I’m a Big Deal!
Loving Living Life!
Loving Living Life!
So a very last minute tour around the country, once again at the end of the year, on my BMW 1200GS. 😉
Bryanston to Rosendal on Christmas. Christmas in Rosendal with my newly wed Sister and her Husband. A few days there, and then onto and into Lesotho.
Rosendal to Katse Dam to Afriski in Oxbow (all via the tar roads and the most amazing Mountain Passes, climbing to over 3,000m)
Afriski to Sani Pass (via the most amazing tar road all the way to the top of Sani Pass on the Lesotho side. Down Sani Pass (4×4 only Gravel road on the South African side) to Himeville. Himeville to Bergville in the Drakensberg via the tar road (via Underberg and Howick).
Bergville to Cathedrals Peak Hotel (for Lunch), and then back to Bergville for the Smoking Dragon Music Festival at the Amphitheatre Back Packers.
Bergville back home to Bryanston on New Years Day. Via the most amazing newly tarred Sterkfontein Dam Road between Bergville and Harrismith. Onto Clarens ia the Golden Gate National Park, onto Rosendal and then back home to Johannesburg.
Loving Riding Life!
Cathkin Park / Champagne Valley, Drakensburg to Bryanston, Johannesburg.
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.
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!
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.
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!!!
I just had to turn around and get a picture.
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!
So a couple of outtakes and notes from the trip:
Loving Riding Life!
Maclear to Cathkin Park, Central Drakensberg Area. Took about six-and-a-half hours again, including stops.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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! Luckily I had half a packet of cashew nuts back at the backpackers!
Loving Living Life!
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
Hogsback to Maclear
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!
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! 🙁
Amazing scenery on the way to Hogsback!
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.
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!
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.
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! 🙁
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!
A valley selfie!
All in all, I arrived in Maclear, safe and sound, after an amazing day on the road.
Loving Living Life!
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! 🙂
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!
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! 😉
Loving Living Life!
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.
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!
Loving Living Life!
But the twat was the cause of a really bad start to the day for me!
Reversed into some other dude’s Pristine Condition White Golf Rythm! Cause this muppet had parked in his bay. Approx R2000 damage.
Then went on to crash the Network for an hour!
Then had my car battery die at Vineyard Engen whilst filling up!
Easy Going Guy ‘-(
Hating My Life!
Yip, that is a POWER BUTTON!!! And that’s exactly how I feel right now!
Think that I’m going to restart 2011!
3 months in and everything (aka my life) has pretty much gotten pretty fucked up! lol
April 1 I’m gonna pull a “wr e”, “reload” on my life to date this year.
What a mess.
More to follow … soon!
Living this Life!
Well, finally got the site back! Yay!!!! 🙂
But….a whole lot of the pictures are missing. Apparently something to do with my so called BACKUP not working! Or me not having the most up-to-date copy of the site! Bummed!
And…..those bloody permalinks are also broken too, so having to make use of the default page id settings!
I’ll have a look at this stuff tomorrow. In the meantime…..places to go, people to see!
Party Time! 😉
Easy Going Guy 😉
Loving Living Life