Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Ride


On Saturday evening I get a call from Smidty. He desperately wants to go for a ride. Long story short, in a flash one of my "Summer day rides" became "Tomorrow's day Ride".

A few calls and messages later we had a nice group together on VERY short notice to gather on Sunday morning at 7:30 as the sun rises. The plan was set.

And as with most of our rides this one started with Montagu pass and a photo at:

In today's group:

Myself - TransAlp 700
Dr.Dirt - KTM990 Adv
GravelTravel - Dakar
Smidty - V-Strom
Herman - 1200GS Adv
Gryph - Africa Twin

Just the right size, different mix of bikes, just the way we like it!

We had a long way ahead today so we set off. 400km+ in a day is a tall order on a social ride.

The TransAlp enjoying the gravel:

(Photo by Dr.Dirt)

Heimersrivier just North of Paardepoort:

The forecast for today was favourable - partly cloudy, clearing up during the day. No high temperatures.

Dr.Dirt approaching the N12 cross at Zebra:

Our first stop and stretch of legs. Already the jokes abounded. Some at the expense of Dr.Dirt and Gryph whose team lost to the Cheetahs in extra time the day before. All in good fun though.

Some more scenery along the Paardebond road:

I was leading the ride and Gryph with the Honda Africa Twin was sweeping. It's always a good idea to have the reliable bikes in those positions.

We were making good time and before long we got our first glimpse of the Gourits River:

The water is not very high and you ride on the dry riverbed for a section.

Great spot! We had another stop here and some refreshments.

While here Herman decided to play a bit. When he sees a challenging bit of road / track he can't resist!
(We later heard that he is a Country Trax instructor )

Some more playing on a nearby uphill:

GT going "down"

GT coming back up:

Time to hit the road. Amazingly this is my first time on this road. Truly worth more rides in future.

Gryph approaching the link onto Rooiberg Pass:

Our next (quick) stop was in Van Wyksdorp.

Van Wyksdorp was established in 1904 on the farm “Buffelsfontein” and was named after the large number of Van Wyk residents in the area. The present population is about 1500 which includes the village and farms around Vanwykdorp.

Some of the local wildlife:

From here we ride South East to our second crossing of the Gourits River.

You have a wonderful view on the Gourits River as you descend down a small pass towards the crossing:

Meanwhile Herman saw an interesting track and decided to try it. This was the result:

(Photo by GravelTravel)

Luckily GT was there to tow him out. We were just about to go looking for them when they arrived at the bridge.

Next up - Cloetes Pass:

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. It also boasts some Blockhouses dating from the Anglo Boer War (as seen in the background).

Zoomed in a bit:

These blockhouses was built by the Mossel Bay District Mounted Troops.

6km South of Cloetes Pass we ride into Herbertsdale, a picturesque little agricultural community nestled in the gorge of the Langtou River.

At this point we have ridden well over 200km and the nearest petrol would only be at Gouritz river mouth (after about 300km). It was clear that Dr.Dirt's KTM would not make it, so he, Gryph and Smidty decided to head straight for the N2 to get some fuel. Luckily I have a 300km range (sometimes more ) so GT, Herman and I continued on our route.

The 3rd crossing:

Less impressive than the first two, but still with great views:

(Photo by GravelTravel)

Different scenery on this side of the mountain. It's much more lush with lots of farming activity.

Enjoying the ride!

(Photo by GravelTravel)

(Photo by GravelTravel)

Approaching the Gourits for the fourth time:

Then tragedy struck - the road is closed with a locked gate and a "Private property" sign. Now what?

We followed the farm road along the fence to see if we could link up to our route - and found this!

Jackpot! In stead of going over the river we'd be going through it!

I took a nice deep route.

(Video by GravelTravel)

Pity the other guys missed out on this! Meanwhile Dr.Dirt ran out of petrol en route to the petrol station. How embarrassing. Luckily for him the GS was not nearby. Imagine the embarrassment if he had to be towed in by a BMW!

We reached the tar road and decided to head to the petrol station as well to hook up with the rest of the group.

Du Plessis Pass:

As I was riding I realized that this road was taking us totally off route. With such a big detour we might not be able to ride our whole route today.

Riding along I suddenly felt my bike spluttering and losing power. Then it sprung back to life only to loose power again a short while later.

Now what? I had run out of petrol... I was literally 2km from the petrol station. I could see it just there.

Dr.Dirt phoned me just then and I asked him to bring me a litre, but why would he do that when there's a GS that can tow me in? Notice them standing on the left, waiting camera's in hand for my arrival at the petrol station.

By now it was late afternoon already and we decided that we'll do the rest of the trip on another day. Look out for Gourits River Part 2 soon.

We had a GREAT ride today and LOTS of laughs. From here we headed back to George, but being Dual Sport bikers we could not ride back on tar only, so we worked some sand riding into our route between here:

...and here:

What better way to end a day?

Thanks Guys!

Once again a great ride!

Next Ride added:

Our Route for today:

Download the tracklog here. Thanks Garmin and Tracks 4 Africa for making this possible.

Google Earth file here.


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