Carpe Die Naweek *

Kevin Charleston's picture

Points: 9

When asked "what are you doing this weekend?" the answer has to be "yes please!"

The ride was discussed at the Donford bash last Thursday, rough-hewn late that night, confirmed Friday evening and executed madly all weekend.
And what a brilliant ride it was.

Day 1:
Tony Schlee, Graham Montgomery and I left early Saturday morning and set course for Ceres and Merweville.
Ceres to Sutherland on the R354, a quick fill-up and then a right turn onto the P2259 (Fraserburg road).
Turn right onto a tweespoor and head over KarelsKraal pass. This is quite rough - but has some stunning views, definitely not a beginners route though.
SSI (Side-Stand-Incident) #1 happened whilst looking for a place to stop and take pictures on a steep downhill. Only my ego took a dent, and fortunately that was my last for the rest of the long weekend.

Tony, Graham and Karelskloof pass

Tony, Graham and Karelskloof pass

I don't think that one's going anywhere Tony

I don't think that one's going anywhere Tony

The road through Banksgate Farm and on to the Merweville road has about eleventy-billion or 18 gates - quite tiresome after a while.


Don't shoot! (or Speed)

Don't shoot! (or Speed)

Graham on the way to church - Merweville

Graham on the way to church - Merweville

 Tea (and apple-pie) at the Lazy Lizard in Prince Albert before heading for Willowmore on the gravel road that leads directly east out of Prince Albert.

This road is pretty good - a little too much 'stuff' for Tony though. A surprise on one section - where the road had been washed away by a thunderstorm the previous evening.



Assisted by a kind farmer - we crossed safely, and then headed into Willowmore.

Kindly farmer

Kindly farmer

We'd originally planned to camp, but stayed over at Jumper's Place (Rony De Sodt's new venture). As a back-packer-type establishment this works well (he advertises camping - but that's pretty rough an is going to need some work).

A furry welcome at Jumpers place

A furry welcome at Jumper's place

The accommodation is basic but comfortable. The bar is stocked. The welcome is hearty, and Rony cooks a good steak.


Day 2:
We were planning to go through Baviaanskloof on Saturday, and stay over in the Patensie area, heading back to Willowmore on the Monday. Rony has a friend who is setting up some accommodation on his farm in Elandsrivier about 50km beyond Patensie towards PE.
Rony joined us for the ride, and arranged a braai and accomodation.

Baviaanskloof was as stunning as my previous trip through it. Last time I went East to West, and this time we were going the other way. I like riding roads in both directions. I'm not OCD - but it somehow feels more complete.

Ah but your Kloof is beautiful

Ah but your Kloof is beautiful

Not much water, the river crossings were low. A warm day, but not too hot. A handful of vehicles. Perfect conditions.
Baviaanskloof is not for beginners - but it isn't particularly difficult either. Challenging enough though, Tony took SSI#2 - again no damage.

Graham had raced ahead, and we caught up with him standing in the middle of the road. He'd been there for about 10 minutes he said - his bike parked on it's side in the middle of the river near Smitskraal SSI#3. Again no damage, merely confirming Graham's love for water. This is the longest stretch of rive crossing in the kloof - and the river bed is rounded rocks - quite slippery in the middle f you get off line.




Graham up and running again

Rony coming through

The rest of the Kloof was awesome - the pass rough - particularly where the concrete slabs have lifted and broken, water-runoff doing more damage around the edges to make it rutted and interesting.
We all survived without further incident and headed into Patensie for a beer.

The road out of Patensie to our overnight stop was rough to start with - badly rutted where it had obviously been very muddy recently. After about 5km of intersting stuff it becomes a really beautiful and solid gravel road. Twisting and turning through the beautiful farms and countryside.

A nice braai, a few drinks and a good sleep. Derek's place isn't really ready yet - but it was comfortable enough and will be pretty good when finished.

Day 3:
We head back towards Patensie and the turnoff for GrootRiviersPoort. This road is definitely not for beginners. It starts out a very rough and rocky tweespoor - and then heads down the mountainside over some very rocky, rough and difficult tracks. Graham took SSI#4 and bruised his leg and was a bit winded. Rule # 2 when riding gravel: don't follow too close - just in case the chump in front (et moi) runs into difficulties and has to stop quickly.

Rony descends a tricky section

Rony descends a tricky section

Tony took SSI#5 on a steep and rocky uphill section. Only damage was a broken mirror.

Tony Schlee - not at his most elegant

Tony Schlee - not at his most elegant

There are a number of really tricky sections - steep, bumpy and with loose rocks. It was good to have Rony along - because he'd done it before serveral times and could tell us: there's a really nasty section coming up ahead ;-)

Rough and rocky

Rough and rocky

The road gets easier as it progresses towards the river, although the last steep drop into the GrootRivierPoort has very loose sections and steep drop-offs with no side-barriers.

Caution, Caution.

Caution, Caution.

The poort itself is beautiful, but the pass on the other side isn't particularly interesting. Roadworks for the water-pumping scheme have tamed it significantly.  As it levels out though - it becomes a flat gravel highway with some lekker humps. A GS really can fly.

Brunch in Steytlerville - with the manne on the stoep of the Royal Hotel.
A refill and then back across to Willowmrore via Klipplaat on the R337. Another solid gravel road with lots of driffies, and the odd hump to keep you awake. Rony took flight a little too vigorously and the tail section of his HP2 broke off on landing.

Rony's HP2 has a loose rear-end

Rony's HP2 has a loose rear-end

A beer at Bhejane before returning to Willowmore for another night at Jumpers' Place.

Day 4:
An early start saw us heading for Uniondale, Avontuur and on to the Prince Alfred Pass and breakfast at Angie's G Spot.

Is this why they call it a monkey-suit?

Is this why they call it a monkey-suit?

I love this pass - scenic and twisty. Not really difficult, but it has been washed away in sections and is under repair.

I missed the turn for Kom-se-pad and headed for the N2 down through Diepwalle forest instead. This was a really s####y road. Riddled with potholes, ridges and ruts. A real bone-shaker - Tony's spotlight was shaken off completely - the mounting snapped.

Tar through to Herbertsdale - and then up the R327 for Barrydale.
A snack at the Country Pumpkin before heaing for home.


The weekend was well and truly seized.

A really lekker ride.  Now I just need to find a way to ride GrootRivierspoort from West to East. 


 * With apologies to Horace.
"carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero" = "seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the next day"

Kevin Charleston's picture
Joined: 2011/09/09

More pictures on Google+

Charles Oertel's picture
Joined: 2007/04/14

Lovely report Kevin.  Impromptu trips like this are the best.

Committee: Webmaster / Ride Captain

zebra's picture
Joined: 2008/03/28

lekker report, Kevin, I enjoyed reading it, and that pic of Tony, looking, well, a bit 'miffed' is priceless!


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

Great report. Thanks Kevin.

Committee: Ride Captain

Mwendo's picture
Joined: 2011/04/13

Good report Kevin, thanks!

It's surely not the same monkey in the SSI #3 and the Day 4 photos, is it? Tongue Out

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

Tony's picture
Joined: 2008/08/24

Thanks for the write-up and photos Kevin.

I'm still recovering from the trip - need to get riding fit Tongue Out. Day 1 was about 670km and day 4 about 750km.

The very hastily put together routes were selected to maximise time in Baviaans. In retrospect, absolutely the right decision.

Two very rookie errors resulted in two SSIs - note to self, must "hou kop" at all times Cool.

PS mirror has been replaced and spots relocated (again) - so ready to go on the next trip.

A bend in the road is not the end of the road... unless you fail to make the turn. ~Author Unknown

Andyman's picture
Joined: 2007/06/22

Lekker Tr and glad you all had fun, came back and want to do it all over again.

Anyone can ride a bike fast....   But can you ride your bike real slow???

Joined: 2008/01/28

Great report.  Thanks Kevin.

Happyfeet's picture
Joined: 2010/02/12

Great report.

We did it in Oct from the opposite side, with non-stop rain for 5 days. The section from Steytlerville to the bottom of the river to took us 5 hours (and 3 falls for me) in the worst (snotterige) mud ever. Yet I think going over the 4x4 section was easier our way around (OK, did help we had a young farmer assisting us all the way!).

A brave bunch you were! Well done. 

Jinx Louw

I don't suffer from insanity, I love every minute of it!

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