Sunday, September 2, 2012

Day Trippin' with Jupiter...

So after a long absence of bike rides, or, more specifically, rides on my own bike, the universe smiles and everything works out perfectly for a quick trip with the Southern Cape Wild Dogs.

A good friend from the Eastern Cape called Jupiter (not that Jupiter, but he also travels) is coming for a visit. He's been in the Southern Cape before (but only on the main roads) so we're going to show him what the Southern Cape has to offer.

I am one of the first to arrive early on this Sunday morning and even the weather plays along on this magnificent spring day. The view from the gathering point:

And soon more dogs arrive. We're a good group today and so far it's all different bikes, just the way we like it.

Jupiter's black Yamaha 660 Tenere on the left, the man himself wearing the orange jacket (easy to spot throughout the report).

It's a quick hop from here to Mossel Bay where we'd meet the rest of the pack. Dirtcopper leads (on gravel of course).

In Mossel Bay we meet up with more riders at the harbour. The plan is to have breakfast before we ride.

"Kaai 4" (Quay 4) is where we have breakfast. Somehow I have not been here before. What a great spot!

It's very rustic, you can even sit "outside" and chill with a cold one overlooking the ocean.

The food is prepared right there, with a "boma" fireplace right in the middle of everything. Very well priced too - Roosterkoek with mince and salad: R25

I can't even begin to tell you how close this was to the end of this report... This is such a nice venue we almost stayed here for the day. Even as I was getting on my bike I was not sure about whether I'm staying or going.

But in the end we did the "right thing" and showed Jupiter and Veldbrand (who recently moved here from Gauteng) our valley.

For some reason Dirtcopper took the lead again. He led us to the nearest gravel and the ride began.

First turnoff, second turnoff...

All of a sudden there were no lights behind me. Now what?

Stop and wait. Nothing. Right, turn around and see what happened. At the 2nd turnoff I find Lonerunner and Gryph. DC took a wrong turn. Everybody will turn around as they realize the back riders are not there anymore. And so we wait...
These Honda's have run together often.

Eventually the other bikes start coming back:

With Dirtcopper now relegated to the back of the pack the ride continues. The route runs past / through various game farms and the pace Lonerunner (the now leader) is setting is a relaxed one, with lots of opportunities to stop for photos.

The first stop - everybody in high spirits!

My trusty TransAlp. I missed riding her. It will happen much more often from now on!

The ride continues and the sedate pace allows you to take it all in. Just look at this. We truly live in Eden.
And of course Dirtcopper and Albert does the "meerkat".

We're heading towards the mountains and, eventually, Attakwaskloof. Attakwaskloof (as opposed to Attakwas Pass) is a kloof that runs "on" or "in" the Langeberg mountains between Attakwasberg and Cloetesberg (the pass runs over the Attakwas mountain to Oudshoorn).

As such when you ride here, you are not really "over" the mountain and in the Klein Karoo yet, but you're definitely not in the Southern Cape anymore. You're sort-of in between, until you exit the kloof just North of Cloetes Pass in the Klein Karoo.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Another stop in the plantation as we start to ascend the mountain:

Lonerunner's XT. Old School is cool.

Myself in action:

(Photo by Jupiter)

Starting to cross the first mountain streams:

Riding in the Kloof is really special. Some riders even stand up to get a better view!

Every time I ride here I see something different / the seasons changed / the light falls at a different angle, etc. I can't help but stop every so often to take a picture or just to take it all in.

The next picture is of the spot where a thriving town called "Woeska" used to be. Amazingly the route we're on was the main route North from the Cape for 180 years from 1689-1869, linking the “Grasveld” around Mossel Bay with Kannaland in the vicinity of Oudtshoorn. With the later construction of the Robinson Pass, the Attakwaskloof & Pass fell into disuse.

When the road fell into disuse the town disappeared. Some old ruins here and there is all that remain.

Some more pics of the splendor that is Attakwaskloof:

The road through the kloof joins the R327 between Herbertsdale and van Wyksdorp just North of Cloetes Pass, and we promptly turn South to cross the mountain into the Southern Cape again.

Jupiter riding in Cloetes Pass, notice the old fort on the mountain:

Closer shot:

Cloetes Pass was built in the 1850's as a link between Mossel Bay and the Klein Karoo. It's a gravel road that only carries an estimated 47 vehicles per day. A shot from the top down to show where it runs:

And here, in the mountains, you find a biker's pub where we'd have our lunch.

And of course we too have to mark that we've been here.

The pack:

And from here we say our goodbyes and head back home. A quick shot of the Southern Cape on the way back:

It was good day today. All this in less than 200km. What a privilege to live in Eden.

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