Friday, December 12, 2008

Day 3


This is the day we did Attakwaspas which was the highlight of the trip. Started at 7h48 and ended at 3.20 in the afternoon but only covered 138 km.

Trailrider had managed to arrange permits for us to ride the 4x4 pass route. It is very unusual for permission to be granted to bikes and it was very nearly withdrawn at the last moment.

My photos are pathetic compared to Trailriders. My lens was dirty and the sun was flaring on the dirt ruining the pictures taken into the sun.

The sign to the Oxtrail with EtienneXTR. That is the trail on the hill behind & the terrible flare on my lens from a fingerprint when shooting into the sun

I took this photo of the steep section three days later when we again went through Atakwaskloof on our way home. The first patch of smooth rock is obscured by the green trees.

It started with a rocky section of river we had to ride up then turn and climb the bank and stop in thick sand.

We had to scout the route between the rocks that are too big to get over.

It goes up the river then turn and climb the wall.

Find your way through this to TR at the top of the picture.

TR starting the river section.

Trailrider coming through the river section. TR loves watercrossings. Once while going through baviaans with him we had to wait while he went round & round & round in circles in a watercrossing.

Now to climb out of the river and on into the deep sandy section.

After that we came to a very steep section of rock slab. Some concrete had been used to smooth it out a little.

LetsGoFishing on the rock climb.

I tried riding this standing as I had been taught on the Country Trax training course. That works fine on my Dakar but even though my TW has 25mm bar risers I am still bent over too much. I struggled on the steep rocky section. But I had watched how Trailrider kept sitting and went up very smoothly and not fast at all; after this section I then copied him and found it to be far more successful though I still had some capsizes. I had reduced the air pressure in the tyres but the TW tyres are so big that they fold around the stones and ledges then bounce back and lift the front into the air; then you have no control and sometimes the bounce is not straight up but sideways so you need to do quite a bit of correction. I must definitely find some good rocky slope to practise on.

We did the climb in 3 stages. After that it was nice going along the ridge. I thought the track going up the hill was where we were headed but in fact that is another route & ours went round to the right of this picture.

This is our route. I love this sort of route where the only sign of mankind is the tweespoor but no buildings, power lines, roads or cultivation to be seen.

Then this pristine shallow valley

But there is a short very steep drop around the corner.

TR has gone down. You can’t see the drop but he is much lower but not very far ahead.

This section looks pretty but actually the track was all loose stones and a significant slope. TR leading, LGF in the middle & ENXR just starting. We spaced ourselves out so there was time for any fallers to clear out of the way before the next person came past – we needed to keep our momentum up this loose slope.

See the trail going up the slope in the distance.

Now we are over the top and about to drop down into the Little Karoo

During the Boer War the Brits built this little pill box incase any Boers tried to use the pass. It was very strategically placed. The track goes along the slope on the right of the picture and you can see it climbing the ridge right in the distance.

Inside of the pill box.

TR unlocking one of the gates.

It was getting hot by this time but I had an evaporative cooling waistcoat which I was using for the first time and I am very happy with what it does. We could have extended the route through another shortish 4x4 route but decided to take the direct main road to Oudtshoorn and some beer and food. Then onto Eagle Falls where we camped for the night. That was a super trail to have ridden; I am most grateful to TR for arranging it. This is the second extended trip I have dine on my TW and I am most satisfied with it.

Continue to Day 4


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