For the unbelievers: my bike can finish a ride [Lambert’s Bay]

Zanie's picture

Points: 4

This trip has been written up already, so this report is more a “bits-and-pieces” piece on all the interesting things that happened from my perspective.

I think Geoff may have been nervous about me and Lance joining his group on the Lambert’s Bay ride, given our track record on the last 3 rides with him:

  • Mystery ride 2017: Lance ends up in hospital with torn shoulder ligaments. My bike’s battery dies and I need to be towed (Cecil was my hero of the day).
  • Sutherland 2017: A stone knocks a hole in my radiator and Geoff tows me all the way from the top of Ouberg Pass to Sutherland (my first tow experience – Geoff was a good teacher).
  • Jurg se Kaya ride 2016: I snap a clutch lever and my bike ends up on the back-up vehicle until I can cannibalise another bike’s lever.

This was Lance’s first off-road ride since his accident. He could still use his “sore shoulder” routine to get me to set the tyre pressures.

Geoff was probably even more nervous with me coming on this ride on a bike with a known issue. “Known” being the operative word. I know it has an issue (very intermittent jerks/hesitations while riding), but the mechanics are yet to figure out what it is. So until then it will remain a known unknown issue. Geoff would ask me at almost every stop: “Is your bike still farting?”

Nonetheless, my bike rode, farts and all. The issue is intermittent enough that it has yet to be experienced by a mechanic. Lance and I swapped bikes and he let me know that it was not all in my head. He felt it too.

Meanwhile, I was riding on his 800GSA: a behemoth compared with my little 650. Strangely, I still like my bike more. The 800 feels more planted and one heck of a lot smoother (I can actually see one image in the mirrors!), but my bike has a more comfy seat and I love the fact that it doesn’t have a screen. The 800’s screen creates air vortices that catch my helmet visor, resulting in a very uncomfortable ride at higher speeds.

Despite it being mentioned elsewhere, I will again refer to Carel’s sprocket, because…just…wow. I thought Lance pushed the limits with his, but Carel was taking it to a whole new level.

Before and after of Lance’s sprocket:

Carel’s sprocket:

At one group stop, Lance didn’t appear. Déjà vu. This time, at least, no broken humans were involved. Geoff informed me that Lance had sent a message to say he was helping someone reconnect a battery. A Dakar’s battery terminals had jiggled loose.

Clanwilliam had run out of unleaded petrol (or it had by the time we got there!), so we headed on to Klawer for fuel. The X-Challenge in our group had some spare in a fuel bladder, so it would survive.

We were told by the sweep that he would be taking pictures of all of us as we rode past. Unfortunately he didn’t count the bikes! As a result, four of us were left behind: me, Lance and two other guys – one on a 650GS and another on the Dakar that had given battery issues. The reason for the delay on our part: Lance stopped to wait for someone who never came. We did not get the memo that one guy would be riding straight through to Cederberg.

The Olifants River was drier than usual:

Next thing I head an awful sound; like chalk on a blackboard, only worse. I hit the brakes. The cause was found easily. It may have helped a bit in the braking.

I had a new set of tyres installed the previous week and the mechanic had forgotten to tighten the chain tension adjustment screws. When replacing a wheel, you adjust these screws, then tighten the axle and lastly fully tighten the screws. Most forget this last step. Even I have forgotten this once, but I realised it in time to prevent damage. That time I had heard a warning rattle. This time I didn’t hear anything until the squeal of metal on metal.

My two other ride buddies arrived shortly, but we had to wait for Lance, who had gone back to look in vain for the “missing biker”. I had the tubes, compressor and tow strap, but he had the tools. The swing-arm end-plate was wedged solidly against my brake disc. It took some hammering with two joined long tyre levers to get it loose.

Cable ties fix most problems, even if only temporarily:

The run of bad luck was not yet over. We hadn’t been mobile for long before the guy on the Dakar (new to riding off-road) hit the deck; most likely as a result of a patch of sand. The rider was fine, aside from a sore hip and an arm-roastie. The bike looked a bit off-kilter at the rear.

Soon we spotted a rider coming from the front. Geoff had come to look for his missing flock. The rest of the day passed by uneventfully, aside from stuffing ourselves silly on food at Muisbosskerm.

Last stretch to Lambert’s Bay:


In the morning, the Dakar guy made the good decision to return with the tar group. If you are in a bad head space, as he was after his off, it is best to take the easier route, or else risk more accidents.

The X-Challenge did not want to start. Geoff asked if anyone had a tow strap within quick reach. That would be me. It felt great being able to offer assistance for a change (with our tow strap and, previously, with our tools) rather than being the ones who needed assistance! Geoff and Carel managed to tow-start the bike.

We headed home via Cederberg, where we stuffed ourselves silly at Cederberg Oasis.

Heading to Oasis:

At the final fuel-stop in Ceres, the guy on the 650GS realised he had a slow leak thanks to a smiley that had not given hassles beforehand. He would have to fuel-station-hop until home.

We headed back via Bain’s Kloof Pass. It had been a long day’s riding. I’m used to short stints on my dirt bike rather than long days on the 650. I went to bed shortly after getting home and slept for 11 hours straight!

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

Thanks Zanie.


Committee: Ride Captain

Matewis's picture
Joined: 2013/08/03

Awardwinning photo of the Muisbosskerm glass and the sun setting behind it.

“Don’t go where the path my lead… Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail…” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Zanie's picture
Joined: 2013/11/21

It seems that Lance has an artistic flair!

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