After a late night of organising all my gear and a last minute session learning Garmin’s Roadtrip program to load the intended route onto my GPS, Tuesday morning came rushing through the dark and cold. First stop after loading the bike was at the KTM shop in Paarden Eiland, to meet up with KTM owner and test pilot Ashley Baud. This would be an exploration trip for him for future KTM events and also a way for him to test some of the accessories that he sells in the store. His bike was kitted with handle bar raisers; spot lights, Leo Vince pipes, soft luggage and so fresh knobby tires. After a quick cup of coffee from the shops coffee bar we set off, I had planned the route out of town although I thought I knew where we going it took a few wrong turns to get us beyond Durbanville. Our first attempt at getting off road was at the foot of Bain’s Kloof on the Paarl side, a beautiful road met us but turn out to have unfortunately been closed a year prior to our arrival.
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Back on the tar, with fresh knobblies and a dodgy and damp road surface we made our way tentatively to Ceres and up Gydo Pass before hitting the dirt for real.
Once on the dirt it was high speed and heading for the Cederberg area, although it takes a while to get away from the cities and tar roads, once you are out in the open the vastness of our country comes pouring towards you, with potential adventures flashing past you in the form of minor dirt tracks that not even your GPS knows about. Mental notes are made, with more time and no destination these roads are well worth exploring.
Eventually the road ahead became familiar to me as we merged with the road that I had taken a few weeks earlier on the Cape Clan Calvinia trip. This took us through the rural Rooibos tea growing community of Esselbank, and heading for our pre-arranged fuel stop in Wupperthal. There are some amazing sites along this road from old two wheel driving cars making there way to small houses in the middle of no where, beautiful old farm buildings and classic old trucks just parked and left for eternity under old oak trees.
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On my last trip Steve and I had met the Reverend of the Monrovian Mission station at Wuppertahl, he is one of the only people in the village who has a drivers license and to help out the local unlicensed vehicle owners, he travels to Clanwilliam and supplies fuel to the local community. A phone call a day or two before your expected arrival is useful to secure yourself some much needed fuel and be able to continue on without having to divert your routing for fuel.
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We had reach Wuppertahl just after lunch and still had a long way to go, by now we were far enough norths and could feel the heat every time we stopped. Although we were motoring along and heading for Nieuwoudville there was still time to stop and admire the views.
By the time we reached Nieuwoudville the fuel lights were blazing again, the local gas station has an amazing vintage motorcycle museum tucked away, and the town has a spectacular old church that was worth circling the block to get a picture of.
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By this time we knew we would be finishing a mammoth day of riding in the dark after a short stretch of tar it was off directly into the sunset, winter days being so short don’t give you much time for more than 500 kilometers in a day and we would eventually finish the day with 720 km’s on the odometer.
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After experiencing problems with my HID headlight on my last trip with Steve, and having the ballast replaced, I wasn’t very impressed with my first impressions of the light as it became necessary, that’s until I discovered that the only light that was actually working was my bright… Mmmm this was starting to feel familiar and I was starting to wonder if the HID was scared of the dark. The last few kilometers were ridden pretty slowly as we ended up descending a mountain pass side by side with me depending on Ashley’s spots for light. It was a bit disappointing descending down to Kamieskroon and not knowing what views we were missing. We located our hotel cold and exhausted, luckily Ashley had called ahead earlier in the day to make sure that they kept the kitchen open for us. There was no time for showers or clean up, it was straight to dinner and some cold beers in the kit we had spent the last 12 hours in.
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A good nights rest and getting up to explore the scenery of our first stop rewarded us both with beautiful views of the Northern Cape and its unique vegetation.
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Ashley had told me day 2 was going to be a relatively easy day with lots of photo opportunities and time to explore the trails in the Namaqua National Park and the Caracal 4X4 trail. After a mellow start in hot conditions we found our way onto some really fun jeep track that makes up the Caracal Trail, we spotted lots of game out in the veld and a small sample of the beauty this area must display in flower season. We made a small detour to go and visit a historical prison that seemed to be truly in the middle of nowhere.
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From the prison it was back on some gravel roads for some high speed cruising heading south, we were now in line with Hondeklip Bay, I was starting to wonder if we were going to get a prelude to our up coming trip. The stories surrounding Hondeklip Bay trips have created an air of trepidation amongst both Ashley and I and I was hoping for a sneak peek and maybe some secret practice before tackling this with some Hondeklip Bay veterans. But alas, after stopping to do some roadside math we made the conservative decision to head inland for Garries to make sure that we didn’t get stranded at the Groenrivier mouth without fuel.
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Only later on in the day would I realise what a wise decision that would be. This was an area that Ashley has a fairly good knowledge of, after doing previous trips up the coast on small plastic bikes from Lutzville. So we made our way to the southern side of the Groenrivier mouth, the first part of this section of the ride was a total conflict for me, arriving at Groenrivier Mouth I had been greeted by a beach with potential waves peeling in every direction. Part of been a surfer is the joy of standing at a undiscovered and uninhabited location and imaging its potential, I was witnessing the potential first hand and as we hit the small bike trails heading south it was difficult to keep form being distracted by every rocky point and it’s undiscovered wave potential. The jeep track trails that Ashley had ridden on the enduro bikes were very sandy and quiet a handful on the big 200kg beasts. I was however having such a blast that as I got more and more confidence I started to feel like I was on a small bike, soft sand, big bike, full throttle and after only 160km my friend the fuel light was burning. While I was getting carried away and punishing my front rim on small hidden beach rocks, Ashley was getting some punishing of his own. A little front end dive and swap in the soft sand and he was left on the side of the trail with a broken rib, too sore to lift the bike on his own and waiting for me to stop playing and realise that he wasn’t in sight, and I can see for about 10 kilometers..
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After backtracking the 10 odd kilometers to locate Ashley and picking him up and sending him tenderly on his way there was still time for a last blast before spending another sunset on the bikes. We arrived in Lutzville in the dark, fortunately for me my HID had decided to work so the last 20 kms of dirt roads were not as hairy the previous night.
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Ashley was feeling very tender today, I must say after helping him drown his pain by matching him beer for beer the night before, I too was feeling a little tender but then I didn’t require a visit to the pharmacy before breakfast. Our late start gave me some time take a walk around a few of the streets of this small country town and take so pics of the interesting buildings.
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Once we had gotten Ashley drugged up suitably for him to handle the jarring of the dirt roads home, (I must say I was very impressed that Ashley hadn’t opted to head home on some tar roads.) We headed back for the coastline, once again greeted by gentle off shore breezes, tons of potential surf breaks, small west coast towns that could be any where in the world, from southern California to Spain’s Balearic region. It was an incredible introduction to a part of the west coast that I never imagined existed.
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As we got closer to Lamberts Bay the rocky coastline mellowed into long white beaches and we met up with the Sichen to Saldahna railway line, home of the longest train in the world, measuring a length of 4 km. I also shot this picture of this epic wave that I made sure I marked on my GPS for a road trip up this way with boards.
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A stop in Lamberts Bay marked the first day on this trip that we had time to stop for lunch and it was very much appreciated in the tranquil setting of the local fishing harbour. From there we headed towards Elands bay and witness the small community fishing boats lining up to land there catches, from here we followed the railway roads, pretty straight line route to Veldrift.
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The ride felt like it was almost over as we hit the R27 and headed towards Langebaan, only 100km from home, but Ashley had another plan and we cut across to Hopefield and hooked up with yet another railway line that took us to Darling, signs of rain in the Western Cape were evident by the numerous puddles we started to encounter. After stopping to take some photos, I was bombing down the road at around 130km/h only to come across a massive puddle, my heart was in my throat as I had no time to pick a line and could only stay on the gas and hope the bike came out the other side going straight. The good news is that it did, my white riding pant s came off second best and still have brown stains to remind me of the incident.
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From Darling we continued to follow the railway line, although it was far more technical and treacherous with numerous crossings of the actual lines coming up on us unexpectedly.
A short stretch of tar and we were resting out weary bodies on the lawn at the Blue Peter Hotel admiring another amazing sunset beers in hand.
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Another great trip.