Welcome, Guest. Please Login or Register

Author Topic: Lesotho, the hard way.(Complete)  (Read 45235 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Michiel

  • Senior Member
  • ***
  • Bike: Kawasaki KLR 650
    Location: Free State
  • Posts: 1,519
  • Thanked: 1 times
  • Bloemfontein
Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #300 on: July 01, 2010, 10:49:49 am »
Beforehand I asked one of the ladies on the family farm to help me write down some simple Sotho sentences.
Like: Where can I find water? Please show me the way to Semonkong. Is this your horse? May we put up a
tent for the night/camp on your land? ex. Upon asking the Morena she indicated with clear gestures that they
didn't mind us camping where we did. I think she appreciated the fact that we did ask. The impression I got
while being in the village was one of pride, kindness and compassion. These people were hospitable and
respected others. I wish I could communicate in Sotho but unfortunately I didn't take it serious when I had
the chance to learn during Primary School. They should have made it a exam subject like the other two languages.

On my way back to the camp I found Dustdevil also having a look at the road ahead. He also used the opportunity
to get some beautiful video footage of the valley and river.



Phew, so this is it! We are here! It's still drizzling lightly but chances look good that things will clear up towards
tea time. We planned this for months in advance. We looked at this place over and over on Google Earth. We
practiced to ride our bikes on the sort of terrain that we thought we will encounter here. I've been looking forward
for so long to come back here and try to ride up where the 4x4 families reckoned we won't be able to ride up.
We are here!

I should be very exited but to be honest I am scared, really scared. Concerned as well. Worried about the other two.
I'm hoping they're not resenting being here. Only time can tell if we will succeed to ride to Semonkong.

Last night I decided to ride my bike to the camping spot but the other two didn't want to tempt fate any further
and left theirs further up the pass.



Sack has been very quiet and is also the 1st one to have everything packed and ready to go. Enough anticipation
for him, I think he wants to get this done.

While loading up our trusty steeds two Basotho men passed by, halting for a moment to greet us. Our two wheeled
horses might be good at covering long distances on flat ground but here in Lesotho and as specially this part of this
beautiful country a four legged mode of transport is by far the best and quickest way around.



 

Offline ThinkMike

  • 2-wheel Addiction
  • Senior Member
  • ***
  • Bike: BMW R1200GS
    Location: Gauteng
  • Posts: 657
  • Not now honey, I'm Riding
    • Southern Africa Aventure Trips
Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #301 on: July 01, 2010, 12:02:18 pm »
Michiel - I've been quietly watching this RR in the background but I must admit that I am now really enjoying this part. In addition to the beauty of the land and the people, the fun, excitement and enjoyment is when the adventure dishes out the unexpected challenge (whether physically or mentally) or forces you to deviate from the plan somewhat.

It is interesting to hear the dynamic of the 3 personalities and how you each possibly handle the situations quite differently. Very lekker keep it coming.
Sorry Babe I am still riding.
 

Offline domstes

  • Senior Member
  • ***
  • Bike: KTM 790 Adventure R
    Location: Western Cape
  • Posts: 1,511
Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #302 on: July 01, 2010, 12:19:32 pm »
It is an interesting phenomenon that we always treasure these times. The times when we were really scared, but just forced ourselves to keep going and get on with it. Maybe that primitive part of our brain needs that workout every now and then. Remembering the times when our ancestors challenged dangerous animals and discovered unknown lands.

Thanks for making the effort in writing this report AND being honest about your feelings at the time.  :thumleft:
 

Offline Michiel

  • Senior Member
  • ***
  • Bike: Kawasaki KLR 650
    Location: Free State
  • Posts: 1,519
  • Thanked: 1 times
  • Bloemfontein
Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #303 on: July 01, 2010, 05:32:27 pm »
You are absolutely right. I couldn't have said it better. Yesterday I was practically enjoying the descend
to this spot. I was running on adrenalin! Today is a different matter. Where we are camped we can see
the road going up the mountain on the other side. It looks impossibly steep. We have our work cut out.



This picture I took last year. The vantage point is a bit higher up back the way we came but one can see
the scale of our challenge. If this road was in good condition with a smooth gravel surface one will be able
to ride up it on a Harley with Grandma on the back but because of years of neglect and erosion the original
surface has been washed away leaving the rocky bowels exposed. Chunky bedrock, eroded basalt and lose
rock, lots of lose rock. The road has also been eroded in such a way that it has a camber and in some places
steps as high as one or two feet. All this while climbing at an constant and relentless 25 - 35 degree angle.

Unfortunately without Dustdevil's input this ride report is becoming increasingly impoverished. I know he's got
some beautiful images of us crossing the Senquyane on that footbridge I've been talking about. The two of us
managed to cross without much hassle but Sack had to take his luggage off because on the bike it was too wide
to fit between the bridge rails. This bridge must have been designed for bikes because the rails are just low
enough so the handlebars clears them.

Once on the other side I take the lead. We now make fast progress passing the village, just waving the people
there a goodbye. To this day I regret not stopping and letting Dustdevil and Sack also meet the Morena. I guess
we were so nervous that we wanted to try keep the wheels rolling. Climbing the foothill is easy enough and we
make our first stop to catch a breath and look at the vista below us. For a moment we are fooled into thinking
this is going to be a doddle.



I am itching to post a whole day's carnage in just one video! Should I? No more talking?
« Last Edit: July 01, 2010, 05:53:01 pm by Michiel »
 

Offline Crossed-up

Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #304 on: July 01, 2010, 06:12:08 pm »
Go for it!  That's what you did there - do it here!
 

Offline letsgofishing

  • Forum Whore
  • ****
  • Bike: Suzuki DR-Z 400
    Location: Western Cape
  • Posts: 7,115
  • Sedgefield, Garden Route
    • http://www.mikekaplandesign.com
Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #305 on: July 02, 2010, 08:15:52 am »
Wonderful stuff Michiel :thumleft:
Can't wait for the ascent!
There is nothing you can do about the past and you can't predict the future...all you have is the now...live it to the fullest.

www.mikekaplandesign.com
 

Offline madmike999

  • Senior Member
  • ***
  • Bike: Honda XRV 750 Africa Twin
    Location: Gauteng
  • Posts: 2,995
  • www.studio88.co.za info@studio88.co.za
Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #306 on: July 02, 2010, 08:27:02 am »
nice nice nice, just sitting her, I'm already nervous.
'82 R100 RS,  '98 Africa Twin,  Vespa 180 Rally
 

Offline fat b

  • Senior Member
  • ***
  • Bike: BMW R1150GS Adventure
    Location: Western Cape
  • Posts: 2,981
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • BMW R 1150 GS ADVENTURE
Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #307 on: July 02, 2010, 08:45:13 am »
Keep it coming bru !

 THE CHALLENGE MAY NOT BE EASY , BUT IT'S NOT IMPOSSIBLE.
SO MANY PLACES, SO LITTLE TIME !

MOSSEL BAY
 

Offline Rynet

  • Vendors
  • Senior Member
  • ***
  • Bike: KTM 990 Adventure
    Location: Western Cape
  • Posts: 4,890
  • Thanked: 242 times
Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #308 on: July 02, 2010, 09:14:36 am »
"

I just love this foto, and I love reading this report . :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:
 

Offline Michiel

  • Senior Member
  • ***
  • Bike: Kawasaki KLR 650
    Location: Free State
  • Posts: 1,519
  • Thanked: 1 times
  • Bloemfontein
Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #309 on: July 02, 2010, 01:04:29 pm »
As a youngster on the farm I used to go in search of eroded places around the dried up streams and
rivers in the area. There I would fool around trying to ride up the slopes and make the rear end step
out a bit. All very mellow I should admit. I've never had the courage nor skill to do what the serious
guys do. I grew up in an area where I was almost the only person keen on Adventure Riding, never
got to mingle with other riders and learn from them. I would line my old Suzuki DR500s up to a incline,
halt for a moment while my heart started racing, my throat went dry and sweat would come from my
hands and then pull off in attempt to ascend what intimidated me. For some sadistical or primeval
reason I still love this feeling. Numerous times I would fail to reach the top and find myself in an awkward
position. Once accidentally flipped my neighbor's KLR600. Ooops. Very irresponsible. How does one deal
with a bike when you come to a halt on a steep slope? Back then I had to figure it out by trial and error.
Learned early on that using the front brake won't help. Trying to run/ride it backwards always fails, I can
still remember a very embarrassing moment on my dad's Suzuki 185cc Agri bike.

Today those hills and slopes of my childhood will be laughable. Back then my current KLR would have been
like a monster. Today to some extent I've managed to suppress the fear I had of stalling on a slope by putting
myself in situations like that again and again and again.

It must be said that there is a difference between fooling around on the farm, riding on the mine dumps in JHB,
ripping up the quarry here in CT and riding in Lesotho or any other more remote place. If I get it wrong and
hurt myself in the quarry, CT I can bet on being in a good hospital within the hour. Someone can also recover
my bike without hassle. If we get it wrong here in Lesotho it will be a complete different matter. Getting to a
hospital might take a whole day and recovering the bike will take a Land Cruiser. We agreed beforehand that
in the interest of personal health and the health of our bikes there will be no heroics while we were in Lesotho.
Our bikes are heavily loaded and we still need to go a long way before we are back home.





So, here we go!

In addition to sweaty hands, a dry throat and a racing heart my legs all of a sudden feel like jelly. We will have
to stand on the pegs to make this work. Soon enough we do realize the luggage we carry is really making things
difficult. A lot of the weight is purtched high up and at the back of the bike causing it to be very light in front.
We will have to ride up this mountain in managable bites. Carry the luggage over the worst sections ex. All of this
making for a very exhausting exercise.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/zi0HNujJ6AM" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/zi0HNujJ6AM</a>
« Last Edit: July 02, 2010, 04:04:00 pm by Michiel »
 

Offline madmike999

  • Senior Member
  • ***
  • Bike: Honda XRV 750 Africa Twin
    Location: Gauteng
  • Posts: 2,995
  • www.studio88.co.za info@studio88.co.za
Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #310 on: July 02, 2010, 01:35:21 pm »
hoew long the trip up "the mountain", and how long did you guys take? :thumleft:
'82 R100 RS,  '98 Africa Twin,  Vespa 180 Rally
 

Offline letsgofishing

  • Forum Whore
  • ****
  • Bike: Suzuki DR-Z 400
    Location: Western Cape
  • Posts: 7,115
  • Sedgefield, Garden Route
    • http://www.mikekaplandesign.com
Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #311 on: July 02, 2010, 01:39:02 pm »
Bugger - Did you fix it with Pratleys Steel?
I would rather ride up that trail than down it!
Please post the rest.
There is nothing you can do about the past and you can't predict the future...all you have is the now...live it to the fullest.

www.mikekaplandesign.com
 

Offline g1_

  • Senior Member
  • ***
  • Bike: Honda XR125L
    Location: Eastern Cape
  • Posts: 670
  • Thanked: 3 times
Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #312 on: July 02, 2010, 03:30:36 pm »
Enjoying the updates. Do you have your route marked out on (google) maps? Otherwise maybe you would be kind enough to post some gps coords if you have.

Thanks,
g1
 

Offline Kwis

  • Member
  • **
  • Bike: Kawasaki KLR 650
    Location: Gauteng
  • Posts: 103
Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #313 on: July 03, 2010, 09:06:51 am »
Feel your pain, enjoy that, been there. :)
 

Offline Brakenjan

Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #314 on: July 04, 2010, 06:34:27 pm »
Wow Michiel - some of the best RR writing I have seen on this forum, not even talking about the pics and the vids.

Thank you so much - absolutely loving it!!!  :thumleft:
 

Offline vellies

  • Member
  • **
  • Bike: Suzuki Djebel 250XC
    Location: Eastern Cape
  • Posts: 439
Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #315 on: July 04, 2010, 08:22:53 pm »
Me can't believe ...... julle was bedonnerd maar dink aan wat julle nou kan vertel. Bok van Blerk gaan 'n liedjie maak oor jou Michiel :-)
Suzuki Intruder 400cc
Suzuki Djebel XC250 - sold
Honda CTX 200 - sold
 

Offline Dustdevil

Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #316 on: July 04, 2010, 11:23:34 pm »
Feel your pain, enjoy that, been there. :)

Come-on Kwis, show us some pics and tell us more of your ordeal, when did you guys do your trip and how long did it take you to get through? You are welcome to post here or to start your own thread if you have enough images. ;)
 

Offline Dustdevil

Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #317 on: July 05, 2010, 12:40:43 am »
In Thaba Tseka while having dinner I decided in a state of pure stupidity that I will have one beer with my meal, a Maloti at that. Now one beer can hardly get you drunk and you should still be very safely under the legal limit to drive. But heres the thing, as our decent into the Senquane valley started and as fatigue started to take its toll half way down the mountain my brain just stop working. I found it ever more difficult to focus on the task at hand but the thing that is the clearest indication that even the slightest amount of alcohol in the system can't be good is fact that I can hardly remember the entire decent to where we stopped and camped for the night. My recollection is purely based on the videos we could play back afterward but as far as the sections in between, there is very little there.

I also did not shoot any still because again to remember to cover all bases between video-ing and shooting stills you need to have a sharp brain, and mine was clouded over.

So my story of this almost impossible ordeal will only begin at the campsite the following morning. One thing I did clearly recalled from the decent was that I protested a few times quite audibly to the other two and more specifically to Michiel because he was leading and have been here before part of the way, I felt that we should make camp at a suitable place. It was clear that we were not going to make the river and I was concerned that a small mistake could send rider and machine down one of these ravines and we were getting very exhausted from traveling hard the whole day only to end up riding one of the worse roads down into hell. I was also worried that darkness might catch us on one of the long relentless sections where it is to steep and rocky to pitch a tent. My harsh words and swearing fell on deaf ears and we pushed on, between me and Stefan taking turns to crash more often. Michiel was having fun and did not seem to be suffering from the same problem as he was the only one that did not drink a beer earlier in the day.

At one point I felt very uncomfortable driving my bike down a couple of step-downs, about three sets very close together each dropping two to three feet at a time. The step-downs was not what concerned me but right after the last set the road suddenly makes a 90 degree turn with a shear 30 meter drop-off into a small ravine. If you collect to much momentum down the step-downs and can't recover on the loose shaley section before the drop-off... it is tickets.
I opted to push the bike down walking next to it with Stefan helping. We managed to get past this section safely but it turned out that only 50 meters further down the shit hits the fan again. By now it was getting dark rapidly as the sun has set behind the mountains a while back and we are only riding in the dim light of dusk. By now I was so exhausted fiscally but also mentally that I just did not see how I was going to manage to cary on. When I mentioned this to the others they did not seem to want to argue with me and by now it was clear that Stefan felt the same way I did but we faced one more problem, where shall we camped? When I get tired my sense of humor also turns into a very dry form of sarcasm that is often taken seriously by those who don't know me and even some who do. In the fashion of "I told you so" I told the others we will have to roll out our mattresses there right next to our bikes, Stefan did not think that I was funny but looking at the steep gradient and the rocky surface anybody else would have told me I was crazy. :eek7:

Walking down the track another 200 yards around the next bend produced a level section right on the road surface large enough for three tents. Michiel opted to drive the KLR down to this spot while me and Stefan rather carried our stuff down leaving the bikes right where they were. The local kids from the small village further back were so eager to help and not asking anything in return. Our tents were up before sunset, just in time.

The next morning driving my bike down this section end up being as easy as pie, the difference between an exhausted mind and one that is ready and rested.



In the background one can see the road, or what is left of it, that we are going to have to attempt. We did not know if it would at all be possible to get up there and at this time we were also not to sure if we would be able to get back up where we have just came down the previous day.


Stefan having to unpack because his load was to wide for the narrow bridge.







The approach to the bridge is along a slippery and very narrow footpath with a drop-off into the river sometimes only centimeters away from the wheels.


Stefan packing his bike most likely on the spot we would have camped if we had more daylight left the previous day.
 

Offline fat b

  • Senior Member
  • ***
  • Bike: BMW R1150GS Adventure
    Location: Western Cape
  • Posts: 2,981
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • BMW R 1150 GS ADVENTURE
Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #318 on: July 05, 2010, 08:49:36 am »
Yay ! Welcome back Dusty , we missed your contributions !  :thumleft:

 THE CHALLENGE MAY NOT BE EASY , BUT IT'S NOT IMPOSSIBLE.
SO MANY PLACES, SO LITTLE TIME !

MOSSEL BAY
 

Offline Michiel

  • Senior Member
  • ***
  • Bike: Kawasaki KLR 650
    Location: Free State
  • Posts: 1,519
  • Thanked: 1 times
  • Bloemfontein
Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #319 on: July 05, 2010, 10:27:44 am »
Yay ! Welcome back Dusty , we missed your contributions !  :thumleft:



 :hello2: :hello2: :hello2: :3some:
« Last Edit: July 05, 2010, 10:28:22 am by Michiel »