Short and hectic

GeelKameel's picture

Points: 4

A short report on an even shorter trip. And, on top of that, I rate it dark deep red.

Monday afternoon at 12h30 I went over Sir Lowries Pass, right through a storm that I will remember for a long time.

My wife & I returned from a weekend away.  The bike was heavily laden with heavy side bags, plenty tools in the top box and a pillion.
All the way from Heidelberg I experienced the most unsettling very strong gusts of wind, mostly from the side.
It was quite manageable but I had to be very vigilant all the way.

I expected rain closer to Somerset West, so we stopped in Caledon and donned rain jackets.

Past Botrivier, past Elgin and past Grabouw we had a strong gusty headwind and the rain increased gradually.

As I went past the camera near the Steenbras dam, the rain suddenly increased. 
Slow down from 80 to 40 km/h
Taking the first uphill bend towards Sir Lowry's pass summit, I could see little more than the car ahead of me.
Then after few seconds, only the red tail lights.
The few vehicles and me were now down to creeping speed.
The visor became flooded with rain drops.
I wiped the visor - zero improvement...
I lifted the visor a little bit -- zero improvement
Then I realized we were in heavy fog. And rain. And gusting wind.

Halfway through the first bend I lifted the visor a little bit more to be able to look underneath the rim.
Lifting the visor even more, I could see little better with my glasses which was still dry.
For a short distance I followed the red tail lights of the car ahead.
Then the glasses started to get wet.
Approaching the summit my vision deteriorated rapidly. I could not see the car ahead of me any more.
And the wind was gusting like crazy.
I could see the only the yellow line right next to me. I realised I was in bit of trouble.
I had to stop and remove the glasses. Letting go of the handlebar to free one hand was out of the question.
I was very worried that a car would hit me from behind.
Fortunately I kept well left and came to a gusty & wobbly stop, on the yellow line, right up against the armco barrier. How many vehicles went past me at that point I do not know.

Glasses off and hazard lights on.
Pulling away was a challenge - keeping clear of the armco barrier in the gusting wind was my concern on the left. On the right hand side I had to move into the road without anyone hitting me from behind. It was a question of faith to move into traffic that I could not see!

As I pulled away, heavy raindrops started to hit my face. Visor was still quite useless, so I peered underneath the rim.
I could see the yellow line and a bit of white line. I remember seeing a vehicle passing in the next lane.
Then, suddenly, heavy drops of water hit my eyes. Quite painful and unsettling. Each time the eye being hit could not see for a few meters.
Fortunately one eye at a time was hit, so I could more or less keep going.
The amazing aspect was that the drops actually seem to come upwards and still hit my eyes.
I do not know how many vehicles were around me and I was not hit by anyone. So in that respect I was very fortunate.

Matters started to improve halfway down the pass. 
By the time we went round the long curve lower down, all was more or less back to normal (except my heart rate!)

This was the shortest and most hectic trip that I can remember.
Much worse than any red route with rocks or sand or mud.
Matters could very easily have turned very very ugly.
Imagine falling in the road or being knocked from behind!!

No other pictures, unfortunately...but I am sure you will understand!

And hats off to my wife who was a perfect pillion!

Tony's picture
Joined: 2008/08/24

Sjoe Danie!

Well done on keeping a cool head in what was clearly very difficult conditions.

Kudus to your wife as well for being "the perfect pillion".

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

carelvdmerwe's picture
Joined: 2012/08/16

Well done Danie... yes

I know that feeling. I rode that road about two years ago in the same weather conditions. I was barely able to see the instrument cluster in front of me. 

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

Similar to Andyman's experience on Bain's Kloof, when he was blown over and nearly fell off the embankment.  He had to stop a motorist to help him recover his bike.

I'm glad you are OK Danie - this is a reminder that we are vulnerable to the weather and should not underestimate it.

Committee: Webmaster / Ride Captain

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

Sjoe & hectic Danie, baie bly julle is veilig by die huis!

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


Committee: Ride Captain

Zanie's picture
Joined: 2013/11/21

Scary. I fully concur: rain and, even worse, fog = "red" route. Far more dangerous than a technical route with good visibility and no other vehicles.

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