The Best laid plans of Mice and Men ……..

I will have to go back to Sutherland to finish what this trip started. I had great plans for this weekend trip , but Murphy and unprepared planning on part changed all of that this weekend.

The plan : Meet up with my friend David and leave after work on Saturday afternoon.
Make our way up the N1 to Matjiesfontein. Look around a bit and then make our way to Sutherland where we will camp for the Night.
then Sunday leave Sutherland and do dirt roads via Ouberg Pass, Tankwa , Katbakkies and then home.

So , what happened :

As I waited for David to arrive I sat around looking at my bike . I could not help taking a photo of her.

Eventually David arrived and we quickly made our way out towards the N1. We decided to take the old Du Toitskloof pass. And stopped just before the start of the pass for a photo and for David to check on the bikes (Read – have a smoke).

With the bikes checked , we continued towards Matjiesfontein. No photos were taken en route as we were both antsy to get there and then be able to get to Sutherland before dark.

At Matjiesfontein we stopped for some pics and quick walk about.

While David was checking the bikes I walked through the transport museum inside the old station.

And then I walked about outside and took some pics of things to be seen.

With the sun slowly setting and the temperatures dropping we got going towards Sutherland. Now I was on a road that I have not ridden before and I was enjoying myself.  For me the joy of riding a (DS) bike is in riding and experiencing roads I have not done before.

As we crossed over a little plateau this vista opened in front of us.

We made it to Sutherland and proceeded to the only shop still open at 5pm on a Saturday to buy some tinned food to chow for supper. From here on I made many mistakes for this trip.

The first was to buy a tin of baked beans as an add on to the tin of corned meat for supper. This would come back to haunt me later in the night.

The next mistake I made was to not go and fill up the bikes before we went to set up camp. I thought about doing it and dismissed the thought. This came back to bite me next morning.

With food stocks sorted we set off to the camp site where David managed to set up his brand new unknown tent in a relatively fair amount of time.

Supper was had and corned beef , baked beans and coffee was ingested. Then it was off to the tents and sleeping bags. This was where the baked beans came back to haunt me. With my big body encased in a slightly too small sleeping bag I did not have the space to move about freely and let out a fart that was steadily building pressure as night wore on. And so I spent the night tossing and turning and not really getting down to a good night’s rest. Eventually I gave up and went to shower at 4am . Out of the confines of the sleeping bag and now upright my body managed to let one monster fart rip . What a relief . All of a sudden I felt much better. And so showered and dressed in full bike kit I went to lie down again as I had nothing better to do. And at least I slept until 7.

As I awoke I found David checking the bikes again , and I decided it was time to do something about my own little addiction.

With that done I could face the day.

The weather was a bit iffy but looking to the horizon it did look like it would clear later in the day . And luckily it did.

With everything packed it was time to set off, but not before I put some fuel in my bike.

And this was when I learnt that oom Jorrie only opens the fuel pumps at 11:30 after church for an hour on a Sunday.

With about 60km worth of fuel in my bike we had no choice but to wait.

We rode out to the observatory site , but there was no life on on a Sunday , so we rode back into town and went to have a breakfast at the Jupiter while we waited for 11:30 to arrive.

After breakfast we had a quick chat with the owner of the Jupiter (Theo). unbeknownst to us I would get know Theo a lot better later in the day.

And so we sat around and waited for the fuel pumps to open.

At last the bikes were filled and we were off towards Ouberg pass.

Appart from some very bad corrugations on the first bit of dirt from Sutherland the rest of the road was quite nice to travel on.

I would stop and take pictures and then ride and catch up with David again while he was travelling at a steady 80kmh.

As we stopped to check the bikes I noticed that one of the mistakes I had made earlier in the week had come back to bite me in the but. Earlier in the week I noticed that the LH pannier stay on my bike was slightly loose , but I did not think to go to the trouble of actually tightening the two bolts hold the stay. In Hindsight that was very stupid. As I walked up to my bike from behind I noticed that the pannier was hanging skew and that the stay had dropped away – luckily only one bolt went missing and I was able to cannibalise a bolt from anther non crucial part of the bike to fix the stay in place again.

With the stay back in place we could continue down the road.

Being of the thinner body persuasion David had expressed some doubts about taking a BIG GSA down Ouberg pass as he was not yet fully confident in his abilities.

At Ouberg pass I could see that David was not happy with the idea of going down the pass. So I told him that was more than willing to turn around go back the same route we came with.

David decided to give it bash and see how it goes , with the proviso that if after a while he did not feel up to it we turn around.

After a few hundred meters down the pass David indicated that he would rather not risk it and so we turned around.

I am not sure if it was the adrenalin that now affected David but going back down the road he was flying.

I stopped for a photo or two along the way and then caught up with him again.

I slotted in on his 4 o clock position and held station there as we rode back down the dirt road.

Coming around a turn I felt that something did not feel kosher and I only just managed to get the bike around the next turn  by forcing the tail out in a broad slide. And then as I tapped of the throttle life became very busy behind the bars as my front wheel that was now totally flat began following its own mind while I fought to bring the bike to stop without putting her down in a cloud of dust.

It was just after one as I stopped and took these last two photos of the trip.

And while this was the last of the photos it was not the end of my day for another full 12 hours.

David was unaware of the fact that I had stopped and he continued to the tar road where he waited for me. Eventually he would make his way back and come looking for me , but in the mean time two 4×4’s stopped and asked if I needed help.

By this time I had tried unsuccessfully to re inflate my tire with the compressor that I had and two bombs in my kit. The tire was off the bead and the little compressor just did not have enough volume to get the tire back on the bead. The gent in the one 4×4 called Eben is also a Wilddog and he fetched his 4×4 compressor to see if it will do the trick. The gent in the other 4×4 called Francois also tried to assist and between the 3 of us we tried every trick in the book to try and get the tire back on the rim. After nearly an hour of struggling we eventually gave up and Eben gave the number of someone he said would be able to help. Later on I would figure out that he gave me the number for Theo whom I have met that morning.

With no cellphone signal it was decided that David would ride to a point where he had signal and phone Theo. Just as he was about to leave I realized that we were a short distance away from a farm house and so we decided to first go and ask if the farmer did not have a proper compressor to assist.

Now a little history on my friend David. He was born in the UK and has come to SA about 10 years ago. While he does understand a fair bit of Afrikaans he does not really speak it at all. And as I later found out , Oom Sieb, the farmer does not do English. Not even in self defence.

So David rode up to the farm building and in his best Afrikaans managed to convey to oom Sieb that we were looking for a compressor. One that can reseat a tire on the bead. And so it was that oom Sieb drove out to me with his bakkie and took out the compressor from behind the back seat. And whilst it was the biggest portable compressor we had seen to date it still did not have what it took.

So I ended up walking up the hill and having found a spot with cellphone coverage I phoned Theo and asked if he could please help.  Without thinking twice he agreed and told me he was on his way. And so half an hour later Theo arrived with the biggest 4×4 compressor I had seen in my life. Sadly , after quite a bit of trying and sukkeling it became clear that even this compressor was not up to the task. The only option would be to take the front wheel off and take it in to town to inflate.

This of course presented a problem. Because I had made another big mistake in my planning. When I had the little 650 GS I had all the tools needed to take a wheel off and replace a tube etc. But with the Super Ten being tubeless I did not bother to carry all the tools to take the wheels off. Because tubeless is quick and easy and oes not need wheels to be removed. Yeah right !!!

Eventually with the help of a 19mm bolt that Theo stripped off his bakkie and a vicegrip and lots of swearing we managed to get the wheel off and onto bakkie. Now we could make the trip in to town to get to a big compressor. In town we found that oom Jorrie has not yet returned from the farm and so we could not get to the Fuel station compressor. But Theo remembered another Gent called Nathan who had a compressor. And it was true , Nathan had a nice compressor with a tank and lots of air. But he did not have the fittings to inflate car tires. We managed to make plan and got the tire seated on the rim and inflated – only to discover that the wheel was rapidly loosing air from the smiley I had picked up earlier the morning after hitting the driffie with a semi inflated wheel. So , Nathan was asked to please supply some big fire wood logs and a big hammer and I proceeded to moer the smiley back into place until the wheel sealed.

With the wheel fixed we needed to first go and siphon some fuel out of Theo’s generator in order to have enough fuel for the bakkie to make it to my bike and back. Eventually we had an inflated wheel , juice in the bakkie , a coke for David and we made our way back to the bike. The Front wheel was fitted and we kitted up to make our way home. Theo flatly refused the  money I offered him for the fuel and trouble I caused him. Thank you so very much Theo for your help and for getting me back on the road.

Back at the tar road outside Sutherland I waited for David to join me, only to be informed that the dims bulb on his headlight had blown. I told him to ride behind me and ride on his brights if needed and so we made our way back to the N1.

Of all the stresses I had to deal with for the day nothing scared me more than the trip down the N1 between Matjiesfontein and Worcester. The way people and especially Taxi’s passed other vehicles on double white lines and over blind rises or around bends was insane.  At last we made it to Touwsriver we grabbed something to chow having last eaten 12 hours earlier.

While having a bite I got a Whatsapp from Buzz Lightyear asking if I needed help. And a comment on Facebook from Garfield offering his trailer. I thanked them both for their concern and assured them that we were ok. Both David and myself added some extra layers of clothing to help ward off the cold and then took to the road.

Outside Worcester , about 3km from the Rawsonville turnoff and the weigh bridge I felt the Super Ten’s front wheel go flat again. Let me tell you , it is no fun having to bring a loaded Super T to a standstill from 130kmh with a front wheel that had blown out. By the grace of God I managed for the second time that day to bring her to stop without plastering paint and panels all over the road surface.

I realised that the tire had once again came off the bead and that I had no hope of getting it re-inflated and so at 10 in the evening I had to phone Garfield and ask if his offer still stood to come and fetch me with trailer. Without thinking about he asked me where I was and told me that he is on his way. We were standing in a very bad spot and I was worried that some opportunists may take advantage of my bad luck and try to relieve us of our belongings and so I decided to ride the bike 3km down the road to the weigh bridge where there would be lights and hopefully some traffic officers. That 3km was some of the hardest and most difficult bike riding I have ever had to do with a front wheel that follows its own mind and tried its best to bring the bike down.

Just after 11 Garfield arrived and quickly loaded the Super T onto the trailer. David set off and we made our way home. Garfield dropped me at my place around 12:30 and then had to travel all the way back to Melkbos. Thank you very very much Garfield for your help and assistance. I don’t know how I would have managed to get home had you not come to my rescue.

This morning I took the wheel off the bike and at the shop parted rim and tire to see what may have caused the problem. There we discovered that the tire I had fitted (a second hand one I lying around at home) had a small tear in the bead of the tire. The tear was probably caused by the previous fitter fitting or removing the tire and causing some damage. The tear was not readily visible on a quick inspection , but may have been found had I gone to the trouble of making sure that the tire was still ok to use.  This little tear did not allow air to escape while the wheel was stationary , but every time the wheel rolled over the spot where the tear was and the side wall flexed a little bit of air would escape. And so as the tire got progressively flatter the sidewall would flex more and more allowing more and more air to escape on each rotation until at last the pressure dropped so low that the last air escaped in a sudden blow out.

Had I carried the correct tools and a spare tube to put in the wheel in an emergency all of this drama could have been avoided.

Once again a big thank you to all helped , tried to help , or contacted me to ask if I needed assistance.  A special thanks to Garfield, Theo , Eben , Nathan , Francois, David, Buzz lightyear and oom Sieb who all had bigger or smaller roll to play in getting me home safely. Sorry that I screwed up your Sunday due to bad planning and preparation on my part. I will do my best not to let it happen again.