First ride on the Rally: going Postal (and other by-ways)*

Zanie's picture

Points: 9

What do you do if you do not have the skill to follow your crazy partner on all the tracks he wants to explore? Downsize. My 17-year-old 650GS, tired of getting bits smashed off it at frequent intervals, has handed the baton on to a young upstart: a new Honda 250L Rally.

This report contains musings of my first multi-day trip on a little bike. In short: I love the Rally to bits! That does not mean the bike is in bits. Completely contrary to my usual modus operandi, where I sometimes even pre-booked my bike in for the inevitable post-ride fix-up, I reached the end of the four days unscathed.

I tackled some of the gnarliest tracks I have ever ridden - not to be confused with gnarly tracks that pros ride! And let me repeat this slowly: I did not fall. Not once.

But wait! I promise to share pictures of a horizontal bike. It will just not be mine... And, of course, many pictures of some amazingly beautiful places.

For those not into reading, here’s a visual report thanks to my patient partner Lance:

 

 

Day 1 (Fri 30 Mar 2018)

Statistics:
Distance: 226 km
Moving time: 4h19 (52 km/h)
Total time: 6h11 (37 km/h)
Average temperature: 22°C

Lance and I were invited on a ride by someone that I met through the dirt biking circle: Saret. Her friend Rod set up the itinerary. Unfortunately Saret had to cancel a week beforehand due to a last-minute notification that her daughter would be visiting from Hong Kong. Family definitely takes precedence in this case! We were down to three by the first day.

Cape Town is in the grip of a 1-in-400-year drought. Therefore it makes perfect sense that it rained on the first day of our trip (note the sarcasm). It came down hard and visibility was almost non-existent all the way from Cape Town to our meeting point with Rod at Somerset West.

We climbed off tar at the old Houwhoek Pass. Surely the municipality does not maintain this pass? But it is obvious that someone does, because it was in much better condition than what I have experienced before. And this was not just the small bike talking. The men agreed. Maybe the 4x4 set did some road-building?

Rod on his old Africa Twin:

Me on my new Rally:

Lance on his middle-age 800GS (the dash; not the bike speck in front):

If Saret came along on her BMW X-Challenge we would have been even on the BMW and Honda numbers.

Towards the end of the pass, we saw a cop-car on the side of the road. There were also many locals, standing around in the drizzle. It was an odd spectacle. Rod relayed an even odder one: he saw the car that had gone off the (new) Houwhoek Pass, ending up on its back on the mountainside. It had either gone through or over the barrier. Someone was having a very bad start to their Easter weekend.

We had always taken the northern gravel road between Helderstroom and Greyton, but this time we took the southern road. It was very pretty; necessitating a view stop.

We stopped in Greyton at Oak & Vigne Cafe (great place) for lunch before heading off again in Stormsvlei direction on random little back roads.

An organised event took place in the area recently. Whoever they were, they were obviously going too fast.

I really enjoyed this forested stretch. The weather added an eerie atmosphere.

I did my share of gate-duty; having two X-chromosomes being no reason not to take the occasional “hike”.

Stunning scenery: the landscape and the Lance (I’m biased of course).

We arrived by a respectable 4pm at our destination: McGregor Backpackers. The people are lovely, the garden is interesting and the birds abound (or a-fly).

Our steeds:

Day 2 (Sat 31 Mar 2018)

Statistics:
Distance: 233 km
Moving time: 5h43 (41 km/h)
Total time: 7h37 (31 km/h)
Average temperature: 26°C

Poor Rod looked red-eyed in the morning. Lance’s snoring had kept him awake (I appear to have built up immunity), so in the end Rod took his bivy-bag and slept outside, where the world’s insects took advantage of this ready meal. He had a bad rash of bites on his face and apparently also on his one arm.

We set off across Strykhoogte Pass. Suddenly I see Lance veer up an impossibly steep side-track. Rod follows for a bit before throwing in the towel. If I was on my 650GS I would have done exactly that.

Yet now I was on a bike that’s an entire 40kg lighter on a track so steep that turning around in itself would be an almighty mission and end in horizontal manoeuvres. I decided to chase after Lance.

The little Honda took everything in its stride. My brain not so much; trying all the while to wrap itself around the idea that “I can do this”. The moment your brain gives up and checks out is usually the moment you hit earth. Therefore I reigned in my brain and put my full trust in the bike.

The best line is not as important as commitment. I took a bad line right up a rock step and ended up with my front wheel in the sky. I almost lost it there, but let go of the throttle in time to bring the front down and continue.

The road was a dead-end 4x4 track to a viewing point. Lance had always wanted to explore it, but he did not want to try it on his own. Given that it is not a through-road, if you fall here someone may only find your decomposing body weeks later.

The top:

As usual, the photos don’t do this track justice; flattening everything to a very manageable-looking perspective. That’s how we got caught out with the Baviaanskloof Kareedouw side-entry: the route had looked so do-able in the pictures!

On the way down:

We stopped at The Rambling Rose in Montague for breakfast. I really liked their “Granny’s Mustard” and tomato chilli jam.

Next up: Joubertspoort Pass (close to Montagu). For some reason, people generally don’t seem to know about this one; favouring Ouberg Pass (not the Ouberg from Sutherland, Nieuwoudtville area or otherwise – there are about 5 Ouberg Passes in SA).

Spot the bike headlights:

Ouberg Pass (the Montagu, not the Sutherland version):

Anysberg:

Lance pointing out that he’s in Anysberg:

Lance pointing out that he’s a nutcase:

As if he doesn’t know how he got there…

Lance’s faith in his bike ability means he can take his bike to all sorts of strange places; knowing he can man-handle it back out again (mostly). The rest of us mere mortals stick to conventional road.

The view looks just fine from here:

The original idea was to head straight to Koedoeskloof after Anysberg, but there was enough sunlight left for another loop. Yet miscommunication resulted in Rod and I going in different directions with Lance stuck somewhere in the middle.

Let me explain. Rod headed straight, past the turn-off. Lance stopped at the turn-off. I saw Lance and, figuring he was indicating where we go next, I turned and headed off on the extra loop route. Now Lance was unsure who to chase down.

In the end, he waited for 5-10 min; hoping Rod would turn around. Then, worried that I would head on straight all the way back to Montagu, he decided to chase after me, like a good boyfriend should. 

Meanwhile, 8km down the road, I had come to a standstill at a turn-off. I was unsure whether Lance wanted to go straight or left, so I stayed put until he arrived. Good thing I did. It was indeed the turn-off he wanted to take.

There was just enough signal for Lance to send a message to Rod; including a photo of his GPS with the planned route. Unfortunately Rod did not get the message. He eventually turned round and headed all the way back to Anysberg, looking for us. Only then did he head on to Koedoeskloof.

Lance sending messages, before we head off in the direction of “flat house” and “dog water”:

The extra loop was well worth it.

There were countless gates and, being just the two of us, that meant gate duty for both of us at each gate (one to open and one to close), but the road was beautiful.

And then we saw something distinctly out of place walking nonchalantly down the road…

Nope. That’s not a local. More like an Aussie.

We arrived at Koedoeskloof just after 4pm, where we were looked after by Eugene and Debbie.

Lance showing Eugene pictures of where we went:

Usually the menu consists of burgers, but tonight was special, thanks to some visiting Germans who could not be fed burgers two nights in a row. We were lucky enough to be served braai food with all the extras: cheese braaibroodjies, chops, wors, pap and sous. Happiness!

Food being prepared:

The geckos here are super-size and stunning. Lance and I spent quite a bit of time watching them in their attempts to stalk moths. We witnessed a few kills; National Geographic style.

One type of gecko even had lumo dots; a built-in personal disco party.

I have discovered a drink that seems to agree with me during bike trips: gin and tonic. It may be an “old lady’s drink”, but at least my head doesn’t feel fuzzy in the morning if I stick with these rather than my usual favourite (wine).

Day 3 (Sun 01 Apr 2018)

Statistics:
Distance: 441 km
Moving time: 8h45 (50 km/h)
Total time: 11h00 (40 km/h)
Average temperature: 31°C

Our little group was further diminished this morning. Rod was not feeling well at all as a result of the previous bug assault; the rash on his face looked worse. He decided to head back home.

Once on our own, I could almost see the cogs spin in Lance’s head as he started thinking of the possibilities. I was no longer the limiting force on his path-finding. He had free reign…

He started virtually immediately, by taking us down a mini footpath short-cut in Ladismith, after refuelling.

Road ahead:

Then we landed on little farm back-roads.

We were circling through orchards, where we kept our speed very low so that we don’t kick up dust.

As we progressed, the roads started looking a bit more middle-of-nowhere-ish and the gates, though still openable, looked like they hadn’t been touched in a while.

Lance uses a variety of maps to plot our routes: Google Maps, Google Earth (for the eye-balling of routes that are not always plotted), Tracks4Africa and OpenStreetMap.

When we come up short, it is usually as a result of a combination of OpenStreetMap, which includes hiking and cycling trails, and Lance’s Garmin, which sometimes seems to go into cycling mode and routes us in strange directions.

Lance came to the realisation that the route he had plotted from OpenStreetMap was most likely a mountain bike fun ride or a cycle route back in the day; no longer operable.

You had to be incredibly careful when closing this thorn-gate:

The gate was a sign of what was to come. A little town was in sight when we reached the end of the road: a thorn-bush blockade.

We found a way through, right next to the fence. I made a clean sweep of the ground; picking up every last thorn I could find. These camel-thorns will go right through a tyre if at the correct angle.

When we reached Seweweekspoort, we missioned down a short off-shoot road that terminated at a dam in the kloof. It is well worth the detour.

The only thing about lesser-known roads is that they usually come furnished with more gates!

We finally reached the dam, where we were supplied with this view:

But the view might be better from higher up right? If anyone needs a workout session, I can highly recommend those dam(n) wall stairs. They are topped by some monkey bars (a.k.a. ladder) – for the child in you.

The latest in hands-free cell phone technology:

I do not really have a head for heights and felt rather queasy standing on top of the wall.

We found water! A novel experience for the Capetonian.

The view from up top:

There’s nothing like a bunch of stairs to cruelly point out your lack of fitness finesse. My one leg cramped up badly; necessitating a stop and stretch partway down, interspersed with chirps of hilarity from the Lance peanut-gallery.

On the road again:

On the R323 on our way to Laingsburg, we veered off the main road at the Kareebome turn-off to add an extra loop through the Buffelsrivier poort. Wow. Just wow.

The road through the poort itself is a 4x4 track. The start of it, as we like to say “can be done by an Avis rental vehicle”. The final section; not so much. There are more than just a couple of sump-banging rocks.

The rock-formations at the start (excuse the blurry patches – Lance did not do his lens-cleaning duties here):

Spot the miniature biker:

The scale of the rock walls cannot be captured easily.

Note the bike hidden behind the bush in the photo above. Thereby hangs a story. I asked Lance to stand there for scale. The bright spark decided to ride there.

The ground surface off the road consisted of very deep gravel: miniature slippery river pebbles trying to act like sand. Try to ride it from a standstill on a heavy bike and this is the result:

The first thing we did was plonk the bike on its side, fill the hole the rear wheel had dug and have Lance try again. Same hole-digging result.

I was rather miffed at this point. It’s all good and well for Lance to try out new riding surfaces when there’s another strong man about, but not when his only helper is spaghetti-arm me.

Second tactic: Lie the bike down again, drag it around until its wheels are in the big pebbles rather than in the small pebbles, lift bike back up, rock it back and forth to build momentum, and then give it gas and an almighty push on the forward rock. Success!

Lance was exhausted after his struggles. He promptly rode off in search of shade. Fat chance. Shade is in short supply in this region. I tromped back to my law-abiding bike, where it was standing in the actual road, and set off; my helmet on my arm and my gloves in my teeth, to find out whether Lance did track down any of the elusive dark stuff. Nope. No shade. But a great photo opportunity.

On our way again:

“Where does that go?”

More amazing rock formations:

This is where our theoretical Avis car may start having problems:

The whole route will probably be a lot more interesting in the wet as well.

Catching a breather at Floriskraal Dam:

Engage stealth mode. This is what yesterday’s rain and mud did to number plate and licence legibility:

Next up: Witteberge road – running parallel to, but to the south of, the N1. Lance gets tired of riding the same road again and again; unlike me and my goldfish memory. Yet now new horizons have opened. There are many little tracks branching from this road. Each merited a short exploration and storage in the memory banks for potential future use.

Such as this 4x4 track:

Despite my new bike, I am not immune to the occasional “sand dance”:

And then there was this off-shoot further along:

It’s somewhere in the middle of “where-the-heck-are-we-ville”.

Tell me your secrets Garmin!

It started by resembling a road, but gave up the pretence eventually.

For an interesting time, keep right…

Mind the step:

Mind the hole:

Mind the bush:

Mind the sand:

Mind the (locked) gate:

The old Tracks4Africa showed this as a route. It’s obviously not one anymore. Oh well. Turn around.

Preferably without almost falling over.

And then tackle the bushy road back:

You just hope that there’s not a hidden hole somewhere:

We only stopped in the land of civilisation (Touws River) to fill up. Our next destination was Tankwa Tented Camp. Considering the route we would be tackling and the Rally’s 10 litre tank, I did not have enough fuel to last until the next petrol station, despite the Rally’s amazing fuel frugality.

We bought two 1.5 litre water bottles, transferred the water to our aqua-packs, rinsed the bottles with petrol and then filled them with fuel. How much mileage would I gain out of 3 litres of petrol? 90km. I pretty consistently run at 30km per litre! There is one exception, but I’ll get to that.

The threat of a dwindling quota of daylight was not enough to warrant the soul-destroying boredom of 102km of R355. We opted for the soul-destroying boredom of 50km of R356 instead, so that we may have the pleasure of riding 85km of more interesting Tankwa gravel on some nameless road.

The rare and elusive phenomenon of Meerkat Zanie on the R356 (as a result of being bored out of my seat):

It was worth it in the end, when we turned off on the less-than-main roads.

The flat rock slab on the left was constructed out of what looked like perfectly rectangular Lego blocks of rock:

You can see some blocks on the left:

Even this road was not without its human sacrifice. There were many gates. We turned each stop into a photo opportunity.

Muddy wheel!

The worst bit? Heading west straight into the setting sun. The road here was badly corrugated; meaning that you could not keep your visor steadily in such a way as to block out sun while still giving you screen time of a slot of road.

Nope. It sort of went like this: Sliver of road visible. Then: “My eyes! My eyes!” Repeat at intervals in the nanosecond range.

This was deadly dangerous. Both of us hit the brakes when, through the ever-jiggling sun-and-road kaleidoscope, we managed to spot a dust cloud at right angles to our travel path, which zoomed across the road some distance ahead of us.

Lance’s first though: “Where would a car come from here?” My first thought: “----.” There had been no time to think. Further analysis led us to this conclusion: gemsbok! A whole herd of them.

Finally the sun went down.

This left us with a new problem: aardvark holes. And the ability to spot these. Our speed waned in proportion to the light source. I rode in front, since I’ve got the better eyes.

When people ask: Why did I not get the plain 250L rather than the 250L Rally? This is your answer: Aside from the larger tank and slightly longer suspension travel, it also has incredibly bright LED headlights. On the trips Lance and I do, we do get caught out by Father Time relatively regularly. Finally, but very importantly, the Rally is sexier!

We arrived at Tankwa Tented Camp at 7:30pm; a good 50 min past sunset. This place will always hold a special place in my heart, due to the fact that when you order your braai-packs (done beforehand, when you do your accommodation bookings), they actually braai your food for you.

We arrived tired and worn out. Our first stop was a refresher at the bar, followed by a shower. By the time we were back at the lapa, our food was basically done: braai plus pap and sous. More pap! Yum. I was loving this trip. I may be a Capetonian, but my mom came from up-country; hence the love of “pap en sous”.

We were in one of the permanent tents. After a long day’s riding, it’s nice to have an actual bed to retire to. It also means less stuff to carry on the bikes.

The Tankwa received rain a couple of days beforehand, which meant that we first had to annihilate a platoon of mozzies. I think we got all of them. Either that or the stragglers were too scared to move.

Day 4 (Mon 02 Apr 2018)

Statistics:
Distance: 365 km
Moving time: 9h08 (40 km/h)
Total time: 11h09 (33 km/h)
Average temperature: 30°C

I fed my bike some green liquid breakfast, so that we may reach the next fuel stop.

I’ve been riding bike for 4 years now, but I was still hesitant to do the famed Postal Route…when on my 650GS. Now it was all systems go!

Yet we hadn’t gone even 20km when Lance slowed to a standstill. He said to me: “Find me some shade. I have a puncture.” His rear was flat. It only required a short recce, because we were very close to a farm yard that housed a big, shady tree.

While Lance was preparing his workshop, I couldn’t help myself with an “Am I allowed to chirp now?” This situation was causing me great hilarity. The reason? I’ve been told (rightfully until this day) that we were only ever carrying the tools around for my use. In a streak of bad luck, I had 9 flat tyres in the space of 18 months. I’ve also had dead batteries twice and a hole in my radiator once. Now it was Lance’s turn!

The culprit of this puncture was luckily very easy to find. A mystery puncture is never nice, because you don’t know whether you’ve actually addressed the main problem.

Lance unscrewed the screw that had screwed him:

The farm yard was furnished with handy rocks of all shapes and sizes. One was a perfect size to place beneath the rear wheel to lift it enough to make axle removal easy.

Meanwhile, farmyard activities were going along apace:

The farm workers and owners largely ignored us. This was probably in response to a rare phenomenon: we looked like we knew what we were doing.

We implemented the usual trick of using the other bike’s side-stand to break the bead (far easier than using even the workshop-sized bead-breakers). Only, my little Rally is a bit light, so Lance had to lean heavily on it to get the tyre off the rim.

We were on our way again one hour later. We tend not to rush the process, because there’s nothing worse than a pinched tube.

The run-up to the Doring River was apparently less sandy than usual (Lance has ridden this route once before) thanks to rain that had fallen a couple of days ago.

It was still sandy enough for the oars to be deployed at strategic intervals:

We were tackling the most troublesome section of the route first: the Doring River. When full, crossing can be very tricky or impossible. Better to ride the route from this direction rather than being faced with the prospect of turning around after some hard riding.

The Doring River was the section that had me the most worried, with its large, slippery stones and the potential to drown or badly damage your bike (or - as Lance pointed out when doing an edit check - yourself). One of those factors was promptly removed from the Worry List when we arrived to find the crossing dry!

Some water peeked shyly at us from further away:

Despite the lack of water, this situation also called for oars. I paddled across slowly.

The conditions during Lance’s first visit (they crossed in the opposite direction):

Lance decided to demonstrate the well-known biker circus act of fall-over-from-a-dead-standstill-thanks-to-misplaced-foot. This as a result of trying to get a better angle on my progress.

Looks rather athletic:

Unlike in a big group, where bike pick-up is done promptly to avoid further ego damage, the damage is already complete in our little two-person group. I have done my laughing! Therefore Lance can leave his behemoth horizontal until I head back on foot to help with the heavy lifting. This avoids any further potential muscle strains.

We learnt a nifty dual-person bike pick-up trick from Youtube, called the monkey lift. Kid you not. It helps Lance a lot (should I insert pun about Camelot here?) with the heavy lifting. Check it out here:

 

Next up: Lance crossing.

When you can see those large damage-potential rocks, you take it carefully. Lance copied my choreography on the footwork.

The last time Lance was here, he had ridden through with speedy abandon and almost ended up with a drowned bike.

Lance decided to up the speed marginally for his next fall. He executed a very graceful step-off dismount.

The next “river” crossing (a tributary of the Doring) was just as dry and much easier.

We headed into a rocky red moonscape…

…and then back into river valleys (also rocky).

Some advice being given by Lance: “Ride this as if you’re on a mountain bike.”

Again: much steeper and more vertical 3-D elements than it appears.

The next section was breath-taking. Yet it took Lance to tell me to look at it, before the “awe and wonder” part in my brain was triggered. I was looking at the rocks and sand I had to navigate right in front of me. I decided to leave that to my more-than-capable bike. There was a lot else other than road to take in.

There had been water flowing over these rocks during Lance’s previous visit:

When dry:

When wet:

What followed was a variety of sand…

…and rocks.

Many, many rocks.

Weird rocks:

We actually did come across two other bikers on this route, heading in the opposite direction, but unfortunately do not have any photographic evidence. I was concentrating on downhill slalom rock riding, so I skimmed past; only to undertake a return hike to where Lance was chatting with the others.

It was fitting that while I was on my own little Honda Quest on my miniature Honda that one of the riders would be none other than Quest rider Throttle Jockey (from the Wild Dog forum), seated on his (obviously beautiful) Africa Twin.

Further along, we skirted a river canyon:

With this as a view:

The road got rougher as it climbed:

Most photos of this route are taken at this point, before (or after – depending on the direction) the roughest bit. Not to be outdone, here is our photo:

Then the fun starts:

The little Honda bounced happily over everything! It took what would have been a scary trial and turned it into an exhilarating obstacle course.

Evidence of the aforementioned “bounce”: little puffs of dust.

Just make sure you’re not bounced off the edge!

Next thing you know, you are at the top:

The road became a sedate twee-spoor for a while, before switching personality again to sand:

There is a fabulous viewing spot just off the road.

Lance didn’t dare get too close to the edge. It’s a stomach-churning drop.

What a stunning bike…I mean, view!

Then we were back on sand:

The burnt black rocks combined with the off-white sand gave this traumatised landscape a stark beauty.

There were also small dots of colour:

Despite the recent rains, there were stretches of deeper sand. Or, at least, deep enough to turn on my adrenaline radar. I would sometimes go into big-bike paddle mode if I allowed myself to slide back into old habits.

On other occasions I would say to myself out loud as a form of self-motivation: “Think that you are riding a dirt bike.” When in this mode, I can zoom ahead and (try to) ignore any funny bike bucking. My only thought then is “What if I fall at this speed?!”

Interesting rock:

Heading into a greener landscape:

I’d hazard a guess that this is Kraaiberg Pass:

Next up: a follow-your-nose approach to the Cederberg.

“Maybe we go there?”

We ended up riding a complete loop on some back-roads, which traced its way through a little “town” (can 5 houses be called this?), where a little kid was sweet enough to open and close a gate for us.

The common “wildlife” here:

It was on one of the better stretches (such as pictured below) where we had it brought home to us that you are never safe from crazies in vehicles. I had stupidly stopped before a right-hander curve in the road while Lance was busy figuring out where to go. I was on the absolute left-hand-side edge of the road. It was thanks to this and the fact that I was not right on top of the corner that probably accounts for why I am here today.

An oncoming speeding minibus literally drifted into the corner; all the way across to our side of the road. If he’d been going any faster, he would have rolled. I’m not sure what he would have done if there was an oncoming car. They would have been toast. As it was, he had just enough time to correct and swing out enough before reaching me. I did not even have time to dive off my bike. The driver gave an apologetic wave while passing. Both Lance and I did not even have time to register a response. We were dumb-struck.

Oh well. Life (mercifully) goes on. We continued our explorations.

I almost hit earth here:

Into the sky!

Perhaps it was because I was starting to get tired or because of the strange mix of sand and rocks, but I found this trail more wearing than the Old Postal Route. The views were mind-blowing though. I found it difficult to narrow down the pictures, so here are a bunch.

The rocks here have a better sense of balance than I do!

Lance’s front wheel and my rear (wheel!) sinking away in the sand:

The rocks, combined with my lack of skill, bounced me in all sorts of strange directions. The strangest almost sending me off the mountain.

The sand, not wanting to be outdone, caused some strange dancing. I did not know I was that flexible!

We spotted two hikers, with the lady lagging far behind the dude.

The lady:

The dude:

The mountain:

The sand got me again. I swerved, lost momentum and ended up stuck on a sloping rock.

Lance asked why I did not just ride off. My problem: I’m stuck in second gear with no easy way of getting down to first, since my right foot can’t reach the ground!

I’m sure there used to be ground here…

In the end, the light weight of the bike saved me. It was a simple matter to carefully reverse-manoeuvre it.

Some more view:

An interesting rock:

Dual donkey carts:

We were done for the day, where interesting gravel was concerned. It was 3:30pm and we still needed to get back to Cape Town. The original idea had been to take back-roads, but time was not on our side. This meant that we were facing the dreaded N7. 195km of it…

I can say categorically that the Rally is not meant for highways, especially if you have any iota of mechanical sympathy. This bike’s happy zone is 6000 revs. Anything higher than 8000 (which is when the speedo is roughly at 130km/h) and I start feeling sorry for it. It red-lines at about 10,000. I should note here that (A) the speedo under-reads, so 130km/h is actually 120km/h and (B) you won’t reach 130km/h on the speedo if going uphill.

Overtaking anyone was quite a lark. Imagine a slug overtaking a snail (the snail being the one with the slightly larger handicap of a shell) and you will get the picture. It takes some forward planning and weighing up whether the whole ordeal is actually worth it.

According to my GPS, I averaged 110 km/h on the highway. Lance said it was at a low enough speed that he could actually hear the music on his cheap headset (usually not possible at highway speed). On a subsequent ride on the very same stretch, I averaged 120km/h, which is the usual speed I rode with my 650GS.

One thing that had me laughing is that at highway speeds the engine buzzes at a particular frequency that makes my nose itch something terrible!

In pity of me, my bike or possibly himself, Lance stopped at Piketberg to give us all a break. We were soon on our way again, but not soon enough to make the Cape by sunset. 

Meanwhile, I was doing little sums in my head. Up until that point, the Rally had steadfastly given me 30 km/lit; with the reserve light usually switching on at 240km, with another 60km in reserve. Now the reserve light came on at 175km. Not good. I could probably not bank on a reserve of 60km. As I neared the 50km on reserve mark I started getting nervous.

Despite my warnings, Lance still threw a loop to the beach for this last shot of the day:

The next morning, on our way to work, I asked Lance to make sure I made it the 2.8km it would take to get to the nearest fuel station. I only managed about 700m before the bike sputtered. A lot of cajoling and leaning the bike heavily over on its side and back got me to the 1.4km mark.

Lance looked a bit lost, until I told him that there’s not much we could do here: he should either fetch some fuel or a tow-rope. Lance set off back towards home, just as I yelled “preferably fuel!” I’ve been towed twice before, but did not fancy doing it on morning peak-hour traffic roads.

I figured that due to the Rally’s light weight, I may as well start decreasing the distance between us and the fuel station. I started walking the bike. This strange sight of someone walking next to their bike next to the road drew attention quickly. A guy with a bakkie stopped to see whether he could help. He offered to fetch fuel from his home or load the bike in his bakkie, but because his home was further away than Lance’s and the loading seemed like a mission, I told him not to worry.

The next to stop was a guy on a BMW K1600. He offered to quickly zip to the fuel station and back for some petrol. I gladly accepted, because I was not sure whether Lance would come back with fuel or a tow-strap. I’m glad I did, because Lance returned with only a tow-strap. His petrol that he keeps to one side for his two-stroke (obviously before he mixes it with oil) was finished.

By the time Mr K1600 returned (I did not even get his name) I had covered an additional distance of 700m through walking. He brought a gift of liquid gold: 750ml of petrol! He would not accept payment; only thanks. If you are on this forum, Mr K1600, please accept another thanks!

I have been helped so many times by so many kind people. I only wish to pay it forward someday. I have started already by trying to remotely organise help for some guys stuck with a dead battery in Namibia. I so know the feeling from my own dead battery experience…

My overall experience then of the Rally: Despite its highway limitations, it’s a brilliant bike for the type of riding Lance and I do. We are usually either just the two of us or in a small group of friends; we tend to actively search out the rougher routes; and none of us worry about speed as a requirement.

And looking at Lance’s bright eyes and his comment of “wasn’t that your best ride ever?” (which in his speak means “I had a great ride”) I figure for him it’s every bit worth it to have me able to follow him effortlessly on any of his crazy detours.

* Winner of the Ruslamere trip report trophy June 2018.

Jackie Wiese's picture
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Joined: 2012/02/26

Sjoe Zanie - Respek!!! Life is a journey, enjoy the ride!

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

What a fantastic Adventure.

Felt like I was riding with you.

 

Committee: Ride Captain

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Joined: 2017/03/24

Great post, thank you for sharing the first adventure on the new bike.

Really appreciate the link to the 'Monkey Lift' video, think I will be trying it out shortly...

Froggy's picture
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Joined: 2014/01/15

A great read Zanie.

How an earth do you find time to write such detailed reports :-)

 

Froggy

Zanie's picture
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Joined: 2013/11/21

Thanks all!

Bulldozer: Lance said the Monkey Lift helped him a lot with the heavy lifting. Definitely do try it.

Froggy: Ask Lance. The writing alone took 2 solid days (on separate weekends), where I had to plant myself in front of the PC and not move. I need extended quiet time for this as I struggle to do it in bits and pieces. I also have to be in a creative mood, otherwise I start writing in a "we did this, then we did this, then we did this" mode. So writing is generally done on weekends (I'm usually too tired to think in the evenings after work).

Then there's also the time needed to go through all the footage, taking snapshots (source of most of the photos) and choosing photos out of literally 1000 pics. This can at least be done in short bits and pieces time-slots. I generally do this before I start writing.

Lance puts together the trip report videos. It's usually about an hour of editing per minute of footage, e.g. a 15 min video will take 15 hours...

I joined a week-long trip to northern Namibia on my 650 last year in May 2017 (my second trip - the first was May 2016), which I have yet to start writing; though photos are basically sorted. Sigh.

I keep a Word copy back-up of all my reports, with pictures, so that I have something to read one day when I am old and grey. The videos, especially, are a nice reminder of some great trips.

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Joined: 2015/09/28

Wow Zanie, what a fantastic report. This effort deserves a canvas print of your favorite pic and gets a vote from me.

Zanie's picture
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Joined: 2013/11/21

Thanks Greg. Unfortunately I won't be at this month's club meeting. I'll be in Durban for the week - work trip. sad

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

Zanie, your trip reports stay eligible to win for as long as they appear on the list of 10 most recent trip reports (on the home page).

Committee: Webmaster / Ride Captain

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