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Offline roxenz

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The Longdrop Cruise to Geluksburg *** complete ***
« on: February 21, 2012, 04:30:23 pm »
Friday 17th February 2012  -  The Longdrop Cruise

I took Friday off to get everything ready.  Had AdventureMX put on a new rear tyre (D606) on Tuesday already, since the old one was looking a bit slick and Gunda-Gunda had forecast some rain and mud.

Packing was a bit like a chicken with its head removed, mainly because I was so excited to get away on this weekend.  It started when I camped next to the KZN dogs at the Northwest Bash (Marico).  I checked out these guys with their tattoos, ponytails and Captain Morgan: they looked rough, hey!  After introducing myself from a distance (they looked like those serious biking okes who would klap you just for having the temerity to say “Hallo”), I was invited over to get to know the guys.  Well, what a great bunch they were (are)!  Warm, friendly, with a repertoire of jokes that would have Trevor Noah begging for more!  So when the same bunch started organising the Longdrop Cruise, I absolutely had to be there.  Also, I’ve never been to Geluksburg, had no idea where it was, but MapSource luckily did.

Eventually I got my shit together by 10AM, made a quick stop for some Flutterby wine (in light, unbreakable PET bottles from Boland Kelder) and hit the road south.  I had worked out a decent route on MapSource, just over 400km, mainly gravel through the eastern Free State, keeping west of the N3.  Similar for coming back, but sticking mainly east of the N3.  Bike’s humming (the 606’s do HUMMMMM, even on gravel!) along nicely, kilometres dropping off the “Distance to Destination”.  Crossed the N1 near Barrage, stopping to take the obligatory pic of the Vaal.


Now I am officially in the Free State. A country of open vistas and great dirt roads with fearsomely fast double cab bakkies. I overtake a few, get passed by some, all with a friendly wave and considerate road manners.   :thumleft:


I stopped as the road got closed in by some lovely green trees, to take another photo and to stretch my legs.  Crossing the farm Alfresco, and on such a fresh day, it is aptly named. No mud to mention yet, just wet enough to keep dust down.  Although there are plenty signs that some heavy rains fell a few days ago: deep ruts in the road surface in places.  Generally the roads are excellent, however. I’m taking it fairly easy, cruising at about 90 – 100. I promised myself I’ll take photos this time and if I’m white-knuckling, I see nothing worth taking any pictures of…   :(  These are familiar roads, this part of the route follows roads that I’ve ridden on twice before when going down to the Free State Bash, so I relax and start to get into “the zone”, where the rest of the world fades away a bit. With very few vehicles around I begin to get that old feeling of riding all alone on a big ball spinning in space, convinced I can make out the earth’s curvature.


The eastern Free State must have had a good summer, everything is looking green and healthy and fresh. I stop often for pictures of the countryside. Even Shrekkie gives in to the sense of living in the Garden of Eden…


On the other side of Wolwehoek I came across this sign next to a rail track which has fallen in disuse.  It would have made a good counterpoint to my old KLR, but then, the Tenere is still a thumper!  Of course, it also reminded me of Gunda-Gunda, who I haven’t seen in years, but would again during the weekend.  Ah, I’m so looking forward to this weekend!


I stopped at Heilbron for fuel and a much-needed orange juice – it’s hotting up as the sun ascends the sky.  The earlier low cloud cover has burned away.

I follow the S282 southeast out of Heilbron, ending up at a T-junction with this big signpost:


Thank goodness for GPS!

Onto the S823 and then the S1430.  All lovely roads.  Shortly before Tweeling I cross a river with no name.


It is flowing strongly, and next to the road is evidence that it does so often: pieces of a previous, broken bridge are washed up against the banks.  Too big a river not to have a name, so I gave it one:


The very small town of Tweeling (another first for me) comes and goes quickly.  It has a few shops, B&Bs  - saw a sign for a biker bar and an interesting looking shop on the left as I head south-east towards Harrismith on the S587.  I tell myself I should have spent some time exploring the town, it looks worth looking around, stopping for a chat with a local.  Mental note: next time.  But for now I have a cold beer in Harrismith in my sights.

The S587 becomes the S590.  I don’t think the road would have noticed, would it have been sentient.  A short stretch of tar on the R714 and back onto dirt (S918).  The Free State is really hanging out all the pretty today!




Now I’m going through the esses:  S918 – S688 – S1099 – back to S688 – S787 – S803.  The turn-off onto the S787 has no sign marking it as such, but a more interesting one reading “Majoorsdrif”.  I somehow missed Majoorsdrif itself, but the track was fun and beautiful to ride.  Yes: “track”, because it deteriorates into a typical farm tweespoor, and then becomes just a grassy strip between two barbed wire fences.  I thought about turning back, Garmap having lead me onto private roads with locked gates before.  But then I thought, what the heck, I’ll likely never pass this way again; it’s beautiful:  riding here is a privilege that the gods would have kept for themselves if they were clever enough to have thought of motorbikes, so I carried on.  Eventually the grass grew another tweespoor track, which eventually became a road again.  A nice little find!

By this time I could see some thunderclouds building up in the general direction I’m going.  I packed the rain suit, but was lucky enough to dodge the stormy looking clouds. Others were not so lucky: Laurika and Gunda-Gunda arrived from opposite directions, but equally wet!

Got some beer for me and 95 octane for the Yammie in Harrismith. Saw I was dawdling a bit: the original plan was to make Geluksburg by 4PM. Since it was already just past 4, I was going to be a bit behind schedule.  But then, Draadkar didn’t promise any dancing girls before 5PM, so no hurry…

Leaving Harrismith by the S796, on my way to Middledale Pass, the Free State showed off for one last time, trying to make sure I don’t give my heart to the KZN Midlands:


Shortly before the Provincial Boundary, I took the turn-off onto the D364 towards Middledale Pass and Geluksburg. This gravel road winds through stunning scenery of the majestic sandstone hills rising above emerald green meadows. Some local huts are scattered for effect and the Nguni cattle wander around like props on a set for a movie about an African Paradise.

Winding down the Pass itself takes some concentration: in geological terms it is a massive conglomeration of potholes held together by a sparse matrix of bitumen. I stretch my legs by sitting on top of the luggage, with my arms just reaching the handle bars as we coast down to Geluksburg, the Ten pop-pop-popping a continuous flatulent beat of backfires. Almost there!

Luckily I meet up with some other guys arriving (Draadkar’s son with some mates and some plastic bikes), so I don’t have to worry about finding the venue.  Stop, switch off, grin and be greeted by some old friends (big Ray, Gunda-Gunda & Pistol) and a new one (IanTheTooth). And a very friendly dog.


Quickly pitched the tent, formalities taken care of, now we can party!


Standing around the fire, catching up with everyone’s riding for the day.  From here on, things got a little out of focus…


Some interesting drinks were poured and Pistol helped me open the bottle of excellent wine that CaveGirl brought for me specially.



And then the band played…  And the zoo came out…  And I didn’t take any more piccies and cannot remember too much either.  So perforce here endeth the posting for this day.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2012, 04:37:48 pm by roxenz »
Ek sal laaik van n prentjie hier sit, maar is te f0kken onnosel...
 

Offline laurika

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Re: The Longdrop Cruise to Geluksburg
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2012, 05:16:23 pm »
Lekker ride report...about as chilled as it were.....some lovely pics....i could have sworn that there were a few Flutterbies fluttering around empty...unlike you i only had juice..... ::)  thanks A .

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Offline ButchH

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Re: The Longdrop Cruise to Geluksburg
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2012, 06:48:55 pm »
Lekker RR  :thumleft: :thumleft:
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Offline Cave Girl

Re: The Longdrop Cruise to Geluksburg
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2012, 07:17:16 pm »
Enjoying this! Love your writing style :) can't wait for Saturdays report! Thanks!!
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Offline Rooies

Re: The Longdrop Cruise to Geluksburg
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2012, 09:23:46 pm »
Great RR Roxenz :thumleft:  Seems like your riding partner also had a good time :)
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Re: The Longdrop Cruise to Geluksburg
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2012, 07:47:12 am »
Good to read a RR from you again :thumleft:

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Re: The Longdrop Cruise to Geluksburg
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2012, 07:56:03 am »

. . . .
Winding down the Pass itself takes some concentration: in geological terms it is a massive conglomeration of potholes held together by a sparse matrix of bitumen. I stretch my legs by sitting on top of the luggage, with my arms just reaching the handle bars as we coast down to Geluksburg, the Ten pop-pop-popping a continuous flatulent beat of backfires. Almost there!
. . . . .

Nice description - Great RR

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Offline Pistol

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Re: The Longdrop Cruise to Geluksburg
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2012, 08:13:29 am »
Lekker Roxenz :thumleft:
 

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Re: The Longdrop Cruise to Geluksburg
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2012, 08:22:28 am »
.
 

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Re: The Longdrop Cruise to Geluksburg
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2012, 08:26:29 am »
Great style!

Cant wait for more.
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Offline roxenz

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Re: The Longdrop Cruise to Geluksburg
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2012, 09:01:31 am »
Ek sal laaik van n prentjie hier sit, maar is te f0kken onnosel...
 

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Re: The Longdrop Cruise to Geluksburg
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2012, 10:07:25 am »
.

O fok!  :o

The monthly meeting of the WD time-travel interest group will be held on the 15th of last month on Mars.  :biggrin:
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Re: The Longdrop Cruise to Geluksburg
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2012, 11:57:02 am »
.

O fok!  :o

The monthly meeting of the WD time-travel interest group will be held on the 15th of last month on Mars.  :biggrin:


Hey I’m in I’ll be there an hour ago :thumleft:
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Re: The Longdrop Cruise to Geluksburg
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2012, 12:57:21 pm »
Lekker Roxenz, a really nice read.
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Re: The Longdrop Cruise to Geluksburg
« Reply #14 on: February 22, 2012, 04:57:41 pm »
Good one so far, waiting for day 2
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Offline roxenz

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Re: The Longdrop Cruise to Geluksburg
« Reply #15 on: February 22, 2012, 06:28:05 pm »
Saturday
I wake up for the first time very early on Saturday morning.  My head hurts and my mouth tastes like I braaied the meat but ate the packaging from the night before.  Luckily a tendril of coherent thought works it way into my conscience: when I packed yesterday, I had the bottle of brufens in my hand, weighed up packing it, and (thank goodness!!!) decided to bring the whole lot with.  And I always take water with me to bed (experience has taught that stumbling around in unfamiliar dark with a blinding thirst is seriously not fun), so I quickly pop a couple and turn over.  The tablets spread a comfortable wooziness through my pain-addled brain and soon I’m fast asleep again.

The second waking is much more pleasant.  I hear other campers already up and moving, cracking jokes.  Cracking jokes so early in the morning?  Yes, Pistol and Big Ray are already at it again.  Respect.

Then I hear a magic word: “coffee”!  Gunda-Gunda’s beautiful baritone siren sounds of “moerkoffie” get me out of the sleeping bag and tent in no time.  Rubbing my sticky eyes I beg some refreshment, which G-G graciously offers, even before helping himself.  Perhaps he realised it was a small emergency.

While savouring the second cup, I survey last night’s battlefield: empties galore!  Someone (Pistol & Big Ray?) has got the fire going again and the slightly musty scent of wet wood smoke twists through the drizzly morning air.  More and more folks are up, some getting ready to ride for the day.  I ask G-G if he’s going out – he’s still thinking about it.  Some (you can guess!) are off to see how many shebeens G-burg has and whether they are open.  The resultant skinny dipping has been documented by Slakkie in the Geluksburg report back.

G-G and I decide to get going ourselves. I don’t know the area so well, so am happy to leave the navigating to Peter.  We make our way up the Middledale Pass, dodging potholes and cow patties.  And the odd cow.  As we rise up the escarpment, we leave behind the persistent light rain which was making the campsite feel crowded (under any bit of dry shelter available).  At the T-junction with the Harrismith-Swinburn road, we meet up with Outthere and his pillion on their GS1200 and IanTheTooth, a Scottish dentist plying his trade in sunny SA (except for the weekend on both accounts).  Ian is on a Zook DR650.  We chat about possible routes and decide to join them in going to the top of Bezuidenhout’s Pass.  It takes some convincing to get Peter to go that way, he reckons he has done the pass before and would prefer to stay away from it in future.  I quietly wonder if he is a bit of a wuss, but wisely (as it turns out) decide to keep my own council.  In any event, after we all promise solemnly that no-one will attempt the pass, we head out that way. Travelling lovely dirt, mostly smooth tweespoor, we get to the top of the pass.


Staring at the beautiful vistas, the talk inevitably turns towards whether the pass is rideable or not. Outthere had spoken with some farmer type, who apparently couldn’t navigate it with a mountain bike.  So we decide that the pass is probably not passable  ;).  Just then we are proven wrong, with two locals ambling on up:


We debate the pros and cons of horsepower, of which we all had more, and points of traction, of which we all had less.  All the while, taking in some more of the wonderful scenery.



Eventually Outthere gets fed-up with all the conjecturing and declares that there is only one way of really finding out and that is by going to have a look-see.  Leaving his pillion (Sarah) behind, he rides down to do just that.  I assure him that if he hasn’t returned in 15 minutes, we’ll assume that he safely got to the bottom, would not return and we’ll see him later at the longdrops.

We watch him make his way carefully down until he is almost out of sight, where he stops and disappears on foot.  A few minutes later he roars back, wheels bouncing of the loose boulders, declaring that what he saw resembled a steep mountain stream-bed more than a road.  We decide to go look for our thrills elsewhere.  I glance at Peter, thinking that he knew we’d be wasting our time, but was too much of a gentleman to tell us so outright.  Nevertheless, the riding to the lookout was good and the views magnificent.  One last picture of standing on the edge of the world.


From here the day’s riding turns into a history lesson for me.  My ancestors decided that the Breede River was the last decent water before the large dry Karoo and settled there.  So the whole Voortrekker thing was regarded with some bemusement by my family.  The only sensible comment I ever heard on the Groot Trek was from a stand-up comedian: the Trekkers used dagga a lot for medicinal purposes, and the weed probably motivated them to do what reasonable people would otherwise not.  Imagine Piet Retief and Sarel Cilliers comtemplating the looming Drakensberg mountains, while passing a pipe stuffed with the best local weed: “Piet, let’s get the women and children all smoked up and we’ll just fly over those mountains!”

Some more excellent gravel brings us to a place called Kerkenberg (aka Retief se Klip).  Here the Trekkers under Retief paused for a while in March 1837.  It is a beautiful area, and the folks probably wanted to catch a breather before tackling the descent into the Natal Midlands.



Some weird folk still hang around the place today (look carefully).


Whilst here, Retief’s 57th birthday rolled by, and his daughter Debora commemorated the event by painting it in blue-green paint on a rock face.  It survives the 175 years remarkably well.


And I’m glad we arrived on these instead of stubborn oxen and wagons with no suspension…


From Retief’s pozzy we ride some more good dirt to another cultural monument: the Kaalvoetvrou (the Barefoot Women).  Initially I heard “kaalgat vrou” and was all for it.  As it is, the view from the promontory on which the sculpture is placed, is much more spectacular than the artwork.  The statue commemorates an incident after the annexation of Natal in 1842, where Susanna Smit, the wife of minister Erasmus Smit and the sister of Gerrit Maritz, said: "We would rather walk barefoot back over the Drakensberg before we yield to the British yoke".  And this was before the concentration camps even!  These folks really had a dislike for the Brits which is hard to understand over the distance of time.


By now it is past 1 o’clock and I am not interested in the ice cold water that Sarah offers against the increasing heat.  Only beer will do.  I’m hungry too.  On Ian’s recommendation we hightail it to the Caterpillar and Catfish at the top of Oliviershoek Pass.  Beautiful green lawns, shade and a relaxed atmosphere.


The drinks arrive and disappear pretty quickly while we wait for our food.


The quisine is cajun-Louisiana-bayou type.  I get a chilli-lime-tomato soup and a grilled trout with lemon-parsley butter.  Yummy!
The day’s riding is pretty much over: after the festivities of the night before and a good lunch pulling on our eyelids, folks begin to mentions an afternoon snooze.  I feel tired and happy.

So, quickly to Bergville for fuel, then back to G-burg.  Just on the other side of Bergville, Outthere pulls up, fiddling with his GPS.  No, he reckons, there’s a road to our right which deadends on the GPS, but he’s convinced it will take us to G-burg, one way or another.  Ian and Peter stare at him, make some disparaging noises and head off to G-burg by the shortest route – tar.  I’m not mad about the noise of knobbies on tar, so decide to join the crazy Engelsman in finding new ways to meander in the Midlands.  S’true’s’bob, after about 5km the roads just runs into a farmstead.  Turn around.  While Sarah takes care of some personal needs, Outthere starts fiddling again with his GPS.  Sarah comes back and together they turn it this way and that, trying to peek over the mealie fields at some imaginary landmarks.  I sit and wait for the outcome, I’m kinda in a fugue.  Eventually they decide that there is no way to avoid some tar (apart from straight through the mealies, an option they apparently seriously considered).  Second best is then to ride a piece of dirt which they apparently haven’t travelled before.  This is hard to believe, as their well used GS can attest.  I firmly believe that they have ridden every bit of dirt there is in KZN, and then some more.

Riding behind them is a rare pleasure.  Generally I don’t like dust in any form; luckily, with the rain, there is little dust, so I can ride 50m behind them without choking.  Not only do they ride exceptionally well, with an elegance and grace that I didn’t think possible two up, but there is a joy to their riding which is palpable.  Outthere obviously enjoy throwing the pig around puddles and corners, all the while Sarah is waving at all and sundry, greeting the locals with enthusiasm.  Sometimes waving with both hands, while standing!  Thanks, guys.

We make it back to the site by about 5PM.  Refreshing cold shower and a bottle of Boland Merlot.  It is another fun night, but I cannot ride it to the end.  When the band starts their last session, I decide that it will be good to go to bed with the lovely music in my ears.  I sleep well.
Ek sal laaik van n prentjie hier sit, maar is te f0kken onnosel...
 

Offline laurika

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Re: The Longdrop Cruise to Geluksburg
« Reply #16 on: February 22, 2012, 06:49:27 pm »
good reading Boerseun. those mountains are just too gorgeous....a return visit in a dryer season is on my bucket list...

 "There is no happiness for him who does not travel...Therefore, wander... The fortune of him who is sitting sits, it rises when he rises, it sleeps when he sleeps, it moves when he moves... Therefore, wander!"...The Rig Veda - 800 - 600 BC..

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Re: The Longdrop Cruise to Geluksburg
« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2012, 07:54:55 am »
Lekka report Roxenz.

I think that Saturday will be in my book of one of the best riding days I have ever had. Strange how sometimes you just set out, not sure exactly where you are going, and then something lucky happens and just changes the whole thing. In this case the luck was that OutThere & Sarah and Doc Ian waited for us and were happy to tow us along.

After the cold and wet trip up it was just what I needed.

Thanks !!
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Offline Rooies

Re: The Longdrop Cruise to Geluksburg
« Reply #18 on: February 23, 2012, 08:15:14 am »
Lekka report Roxenz.

I think that Saturday will be in my book of one of the best riding days I have ever had. Strange how sometimes you just set out, not sure exactly where you are going, and then something lucky happens and just changes the whole thing. In this case the luck was that OutThere & Sarah and Doc Ian waited for us and were happy to tow us along.

After the cold and wet trip up it was just what I needed.

Thanks !!

Looking at the photos of Bezuidenhoutspass, Kerkenberg and the Kaalvoetvrou monument reminds me of one of me and B's most memorable trips ever .  That lovely meandering tweespoor to the uitkyk on top of the world at Bezuidenhoutspass will be stuck in memory forever as one of the most serene pieces of gravel that I have ever ridden.

We were lucky (or stupid) enough to go down Bezuidenhoutspass.  But it wasn't as bad as described by Roxenz when we were there.

Anyway, that is a piece of the country that I have to explore again.  Thanks for sharing, gents!
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Re: The Longdrop Cruise to Geluksburg
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2012, 09:54:44 pm »
Lekka report Roxenz.

I think that Saturday will be in my book of one of the best riding days I have ever had. Strange how sometimes you just set out, not sure exactly where you are going, and then something lucky happens and just changes the whole thing. In this case the luck was that OutThere & Sarah and Doc Ian waited for us and were happy to tow us along.

After the cold and wet trip up it was just what I needed.

Thanks !!

Looking at the photos of Bezuidenhoutspass, Kerkenberg and the Kaalvoetvrou monument reminds me of one of me and B's most memorable trips ever .  That lovely meandering tweespoor to the uitkyk on top of the world at Bezuidenhoutspass will be stuck in memory forever as one of the most serene pieces of gravel that I have ever ridden.

We were lucky (or stupid) enough to go down Bezuidenhoutspass.  But it wasn't as bad as described by Roxenz when we were there.

Anyway, that is a piece of the country that I have to explore again.  Thanks for sharing, gents!


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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"