Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Saying goodbye - the trip to Hell


As you know, my beloved CTX200 Bushlander was sold recently. Luckily the new owner is the delightful girl known as "Skirt" on the WD forum. A better person to buy my bike I could not have asked for.

As it happens Skirt and Blainec had some free time and we decided to do a little trip to Gamkaskloof when they came to pick up the bike. Time for Skirt to bond with her new bike and an opportunity for me to say one last goodbye.

So on the morning of 16 December we were off. Skirt has never been to Gamkaskloof so we took it slowly with lots of scenery stops starting with Montagu Pass.

Introducing Skirt, proud owner

Blainec was on this magnificent example of a Touratech with some BMW bits Really looks the business!

Makes you want to head off and go ride the Dakar doesn't it? Very nice!

We rode up Montagu Pass stopping at all the interesting spots: The Old Toll house, Moertjiesklip, Grog Draai, The Old Smithy etc. You can really spend some quality time on this pass.

The scenery is nothing to scoff at either:

The obligatory stop at Amanda's Grave:

Beauty ain't she?

On into the Klein Karoo through Paarde Poort:

And finally onto the Swartberg Pass:

It's rides like these you remember:

With the recent fire the well known sign at the turn-off to the Hell got damaged and removed. Remember this sign:

Well, a smart new one replaced it, but now it said that Gamkaskloof was only 37km from here and not 50km like the previous sign did. We decided to measure the distance just to make sure.

The Road to Hell

I rode ahead and through this (now small, we have a drought ) water crossing. I love water crossings

Skirt came around the corner and before she knew she was through it. Her first water crossing! Luckily the bike is a water crossing veteran.

Blainec making a splash!

Some more scenery en route:

Another small water crossing - on video this time It's a pity it's so dry and the water crossings so shallow. Perfect training for Skirt though

And there we were: Looking down into the Hell.

This pass, it's hairpin bends and it's steep decent is legendary. But how much do you really drop? Let's see.

Elevation now 914m

On this pic you can see (on the right) how much this pass drops!

I took some helmet cam footage of the ride down for an "on board" experience. For the sake of file size I split the ride into two clips:

And another shot of the GPS at the bottom:

In a winding 3,3km we dropped 260m! I later measured on Google Earth that we were only 0.63km from the spot at the top as the crow flies. That's one serious drop.

And as it happens the road to Hell really is only 37km

Even the road inside the kloof itself is a pleasure to ride. We rode through the length of Gamkaskloof right to the property at the back were we would stay for the night. Jan eentand se huis. What a great spot!

The private farm right at the back of Gamkaskloof is called Boplaas and has the best accommodation by far. Just look at this! A pool!

The kitchen with the basics supplied:

What a place to end such a special ride. We sat around the fire and chatted under the stars deep into the night.

Dinner was not to shabby either! And the advantages of having a woman on the trip:

The next morning - playing around with the effects on my photo program.

She is now my one and only:

One last look back at the kloof:

Blainec and Skirt approaching:

The ride out - on board perspective.

Water crossing:

And finally back onto the Swartberg Pass road.

We decided to have some lunch at Wilgewandel near the Cango Caves.

This would make for a different kind of Ride Report

With filled tummies we headed out on the Oude Muragie road and home.

Thanks for the ride Skirt and Blainec. My CTX is in good hands.

PS. I am told the CTX is destined to tour with Blainec's Ural. Perfect riding partners! I can't wait to see some photos of that!



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