and also to my travel companions for their patience.
 

Offline LeonDude

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Re: Our Soma
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2009, 05:33:02 pm »
Super RR Wino!  :thumleft:
This is the kind of RR that makes me reach for the map, start dreaming dreams and before you know it, I'm off on my next adventure!
 :biggrin:
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Re: Our Soma
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2009, 05:41:12 pm »
Thanks Wino, in another decade I will probably be slim again and in a box  :biggrin: but the GSV will still be around I fink... at the moment such complements are the only time I apear in a ride report.... may be down there in early new year, will give you a shout  :biggrin:
Putting the Drunken Pagan Debauchery back into Christmas.
 

Offline Gee S

Re: Our Soma
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2009, 08:02:25 pm »
Great RR. :ricky:
Better luck next time Butch.
Considering a BMW for the next long ride? :pot:
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Offline Onetime

Re: Our Soma
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2009, 08:13:30 pm »
Great RR, thanks  :thumleft:
Onetime to live your life. No time to wait for someday or you will find that someday was yesterday.

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Re: Our Soma
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2009, 07:05:07 am »
Nice write-up Wino and once again thanks to you, LS and Butch for a memorable trip. Just want to add this pic of the muddy KLR at rest in Warmbad. Please beware of mud mense. It looks cool but possibly contributed to the starting problems on the X Challenge and the demise of the KTM. It made the KLR run twice as hot as usual until I found a hosepipe to wash the mud off the radiator and was most likely the main culprit in the destruction of the rear brake pads. Next time I'll wash it all off as soon as I get the chance. OK, it also helps if you don't gooi a lekker crash in the mud like I did  :-[

 

Offline Hakbos

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Re: Our Soma
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2009, 07:09:02 am »
Hi Wino

Nice report. We were in the same are at the same time. We did our trip from Upington to Ai-Ais and down the West Coast. See my ride report " West Coast Trip via Ai-Ais".

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Re: Our Soma
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2009, 07:43:03 am »
great RR,

2 thumbs up :thumleft: :thumleft:
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Offline Kykdaar

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Re: Our Soma
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2009, 08:22:17 am »
It is only an adventure if things dont go according to plan ;D

Great RR Wino and co.
 

Offline bradleys

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Re: Our Soma
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2009, 09:13:36 am »
Nice report and pics :thumleft:lekker area to ride
ROUTE DIFFICULTY
1 = tar
2 = good gravel /pillian friendly
3 = interspersed with sand, mud, sand , bush / not pillian friendly
4 = lots of sand, technical riding 5 = expert only
 

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Re: Our Soma
« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2009, 09:47:47 am »
What a ride, brilliant report with all the pics.

Thanks so much for taking the time to write and load this report.

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Re: Our Soma
« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2009, 10:29:50 am »
Thanks wino. Fantastic report

It is the first time that I experience the loss of a member of a tour party, and when I give him a final, sad wave, I could not help thinking whether we should not have stayed with him rather. This thought lingered over me pretty much for the rest of the trip.

It is my first time abandoning someone as well. It troubled me immensely and was at the back of my mind for the duration of the trip.

Fortunately I had that start-up problem on the morning of day two which gave me some perspective. I had resigned myself to stay behind while you guys went on with the trip. My biggest fear was that I would inconvenience you guys and spoil someone's trip by making him stay with me.
So it was with that in mind that I imagined Butch's feelings. I 'knew' he wouldn't want us to stay with him and that he would feel very guilty about spoiling someone's trip. This obviously didn't alleviate my own feelings of guilt that much but I knew he would want us to leave him just like I wanted you guys to leave me.
I also knew that he was a capable guy and would make his way home without too much of a problem.

Obviously I still feel like a rotten pig and in retrospect I would gladly have volunteered to give up my trip to help a friend. But it's too late now and Butch made it home after all and doesn't appear to hold a grudge against any of use so... cest la vie.

That will teach him not to buy a 990 again ;D
 

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Re: Our Soma
« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2009, 10:37:41 am »
Very lekker RR with stunning pics.
Thanks for sharing.
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