Friday, April 10, 2009

Day 1

When I bought my eldest son the CRF80 I've already decided that this bike will do more than one night trips. I wanted to take him on an extended trip. Three days at least. So when EtienneNXR started organizing a get together at the new campsite on their Game farm the perfect opportunity presented itself.

Their farm is 17km out of Ladismith on the Laingsburg road. From our farm next to George to theirs, following gravel most of the way, the farms are 200km apart. The perfect distance for a CRF80 shakedown ride.

Our Route:

(Clickable map)

Friday morning early we hit the road, direction Herbertsdale.

Still on the farm. The Southern Cape is in the grip of a crippling drought. We are blessed to still have some irrigated grazing. In the distance you can see how the usually green Southern Cape is turning brown

A quick stop at the Groot rivier. This eventually turns into the Great Brak river.

The ride was going well so far. I had to ask him to slow down a bit though. The roads were graded recently and very loose, so his power sliding through the corners were just asking for trouble before we got to our destination.
(The TA couldn't keep up )

Some wildlife en-route. I have never seen this area so barren and dry. Some say it's the worst it's been in decades.

In-ride shot

Crossing the Moordkuil river.

At the Haelkraal turn-off from Robinson Pass we saw that Diesel & Dust was open. I calculated that the CRF80 would need to achieve a consumption rate of 40km/ to be able to do today's distance, so it would be stupid to ride past a petrol pump. We stopped and filled the CRF80 to the brim. After 48km it took 0,8 - that calculates to 60km per liter! The CRF80 with a 5.5 tank will be able to ride in excess of 300km!

The Haelkraal road towards Herbertsdale:

Some more game farms along the way. Somehow I was hoping we won't see some of these:

A snack stop near Herbertsdale just before crossing the Langeberg mountains via Cloetes Pass.

With the arrival of white settlers at the Cape, the need for a route between the Cape and the interior enjoyed a high priority and in 1689 the first documented crossing of the mountains over the Attakwaskloof took place. This pass remained the most important route linking the “Grasveld” around Mossel Bay with Kannaland3 in the vicinity of Oudtshoorn. The Cloetes Pass was built in the 1850’s to give the area around Mossel Bay access to the Little Karoo north of Herbertsdale. The pass was since altered several times. The need for better linkage between the “Grasveld” and Kannaland led in 1869, after numerous petitions by the farming community of Oudtshoorn, to the construction of the Robinson Pass. - HAP Smit


There is very little information available on Cloetes Pass. Apparently it was built around 1850 and served as the main route between Mosselbay and Ladismith. It's the direct link between Herbertsdale and Van Wyksdorp but these towns were only founded in 1865 and 1904 respectively. Being very small towns Cloetes Pass is mainly used by the farmers in the area and the Pass only carries an average of 47 vehicles per day.

Cloetes Pass is 11.5km long and reaches a height of 480m. It has three block houses dating from the Anglo-Boer war and like the block house on Attakwaskloof Pass these were build by the Mossel Bay District Mounted Troops.

Across into the Klein Karoo and we head West towards the Gourits River.

We usually stop at the scenic spots so I stopped up here to photograph the bridge. I knew he would stop at the bottom on the bridge where I planned to photograph him again.

Crossing the bridge I realized he wasn't slowing down Usually when I stop I hoot to let him know. I didn't hoot when I stopped here cause I wanted him to carry on to the bridge. He of course didn't know that I had stopped and carried on on his merry way... I really had to wind-up the TransAlp to catch up from here!

The turn-off to Van Wyksdorp. From here it's long straight dirt highways crossing the Klein Karoo.

Needless to say Asterix did not enjoy this stretch. Small bikes are made for the tight and loose stuff. He found riding along on these straights at 70 - 80 km/h quite boring with very little too see. It's not like the scenery changes after every corner. In fact, a corner in the road was scenery!

Eventually, five hours after we set off, we reached our destination.

We were the first arrivals for the weekend and chose a nice and shady spot in the camp.

This is a very neat campsite with great facilities. It is highly recommended!

We had a nice shower and were relaxing with a cold one by the time the rest of the mob arrived. Somehow I did not take a lot of photos tonight but we had a great time.

Full moon over the Klein Karoo:

All in all a very enjoyable day - and the weekend had not even started!

Continue to Day 2.

Index Page.


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