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:
- 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!
Loving Riding Life!