Warm fire, cold drinks and he great Karoo skies. What can be better than this?
We're camping at De Hoek in the Swartberg Mountains although we didn't know that we'd be here a few hours back. How's that for an impromptu ride?
Rewind to lunch, Friday 25 June.
Wave Rider pops in for a visit. He's had a horrible week (I can relate) and needs to get away to clear his head. Just ride somewhere, go sit under the Karoo skies and forget about everything. What a wonderful prospect, but it's kinda short notice. I can be ready to leave in an hour!
A few phone calls are made, panniers and tents loaded and before we knew it we're making a last stop in Oudtshoorn for tonight's provisions. Our little group has grown to four with Dusty joining us a little bit later.
Wave Rider - Suzuki V-strom
Cassie - Kawasaki KLX250
Grysalp - Honda XL500
and myself on the trusty TransAlp:
A very diverse group of bikes - just the way we like it! Grysalp bought that XL500 new in 1980. In February this year it was 30 years old and still going strong. Doesn't even use a drop of oil. And check out that 23" front wheel!
Camp set up and the woes of the week forgotten. We are truly fortunate to be able to break away like this.
And the woes of the week were truly forgotten. There were cheers and laughter all over - jokes, stories, even some amateur stargazing. The Karoo sky is a sight to behold!
Early morning campsite scenes:
Beautiful day, but we knew that a cold front would move in before nightfall, so we'd have to make the most of the day.
We had to head back home today, but we decided to do it the "Long Way Round". Such a cliche, but so much better than heading straight home.
So the bikes were packed and the plans were set. In stead of heading South back to George we'd head North, over Swartberg Pass, to Prins Albert and from there head East to Klaarstroom, South to De Rust and then back to George via Dysselsdorp and Paarde Poort. Nice one day outride.
(We also stopped at another undisclosed location not part of this report - all about that stop will be revealed later in the Watermeid report. )
De Hoek is situated close to the bottom of Swartberg Pass so the ride was scenic right from the start:
While here this black Yamaha Tenere came past with rider and pillion. Very nice bike. It also had a Wild Dog sticker on the pannier - wonder who it was?
Some more scenery a little higher up:
Here we met Jakkals and a friend who was returning from "The Hell". Seems like we weren't the only ones who wanted to get away that Friday evening.
The view from the top looking South:
Grysalp enjoying the view looking North:
And he wasn't the only one!
Cassie enjoying the ride:
Scenery towards Prins Albert - no doubt the most beautiful part of Swartberg Pass. Look at those twisties winding down into the Great Karoo:
Some scenes around Prins Albert:
"A place of new beginnings"
And of course lunch at the Hotel!
"Al fresco" under the veranda:
After lunch we head East to Klaarstroom. Prince Albert Valley:
Riding up Kredouw Pass we noticed this:
This seems to be the "old" pass. We'll definitely come back sometime to come ride this!
And then the magnificent Meiringspoort:
Some in-ride shots (which took some doing with the winter gloves!).
And finally gravel again through the Klein Karoo. Riding past Dysselsdorp:
We could already see (and feel!) the cold front moving in. Paardepoort:
Approaching Montagu Pass. No guesses what we'll find on the other side.
The Cold Front has arrived!
Riding down Montagu Pass in the rain. Even a cold day on the bike is better than not being on the bike.
Just a quick ride to clear the head. Thanks Wave Rider, it was a great idea!