Baviaanskloof Kareedouw side entry

Zanie's picture

Points: 2

I follow the motto of work hard, play hard. This means that I’ve only managed to keep up to date with some of my 2- or 3-day trip ride reports; ignoring the day escapades and sadly neglecting the rides that served as highlights to my year.

Another motto I follow: rather late than never. So here it is, over a year late. A 4-person 6-day adventure to Baviaanskloof and back, including the infamous and hair-raising side-entry from Kareedouw. This is the scariest route I have tackled to date.

The team:
Ilse (Suzuki DR650) and Gerhard (Triumph Tiger 800)
Lance (BMW 800GSA) and Zanie (BMW 650GS)

The video is long, so if you want to cheat and just see the Kareedouw 4x4 and Baviaans bit, it starts at 06:00:

 

 

Day 1 (28 Dec 2016): Cape Town to Gamkaskloof Dam

Stats:
Distance: 383 km
Moving time: 6h30 (59 km/h)
Total time: 7h59 (48 km/h)
Departure: 12:09
Arrival: 20:07
Google Maps link here.

Murphy’s Law struck early. Ilse’s bike refused to start. A new battery was obtained a day or so previously, but it also ran down. Something was draining it.

Lance and I set off from Cape Town at noon. Ilse and Gerhard said they would catch up when they find the electronic gremlin. We later heard that incorrect wiring of spotlights was the cause.

Given our late start, we needed to make up time. Yet that was no excuse for missing Du Toitskloof Pass in favour of the tunnel.

Du Toitskloof Pass:

After lunch and a refuel at Touwsriver, we headed to a gravel back-road that would eventually connect with the Witteberg Road. We were met by a gate with a very business-like lock. Later research revealed that, sadly, this road was recently deproclaimed.

Not to be disheartened, we decided to reroute through Anysberg. This was my third traverse through the amazingly varied landscape of the reserve.

It was hot, even at 4:30pm. Any shade was welcome.

Given the late hour, we saw more game than we had seen on all previous Anysberg rides combined. Shortly after entering the reserve, we scared up a large herd of springbok, which dashed away in style. We had gemsbok and ostrich running in front of us on the road (we even saw an ostrich chick) and woke up a herd of red hartebeest that were snoozing in the road.

Ostrich:

Red hartebeest (gemsbok on the right, further away):

My most interesting sighting of the day: a massive gold stripe across the road. That colour in this context could only mean one thing: cobra! I was heading straight for it. I hit the brakes hard; locking my back wheel. Lance, behind me, thought I had a flat tyre, given the wild antics of my bike’s rear end. If only I could have a clue as to the business-end of the cobra. It complied, raising its hood while still maintaining its unidirectional course for road edge. Given the clue, my strategy changed from brake to swerve. I managed to head past the tail-end without squishing the snake.

By the time Lance reached me, the cobra had vanished. I’m sure he thought I was into telling tall stories, as this was the second time I saw a cobra on one of our trips, without Lance seeing it. Thankfully, 10 months later, I had an opportunity to show Lance one that did not vanish by the time he arrived. This one was more brown than gold.

Back to Anysberg. There were some more pedestrian animals to be viewed as well.

The scenery to the east of Anysberg was just as pretty as in the reserve itself.

It was getting late…

…but we were finally in Bosch Luys Kloof.

Thanks to the late hour, we had one close encounter with kudu before we arrived at Gamkaskloofdam at 8pm. The dam was bone-dry. Apparently it had been so for months already, but it can fill up almost overnight if there are good rains. The farmers in the region were taking massive strain.

The caretaker of the accommodation and the dam is a character, as suggested by his name: Fox. He’s ok as long as you don’t mess with his grass or catch him on a bad day. To a disgruntled biker out there somewhere: Fox still feels bad about yelling at you after you rode on his grass. In reality, he was massively frustrated after installing a door incorrectly!

Given the dam’s dry state, Lance queried about the possibility of crossing it by bike. Fox would have none of it, but decided to entertain us with a story of someone who did try by 4x4 not too long ago. The guy got really stuck and his friends weren’t too keen on helping out when he called in the evening. Stuck Guy eventually decided to stay in one of Fox’s accommodation units rather than spend the night on the pan.

Unbeknownst to him, his friends eventually did decide to try a rescue mission, in the middle of the night, only to find an abandoned vehicle! In the morning, Stuck Guy headed back to his car; by which time his friends had already gone home! The struggle to retrieve the vehicle took days. Fox claims it would still be there if a local farmer (who actually knew a thing or two about 4x4-ing) did not come to the rescue.

The accommodation consisted of converted workers’ cottages, complete with old ablution and cooking fixtures. The hot water runs on gas, but our unit’s system apparently started giving issues that day, flaring a gas flame so high that it looked as if it would set the roof alight. We assured Fox that we could survive one night without a shower. 

Old-style toilet:

Old stove:

Lance and I managed a small braai in a nook sheltered from the cold wind that had picked up. The only news we had from Gerhard and Ilse was relayed via Fox, who said they “would not come through.” Whether that meant “today” or for the trip in total was still a mystery to us.

In fact, Lance’s dad Ernie had helped them fix the DR. Gerhard and Ilse set off late; eating supper in Worcester at 8pm. They started phoning around, looking for any nearby accommodation. Eventually they got hold of Karoo Saloon after 9pm. Though they do not usually allow for late check-ins, the lady took pity on Ilse and Gerhard. Sight unseen, she left them a key and asked that they leave the payment in their room before their early departure the next morning. Great hospitality!

Day 2 (29 Dec 2016): Gamkaskloof Dam to Storms River

Distance: 418 km
Moving time: 8h36 (49 km/h)
Total time: 12h07 (34 km/h)
Departure: 09:13
Arrival: 21:20
Google Maps link here.

Gamkaskloof Dam by morning:

The accommodation:

The accommodation is at the top of the saddle. The little house further below is some sort of storage unit.

These holes gave the impression that all the water drained out; like a gigantic bathtub where the plug was pulled.

There were some small puddles remaining. Soon-to-be “bathtub plug” fossils.

Lance going for a “swim”:

The cracks in the dry dam surface were actually very deep. If you drop anything (cell phone, etc.) you will never find it.

Check the foot for scale:

Hairy toe for scale (not mine, I swear):

Hairy man for scale:

Ok. Ok. That last photo is more extreme than reality (the crags, not the hairy man).

Given our lack of safe gas, we had a refreshing (read: cold) shower after our exploration session.

Heading out of Bosch Luys Kloof:

We took a couple of detours. This hill apparently serves as a wedding venue.

Not-so-comfy-looking benches will ensure a short service:

The road through Bosch Luys Kloof is incredibly narrow, with some blind corners. It has been the site of at least one bad accident: bike vs. bakkie = very broken person (femur, tib and fib).

If you’re tired of the road (or life), there are strategic exit points…

…if you want to moer off and be gone.

A truly fantabulous view:

While Lance and I were still crossing the valley of the shadow of no signal, Gerhard and Ilse were somewhere on Huisrivier Pass.

Lance and I headed through Seweweekspoort.

We spotted a guy on GS coming from the opposite direction; riding like a bat out of hell. Not long after, he appeared again, this time overtaking from behind. Later, déjà vu, he shot past from the front. I wonder if he had misplaced something. Gloves? Cell phone? Buddies?

But we digress. We must catch up with the parallel plot line. While we were in Seweweekspoort, Gerhard and Ilse where approaching Rooiberg Pass.

We reached Rooiberg 45 minutes later:

Gerhard and Ilse in Gouritz Biosphere Reserve:

Lance and I in Gouritz Biosphere Reserve:

This may have continued indefinitely, if not for a patch of water that tempted Ilse and Gerhard into a swim break.

Meanwhile, Lance and I spotted a lonely biker heading towards us, on his own solo mission. When asked about the whereabouts of the other half of our star cast, he replied that he had indeed passed two bikers. Whether these bikers were a dude and dudette remained unascertained.

Lo and behold, we finally bumped into our buddies; simplifying the plot.

Side-stand incident. “Dis maar simpel! Nou koop ek ‘n plot…”

In the sweltering heat, every patch of shade sprouted bikes. The DR obviously thought the other bikes were sissies.

Hope Road:

Prince Alfred’s Pass:

We stopped at Angie’s G-Spot for supper, where the choice was unanimous: roties.

The hour was getting late and we still had to reach Tsitsikamma. Arriving at our destination after dark (or sunset) was standard on this trip: it happened 4 out of the 5 nights. Either we need to plan shorter days (hint, hint, nudge, nudge to the guys) or set off earlier (we were not good at this).

Though there is nothing quite as beautiful as a mountain pass in late evening light.

We had meant to stay on the western side of the N2 toll road; skipping the toll route by taking Bloukrans Pass the following day. Due to some incorrect co-ordinate plotting and subsequent lostness in the dark close to some informal settlement, realisation hit that our accommodation was actually at Storms River Mouth, a good 40-odd km further on the other side of the toll road.

It was pitch-black dark at that point. My spotlights were being temperamental; leaving me with a headlight that roughly equates to one candle-power worth of light. My spots magically sprung to life later.

We arrived at Tsitsikamma backpackers in Storms River Mouth at 9pm. I’d never stayed at a backpackers before. This one had rooms with many bunk beds. There were a lot of French and German tourists. I was worried that Lance would snore everyone awake, but by some miracle he slept quietly. Apparently it was because he did not sleep too well. He was worried about all the biker kit beneath his bed. The foreigners looked at him funny when he suggested locking the room door when everyone was in. Once a South African; always a South African.

Ilse and Gerhard had an even worse time. The Germans in their room stayed up late, came to bed quite drunk and, once they were asleep, one of them wouldn’t stop farting!

Day 3 (30 Dec 2016): Storms River to Baviaanskloof (Doringkloof)

Distance: 184 km
Moving time: 6h24 (29 km/h)
Total time: 9:32 (19 km/h)
Departure: 07:51
Arrival: 17:22
Google Maps link here (incomplete).

Gerhard and Ilse still wanted to ride Bloukrans Pass and we had the most challenging route of the trip ahead of us. This, on top of farting room-mates, galvanised us into the earliest departure time of the entire trip (still a lazy 8am).

We back-tracked to the eastern end of Bloukrans Pass; finding the “you shall not pass” mound that keeps getting removed by irate locals.

Nature is steadily claiming back the road.

Yet the road’s condition is still good enough for the Harley riders and it is an absolute Mecca for cyclists.

Pit-stop at the bridge:

We turned around after reaching the western end of the pass and rode it again from west to east for good measure.

By 10am, we were properly hungry and stopped at Oudebosch Farm Stall. This place specialises in all things roosterkoek. You can have it with bacon and eggs, as a burger, with jam and cheese, or any variety of options. Definitely highly-recommended. It also serves shade!

We made a last fuel-stop in Kareedouw for Ilse’s bike – the DR had the shortest range of all the bikes. Next up: the Baviaans-Kouga 4x4 route. It had seemed do-able on videos to be found on the interwebs. But, as always, videos/photos generally don’t do justice to the gnarly stuff…

It started innocently enough. Nice gravel highway, used by locals. With a river tantalisingly out of reach.

The next river was more accommodating – on our direct route!

It was already sweltering. At that point I didn't stand on ceremony. Off came the top, for a good dunking. Wet tops, buffs and other oddments of clothing were employed to keep body temperatures within the survivability range.

This was the last water we would see until we reached our destination. It was remembered fondly.

Temperatures hovered between 42 and 44˚C. The person affected the most was Ilse. She had been attacked on her leg by some small, angry, unseen critter the previous day. The bite/sting wound was not reacting well to the heat. We had no clue or training on the dangers of continuing in such a case. Not smart.

A split in the road marked the end of my Google Maps link given at the start of this day’s post. Google Maps doesn’t recognise this as a road. At certain points, neither did we.

To the left: Baviaans Lodge. To the right: our route.

The road immediately deteriorated.

At one point, the road forked. We girls took the left fork, the guys took the right. This backs the theory (held by 50% of the population) that girls are smarter than guys.

The ruts drew the eye. And the bike.

We joined the guys eventually. The photo below does not do justice to the incredible 3-D nature of that piece of road.

Choose: rut or bush.

Lance chose the bush every time.

The road was very steep in places. Momentum was key: if you stopped, it would be difficult to get going. This is not an easy concept if you are used to slow = safe. Similar to sand. Just as evil.

The road finally flattened out a bit; allowing for a rest and recuperate stop.

Gerhard helping Ilse cool down in the background:

I found the road incredibly daunting. I remember looking at one section and thinking “I’m never going to make that”. Next second, there goes Ilse, flying up on her DR! This gave me the courage to proceed. Thanks Ilse!

Again: much steeper/rockier than it looks…

The road did not seem to want to end. It is not an “over the mountain and down” type of road. It goes up and down a number of times. Lance was a bit cagey as to the exact distance of 4x4 track. All I know was that the total distance to the campsite seemed insurmountably far.

Some stretches were mercifully flat, allowing for a breather:

The status of “flat” did not last long:

Step to the left:

I am aware that there was a view, but largely due to the marvel of technology, not the marvel of memory.

The photos paint a beautiful picture. The memory says “pick a card” and gives me the options of nerves, stress, fear and terror. I tried digging in Ilse’s memory, but hers came up with hot, hotter and “you have now reached hell”.

Ilse’s BMW City pants did not breathe well and this did not help with the unidentified bite/sting, which added to the overall burn.

Speaking of burn, it seemed that a scorched earth policy was followed.

Lance bouncing from one side of the track to the other:

Off-camber track on the right:

Steep and rocky:

The below may give a slight idea as to road steepness: it sometimes appeared as if the road was disappearing.

“Where’d the road go?”

Note how we’re all keeping left; away from the drop on the right.

Lance’s closest call was when he was bounced from the left to the very edge of the road on the right.

Stone culprit on the left, drop-off on the right:

Gerhard’s view of the same stretch:

This downhill was very loose and steep (yet it looks flat in the photo!), and it ended in a gate:

I’m not sure how Ilse stopped before the gate. By the time I got there, thanks to the gate being held open, I cruised through, focusing on remaining upright. The back wheel felt as if it would overtake the front if given half a chance.

A large, lonely tree provided the only shade for miles:

The rest was sorely needed, but I had about one nerve left at this point and was trying desperately to hang onto it. What was the rest of the road like? Was that the worst? Is there worse to come?

Answer: More of the same up ahead.

With a view that was largely unappreciated:

This bull took some convincing to move away from the gate:

Lance made a friend:

Looking back towards the road, which follows the mountain ridges:

This is not a place to ride if you suffer from vertigo. Ironically, Ilse is struggling with this condition currently (quite debilitating when it stops you even from walking/functioning), but back then she was not afflicted.

Lance keeping to the right, as an insurance policy:

Gerhard’s view:

The view is all sorts of worth-it… in retrospect only.

The next scene was a bit of a comedy-show. A lone guy in a 4x4 was heading in the opposite direction. Everyone came to a halt on a rather steep and narrow section of road. There was no space to pass the car. The bikes couldn’t reverse and it would have been a rather onerous affair to million-point-turn all of them. The driver also struggled to reverse, but managed to give us some space eventually.

Mr 4x4 was on his way to Baviaans Lodge. He asked us whether the road got worse or better, because he had a hard time up to that point. We had no clue. All we knew was that the track we had covered so far was quite bad in our books. In retrospect, the route got a bit better on average, which meant that the driver had yet to face the worst. We worried about him later, because he was completely on his own (no passengers and/or other vehicles) and looked a bit out of his depth.

Steep and stuck - waiting for bakkie to reverse:

The next hill:

I lost it on one of the steep corners…

…and took part in some bundu-bashing.

I told Lance over the headset that he could continue. I could see my way out of this fix. Reversing out would be easy on that gradient.

Ilse also got stuck on the same corner. There’s actually a bit of a rock step/slope on the left, which may be visible in the picture below.

Lance waited for me at the next rise.

Ilse on the same stretch:

This hill would also get the better of me…

…at that left-hander bend:

Don’t ask…

Help.

Watching the video of this incident, I’m glad Lance takes everything in his stride. He always calmly helps me get the bike back upright. Nothing seems impossible with him around and he is generally unflappable.

The road was so steep that Lance first placed a rock behind his rear wheel just in case:

Together we managed to get the bike upright and reverse it back into the road.

The worst part: getting started on very steep hill…

…with lots of loose stuff.

Back on the road:

I almost lost it on another corner, but managed to kick myself upright before the point of no return.

Ilse also had some downtime on a corner:

We took the fall as an excuse for a rest stop:

This perspective gives some indication as to the steps and bumps in the road:

Oars out!

Amazing scenery:

Some pebbles:

The guys had fun on some ramps:

Our destination was somewhere in that valley:

I’m not sure what I was doing here…

The road to the valley tracked back and forth across the mountainside…

…with many hair-pins:

We finally reached the valley floor!

We quickly nabbed any shade to be found.

Lance wanted to take a photo of Ilse, but was told to hang ten until she could work up a smile.

This was the result:

It had been a hard ride. In retrospect, this road will be fun on a smaller bike.

Ilse had suffered the most on this ride, but she was still able to style it over the remaining dry and rocky river-crossings.

The rest of the ride seemed easy in comparison what we had just conquered.

Sand. Pfft!

Ruts:

Beautiful farmland scenery:

We finally arrived at our destination: Doringkloof in Baviaanskloof. The guys had enough energy left to take a dip in the dam. We girls were basically too tired to move.

Each couple had booked a cottage. They were very reasonably priced. This would be “home” for two nights.

My bike had not taken kindly to the hammering received during the day’s ride. Fork seals go for two reasons: (1) cuts in the seal due to rocks/dust or (2) pressure. From scientific observations I’d place my money on the latter. I do not ride fast and am generally not in the firing line of a barrage of dust/pebbles. Yet my forks start crying after every heavy technical ride. They can’t take the pressure. I wasn't too worried. I’ve done many rides now with leaky seals. The bike survives.

Casualty:

We made it to the local little shop just in time before it closed and bought out what felt like half its stock in juice. We were parched!

We also enquired about medical help for Ilse. Her thigh was looking scary. What had started as a red welt just around the bite/sting site had spread to include almost the entire back of her thigh. Incredibly enough, a local doctor was available and came to inspect Ilse’s leg.

The diagnosis: a suspected violin spider bite! I was glad Ilse had never heard of it. Go Google Image “violin spider bite”. I dare you. It’s not something you want to see. If left untreated or treated too late, the poison starts munching your muscle.

Ilse was given a whole pharmacy’s worth of pills to consume at regular intervals, including steroids and two sets of antibiotics. The first batch of pills, taken at once, numbered something between 15 and 20!

There were some super-aggressive ants on patrol. The stoep of Gerhard and Ilse’s chalet seemed less infested, so we moved there for our supper braai.

A peaceful braai (barring the ants!):

Day 4 (31 Dec 2016): Baviaanskloof: Doringkloof to Patensie and back

Distance: 237 km
Moving time: 8:09 (29 km/h)
Total time: 9:58 (24 km/h)
Departure: 09:54
Arrival: 19:52
Google Maps link here (one-way)

The doctor came to inspect Ilse’s leg again and dispense yet more pills before we set off. Hence the very late start of 10am. Our plans for the day: ride to Patensie, fuel up and return.

This trip was much more intense than the Baviaans trip Lance and I did exactly a year earlier. Last time we had left the whole day to trundle through Baviaans. Now we were planning to do it twice in one day!

You have to take it slowly close to Doringkloof or run the risk of colliding with the woolly locals:

We did not get too far before Gerhard or Ilse (can’t remember who) realised they had forgotten a water bladder back at camp. Gerhard went back to fetch it. This was not a ride you want to do minus water in the middle of summer. Even the local critters hugged the shade.

Spot the shade-bathed donkey on the right:

It may have been a hot, dry year, but there were still some substantial water crossings.

Fun at the first crossing:

And then I stalled…

My clutch switch was non-functional after being destroyed during a previous ride; when my clutch lever had to be replaced by a donor lever from another busted bike. This meant that my bike could only switch on when in neutral. Pulling in the clutch lever did not work. Another side note: I sometimes struggle to get my bike into neutral.

Result: Me desperately trying to kick my bike into neutral while my right boot steadily filled with water. “Yuck! Yuck! Yuck!” Lance was laughing his head off.

Baviaans was incredibly dry when compared to our previous trip a year ago. This bit of the road was a mud bath last time:

Spot the wildlife:

The temperature hovered in the low to mid 40s. Any clear patch of water was utilised for person, buff and top-wetting.

Even the infamous and long Smitskraal crossing was very low:

Though there was enough water for a splash:

Ilse on her first-ever Smitskraal crossing!

This was one of the deeper sections:

But the middle was almost bone dry!

The next wet stretch of Smitskraal:

I took a wrong turn and ended up stuck behind a dead branch. It was difficult to reverse the bike out, because my feet kept sliding on the slick surface.

“Uhm. Ya. Nothing to see here…”

Lance charging through Smitskraal:

Ilse went for maximum speed/splash:

She was nervous of the water crossings and decided to err on the side of fast. The DR just lapped it up.

Heading into the mountains:

An odd-angle photo:

See shade; must rest:

The photos below show a comparison of Baviaanskloof in December 2015 vs. December 2016.

Have a look at the last pair of photos again. This is the same spot in November 2017 (courtesy of the Wild Dog Baviaanskloof Conditions thread):

And this is the same place in 2012:

The Baviaanskloof mountain passes were in the worst condition I have seen. Ilse had never before ridden Baviaanskloof and was worried about the tweespoor concrete. I told her that after yesterday’s ride, it would be a piece of cake. It was!

It’s actually positively fun if taken at a slow/careful speed. You can keep the adrenaline flowing if you take it at pace, but I had enough adrenaline the previous day to last me a year. Apparently the roads are being fixed, which is sad, because that will remove the fun/interest factor. I can never understand the logic of moaning about bad roads. Where’s the adventure in gravel highway?

Rough road exhibit A:

View exhibit B:

Ilse was not sure whether she would make it to Patensie on one tank. She forgot that, unlike us (who had last filled up at Storms River Bridge), she had filled up at Kareedouw, which was not too far back. She switched off her bike on downhills. Gerhard, in sympathy, did the same. It felt rather odd watching them ghost by.

Stealth mode:

The bikes were switched back on for the flat sections and water crossings.

Gerhard keeping his feet dry:

Ilse not bothered:

The latest you may enter Baviaanskloof was 4pm. We wouldn’t make it to Patensie (for fuel) and back again in time. The guard at the exit said he would wait for us, but would we bring him a Coke. I supposed he didn’t mind a soda shaken (not stirred) to a frothy mess…?

Heading out towards Patensie:

At Patensie we bought a late lunch, which we ate at the nearest plot of serviceable grass and (importantly) shade.

By this time it was 3pm:

We were chasing time, but managed to reach the Baviaanskloof entry gate at 4:15pm. The guard got his bubbly Coke and we got in!

Lance showing an artistic flair with the GoPro:

When I started biking, I couldn’t believe safety kit prices and bought my first set cheaply. It was a lesson in “goedkoop is duurkoop” (“buying stuff cheaply is buying stuff expensively”).

My first set of boots weren’t protective enough and I ended up with a broken foot. My first jacket wasn’t nicely vented and I would die of heat in summer (my Richa kit I now wear serves as summer and winter kit, depending on layers installed).

My helmet pressed my forehead badly; giving me a headache and leaving a deep red stripe. This was the last trip I would do with that helmet.

Sore forehead:

Ilse catching fish/cold:

Heading off up one of the mountain passes in Baviaans:

Question: How on earth do cars manage to pass on the pass? It was tight enough just by bike…

…and the drop-offs were not insignificant.

Some more fun sections:

We were stuck behind a bakkie for a while, until the driver realised we were there.

A line of road stretching across the highlands is the only spot where you might get reception.

Heading down:

We took some exploratory detours, including to Doodsklip campsite:

What used to be a swimmable river had turned into an ankle-deep trickle:

We found a real river, but there was no time for a swim. We were still chasing the clock; not against gate guards now, but against the sun.

The campsite “driveway” started testing my nerves again. They were a bit tired after yesterday.

Gerhard, on the other hand, was having a ball:

Smitskraal on the return journey:

Ilse was still applying her speed methodology on water crossings. She made the rest of us look like snails!

Trundle:

Fly!

Still trundling:

Speed!

The standard 650GS is not meant to be taken on rough roads with a standard-sized number plate and knobblies. When hitting a ditch or something similar, the rear suspension (even when set on hard) bottoms to such an extent that the number plate catches on the knobblies; snapping off the rear tail-light mount.

This trip was the second time that this happened. It took one more occurrence on a following trip and a near crash thanks to the tail-light section jamming my rear wheel solid at 80km/h (ride report here) for me to say “stuff this” and modify the rear of my bike. I have had no problems since.

Silly Lance had argued that we leave all the heavy tools back at the campsite. He should know by now that my bike needs tools. Thanks goodness for Gerhard and Ilse, who had packed the almost universal fix-it-all magic device: duct tape.

Yet another broken bum:

My bike some months later, with a new, sexier rear, complete with bright LED:

It was 6pm by this time. The light was fading…

…and all the local critters were starting to make an appearance after hiding from the blazing sun the entire day. In quick succession we saw: a kudu, a bushbuck ewe and a hare.

Kudu:

Bushbuck:

Some pixels resembling a hare:

We stopped chasing time and slowed down altogether. This was getting dangerous! We took turns riding in front, because whoever rode in front would see all the wildlife. Further sightings included dassies, a francolin (type of spurfowl), yet more kudus, another bushbuck and a whole family of mongooses - sweet! I almost flattened a dassie that ran right in front of me.

The fading light made for interesting water snapshots from the GoPro footage:

It was not only the wildlife that posed a road hazard:

We arrived back at camp at 8pm. Thanks goodness we had done our New Year’s drinks and braaimeat shopping from the local campsite store in the morning; buying a boatload of juice and a smattering of alcoholic beverages. We were right in our deduction that we would be more in need of normal liquids after a long day’s riding. On average, we each consumed only 2 beverages with a kick – Ilse for obvious reasons could just manage one.

Cheers!

The revelry was at Lance and my chalet; given that the level of ant-infestation appeared to be lower than back at Gerhard and Ilse’s stoep. All was relatively peaceful until we squashed one or two troublesome ants. I don’t have a clue how ants communicate, but damn, they communicate well! “A comrade has fallen! Bring reinforcements!”

The harder we stomped and swept (with a broom), the angrier the ant army became. We poured water down one of their main tunnels. This made them angrier still. Absolute endless hordes of them appeared. It seemed that you needed an entire ocean to stem the tide of ants.

Eventually we waved the white flag and called it a night. It had been a long day and we would not make it until midnight. The ants did not get the memo. Thankfully they are vertically challenged, which meant that while they could be found on the stoep and on the floor of every room inside the chalet (they were very, very angry!), they did not climb onto the bed.

Lance and I probably looked a funny sight, bouncing from foot to foot while brushing our teeth and then vaulting onto the bed. Safe!

Day 5 (01 Jan 2017): Baviaanskloof to Ladismith

Distance: 369 km
Moving time: 6:57 (53 km/h)
Total time: 9:36 (38 km/h)
Departure: 09:32
Arrival: 19:08
Google Maps link here.

We felt like complete heels when we realised that we had left a gate open the previous day. The sheep were having a bonanza in the camp site.

This was the result of last night’s revelry:

Someone was obviously alerted, because the sheep were herded back outside the camp grounds by the time we set off. Ilse and Gerhard made a last visit to the local doctor, while Lance and I went ahead to explore Nuwekloof.

Someone in a 4x4 noticed that we were playing around with the GoPro and was kind and patient enough to wait for us to finish with our drive-by shoot before proceeding.

Meanwhile, Gerhard and Ilse were making their way to us.

Lance and I had gone quite far ahead, to the first split in the road, but after waiting in the blistering sun we decided to turn back to find the nearest shade.

Lance saw a likely spot and bundu-bashed to get there. It looked like too much effort, so I continued, looking for another patch.

I rode quite far back before I found this half-tree’s worth of shade:

Eventually Gerhard and Ilse arrived:

By that time, Lance had come back through Nuwekloof to look for all of us. Nuwekloof is so beautiful that it warrants riding it twice.

We took a mini-detour to Uniondale for fuel and some lunch bought from the local Spar.

Scenery:

It was unbearably hot. I was riding in front and messaged Lance back excitedly that I had found enough shade for all four of us.

Blissful shade!

My bike was still taking strain:

The road that followed was stunning; tracking all along the Swartberge.

Any shade was an invitation to stop:

This shade came complete with water; making it absolutely irresistible.

Ilse cooling down her poisoned leg:

Lance cooling down the beard!

Watery bliss!

We spotted a spotted snake. Later research revealed that it was a spotted harlequin snake. I prefer its Afrikaans name: gevlekte kousbandjie. Literally: little stained suspender/garter.

Back on the road:

Forever mountains, disappearing into the blue:

Spot the other spotted wildlife: giraffes.

Ilse refilled her water bladder at Kruisrivier Guest Farm, a biker-friendly place where Lance and I previously stayed. It has a beautiful camp site and some cottages.

The building at the back is Kruisrivier:

Our route took us on the Groenfontein Road between Calitzdorp and Ladismith.

A last bit of tarmac before reaching Ladismith:

It was getting late:

We arrived at our destination, Volstruis-Paleis, just after 7pm.

By this time it appeared as if my bike exploded fork oil:

We made the mistake of showering and cleaning up before going in search of food. Lance and I should have known better. Last year we were also in Ladismith on New Year’s Day. No food to be found.

We desperately circled Ladismith. Andri’s restaurant was closed. Even the shop at the petrol station was closed. The petrol attendants directed us to our last hope: a small shop called Vinknessie (on Van Riebeeck Street). This is where food goes to die. We found packaged stuff with expiry dates going back a year or two ago, yet still perfectly edible (ask me) and dirt cheap. Expiry dates are a guideline anyway… You could ask for pies, etc., to be made fresh. It takes a bit longer, but there you have it. Food! We were eternally grateful.

Day 6 (02 Jan 2017): Ladismith to Cape Town

Distance: 339 km
Moving time: 4h29 (76 km/h)
Total time: 7h41 (44 km/h)
Departure: 08:35
Arrival: 16:16
Google Maps link here.

Lance and I gathered that we had been lucky to choose the loft bedroom rather than the downstairs bedroom: Gerhard and Ilse were eaten alive by mosquitoes!

Sadly, it was the last day of our trip and some of our snacks did not hold as well as the food at the Vinknes. This is what wine gums look like after being nuked at 40°C and over:

The day dawned with ominous-looking clouds. They spat at us for a bit, before deciding to mind their manners.

Lance found an interesting excavation to explore:

We tried a new route, skirting south of Anysberg. It consisted largely of good gravel highway, but the landscape was interesting.

Some insist on doing it the hard way:

We hit tar close to Montagu. The guys, obviously, were not yet ready for this transition. They spotted a small, rough track just across the road and made one last foray.

By this time my bike decided that I needed some oil too.

A new-looking boot! Wait…

We stopped in Robertson for lunch. For reasons that will become apparent, I will not be naming this establishment.

Reason 1: Heading to the loo, Lance found a closed door. Assuming this was a door opening onto the main bathroom, rather than a singular toilet cubicle, he manhandled the door open; only to find a surprised occupant, who exclaimed: “I didn’t think you’d be that strong!”

Reason 2: While munching lunch, I noticed what looked like a manager-type personage taking a walk around our bikes, glaring at mine in particular. It had leaked some oil onto the nice brick paving where we had parked. Oops!

Reason 3: I started feeling a bit queasy on the way home. The carpaccio was obviously not the best idea. Raw meat… Roughly 100m away from home, I took a short-cut over paving. That bump was the last straw for my stomach. Next thing I know I’m sitting with two cheeks full of you-don’t-want-to-know, facing a terrible choice particular to bikers: spew into an enclosed helmet or man up and swallow. I chose the latter. It was probably the grossest thing I’ve ever done, but the alternative was unthinkable.

So there you have it: We broke their door and soiled their paving, but they gave me food poisoning. My body listened to my entreaty and lasted the last couple of metres until home, where I could be violently sick to my heart’s content. Not the best way to end a trip. But memorable? Sure.

And what about my bike? It had also spewed. Oil. Everywhere. Fork!

I attacked it with some Clean Green. This was in the days before the severe water restrictions, so I also used some water. Sacrilege! My dad organised a temporary fix for the bike’s rear until such time as it could see a mechanic.

All nice and clean now:

 

Mwendo's picture
Offline
Joined: 2011/04/13

Thanks for a great report Zanie.

We rode into the Baviaanskloof via the Baviaans-Kouga 4x4 route, on the second day of the annual Stuff Of Legends Dash,  on the same day (the 28th) that you left Cape Town. I share your view that this is the most testing trail I've ever ridden. It also ranks, therefore, as one of my most enjoyable rides ever!

--
The only problem with hindsight, is you don't see it coming!

 

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