Sunday 14 February 2016

5 Days of gut-wrenching mud and rain - but I survived and loved it!

Day 1  Montagu - Oudshoorn

Dramas. First our Angola trip had to be put on hold. Then our beautifully planned trip of doing Mpumalanga, Lesotho, Swaziland and back through the Transkei was cancelled due to sickness in the family. So we decided to do a shorter trip to Gamkaskloof, the Hell (small place in South Africa) and Baviaanskloof, so that if we were called back, we were close enough. And via as many dirt passes as possible.  
"US" would be my Italian friend Toni, on his KTM 990 called Jongosi. And myself, Jinx, on my BMW 650 called Brutus. 

We are both vertically challenged, both prefer picnics in the veld to sit down meals and both love bikes, adventure and riding. This combination worked for us. But would the friendship last after what it get's put through in the following days to come...?

Due to unforeseen circumstances we had a (very) late start. Toni arrived to a cold, wet farm in Montagu and soon we were on our way. At last our forever elusive trip had started.  Because the trip started almost a day late we decided to go via tar road. Later due to our late start and inclement weather we decided to stay over in Oudtshoorn and not go over the Swartberg pass to Prince Albert. Did I mention it was raining?
There was a music festival on in town, and one of the music groups were staying in the same establishment as us. What a surprise when we went to the bar for a drink, something we very rarely do, and find a band setting up. They were going to “warm up” for later that evening. 
Now Sakkie-sakkie South African cultural music) is not really our type of music, however we did enjoy the band, but had to refuse all the invites to join them later.. It felt as if we were part of the group, and they seemed disappointed that we would not be joining them. - Must be our irresistible personalities!We both retired early and sleep came easy as we had a long day on the bike, in the rain.

Day 2 - Swartberg Pass & Prins Albert

Getting a late start did not help us the following morning, with thunderous skies and a cold wind greeting us at the foot of the Swartberg. Stunning views were below us – and below the clouds and mist we rode into as soon as we gained altitude.
As we started climbing the winding narrow pass the rain came down harder and a cloud cover descended on us. The few tourists that came past in warm dry vehicles thought we were positively mad. Did I mention it was raining?

The higher we went, the colder it got and by the time we got to the look-out point at the Top, we were frozen to the bone and the wind almost blew us right back from where we came. 
As we made our way down the other side, something that felt like hail hit us pretty hard. The locals later told us it is called ice rain. In spite of the stinging we rode with our visors lifted, as we could not see through them when closed. 

A few bends after the top on the way down the rain stopped, the clouds lifted and we saw blue in the sky. We ended up stopping for almost an hour, drying out in the weak sunlight, admiring the views and taking photos.
The turnoff to Gamkaskloof is about halfway down the Swartberg pass. By now the weather had turned again. Raining...We met up with another biker (who was in a vehicle) at the turnoff to the Hell. Due to the bad weather and dense mist, he advised us to either go with extreme caution or rather not at all.
Not much to be seen in such bad weather, he said. But since we both have “done” the Hell three times before and never manage to get down there; we decided to go in - at least a little way.The decision to turn around was met with deep disappointment and frustration (something we seem to have to gotten used to lately). But rather safe than sorry and have something go wrong before we even begin our trip. Did I mention it was raining?

We had not gone very far back on the Swatberg pass when the sun suddenly peeked through the dark clouds. 

After a stop at the lookout point, we actually ended up riding the rest of the pass in lovely sunshine! As a tour guide I use to go over this pass so often, but this was my first time by bike – and what an experience! 
The many bends and curves could be followed all the way up to the highest tips of the mountains. The vastness and closeness both get experienced to the utmost intenseness. Somehow living IN the moment and not looking AT it. 
After crossing a river at the bottom of the pass we decide to have our picnic under the trees below the majestic backdrop of Liken-painted rock faces. 

We haul out the (espresso) coffee maker, buns, soup and everything needed to sit down to a feast. As the first cup of water starts to boil, the heavens opened above us. How we missed to check our backs is beyond me, but the rain caught up and before getting drenched to the bone, we packed up (without eating anything) and headed for the Prins Albert Camp site. Did I mention it was raining?

The lousy weather forced our hand and we decided to go for the accommodation instead of trying to pitch tents in the rain - and then get a wet tent down and loaded early the next morning. Unfortunately was it not only a Saturday night, but we were competing with 2 lots of wedding guests – so tenting it would be!
That night the weather turned out to be quite nice with no rain. Prins Albert’s camping site must be one of the nicest we have ever been to.
Extremely reasonable with bathrooms to die for! Not to mention our neighbours. They noticed "wet chickens" would be an understatement and came to the rescue. I was offered a jacket (I had removed mine cause it was so wet and uncomfortable, but had something warmer (deep) down once I could off load my luggage. 
Not to mention an offer for a heater! After freezing by the early hours of the morning I put on the heater-fan and for the first time slept like a baby in my own little “heat-conditioned” tent.  A new but novel and wonderful experience... I’d been thinking all of the next day how on earth I could make extra space on my bike for a heater!

Monday 8 September 2014

I live to ride and ride to live - this is why!

THIS is why I live, is why I ride...

This video clip absolutely spoke to me, as I am sure it will to anyone else who can't help but love the open roads and freedom only a bike can provide...

Viva to life!!

A big thanks to

eveRide ADV for understanding and speaking my heart! Great job on this video clip!

Make sure to go and visit him - he has a lot of really good biking clips!

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Chapman's Peak drive the way it SHOULD be seen!

Here is a video clip I made of our trip over Chapman's Peak. It must be one of the most beautiful and breathtaking passes in South Africa, if not in the world.

Join me with two more motor bikes and experience what beauty South Africa has to offer!

Wednesday 27 November 2013

The End: Last Days of my NAMIBIAN adventure

Day 12 & 13:  Ai Ais - Springbok - Lambertsbaai - home

A regular visitor
The next day we left just after 8 (almost on time!) and made our way through the last parts of Namibia.

Our campsite

Our life savers who brought us some meat over

Departing Ai Ais

Back through the beautiful mountains

Once again through the same mountains and beauty as we came in. One specific corner I wanted to check out, as I had almost bought quite a sharp bend (and the rocks to its side!!) as we were trying to make up time on the way in. I wondered if it was my haste, or a really serious bend or just silly me who, after more than 4000kms of dirt road could not take a decent turn in the road? To my relief there was plenty lose sand and a fairly nasty corner if one came from the other side. Then again, as much as I loved this country, I would preferably get home in one piece, without having to show off the property I accumulated along the trip!

On the moon? No, not quite!
Our last stop with sand, endless, awesome sand.

Growing in the middle of nowhere

Our last picnic in Namibia

With a heavy heart I got to the border. I was leaving behind a place that had touched my heart and I was determined to come back some day! Shortly after the border we came across some beautiful flowers along the way. Stretching as far as the eye could see. Unfortunately we left the good weather behind with the flowers. After Springbok, we stayed over in Lamberts bay. A nice little fishing village where we bought fish and chips from the corner cafĂ©. We went and ate it on the beach in cool and cloudy conditions - out of the paper bag. 

At the border

Spring flowers

Flowers as far as the eye could see

The following morning the weather became worse and we rode in rain. We stopped to refuel at Piketberg and have something hot to drink at the Spur. Drenched and freezing we each needed a second cup to defrost. I asked permission to eat the sandwiches we had made that morning – from bread we still bought in Ai Ais. The rain washed away our plans to have a picnic along the way!

Our paths parted at Piketberg and I had to say goodbye to the wonderful riding buddy I had for the last week or two.  I spent the following few hours battling strong winds and rain in the storm I was facing all the way home. But maybe the storm was worse inside me?

Chips on  the beach

Our last day in Namibia brought the strangest feeling over me. I had fallen in love with this arid, barren country. The vastness and variety appealed to me as I drank up its beauty every day. That morning we made our way through the mountains and later over the open plains towards the border, I felt close to tears. While lapping up the last bit of the magnificence it dawned on me that shortly I would be facing reality again.  Daily life and stress I could put aside while in the saddle of my trusty steed. Worries I could put aside because I had more beautiful things to see and experience while being in a country that sneaked in under my skin. I have to go back! Soon!

The end of an awesome trip!

My next post will be a summary of my experience of this awesome trip and some of my favourite pics. Stay tuned!

Wednesday 23 October 2013

NAMIBIA Day 11: Ai Ais - Rest day

Day 11 Ai Ais

After a gruelling (almost) 2 weeks we decided to spend a day at Ai Ais. This is where a lovely hot water spring with campsite is situated beyond the Fish River canyon. I woke to the twitter of birds and a peacefulness that I just soaked up for a while. It was the first time I could sleep late (as in 7am) and catch up on my blog. I even ended up falling asleep later in the morning till the sun burnt me out of the tent an hour or two later.

4 Birds sitting close together

Waking me with lovely song.

I tried working on my blog – yes, I must be honest, somehow very little writing happened on the entire trip and it was good to spend a few hours trying to get things in order. Toni had gone for a very long walk and came back with some nice pics of the (almost) dry river bed.
Fish River riverbed 

A hint of water

Been a while since there had been rain

Trying to catch up with my blogging
Bone dry
A lovely view
Lunch. Chips and smash on bread - Yeah, don't ask! I have eaten tastier before!

We went for a swim in the (so called) hot pool, but the water was barely warmer than mom’s stare after she discovered I'd taken my horse on a sightseeing trip through the house. I was also disappointed with the stock in the little shop. No bread, no meat and definitely no fresh vegetables. Since we had done extremely well with the finances and had some money left, we decided to dine out and had Oryx steak for supper. My medium-rare steak ended up well-done, but since it was meat, who’s complaining. The potatoes and veggies (yesss… veggies!) were excellent.

This guy has been cycling thousands of kms without legs

As we left for supper, some hooligans with large cars and even larger speakers for their music pitched up close to our tent. We were relieved that we would be further away while having supper, but worried how we would get sleep that night with the racket going on. Lo and behold, when we got back, there was the hugest of huge fires burning but not a soul in sight. I was not sure if they were asked to leave or had their fun for the night, as the place was strewn with empty liquor bottles and cans. Since we had not been able to have a fire for the entire trip, we each settled down on a stone and thoroughly enjoyed the glorious fire, specially lit and ready for when we got back!
Ai Ais campsite
My sentiments too!
We could not stay up too late, as the next day was once again an early start. Yet the day off gave me a good rest. In spite of the rest, I faced bed with some dread. This would be my last night in a country that had touched me in so many different ways. I hated the thought of leaving – leaving a place that had unexpectedly crept into my heart. But off to bed now – tomorrow will be a long day.
Sunrise behind my tent