Marbles, sand and the mother of all South-Easters

Or maybe I should name this Ride Report something like Earth , Wind and Fire. I think there was a band like that once. But that would have been long before my time.  Anyway…

I have wanted to explore some more of the Cederberg area for some time now and this past weekend turned out to be the perfect time to do it. I had (a little) bit of cash available and did not need to work on Sunday so I decided to make a plan. As it turned out some of the other Wilddogs also planned to go to Oasis for the weekend. This was to my fortune as Boere offered to transport some of my kit as he had a bakkie going that way. I had also just completed my prototype screen brackets to lift Jemima’s screen up a bit and this would be a good time to test the concept.

Bring it On offered me the use of his tent, and so on Friday evening after work I fetched the tent from him and then set off to Boere with a bunch of stuff tied to the back of Jemima.  The rest of my goodies was packed and loaded onto Jemima on Saturday morning before work. Then it was off to work for a few hours before my trip could begin.

At work I quickly replaced my cush drive rubbers with new ones from lecap. I had the wheel off, rubbers replaced and wheel back on in the time it took my colleagues to walk to the shop around the corner and buy some coffee.

The time in the shop passed very quickly as we were busy and when I came to my senses the day was over and it was time to hit the road. I went home , changed into riding gear and grabbed a bite to eat before setting off to Wellington where I was to meet up with David in front of the Dutch reformed church in the main road.

I was a bit early and took some pics of Jemima posing with Rev Andrew Murray .

I also went to the building where I stayed in the year after matric when I joined a Christian outreach program for a year.

When David arrived we stopped at the Pick and pay to grab something to drink before setting out on Bainskloof.

 I have never been fond of Bainskloof as I find it very bumpy so I took it easy up the road. In fact I took it a lot easier as usual as I had cars coming from ahead cutting corners in the first three hairpins. I realized that Bainskloof on a very hot Saturday was to be avoided as all of the local populace was having a dip and a dop in the kloof.

In Ceres David and I stopped at the Pick and pay to buy some buns and cold meats as I did not really have the budget to spend on Oasis’s ribs – even though I know them to be the best ribs in SA.

With our provisions acquired we set of towards Prins Alfred’s Hamlet , Guido pass and Oasis. Of course we had to stop at the view point for a photo opportunity. I must say I love the colour of David’s new bike. In fact – the F800GS has never excited me , but I really liked the look of this one.

Once over the pass we headed towards Op die berg and I became aware of a large plume of smoke in front of us. It turned out that the plume was coming from a big mountain fire right next to the turn off to Oasis at Op die berg.

Once past the fire we had the smoke behind us and the setting sun shining through the smoke. It cast an eery glow on our surroundings.

I stopped where the tar road becomes dirt and discovered that Jemima had developed her first electronic glitch for the weekend. No matter how I tried , I could not get the ABS to switch off. David meanwhile carried on ahead while I stopped quite a few times to get some photos. This is the second time I got to Cederberg and I still can not get over the beauty of it.

As I continued down the road I started to worry more and more about David. No matter how far ahead I looked I could not see him or even the slightest suggestion of a dust trail. I started to worry that David had missed a turn and fallen and that I went past him without seeing. As I started to look out for David , me attention was being diverted from what I was doing. This coupled with the fact that I picked up speed in order to catch up with him meant that I went into a few corners a bit too hot , but I did manage to scrub enough speed before entering them each time. At last , just as I was contemplating turning around to go and look for David I found him stopped next to the road taking photos. Later that night over supper he got a bit of uitkak for not stopping sooner.

Now having found David , I could drop my pace slightly and I started up the last pass towards Oasis. At the top , I stopped for some pics of the mountains while I waited for David to catch up.

Going down on the other side I heard a ‘plink’ noise that I later realized was my RH indicator lens falling off from the corrugated road conditions. I did not have the will to turn around and try and find it in the evening dusk , so I continued to Oasis where we were met by Gerhard.

This was where Jemima developed her second electronic glitch for the trip. When I wanted to start her up to move to our campsite she refused. Eventually I put the side stand down and up again and she sprang to life on the first attempt. I made a note to check the switch in daylight and rode to where we would sleep for the night.

Boere invited me and David to join them in the little house that they were renting and sleep on the stoep. So it was in the end that we did not even pitch our tents for the evening. David and I went up to the main building to get something to drink and ended up each having a toasted ham cheese and tomato sarmie with chips. I have to compliment Chantel and Gerhard on the quality of the food they serve. I have had Ribs at Oasis before that was by and large the best ribs I have ever had and even this toasted sarmie and chips was perfect. The ribs alone, I reckon, is worth the trip from Cape Town .

Back at Boere’s posse we were treated to some jokes and laughter with music and story telling. We also had a sample of the potjie that Boere was making. I must say , those who did not have potjie missed out on something lekker. Somewhere during the evening David decided to try and light a cigarette from a coal in the fire. Even with being stone cold sober he missed the end of the stoep and fell the meter or so to grass below with a clamour of pots and utensils he knocked off the braai place.

There was also a little gecko who made his home close to the light on the wall and had a feast with all the moths and beetles he caught when they were drawn to the light.

It looked like Boere and his friends were planning to continue their merriment till early morning and with my and David’s batteries being very flat I decided to move away from the stoep and go sleep on the lawn under the tree. David followed suit. Shortly after we left Boere and company also went to bed. David , meanwhile , had developed second thoughts about sleeping in the open and mentioned something about spiders and snakes. I figured that we had less chance of spiders on the lawn than on the stoep under the light, what with all the edible insects flying around the light. I also saw a big Red roman spider that some one killed on the stoep a short while earlier, but I decided to keep that info to myself as David did not seem too fond of the creepy crawlies.

I slept like a log and was awakened during the night by a springbuck snorting at the smell of us in the early morning. As dawn approached I went to have a shower and then proceeded to make me some proper coffee. Life is too short to drink bad coffee and so I brought along my little gas stove and percolator.

As more people woke up I went for a stroll with my camera and was met by someone with a very sheepish expression.

I remembered Jemima’s little side stand problem and investigated the cause. Using some cable ties I fastened the switch . This did not have quite the desired effect as she still refused to start with the side stand down, even in neutral, but ran without a hitch with the stand up. So I left it that and started packing for the rest of the trip.

David also showed his battle scars from the previous nights fall and posed for a photo of where he went over the edge.

Boere brought some fuel along for me and David and after topping off our tanks we settled matters with Gerhard and hit the road to Wuppertal.

We stopped for some pics along the way and I still could not get enough of the beautiful scenery.

I was having fun and actually enjoying the slightly more technical route , but David was a little out of his comfort zone and I do not think he enjoyed the route or the scenery much. As we stopped to give David a bit of a rest I remembered Le Cap once making a comment about the F650GS. His words rang in my mind :” Ve Jermans are sometimes a little stingy viz ze wire.” And so while David gathered his wits I stripped the ABS switch from Jemima and indeed found that one of the two wires on the switch had broken off. I broke the other one off as well and pulled the cable out from under the switch. By touching the two wires together I now had a means of switching off the ABS on my bike.

David was feeling a little more rested and we got underway again. The section of the road we were on had lots of marble sized rocks under the wheels and I got to the point where I was enjoying the more technical challenge of the road. I was standing on the pegs for long stretches at a time and as long as I remembered to stay lose and let the bike do her thing beneath me thins went great. In my mind I was flying like Cyril De Press or Marc Coma. I started to gas her out of the turns and doing little power slides here and there. I was feeling like a Riding God. I had to re-evaluate my newly found Riding God status however when I was passed by three Flying KTM’s in a hail of dust and stones.

My legs were starting to ache and cramp from all of the standing and together with trying to rub my arm where a roost stone whacked me and trying to clear the dust from my eyes I realized that I was not a Riding God yet. I re-adjusted my status to Riding Demi-God.

Having negotiated the marbles and the loose sand patches up to Eselbank I stopped at the only water crossing of the day to get a photo of David as he crossed.

Then through Eselbank and out the other side. I was feeling very chuffed with myself. I had conquered the road to Eselbank with all the loose marbles and as we started up the hill away from Eselbank I even allowed myself to wonder what all the fuss was about when every one spoke about the sand at Eselbank. The sandy patches that we went through were a bit tricky , but nothing I could not managed.

With these thoughts still ringing in my mind a made a right hand turn and saw a long stretch of proper deep sand ahead of me. With my newfound confidence in  my Riding Demi-God status I pointed Jemima down the road , leaned back a bit and opened the throttle. I made it about 80 percent through the sand before like Peter from the bible my faith petered out and I noticed the depth and looseness of the sand. The sound from my lips went something like :”Uhhhu UUUUHHH UHUHK . Ag shit!” As I hit the sand both my calves started to cramp. In an effort to stop the cramps I jumped up and started rubbing them vigorously . Some one watching the whole affair would have had some real trouble to not burst out laughing.

With the cramps suitably subdued I pressed the kill switch and turned around to see if David had seen me take a tumble. As it turned out went down at the exact same moment I did and was busy picking up his bike as quickly as possible to prevent me from taking a photo.

I noticed similar marks to my own in the sand just ahead of where I went down and figured that someone else had the same experience as myself earlier in the morning. At least he made it about 2 meters further then me before hitting the deck.

I picked Jemima up and spun her rear wheel down in the sand to keep her standing before walking over to David . He had suffered no damage to himself or his bike so we rode out of the sand and stopped for a break a little bit further up the road. I also did a bit of a re-evaluation of my Riding Demi-God status and decided that I am still a rookie.

I took some pics of the rock formations.

Then it was on towards Wuppertal.

At the bottom of the pass I was crawling along in first gear waiting for David to catch up. Not paying much attention my front wheel wandered of the road and into a patch of soft loose sand. The front wheel just washed out form under me and I basically stepped of Jemima , not even hitting the ground. And so the score was 2-1. 2 falls for me and 1 for David.

We rode into Wuppertal where we stopped at the Mission church and had a chat with another biking couple who was there.

Then it was on to Clanwilliam. I enjoyed the road very much and just gave Jemima some speed all the way to the tar road where I stopped at the English mans grave. I did stop for some pics along the way though.

Then it was on to Clanwilliam , but once again I stopped for a pic of the rock formations and also of the fire damaged in the mountain pass just before Clanwilliam.

We headed towards Citrusdal with the Clanwilliam dam to our right.

Just outside of Clanwilliam towards Citrusdal we stopped to have the rolls and cold meats that we bought for lunch. David did not see me stopped along the road and had to turn around. His front wheel went into the loose sand next to the road , and the score was 2 all.

Where the Citrudal road crossed the Algeria road we turned right across the Olifants river and then left onto the N7.

We stopped at Kardoesie on the Piekenierskloof pass for a coffee before hitting the N7 home.

From Piekenierskloof we rode into the headwind from hell. All the way home we battled the South-Easter with headwinds that I estimate to have been at least 60km/h

I got home around 5 pm .Tired , with a dirty bike, but a big grin on my face. Man we live in a beautiful country. We are so very privileged to be able to ride in and enjoy this place we call home.