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Cape Town to Johannesburg by BMW R1200GS – Day 4

Cathkin Park / Champagne Valley, Drakensburg to Bryanston, Johannesburg.

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Awoke once again to the most glorious day. Not a cloud in the sky and already quite warm. The Berg was crystal clear and it was the most perfect day for riding through the Countryside.

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I decided to take the back roads once again. My route was planned to go via Winterton, Bergville – such an awesome name when you think of Smallville, and via the Sterkfontein Dam. The owner of Inkosana had provided a rough map, and on it was written “BAD ROAD” next to the Dam. Come on, I’m on a 1200GS … how BAD could BAD be? The back road from Bergville takes you to Harrismith, and means you don’t have to get on the highway. And I really wanted to avoid Highway riding as much as possible for now. So the BAD road it would be.

So I headed out on yet another adventure. The Berg was amazing this time of the morning. The R74 road through to Bergville was in good condition and just after Bergville it heads up a pass, past Little Switzerland, and when you stand on the pass and look out towards the Berg, you can see why it is called Little Switzerland. It truly could be!

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So, I stopped at the top of the pass, took a few pics, and kept on going. At this stage I was thinking the Inkosana Owner has obviously not been on this road for ages. It is in awesome condition. Recently tarred. Really good riding. Smile

There is a Eskom Hydro-Electric Scheme on the pass, and it uses water from the Sterkfontein Dam. At this stage though the local baboons had clearly decided they liked the building too, and were busy climbing all over the structure. I just hope they can’t get access to the buildings. Otherwise Eskom might be generating electricity when they don’t need. Or the dam might suddenly find itself very empty! lol

Anyway, I skirted the pass and was busy looking out over the Skerkfontein Dam, which is massive, when suddenly something flashed past me on my left hand side on the road. I looked down and … WHOA … are you serious!!!

I had just missed a POTHOLE THE SIZE OF MY BIKE!!! Surprised smile

I just had to turn around and get a picture.

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I continued on, but now at a much slower pace. And a good thing it was too. For around the corner the road literally disintegrated! I didn’t manage to get pics unfortunately as there were cars behind me and in front of me – the road was all of a sudden really busy – and I was literally using all my awesome off-road riding skills, which I had learnt between Hogsback and Cathcart 2 days ago, to stay upright! The road was in shocking condition. It is in a way explainable: the Heat of Summer and Freezing Cold of Winter has clearly trashed the tar. However the issue with this road is that they haven’t graded it. They keep trying to plug the potholes. So the tar hardens but the potholes keep getting bigger. Causing hard and soft spots, allowing for the road to create these massive holes. There were some holes that my front wheel was literally half buried in. You hit those at speed and it is game over! In my mind, what they should actually do is just grade it down to dirt and leave it that way. Then fill the dirt and forget the tar. So, all I can say is luckily I had a R1200GS! You could probably make it on most bikes, and cars, but I wouldn’t bring a S1000RR along here!

At Harrismith I hit the Engen Garage, which has like 5 different food joints! Fantastic! I was starving after NOT having my ribs the night before!

From Harrismith the road is all Highway all the way back to Johannesburg and it was a sad ending to a fantastic trip, having to do miles and miles of monotonous highway. But at least it got me home and in one piece as well.

So, after three-and-a-half days of travelling through 5 Provinces (Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, and Gauteng), I had travelled approximately 2311 kms, according to Google Maps. I forget to reset my Odo in Cape Town for the official bike mileage. Muppet! Anyway, the distance was approximately correct and that translated to about 24 hours in the saddle. No wonder I was feeling really uncomfortable by the time I got home!

CPT to JHB by 1200GS

 

So a couple of outtakes and notes from the trip:

  • Wear Padded Cycling Shorts under the biking gear
  • Get proper rain oilies for wet weather
  • Get more experience on Dirt
  • Bring a Headlamp for night time use off the bike
  • Get the extra BMW Side Lights for the bike for night riding
  • Get the extended Foot Pegs for the R1200GS
  • Possibly get a tank bag for additional goodies on the road
  • GET OUT TO THE COUNRTYSIDE MORE – ON THE BIKE IF POSSIBLE!!!
  • We truly do live in a beautiful country! Smile

 

Nunnsby

Loving Riding Life!

😉

Cape Town to Johannesburg by BMW R1200GS – Day 3

Maclear to Cathkin Park, Central Drakensberg Area. Took about six-and-a-half hours again, including stops.

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So once again I took the scenic route. Maclear to Kokstad via Mount Fletcher and Matatiele. Kokstad to Underberg, and then onto Howick. Howick to Estcourt via "The Old Road"/R103.

I awoke to find clear blue skies with not a cloud in sight! Amazing weather for riding!

I left Maclear and once again skirted along the Southern Drakensberg Range to Matatiele. The scenery was as always spectacular.
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More rivers with swollen banks and a lot in full force. At Matatiele you find yourself on a wide,  open, flat plateau surrounded on all sides by slight ridges of smaller mountains, heading away from the Berg. It is quite incredible to think that way up here, 1000m +, among all the ridges,  is a wide open plain.

The valley is green and sparsely populated, with little,  if any,  farm fences between lands, which accentuates the openness even more.

After a slight climb out of the valley, I found myself descending a fantastic winding road down into Kokstad. Kokstad itself is not a bad little town and actually had some nice old buildings, and interesting heritage.

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The road from Kokstad to Underberg is a winding one and dotted with small settlements every few kilometres. Once again, cattle seem to be free to roam. Not fun when on a bike! And for some reasons … which I think I know the answer to … they love the blind corners!

I have been to Underberg before on the exact same road when we did the Sani2c back in 2012. That trip was by Bakkie though. Not quite as spectacular then.

The road to Howick from Underberg takes you along a ridge that runs parallel the Berg for quite a while. On the left you get chances to see small valleys to the Berg,  whereas at some places on the right,  the valleys open up and fall away into wide deep expanses, dropping away and fanning out into many smaller gulley’s, almost as far as the eye can see. Truly spectacular vistas.

Midmar Dam suddenly appears when you crest a ridge, with rest of the valley falling away behind it. Then the N3 and the rest of civilisation comes into view, and the stark reality of traffic and the masses returns. Sad smile

I visited the Howick Falls, and stopped for a frulata at a coffee shop, of all things.
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As I hadn’t booked any accommodation in the Berg Region and could now get spotty 3G signal I decided to find somewhere to stay. After the 6th call things were looking bad. Everything was full, or if there was accommodation, it was Moer expensive, and I was not going to be paying close on R3000 for one night for a stop over. I was about to throw the towel in and head directly back to JoBoet when I decided try one last place, a backpackers. Score, they had just had a cancellation, and I was sorted. Cathkin Park / Champagne Valley, here I come! Smile

From Howick I took the R103, or as it is known, "The Old Road", to Estcourt. I passed the Nelson Mandela Capture Site, Nottingham Road, and then onto Rawdons Lodge and Granny Mouse’s County House.
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All places I remember from when I was a kid.

The R103 is a fantastic road, and passes through some lovely countryside and small villages. They also employ Average Speed Prosecution using Number Plate Recognition/License Plate Recognition Technology. I’ll have to get back to your on how well it works later, considering they were using front facing cameras! Winking smile

From Estcourt I took the highway north to the Winterton turn-off, as I was a bit short on time. Winterton is about 20 kms off the highway towards the Berg, and you once again start getting into long rolling hills and valleys as you approach it.

The R600 from Winterton takes you right into the Champagne Valley 25kms later.

I found the backpackers, Inkosana, just of the main road no problem. by the time I arrived there it was getting hot. The trip to Winterton from Howick had started getting warm with the humidity of the KZN region now taking it’s toll.

They had a great little water tank pool, green obviously, which was nice and cool and had a few helpful little fish to clean the sweaty toes after a long day in the leather riding boots. Chilling in a pool, looking out over the Beautiful Green Drakensberg! This was the perfect way to relax after a long, hot day in the Saddle.

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I was advised to go to Monks Cowl Country Club for dinner as they did the best ribs in the region. I arrived there at 20h and things were chaos. It was pretty much fully with two tables open. I walked around for about 5 minutes trying to find any staff, but there was no one. All these people sitting at tables and nothing happening. I took a seat and waited. About 5 minutes later, it was as though someone had just released all the staff. 6 people came running into the Dining Hall and started taking drinks orders, and food orders. But things were mental. I had to stand up 10 minutes later to go to the bar to order a drink. Another 10 minutes later I had to get up to order the Ribs, after the drink was literally dumped on the table. At 21h05 after most of the hall had left I knew things had gone pear. I told the waitress if she hadn’t ordered my food yet, as literally everyone had now eaten, and most had left, she could just bring me my bill.

10 minutes later I heard all 6 of them arguing about who had taken the order, the stupid girl had, and who was going to go tell the kitchen. Seriously … Who was going to tell the kitchen? Wow, not who was going to come apologise to me, but who was going to go tell the kitchen! I went to the bar, told them I don’t care, who messed up, or why, just give me the bill. I paid and left. Not one apology. Not one.

Monks Cowl = Crap service! Avoid at all costs!

So much for the ribs! Sad smile Luckily I had half a packet of cashew nuts back at the backpackers!

Nunnsby

Loving Living Life!

😉

Cape Town to Johannesburg by BMW R1200GS – Day 2

Jeffries Bay to Maclear. Via Port Elizabeth, and Grahamstown, and Fort Beaufort, and Alice, and Hogsback (for lunch), and Cathcart, and Queenstown, and Lady Frere, and Cala, and Elliot, and Ugie!

Google can’t actually allow you to customise a trip on the Mobile Version properly so I’ve split up into two sections

J Bay to Hogsback

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Hogsback to Maclear

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So firstly Big Up to my mom for the advice of taking the road less traveled! My original plan was to go via Coffee Bay, but having been there before, and wanting to travel to places I have not yet seen, she advised I had up to Hogsback

I can truly say that today I travelled what must be some of the most beautiful parts of our country!

Entering Grahamstown you are reminded that this is part of the Frontier Country of the Eastern Cape!

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The road from Grahamstown to Fort Beaufort rises up over the mountain range North of Grahamstown and winds up through the valleys through some truly remarkable scenery. Unfortunately for you reading this blog, I was too busy enjoying the passes and countryside to stop and take pics.

A very old and dilapidated Fort Beaufort! 🙁

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Amazing scenery on the way to Hogsback!

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And then Hogsback! 🙂 After a near miss with a cow on the side of the road! The road to Hogsback winds up the side of a valley where it literally becomes a single lane road with no markings covered by tree tops, but yet still serves two-way traffic. A very interesting ride in the least.

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Thanks to Google for letting me think that the road from Hogsback to Cathcart was tar! And thanks to Mother Nature for the awesome weather!

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First time ever on a dirt road in the rain on my new baby! But, she handled just fine!

A Frontier War Relic at Cathcart.

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A World War One Memorial at Queenstown. “Lest We Forget” … that we live in South Africa where people will steal anything they can get their hands on! Such as half a memorial! 🙁

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The journey to Maclear was an interesting one,  and yet even more beautiful. Another very,  very,  very close “shave” with another cow, followed shortly by a goat, and the travels were getting exciting! The road from Queenstown to Maclear is in fantastic condition with at least half of it newly tarred. There is the odd pothole or few, but nothing drastic, and easy enough avoid the bike. The trick being to ride the middle of the road where cars don’t travel. That way there has been little chance of causing potholes there.

These people have the best properties in the country!

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A valley selfie!

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My Baby!

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All in all, I arrived in Maclear, safe and sound, after an amazing day on the road.

Nunnsby

Loving Living Life!

😉

Cape Town to Johannesburg by BMW R1200GS – Day 1

Cape Town to Jeffreys Bay. Took about six-and-a-half hours including stops.

Bike handles awesomely.

It was raining when I left Cape Town, but I managed to get a gap in the clouds, so only picked up heavy rain on the way down from Sir Lowrys Pass at Botrivier. The Pass just above Somerset West was really misty though, so that was fairly intimidating, with vis at one stage reduced to about 50m. But I got through fine. Clearly! 🙂

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Been There, Jumped That!

Stopped at Bloukrans to watch the jumps. Man they were “pushing” them through at pace. About one every 3-4 mins or so! Bloukrans Bridge Bungie Jump is the World’s Highest at 216m!

Jeffrey Bay is also the perioed owner of a Wind Farm!

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Right now staying at All Africa J Bay Backpackers. Pretty cool spot actually. We’ll have to see the night progresses as to how good it turns out to be! 😉

Nunnsby

Loving Living Life!

😉

Cape Town to Johannesburg by BMW R1200GS – Prelude

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So the adventure planning is on the go. Tomorrow I leave for “JoBoet“, by bike, from “Ape Town“!

I’m going to be traveling along the East Coast, and first stop is Jeffreys Bay.

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Should be a fun route in one day on a Bike! 😮

Google says it is 682 kms, and should take just over 7 hours. 7 hours in the Saddle … Fun! Fun! Fun! 😮

Just booked the accommodation now, and in true Nunnsby fashion, left it till last minute and only thing I can get in J Bay now is a single bed in a dorm of 8! AWESOME!

Plan is to do around 600-700 kms a day. 350 odd in the morning, and 350 odd in the afternoon after lunch.

We’ll see how it goes. The bike and me that is!

Nunnsby

Loving Living Life!

😉

Getting Out . . . To The Ghettos – Luanda

So on Sunday we, PG and myself, went to Bellas to go see a movie: The Incredible Hulk, which was actually really good. I thought it was cool. The really scary thing for me was how much we actually just take really good special effects for granted nowadays.

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The “This Is Africa” German Coke Truck!

After seeing IronMan a few weeks back :), and now this, it is just normal to see a CGI movie, and actually think that what you are seeing in there, you could walk out of the cinema and see in real life. Some green dude running down the road. Really freaky the way it starts to blur the lines of reality.

Well, at R60 for the Movie and R60 for the Popcorn and a Can on Sprite, it was an expensive experience. Little Portuguese kids shouting and talking the whole time through-out. Really little Portuguese children crying – like months old babies – who’s parents obviously decided they weren’t going to miss out on this on the big screen, and just had to come. And no one said anything about it. That is the most amazing thing. It is just the done thing. Man, and I like my quiet movie theaters! Haha, experience of note.

So on the way back the driver, not one of the usual 2 we have, they have the weekend off now, decided that he was not going to go the normal route, as the road was rammed, so he would go another route, a shorter route. Cool, PG was happy as we would be back in time for the Footie: Spain vs Germany!

Well, we drove and drove and then the light was gone and the road went from being 2 lane tarred, to one lane tarred, to one lane dirt, to just a complete tailback. We were stuck in traffic. Lots of traffic. Then we got nudged from behind by another vehicle in the middle of this chaos. Our driver, though not very good with the Safety Procedures just climbs out, leaves the door open with the engine running and walks back to check the damage. I leant over, closed the door, and locked it. Now it’s not like anyone would try hijack us, as we were going nowhere in that traffic, but the safety factor is till very much an unknown! And not a f#ck was I getting out to check the issue. These guys still carry guns around here. Plus the location wasn’t the most inspiring I will say.

So, the damage was minimal, just a nudge actually, nothing doing, and we carried on at a walk. In fact at one stage people walking past were going faster than we were. We continued on this road a while longer, and then the road stopped. There was some detour and loads of construction, and the driver was a bit foxed, but we carried on down another “short-cut”. It was around about now that I saw a plane coming into land on our left, about a km away. This was mildly concerning as the airport is a way out of town, and should have either been in front of us, or to our right on this trip back. We went through a fairly busy crossroad/taxi-rank intersection, and had to slow down considerably as we did so. All the onlookers on the side of the road were inquisitively peering into the vehicle to see what was inside. Plenty of chaps staring directly at me or leaning closer into the vehicle to get a good look. It was around about now that I started to feel, for the first time since being in Luanda, uneasy about being a non-Portuguese speaking expat. Hey easy for PG and our driver, the 2 BLACK dudes in the car, however for the white guy upfront, it could be a problem. The thing that I was actually nipping about the most was not really me being white, but the fact that we had a driver in full uniform, easily identifiable by the lapels and clothes he was wearing, so I was more nervous about us being identified as being of a “wealthy industry” and therefore “hijackable”. Blame the stories I hear from certain people about Nigeria I guess.

We continued on along this dirt road, the traffic now becoming less and less, and far more free-flowing, until it took another detour . . . to the right. i.e. further away from Luanda. At around about this stage the driver pulled over again, flagged down a passing car, and walked over, once again leaving the door open. Here however was a perfect place for Hijackings, so once again I leant over, closed and locked the door. This time he got “better” directions . . .  back the way we came! I asked him if we now knew where we were going, and he replied everything was good. “Don’t worry, you are Safe.” he chimed. We turned around and started along the road for a while longer, this time slowly heading back in the general direction of the airport.  A bit further down the road we came across a police man, on foot, walking in the direction we were travelling. Appears the directions we had gotten were still not sufficient, so our driver pulled over and we got a bit of direction advice from the policeman. After both repeating the same few words time and again, something to do with forwards, the driver suddenly tells us the Cop is getting a lift with us to help with directions. “Don’t worry, it is good for us.” Appears our driver wasn’t feeling as “safe” as we were supposed to be! 🙁 So our cop got a lift, and we got fairly good directions.

About 30 minutes later of driving through the slums, we emerged onto the main road back into Luanda. We were now quite a few miles past the airport, and it was very interesting to figure out roundabout route we had taken. On our way out of the “slums” we passed loads of sidewalk “shebeens”, with guys standing around drinking and chilling. The taxis out here controlled the road, and had absolutely no regard for the rules of the road or anyone else. A few constantly suddenly stopping directly in front of us, without any sign of a warning, and not caring a damn when the driver leant out and shouted or hooted at him. Once again, the Angolan Attitude showed it’s colours – Me First!

Yet, the surprises were not going to end here. At the one junction that we were definitely supposed to turn left, the driver decides to turn right. Into a one-way. Man, that delayed us another 30 minutes. At thsi stage I was fuming, but there was no point in getting cross now, as there was nothing further to be done. We were now less than 3 kms from home, so it was just sit back and wait.

So, over 2 hours after leaving Bellas, A trip that should take just less than an hour, we arrived home, to just get the last the 30 mins or so of the footie.

PG was well pleased.

So, looking back now in hindsight: It was a bit nerve-wracking at the time, but very informative and interesting to see “how the other 80%” actually live. To see the environment and habitat. The challenges for the Government are HUGE! Can something like this ever be undone? Unlikely. Can this poverty ever really be eradicated or the people truly uplifted and provided for? It is going to take a while. A long while. I don’t think it will ever happen in my life-time. Nor my next generation’s. Something like this doesn’t change over night I can promise you that much. Not even with the amount of money that Angola currently has, or is making. It starts with education and empowerment. And, the way things are going with the amount of Chinese coming in and most of the infrastructure work being outsourced to them, it is a long way off. A lot of Angolans are already very upset with the way things are going, the slow rate of progress, the lack of visible infrastructure, the lack of creation of jobs or better conditions for the local people, the excessive wealth that Sonangol (the state owned oil company) is displaying. However with only one ruling party, there isn’t much they can do about it. Unfortunately.

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Loving being Alive! 🙂

Off to Angola . . . at some time or other!! :)

Back to Didata, or Dimension Data for those not in the know. So, having been working for Portfolio as an IT Manager for the last 2 years I decided it was time for a change. I was once again getting restless and a bit bored of my job as nothing had really happened to motivate me for the last few months, and I had decided that I wanted to return to London. My mind was made and it was only just a matter of time.

But . . .

How things change!!

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