I hardly slept all night, kept rolling around with worries and got up tired. We said our goodbyes to the kids and dropped them at school. Back at home, ready to leave, the phone rang one more time - something had to be sorted quickly. Then it rang again. And Again.
We left at 10am. No departure photo. I forgot.
Our route for today: 470km
Our first day was about getting some distance and it included a lot of tar. Every day's route had a specific interesting town in the mix somewhere and today that town was also destination for the night - Booktown (Richmond).
I rode out of George over Outeniqua Pass with the wind in my hair and my soul mate on the back. Up, up and away! Motorbikes have this way of freeing you from everything.
As we crossed into the Klein Karoo I realized we had not even taken a photo yet! And so our ride begins...
Que the music:
‘n skraal wind waai oor nghoeniebosse op die pad buite Uniondale
elke paasnaweek staan die spookmeisie daar as die herfswind hoeka al huil
met haar lang swart hare onder sekelmaan tuur sy oor die vlaktes haai
en haar klere blink spookagtig saam en haar duim vra om haar op te laai...
Die reisigers verby Uniondale het haar dikwels opgelaai
en verder aan so uit die niet verdwyn die wind wat waai
so as jy saans in die langpad dwaal oor die Paas se middernag
pasop vir die spook van die Klein karoo, tensy jy gaan spoke jag
First petrol stop and some window washing In Willowmore:
Just past Willowmore we ride past the Beervlei dam - I don't think I've ever seen water in this dam:
We had a nasty side wind and 36 degree heat, but despite this the towns glided past - Aberdeen; Graaf Reinet.
Nqweba dam near Graaf Reinet:
Originally the Van Rynevelds Pass Dam, the name was changed at a special meeting held in Graaf Reinet on 5 May 2001. The new name, Nqweba dam, means "a Meeting Place" and refers to the place where the Sundays, Gats and Pienaar riviers (which feeds the dam) comes together.
I specifically wanted to ride the Ouberg Pass in today's ride. South Africa has three (or more?) passes called "Ouberg Pass". The first one I rode was near Montagu in the Western Cape. That Ouberg Pass was quite impressive until I rode the majestic Ouberg Pass in the Northern Cape near Sutherland! Now there is a pass that should be on every Dual Sport rider's bucket list. Photo from that ride:
And now, finally, I also get the ride the Ouberg Pass in the Eastern Cape:
This pass was completed in 1945.
Let's just say that after all the tar we did today, this pass did not impress me all that much.
On the road to Murraysburg we'd turn North on our first gravel of the trip. I saw the first road sign "Richmond" with a lovely gravel road running North and yet the GPS wanted us to head further along the Murraysburg road. I changed the GPS settings to "gravel only; shortest route". Straight ahead! No matter what the setting, the GPS wanted us to carry on straight ahead. I was very temped to just take this gravel road, but we discussed it and after about 400km in the saddle and it being late in the afternoon Mrs.TR didn't want to risk getting lost. Besides, the GPS preference was set to "gravel" so the next turnoff would surely be gravel as well.
A short hop to"Booktown" from here.
A short way along this road we came across this big paw x paw:
A few meters down the road there was another, and another! A total of 15 in less than 500m. I thought they might be gathering here because they expected rain, but numbers 7 & 8 were gathering for a different reason.
It was a "slow affair".
And then we saw it!!!
Gravel, glorius Karoo gravel!
The whole mood changed. We were riding slower, chatting more, stopping more often. We were in high spirits, far from everything and close to our destination.
Closer to "Booktown" we hit tar again.
"Tarred roads - just another example of unnecessary and wasteful government spending."
There seems to be a LOT of these chaps around here:
We also came across a Cape Cobra. If you get bitten by one of these you are in SERIOUS trouble.
And finally our destination for the night - Marina's Guest House
I know this is a first for a Ride Report of mine - mostly tar today and no camping. But don't worry I am not changing motorcycle brands anytime soon.
Truth be told I was glad not to be pitching a tent in 30+ degrees after an almost 500km day.
A couple of weeks back a friend of mine, De Waal, noticed that we needed some time away. As a B&B owner he organized 3 star accommodation for us for this trip, a perfect treat for Mrs.TR! Thanks De Waal. It might not have been a big deal to you, but it was a huge present for us that came at exactly the right time.
Just look at this!
It was a lovely evening so we had a look around town.
Richmond was established in 1843 to meet the religious needs of a growing farming community. Unlike most Karoo towns the church was not built as the physical focal point of the village, the village was built around the village square.
The naming of the town originated in the desire of the townsfolk to honour the new Governor of the Cape, Sir Peregrine Maitland, who took office in 1844. Maitland declined, however, suggesting instead that it be named after his father-in-law, the Duke of Richmond. It was officially named Richmond in October 1845.
Cool road sign - That might be Mrs.TR and I one of these days...
We saw quite a few "new" road signs on this trip.
Back at Marina's Guest House I asked about the town history, "Booktown" etc. and hit the jackpot!
It seems like there are more B&B's in Richmond than houses, but by a pure stroke of luck we happened to be booked at this one. It is run by a friendly couple and as it turns out Johann is also the curator of the museum and the sexton of the church.
He opened the Richmond museum and took us on a personal after hours tour, sharing all the stories of the various pieces, buildings and haunts!
The Saddle Horse Museum is one of only two in the world that honours the breed. The other is in Kentucky in the USA. During Boer War action at one of the forts on the outskirts of town, a local, Daan de Kock, lost a lower arm. So a wooden arm was made for him. But Daan did not care one bit for the device, and flatly refused to wear it. Today it is something of a novelty in the museum.
This was a special treat. Mrs.TR enjoyed all the old ballgowns and musical instruments. We even listened to a record on "His Master's voice".
Next up the church:
The Dutch Reformed Church building dates from 1847 with a tower completed in 1909. It celebrated a centenary in 2009. It is said to have one of the highest pulpits in the country.
Back at Marina's Guest House we settled into "Die Krip". Soos op meeste klein dorpies is die kerk en die bar na aan mekaar.
This bar sports saddles as chairs:
I thought this was very cool but after a long day on the bike saddle we only stayed for one round before turning in. What a cool day this has been. 12 hours before we struggled to get away and now we were in a different world. We slept like babies.
Our stats for today: