Karoo trip – Day 1

DAY 1

So where does one begin a ride report for an 11 day trip that comprised 3461 kilometres of  South African dirt and tar roads and used 165 liters of fuel ? How do you sort through the 580+ photos that were taken and put into words the experiences and emotions that accompany such a trip ?

I guess that one would start at the beginning.  Problem is , where exactly is the beginning ? Is it the day the trip started ? Or the day I started packing ? Or is it when I started planning this trip ? What about the day I actually got my first dual sport bike nearly two years ago ? Truth be told, this trip had it’s origins many many years before I actually got my first bike.

I can remember as a young boy riding with my dad on the farm roads in the karoo when hunting and falling in love with the twisting twee spoor tracks running between the koppies. I loved the adventure of finding what lies behind the next turn or next koppie.

And so technically this trip started a long time ago and was in the making through many years and many dreams. And so it was that on the 7th of March 2013 I stopped at the Caltex in Durbanville to top up  Jemima’s tank and make sure that all the luggage was strapped down tightly and my tires were inflated to the correct pressures.

With all the details sorted out I took the road towards Wellington. I saw the two prancing horses at the mushroom farm and with the sky starting to tint a glorious pink , I just had to stop and take a pic or two.

Stopping for pics would be the norm of the day , if not for the whole trip.

The horses were very artfully made from hundreds of old discarded horse shoes.

Just outside of Wellington I stopped for a pic with the sun’s first rays just starting to pierce the sky over the mountains.

Part of my route planning was to include as many mountain passes as I could find and having gone through Wellington , Bains Kloof Pass was the first on my list for the day.

It would seem that mr Bain wanted to tunnel through a part of the mountain to shorten the pass , but it seems that the idea did not work and all that remained was this little sign indicating the west portal of his tunnel.

I stopped at the top of the pass and just sat there and admired the view and looked as the sun’s rays slowly crept over Groenberg.

After school I joined a Christian outreach team for a year and we were stationed in Wellington for a few months. During that time we climbed Groenberg one fine Saturday and went and packed a big white cross with rocks painted white on the slopes of Groenberg.  The following Wednesday the town’s little tabloid newspaper ran an article about the plane that fell on the mountain complete with eye – (or is it ear witness) stories of how they heard the plane fly overhead and crash. Nature has since claimed its own and of the cross there is no more sign.

Ever since I have done Bain’s kloof pass for the first time I have always wanted to stop at Dacre-se-preekstoel and this time around I took my chance and took some photos.

Then it was onwards towards Ceres with Mitchell’s pass to be ticked off my list as well.

Going up the pass I passed a policeman on a little ‘help-my-trap’ and pulled of at the first chance to wait for and photograph him as he peddled past.

I passed him again and made my way into Ceres and stopped to photograph this beautiful church.

Onwards and upwards the road goes and so did I while I passed a few lumbering trucks up the Gydo pass.

With every kilometre that passed under Jemima’s wheels I was getting closer and closer to my first taste of gravel roads. I had to pull of next to the road just after Oppie berg to photograph some of the interesting rock formations that can be found in the Cederberg area.

And then at last it was time to turn right and onto the dirt roads towards Katbakkies pass.

The views from Katbakkies was breathtaking as always and I could not help  but stop and take some pics .

The dirt roads on the plateau allowed for some nice fast gravel riding , but being on a solo ride I made a point of not taking any chances and keeping speed to below a 100 kph.

I stopped to admire the handiwork of the old builders who build these old stone structures.

By now my stomach was starting to make some demands in the line of breakfast and I made it down Skitterykloof pass in order to get to the Tankwa padstal.

At Tankwa padstal I ran into Stofdonkie who was having a very enlightening discussion with the owner of the padstal about farming and production costs. We both also learnt something about prickly pears and all the different varieties.

With all of this happening around me I had a very lekker breakfast and coffee. And might I add that it was very well priced !!

From here onwards I was on roads that I have not explored previously. The Tankwa does have it’s own unique beauty.

I have always wanted to do Ouberg pass and today would be the day. I turned right towards Sutherland and Skurweberg.

And then Ouberg was looming in front of me.

I started my ascent and was forced to take it very easy as the road conditions were not to great and I did not want to overcook a turn and go over the edge.

I reached the top eventually and left Jemima while I walked around and took some pics.

The road toward Sutherland was a lekker smooth run and I rolled onto Sutherland around 3pm. I rode around a bit. Stopped to grab a bite to eat and made a booking at the local camping spot.

After a very lekker shower I walked around and took some pics of the locals.

And then tired and content I retired to my tent and little blow-up mattress. I would love to say that I slept like a log but alas I spent a very restless night rolling around and trying to find a comfy spot to sleep. By the time the roosters started to clear their throats I had a cup of coffee going and was getting to ready for day 2 of my adventure….