Saturday, December 13, 2008

Southern Cape Trail Ride - Day 3


Once again the plan was to start early and do the difficult bits first before the midday heat. Today had the worst section on the 4x4 route, but unlike Attakwas Pass nobody would have to ride this section. We did not need to cover it to get to our destination for night 3. Also, we would ride without luggage and only pack once we were back in camp.

The Eagle falls 4x4 route is a circular 10km route that ends right in the camp where we were staying.

When we arrived here I showed them the downhill next to the camp and already a few guys said there is no way they are coming down there.

In the next pic (taken on day 2) you can see the last bit of the downhill in the background.

Once again, you cannot see the real incline on the photo, but this route can only be done one way. Nothing can go up, only some try and come down. The combination of the very steep incline and almost zero traction is the killer.

I slept in a bit this morning and only got up at 6 am. By 8 am we were on the 4x4 route already. The route runs up and over a small mountain and is covered in loose rocks. Going up the mountain once again we had to negotiate the uphills. By now we were becoming expert hill climbers Cheesy


As we started to get elevation we could see some spectacular views on this beautiful day.

Next we had a downhill with a steep uphill on the other side. I went first. This pic is taken in the middle just before the uphill starts - loose rocks on an off-camber road.

Operator coming up the uphill - check the bikes in the background for an idea of the height of the downhill and following hill climb.

EttienneNXR coming down...

and up on this side.



On top of the world!

...or not Roll Eyes We had some way to go still...

The last obstacle before the top - a steep uphill.

Scouting the lines:

Not only was this the steepest uphill of the day, but it was covered in loose rocks. Also, some awkward rock protrusions meant that you could not simply storm the hill and ride up, but in order to avoid them you'd have to ride up in an "S" shaped route.

Once again I went first. This was the first time on this trip that I actually had butterflies before setting off. There was a good chance that if I was going to drop it today, this would be it. Luckily not! I rode up and stopped on top Man what a rush! The adrenalin was pumping!

EttienneNXR followed soon after me and also rode up without incident and so did Operator.

Next up: LGF. I shot a sequence of photos with the "shoot & select" option on my camera. Right after I stopped LGF got thrown off line and ended up in the barbed wire fence. Undecided

Sorry - no pic of the mishap. I actually went and helped get him of the fence. I know this is out of character for me BUT, there a 2 kinds of falls and there is a difference between falling and falling over. Falling over is funny, a photo opportunity and makes for great conversation at the camp fire later on. Falling could be serious and therefore is not necessarily funny or a photo opportunity. This was funny afterwards though EttienneNXR got a pic I'm sure he'll post later on.

Next Tok-tokkie rode up without incident and finally Rooipoot:

Right at the top there is a tree where a well deserved rest can be taken.

Some of the guys got group shots here which I am sure they will post later.

We have now travelled 7km and it has taken us an hour.

Looking down at the buildings of Eagle falls:

The green roof in the picture is the restaurant, pub and rooms. The picture give a good idea of how high we are and how far down the downhill goes. About 1km from the tree where we rested we reached the point of no return. We were a mere 2km from our campsite where the downhill starts. In that short distance you drop all the way down to the level of the campsite (near the green roof in the pic).

At the point of no return LGF and Rooipoot decided to rather turn around and ride the 8km back to camp. Apparently Rooipoot dropped it on the way back and again there is no pic. He's good at evading those After doing the whole 8km back they still reached camp before us who only had 2km to go.

The first strech:

(You guessed it - the photo don't show the true incline)

This is what I said in the 1st Ride Report I did of this route:

Before we started the owner told us the bikes’ engines would cut out on the way down. This happens to all bikes and 4x4’s and we should not panic and just ride it down without the engines. Yeah right. Why would the engine cut out?

The downhill had 2 very steep sections with a “not so steep” section in the middle. On the first steep downhill I could not go down on compression. It was to steep and there was NO traction. The bike started sliding out of control and braking made no difference. Because of heavy braking and definitely NOT touching the clutch the engine cut out. The rear wheel came past me and I was sideways on a rockslide going downhill with my right foot on the brakes and the other braking on the “ground”. Eventually I got to the “not so steep” section in the middle. In 100 meters of road I dropped 35 meters! I was soaked in sweat and glad to be alive. I’m a trail rider – not a base jumper or mountaineer.

I smiled before starting the descent first. I was so green back then This time I would just ride the bike down.

I set off. Bloody hell! The low first gear of my farm bike did not help at all. It felt like I was in free fall with no brakes. I braked as hard as I could (without even thinking of touching the clutch!) and stalled the engine. I managed to come to a standstill sideways on the "rockslide".

I started the engine and tried again. I stalled it 5 times as I came down the first section. This is serious. I stopped at the first opportunity and took my jacket off. It was after 9 am and I was soaked!

I watched EttienneNXR come down. It's eerie to see some-one come down with no engine and only hearing rocks sliding and rolling.

Next would be Operator.

We waited and waited... Then we heard a huge rev of the engine and nothing...

Operator started down but decided to bail out and ride back the long way round. He managed to turn the bike around to try and ride a short way back up, but the incline is just too steep and he flipped the bike over backwards. Not only was the bike damaged, but also flooded. No way up. No way down. Only one option left...

We were about a third of the way down. The zinc roof with the green grass in the left of the photo is our campsite.

While going down you are kept quite busy as I am sure you can understand. It's not really a leisurely scenic ride... But I got a few photos as we progressed.

In the end we just all came down with dead engines.

The bigger picture of the pic above. You don't want to start running away and end up taking the short way down...

On the last turn EttienneNXR pulled the clutch in and the bike started running. Before long he put the NXR down. Now I was the only person that has not come off and the pier pressure to do so was huge

Tok-tokkie on the Tee-Dub:

The CTX and TW worked best on this downhill purely because of the low seat height. You really need to be able to flat foot it down here. Operator's tall seat height was his Achilles' heel on this section.

When we finally reached the bottom Operator's bike would still not start. LGF towed him and when the bike started Operator shot off past LGF (with the rope still attached) and brought him down This was out of my line of sight unfortunately.

The 10km route took us just over 2 hours. We needed to pack but Tok-tokkie decided to have a cold one in the pub first to celebrate our victory over "The Downhill"

So after packing our bikes in the mid-morning heat we left Eagle Falls and set of on the Kammanassie road towards George.

We rode through Paardepoort and Herold towards the green forests of the Southern Cape. The rest of the day would be a scenic ride (well, except maybe for the last bit )

I was riding behind EttienneNXR and as we approached the top of Montagu Pass from the Herold side we went around a corner... well, I did. Ettienne made a dust explosion and I had the fright of my life! He went down at what must have been close to 60km/h. As I approached he was already up and picking up his bike. Phew! Luckily young bodies don't break so easily.

Of course we had to record the event

We regrouped at Amanda's Grave overlooking the Southern Cape on a perfect day.

Photo's at all the usual spots before riding into George for supplies for Night 3.

For the 3rd night I had something special planned. We would camp out in the wild in an indigenous forest. Our farm is right up against the mountain and has a section of indigenous forest, as do most neighboring farms. These farms border onto the forestry area where I sometimes ride (permits needed). I much prefer indigenous forest to plantations though (obviously). I found the perfect spot on a neighboring farm and arranged that we could take a short ride from our farm, through the plantation, to that farm and camp for the night.

On our farm we met up with Asterix (my son) on a CRF70 who would join us for the last section of our ride.

Leading the group through these magical places I took it slowly with lots of photo stops. Who know when / if we would be allowed here again.

While in town I told everybody to have at least one cold beer handy (cooldrinks for Asterix and EttienneNXR). This was why. In my travels searching for the perfect camping spot I happened on this waterfall and pool. It's a little off the road and secluded and I dubbed it "Sit and be Lazy". This is a magical spot. A perfect spot to stop, relax and just take in your surroundings.

Relaxed and rested we continued to our spot for the night. In keeping with the theme of the weekend there was a steep rocky decent to get there

Asterix went first and negotiated the downhill successfully. Some other's fell over, but by now we had stopped counting the falls.

And when everybody were down at the spot for the night we could start relaxing

I made it!

While preparing for this trip I brought a braai and some braai wood to this spot so we were sorted. The braai and wood were the only luxuries at this spot. We literally camped out in the open (or in the river as it turned out).

Asterix and I decided not to pitch our tent and just sleep under the stars, as did Operator and EttienneNXR.

Well, he didn't sleep on that high rock. He slept on the level rock where we sat when we braai'd (BBQ).

After the last braai (BBQ) and discussion about all the amazing places we've been we turned in. We went to sleep under the stars with the fireflies playing all around us. What could be better than this?

Continue to Day 4


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