BMW club ride to the Middle of No-where - A Karoo adventure with a "small" incident (October 29th-30th 2011).

MeganV's picture

Points: 1

A Karoo adventure with a "Small" incident.


Chapter one – Dirt, Dust and a Little Karoo.


“Camping!” I screeched when I heard it was a weekend of roughing it with the BMW club on the weekend of the 29th to the 30th of October. Yes, I am your normal female and the idea of camping, sand and limited packing space on the bike does not easily appeal to me. BUT the idea of bonding with much loved people got the better of me and I signed up for the trip (Most distressed that my beloved GHD could not accompany me) But something that distressed me even more was finding out I had to share a three man tent (which was the size of a one man tent) with my parents.

The club ride began with a meeting at the Plattekloof Engen petrol station and the topic of everyone’s conversation when we arrived was Mr. Leon Lee’s bike which was packed and prepared for any survival situation. As Warren was quoted saying "It looked like a packed camel." Yes, living it up true boer style, Leon managed to pack his entire braai set on his bike. Not to mention, his kettle, police lights, his camping chair and CD player. Someone give that man a Bells!

Leon's loaded bike - you may gasp. (He is our very own BMW Bear Grills)Smile

Leon's bike. Our very own Bear Grills.

Leon packed everything except the kitchen sink!


After our briefing by “Kaptein” Warren at 8am, all 19 of us (14 bikes) set off eagerly on our Trip to “Nowhere”. We left Cape Town over Du Toits Kloof Pass, and then took the Slanghoek Valley Road and Mitchells Pass in to Ceres. The weather played along nicely and the views really didn’t disappoint.


Mike "Baardman" Adendorff catching 40 winks (Who rode solo this trip without his dad as Adi is recovering from a broken ankle!)


Out of Ceres we took the Theronsberg Pass (Tar) . Tire pressure adjusted? ABS OFF? Time to make the dust fly.Wink

Two lovely ladies - Jane Edwards and Karen Verhulp

Two beautiful ladies

My dad (Trevor Versfeld) helping my mum with her tire pressure


"Kaptein" Ellwood


After the pass we then took the R356 (first dirt road) to Sutherland, and turned off onto an O.G Pad. (Ondergeskikte Pad) which eventually came out very near the Tankwa National Park. But along this road with ALL its gates you find the Isle of Sky ("Nowhere) which is where we camped, about 62km from Sutherland as the crow flies.

The Isle of Sky - A little Karoo Magic.



The beauty

Did anyone fall? Take a guess....the only person to fall on the day was Leon, whose bike was so heavily loaded it just fell over at one of the gates. Nee man!

We also lunched along the O.G Pad in the bed of an unnamed river - this was a real treat. As usual Anne-Marie and Neels never fail to disappoint with the catering and we had rolls, cold meats and potato salad for lunch. Our tummies were full en die kos was heerlik! Smile

Natalie, Sean, Me, Rob and Jane.

All of us

Something everyone enjoyed laughing at was the enormous size of Derrick Martin’s HUGE black travel bag (see picture below) used to help secure the Marquee and prevent it from blowing away (yes, that's how big it was!). We weren’t sure if he had plans to stay an extra few days when we reached “Nowhere” or if he was smuggling a large consignment of cocaine to someone. We even double checked to see if his wife Danni wasn't inside.Either way, Derrick, you gave the women a run for their money!

What was in your bag Derrick?


Chapter 2- Arriving at our home in the Karoo

Shortly after arriving at our campsite we all chose our camping spots. Rob Selig and Leon Lee who are no longer welcome "tenting neighbours" were exiled to the remote areas where they could peacefully saw down trees all night long. (Campsite number 2). Assembling tents was a bit of a mission but once that was done we could all relax. (I was also heavily relieved to know that my adopted grandfather Geoff Edwards had brought a one man tent for my dad to sleep in! Thanks Geoff!)Smile

Geoff Edwards showing the younger men how its done!


Cosy in the Karoo


Sian and Natalie enjoying the dirt!


That evening we also had wood brought to us to the very humble locals via their doneky cart. They live a very simple existence and were very grateful for some drinks and food we gave them.

Locals delivering our fire wood.


Chapter 3 - The Incident of the Missing Jockey

It is no secret that Derrick Martin is a fan of the outdoors, so when he decided (without telling anyone) to go on a little walkabout to explore the area it was quite usual. Natalie had seen him briefly around sunset walking towards the river bed in a “t-shirt, jean and a beanie” but that was the only sighting of him. SO when 8:30 rolled around suspicion began to arise as to where he was. Sleeping perhaps? Empty tent. Toilets perhaps? Not there either. Panic began to surface lightly and loud calls across the Karoo for him echoed. Nothing. Now as beautiful as the Karoo is, its chilly winter nights and animals such as snakes are largely unforgiving. Did he have a torch? That was unknown. After about half an hour of calling for him much to no avail Warren and Mike set off on their motorbikes to look for him. I must add that seeing the headlights of the motorbikes in the distance against the eerie Karoo backdrop was not first prize. Calls continued to echo out for him, torches swept the sky and hooters blasted. Nothing. We knew by now he was lost and panic had definitely set in. Derrick (aka The Jockey) was lost in the Karoo. After Warren and Mike returned we decided to all eat the delicious dinner made by Anne-Marie and Neels Wilken and then collaborate as a search party. It was not 10 minutes after we sat down to eat dinner that The Jockey sheepishly popped his head around the corner of the marquee. Silence. “I didn’t realize the river bed split into two and I took the wrong one walking back to the camp.” Relief and the F-Word swept through the camp.That night Derrick received a straf mug!

After the incident a few more straf dop's were handed out and then we carried on eating our food and even roasted marshmellow's on the bonfire (Sean Hidden was an expert at this!) and dipped them in chocolate sauce. Tongue out Who said adults can't be kids?

Chapter 4 – The road home

It is fair to say that none of us were keen to pack up and head home. The Karoo certainly boasted a lot of beauty and gravel roads that any offroad bike would drool at. Not to mention the company was great.

Once again, Neels and Anna-Marie made a breakfast which could compete with Masterchef talent and left us feeling very full.

Neels and the lovely Anna-Marie

Neels and anna-marie

Leon Jordaan, Neels and Derrick


Hein, Eric and Rob


The trip was 314 km from Ceres and back again so the bikes needed to be nursed, especially the 800's for fuel. Searching for Derrick didn't help the fuel situation much either. But all is forgiven Derrick.

As for a little GPS information: When we left our home for the weekend we took the main Tankwa National park approach road then turned left on to the R355 ( this road was very dusty but a wonderful ride) towards Ceres. After enjoying the offroad adventure on this road we turned right to go past Kagga Kamma and went over first Peerboom Pass, then Katbakkies Pass, before getting back on to the tar near Op Die Berg, going down the Gydo Pass back in to Ceres, down Mitchells Pass to the Calabash Bush Pub for pizza and a warm drink as it started to drizzle slightly. (Sjoe - thats a lot of passes!)

Afterwards most of us opted to brave a wet Bainskloof Pass into Wellington and then it was the last stretch home.

Thank you SO much to Warren Ellwood who organized a safe yet really fun and adventurous trips, thank you to Neels and Anna-Marie for making sure we had a never-ending supply of yummy food and for driving back -up, and thank you to everyone who came on the trip and made it fantastic.

LASTLY.....This weekend proved many things, firstly, that the Karoo is a piece of magic in South Africa, secondly, good company and memories should be treasured and lastly, never let a jockey lose in the Karoo bushveld.

Sean Hidden having fun


Who took part in this trip?

Warren Ellwood (Kaptein)

Natalie Ellwood (Kaptein’s wife)

Trevor Versveld (kept camp number 3 awake)

Sian Versveld (also kept camp 3 awake trying to keep Trevor quiet )

Megan Versveld

Geoff Edwards (My adopted grandfather)

Jane Edwards (Geoff’s beauty)

Leon Lee (Camp no 2 for snoring, bike looked like a packed camel, so many gadgets it wouldn’t start in the morning)

Eric McLaren (didn’t use mattress, must be a tough guy)

Mike Adendorff (part of search party on the bikes)

Derrick Martin (went walk about and got lost causing a search party, found his way back at about 21H00)

Sean Hidden

Leon Jordaan

Rob Selig (Camp number 2 for snoring)

Hein Carstens

Ian Verhulp

Karen Verhulp

Back up

Neels Wilken (Kamp Kommandant)

Annamarie Wilken (Caterer extraordinaire)

Warren Ellwood's picture
Joined: 2007/06/18

Thanks Megan.

An awesome report about an awesome weekend.


"Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, and does it improve on the silence?"

Mike Adendorff's picture
Joined: 2010/11/30

Very nice trip report.

Thank you Megan. Don't you have a picture of our little black friend that hung out around the camp with us all.

Looking forward to the next report.


Rockfox Adventure Systems

BobGoode's picture
Joined: 2010/10/07

Great report. Nicely written. Well done Megan

Let it be.

Joined: 2011/02/09

Your reports are always entertaining Megs - I see the work in progress so it's nice to read the finished trip report and look at the photos! We had a great weekend didn't we?

One thing I must add is that Trevor is now part of Leon Lee's and Rob Selig's  Snoring Club Laughing.

"When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane".

Geoff Russell's picture
Joined: 2007/09/25

Great report Megan - thank you.


Committee: Ride Captain

SeanHidden's picture
Joined: 2008/11/21

Awesome report Megs! And thanks for the great photos!

PeterO's picture
Joined: 2007/09/11

Good report Megan.  About time you started riding your own pack horse! Laughing

If you can dream it you can do it!

Hayleyscomet's picture
Joined: 2007/06/30



Sounds Great



Ride Like the Wind


Cloudgazer Steven's picture
Joined: 2007/10/03

Greta report. Looks like a fun trip.

There are so many problems in this world. Luckily there's a wristband available for almost all of them.
Leon1ee's picture
Joined: 2007/12/06

Great report. Must admit pictures never justify the beauty of our country. You need to see it for yourself.

Most motorcycle problems are caused by the nut that connects the handlebars to the saddle

RUSTY- Russ Rathbone's picture
Joined: 2007/09/04

Nice report and pictures Megan. Really well done. I wish I were a school oni?

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