Friday, December 12, 2008

Southern Cape Trail Ride - Day 2


I was very excited about today. I’ve only crossed Attakwas Pass once before 2 years ago. It’s a Nature conservancy and National monument and as is normal in such areas motorbikes are frowned apon.

It took a lot of negotiating, begging, pleading and favours, but I got 6 permits (guide plus 5) in the end for a once-off ride. I would be “group leader” and responsible for anything and everything that might happen.

It is a difficult route, but I could see some of the group thought I was exaggerating about what lay ahead. We decided to start early to get over the pass before the midday heat.

I was up with the sun at 5 am.

We did the formalities for the permits – all names, contact numbers, registration numbers etc. were taken down and had the pre-route briefing. LGF smiled disbelievingly when we were told the 20km would take us 3.5 hours. Surely bikes should be able to cover the distance quicker than that?

By 8 am we were ready to roll.

We could see the hill climb from where we started (I later took the reverse picture from the top). As is usual you cannot see the true gradient on a photo (something I am going to say a lot in this Ride Report).

The fun starts right at the beginning of the route: Some stones

a ride up the riverbed

a sharp left turn and up the riverbank (the turn meant that you would lack momentum…)

and then some nice thick sand before the hill climb starts.

We scouted the section, decided on lines and LGF went 1st.

EttienneNXR (this laai’tie can ride!)

That bank is steeper than it seems on the photo Wink

Operator making it look easy:

Tok-tokkie on the TW200:

Are we having fun yet?

Next up the hill climb. This is a long steep climb which we would tackle in sections. Believe me when I say the angle of attack is very steep.

Luckily the first bit had no loose stones, but you basically ride up a rock. LGF was the first casualty of the day.

The problem was the luggage on the back of the bikes. With all the weight on the rear the front wheel lifts over every rock on the steep incline. With the front wheel in the air you cannot steer the bike as you get thrown off-line…

Operator doing it in style.

Looking back down the drop is almost vertical. Rooipoot’s DR200 in the background also gives an idea of how high the climb is.

The second drop of the day: Tok-tokkie on the TW200

The next section is covered in loose rocks and the DRZ went down again.

By now we realized that it was highly likely that everybody would go down sometime during the day.

The 3rd section:

The 4th section…
(check out the incline)

and the last section.
(In the background you can see the house from where I took the first photo of the route).

Rooipoot also dropped the DR200 on this section (sorry – no pic)

Wrestling the bikes up here is hard work!

By now we have been on the road for an hour. In that hour we’ve had 4 falls and we’ve covered all of 2km. By now the guys realized I was not exaggerating.

Broken screens, scratches and bent levers. Undecided

The jeep track on top felt like a highway and the airflow was a welcome relief. Now we could start appreciating the scenery.

Every so often there would be an interesting section to keep us on our toes Grin

(did I mention that photos don’t show the true incline?)

The road ahead:

The “road” varies with uphills, downhills, water crossings, sand, stones and thick vegetation.

Going was slow. This is thirsty work.

The Attakwas hut. Hikers sleep here when they walk the 3 day route.

Close to this hut is the unmarked grave of “Bloubaard” Swanepoel. His claim to fame is the fact that he was the last person to be publicly hanged in South Africa (on the town square in George).

He was convicted on numerous counts of murder of persons who had bought cattle from him. After the sale he would ride over the Attaquas Mountains and ambush them on their way out with cattle, kill them and take the cattle back. He did this on four occasions but on the fifth occasion he did not see one of his potential victims who had gone to the bush to relieve himself.

He is also believed to have killed numerous labourers who took out honey for him on the cliff faces of the upper Gouritz River. After having retrieved the honey from them he would push them off the cliff into a maalgat whirlpool in the Gouritz. As their bodies could never be recovered he could not be convicted on these charges.

After a brief rest at the hut we continued. We have been riding for 2 hours and we had covered 7km.

Water / mud / marsh section disappearing around a corner.

When will I be here again?

More hill climbs.

Oh fun!

On top of the world! We could see all the way to the coast.

This small block house was built by the English during the Anglo-Boer War.

Struggling along through the thick vegetation.

Exiting the reserve. There are 3 locked gates along the route and you get the keys along with the permits.

The last section from the reserve back to the road you have to cross a farm. Roads full of marbles end an entertaining route.

We finished the 20km stretch after 3.5 hours. We were tired and out of water so lunch and a cold one was well appreciated.

Temperatures topped out at 35 degrees. We took the Kammanassie road to Eagle Falls where we’d camp for the 2nd night.

Nice campsite with good facilities. Once again we were the only campers here. Eagle Falls also has a restaurant and pub. Cold beer after a hard day - what more could one want?

This spot could work well for a South Cape Bash…

What a day. We were tired but content. We had a nice braai (BBQ) and that night I slept like a log.

Early on day 3 we’d tackle the (rated 5/5) 4x4 route on Eagle Falls, before crossing the mountain again to the forests of the Garden Route.

Continue to Day 3


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