Sunday, March 29, 2009

Passes galore!


Sunday morning early - refreshed and ready to ride! Lots of new passes to see today.

Early morning camp:

Some interesting sights around this morning. Apparently the reports of soft KTM rims weren't an exaggeration.

N[]va's BMW X-Country also broke down again. Time to light a match and be done with it

A quick petrol stop in Clanwilliam before Operator, Rovrat and I hit the road - direction Cederberg

Sunrise over the Cederberg - a sight to behold! You can never even hope to record moments like these on camera. I did try though

First Pass for the day:

Nieuwoudts Pass did not disappoint! What a great ride with fantastic views. There has been a fire here recently, but that did not detract from the amazing experience. I also get the feeling that when I come through here again when it's green it's going to be a "first" all over again.

Strangely enough, when I did research about the area, I found that very little information is available about these passes. Not even the book "Romance of the Cape Mountain Passes" contain any information about this amazing area.

I did come across an old report of my friend Droffarc which I will definitely use for future reference (Report here)

Uitkyk Pass:

Great views from the top.

While at the top we heard the distinctive sound of a big thumper approaching and before long we were joined by Topbox

From here it's a short hop to Cederberg Oasis for brunch where we were joined by Generaal and his Varaderro. I hope the lone BMW and Zook didn't feel out of place with all the Honda's around

We had a nice brunch, but lets ride already! The Cederberg is amazing. I know I have used this word too much already, but my oh my. A whole new world has opened for me. I will be back

Remember what Bilbo used to say: "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

Grootrivier Pass:

Blinkberg Pass:

At the turn-off to Katbakkies Pass Rovrat and I said our goodbyes to Operator, Topbox and Generaal.

The Koue Bokkeveld is a mountainous area situated on a plateau, 1050m above sea level. This is a fruit (apple and pear) and vegetable producing area. The beautiful scenery and descriptive names like Katbakkies, Houdenbek and Skitterykloof have inspired the writing of many poems and books. The area has a rich history and some of the oldest farms in South Africa are situated here.

The road linking the Koue Bokkeveld with the Ceres Karoo will take you through the Katbakkies Pass and Skitterykloof. The two passes gave the farmers from the Koue Bokkeveld access to the Ceres Karoo. The bumpy road and steep gradients gave rise to the names of Katbakkies and Skitterykloof.

Looking back from the top:

Skitterykloof Pass:
(I am slightly confused as it also seems to be known as the Peerboomkloof Pass)

Great views over the Ceres Karoo beneath:

At the bottom you join the R355 which is rumoured to be the longest gravel road between two towns in South Africa.

Ready to launch!

This road just carries on and on and on. I'd love to come and do the length of it one day.

I travelled through Karoo Poort and headed for Touwsrivier on the N1 to refuel. Next was Rooihoogte Pass and the Koo valley - another first for me Thanks Operator and Rovrat for the info

Rooihoogte Pass:

Rose Willis has this to say about the R318 link:

"The Rooihoogte pass has some very steep curves and a tight hairpin bend, but it offers excellent views of the fruit growing valley, known as the Koo, below. In spring this is a froth of pink and white fruit blossoms.

The road exits from this short, sharp pass and after a short twist crosses a small plateau before reaching the beautiful views across the valley which are gained from Burger's Pass.

Tha pass has a large picnic spot at which motorists often enjoy refreshment as they drink in the scenery of the Koo - a rugged area north of Montagu which is famous for it's apples, pears, peaches and apricots."

Burgers Pass - The view from the top into the Keisie Valley.

Burger's Pass (or Koo Pass) was built by Thomas Charles John Bain (1875-1877).

Divisional Councilor (Montagu) Piet Willem van Hesland Burger improved the pass in 1943 - 1951, completing the construction with a gravel surface and inproved gradients. He was honoured for his continued efforts to improving the road when it was renamed Burger's Pass at the official re-opening on 18 May 1951.

The pass was tarred in 1960.

By the time I reached Montagu it was 3pm already and I still had some ways to go before I got home, so the rest of the passes would have to wait for another day. I got on the famous Route 62 and headed home.

"Cape Route 62 is the tourist route in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, South Africa, that meanders between Cape Town and Oudtshoorn, the Langkloof and Port Elizabeth, offering the shorter, scenic alternative to the N2 highway. It's an area of magnificent landscapes and towering cliffs, crystal clear streams and an abundance of trees and indigenous flora - all contribute to make Paarl, Wellington, the Breede River Valley,Klein Karoo and Langkloof some of Soutn Arifa's most diverse regions. The route offers ever changing colours of the majestic mountains, scenic passes, rivers, vineyards and orchards, as well as the multitude of attractions."

But first, had had to photograph the Op de Tradouw Pass for my quest. Apparently this pass is also known as "Wild Dog Pass". I wonder why?

After 10 hours in the saddle I arrived home, tired but content. I have ridden 11 passes today (8 of them for the first time) in a distance of 650km. I enjoyed my solo ride today much more than the first day and will probably do some solo rides again in future.

I have travelled through the Cederberg, but have barely scratched the surface. I have to go back. Soon!

The Romance of the Cape Mountain Passes - Graham Ross
Op Pad in Suid Afrika - BPJ Erasmus

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