Tankwa Teaches Humility

(

Tankwa Tented Camp Overnighter : 07-08/July 2018)

‘’Afgeval, seergekry, opgeklim & weer (verder) gery!’’🎵🎶🎵– Tannie Jackie

On Saturday morning, as group of friends we met at the Klapmuts BP garage for our Tankwa Tented Camp overnighter. As the group came together, we knew it would be an interesting affair. We had a combi camper with the bike trailer, a little Jimny on steroids and a Mahindra. These were our vehicles on the trip. The rest of us parked our GS’s next to eachother and in the distance we heard Martin’s Honda arriving. Making sure we all knew well in advance that he would be the one who would keep us all on our toes. So here we were – 23 people, different modes of transport, different occupations, different dreams, different ages …. Yet in the next 24hours we would become friends.

A smartie box of sorts we suited up after a quick briefing, and headed straight for the gravel after the N1 turnoff. We headed left and decided that tar wasnt in it for us today. We took some detours via farms, and after the rainfall the fields are beautifully green, and the roads are hard. Awesome riding conditions. In the distance I saw the first water crossing, not having one of these experiences under the belt, and with Carel no where near intekom range, I just reminded myself. ‘’when in doubt – throttle it out’’ .. the rule applied and with great success, I must of face another 10 of those in that morning. I felt like a kid at a mud throwing party, it was so much fun. Back on to the tar it wasn’t long until we hit dirt again. With all the legs that had been stretched now, and the group finally finding its rhythm after a few lost ducks in another man’s pond we were snaking along the roads.

Arriving in Ceres, I was sopping wet. My ducky was covered with mud and here and there I saw a resemblance of what she was this morning when we left home. With my holey bike boots, my socks were wet – through and through. I hoped it would dry soon, because the cold on Gydo pass was waiting for my wet legs.

Carel gave us 2 options going up, one group could go straight to the Katbakkies turn off and the other could take the Touwsriver turnoff and do some sneaky surprise road. The group then split on Gydo pass. I followed Carel through this road. We went through 3 gates. Here and there we had to meander the bikes through some narrow entrances and the loose sand was very forgiving. The landscape was amazing. Its amazing what a little bit of water and a lot of snow can do.

We came out at the edge of the road near Katbakkies turnoff. Through the farmers gate we exited onto the tar. Katbakkies, hier is ekke !

I had been without comms most of the day, by now I was really at peace with the silence in my helmet, and knew that this was just going to have to be one metre infront of the other.. I love this pass… its just one of those roads where I lose my heart everytime. It humbles me completely and brings me to a point of overwhelming gratitude. Beauty endless !

Coming to the top of the pass, you are with in arms length of touching the white patches of snow that are still on the side of the road after last weekends sudden white decent.

We met up at Tankwa Padstal. I got off and instead of high fiving myself, I dusted off my pants, I earned the wet toes, and dusty visor – that was epic.

Meeting up with my parents and friends everyone was in good spirits sharing their story of the ride so far. A cold one was necessary to clear the dust stuck in between my teeth, probably because I was smiling all the way.

We headed to Tented camp, parked the bikes just in time to make it to the bus for the sunset cruise. Speechless this left me.

We climbed off and all walked up the hill. We listened to stories of the Tankwa. Can you believe this area only gets 30mls of rain annually – yet they are smiling. And we complain about grey water and a bucket system.

We took a few minutes to take this all in.. sat in silence. I am sure each one of us were sharing a moment with the sun that was going down, as the last peak of yellow sank, so did those private thoughts. We were given a game drive with a difference as we visited all the Africa Burn artwork that was still around. It is fast becoming a natural art studio in the desert. Whatever you consider normal, it is a flipside when you enter the Tankwa, and to embrace this, will give you a sense of peace.

Elzebet and her team made sure we had heated blankets in the tents and a warm meal. This makes you feel like home… ‘’Pap, smoor en vleis’’

The party relaxed and everyone climbed in and ensure a good time was had… one by one the weary ones started disappearing to the tents, admittedly I was one of them. A day on the bike makes me long for naps, nice long ones.

Sunday morning we got up nice and early and went for a long walk into the Tankwa veld to go and experience this sunrise…

Same as the night before, its like watching fine art in movement.. Tankwa does humble me, in a way that is indescribable.

After a good breakfast, we started getting ready. Carel gave the signal that we could all come home in our own fashion. So all decided which direction they were heading into and the group did a quick split.

I decided to head out with the one vehicle. My mother being the driver I knew I could give it a bit of stick. She would catch up.

I left the other riders and hit the Tankwa highway. I went over one of those awesome invisible bumps at quite a speed, and with that my body went airborne instantly all that was on my bike was my hands, having no comms I was swearing and singing to my guardian angel as my feet came down and hit the pedals too hard, knocking my bike out of gear. A quick recovery – find it – find it – find it – got it ! I am reminded that you should never ride faster than your guardian angel can fly.. in my case as fast as my mother can drive, Ha ha ha..

We met in Ceres just after 12 and then the wait began. Next bike in was Carel… and then it was a stagger.

After 2 minor incidents, all the ducks were in the pond, arms and legs attached. We did our meet and greets and headed back to the flat mountain and real life.

It is hard to get back into my car, walk into an office and pretend like this weekend didn’t leave its mark on me. Stopping in a pass like Katbakkies, alone, no phone, no human and no animal. All I can hear is the soft idling of the engine. I was so overwhelmed by how big it all is and how small we actually are, the warm tears turned ice cold as they rolled down my cheeks.. a year ago I didn’t even own a bike, or even dream of this reality. It is because of grace that we can do this awesome sport called adventure biking. May we stay humble in our travels, giving thanks as we go along.

A special mention ….

Andreas ‘s dad joined us this weekend, was a father son special date. It also seems that this wont be the last

My parents joined, a first and very special occasion … now they don’t only read about it on my blog.. but can live one too.

Oom Neels, for once again having to borrow a bike on the morning as the yellow bug didn’t want to ride… and for always being on top of it. Even in tough situations.

Elanza, for being a rockstar pillion and falling graciously !

Tannie Jackie, for her wisdom and handling her incident with a smile

Phil, for his optimistic, humbling attitude when the camper decided to rather want to stay in Tankwa….

I salute you !

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‘ROCK-PAPER-SCISSORS’ – Greyton

(Dayride – 19/05/2018)

It’s been a while and the “Groot Trek” is over, the dust has settled on the home front and our feet are itching to just get some km’s on the tyres. Carel and I made a date with our bikes to finally go for a mini ride on Saturday. We had some good friends who were also eager for a dirt day and without much effort we had ourselves a ‘’ breakfast ride – gone long’’ again.

With only one firm arrangement in place, being the meeting point on Saturday morning we knew that whatever way we were going it would be 2 things, Beautiful and Fun. That was enough for me.

From the Bp Garage we exited and met up with Neels at the Strawberry farm near Somerswet west as the yellow 1150 decided she wanted the day off and Neels was to have a day out on an 800. In true fashion he took this pleasant surprise with a grin on his face and we headed to the N2. Quickly ascending Sir Lowry’s Pass, it wasn’t long until our turn off onto the Appletizer road. From there we turned tar to dirt onto the Highlands road. Considering its been a while, I didn’t even give my famous kopwurm time to have a chat, I voided it as I was hungry for this dirt and beautiful landscapes that comes with it.

The area of Grabouw is lush and green after the rains that we have had. The earth looks alive again, the aromas and smells that you get through the open visor is fruity and fresh. It’s almost like drinking a good wine, without the hangover.

Coming back onto tar we headed left to Ecology Farm. Here we sat in the garden, amongst the protea bushes and had hearty breakfast. This venue hasn’t been around very long, but is worth the stop. Here they farm with proteas and have a protea nursery too. Anyone who knows me well enough, will know here I felt at home… ‘’fynbos blommietjies is my hart’’.

After breakfast we headed in the direction of Karwyderskraal, just after the turn Neels led us off onto dirt again. Never riding here before, I was too busy trying to make calculations of how badly I would see my ass today than to even look at the signboards of the roads I was turning onto.

The landscape in this area is breathtaking. Beautiful and stretches as far as you can see through your helmet. Carel started subtly prepping me for a road through the comms as a friendly warning. I only heard every second word, and wondered what the peptalk was about, and then it came… I looked down the hill, it was steep, and at the bottom some of the guys was already waiting for me – to have my turn. Loose rock here we go… tick tock, tick tock. Arriving with the rest of them in one piece, I thought to myself, I am alive and so is my Ducky so I guess we did ok. Just as I gathered my witts again Carel started with is peptalk, seriously. Then I looked up, and here was a narrow loose rock path, and we were going up ! big girl panties on and I stayed sitting and jiggled up there. Getting to the top, if I wasn’t shaking so much I probably would of jumped off the bike and high fived myself.

Alive and kicking I caught up to the group. We stopped to have a moment and I was grateful that I don’t always know where I am going before the time, because if I knew I was going to have to face that I probably would have avoided that road completely, yet here we are testing and flexing our confidence muscle all the time. I love it (maybe I should get a plastic ….??).

Coming out onto tar near Genadendal we made our way to Greyton, this would be our turnaround point. We popped into the restaurant 1854 for lunch. The menu is mouthwatering and the atmosphere is very chilled. We had good food and the boys did some Ale-tasting. The air changed from 27 degrees and we knew our winter sun would be leaving us soon.

Leaving Greyton we did another detour onto dirt and ended up somewhere on Van der Stelspas. The road look a lot different than the last time I rode it. It is so much prettier in this season. It’s so green and fresh.

We turned back onto tar at the Theewaterskloof dam. What seemed to be a quick zip through Franschoekpass ended up dropping into Franschoek as the sun started setting, painting the skies different shades of magenta and yellow, framed by black silhouette of the mountains.

Perfect ending to another good day to be alive.

Sometimes the best days are the ones where you just go where the road leads you. And having good friends to do it with makes it a forever epic adventure.

‘’Rock-Paper-Scissors’’

Porterville Beaverlac Overnighter  : It’s never about the destination, Always about the Journey

24-25 February 2018

‘’Come and fly the skies where black eagles soar, and hike the paths of the leopard once more.

Come and climb the rocks where the baboon often play, and spend time at a rock pool each day.’’

The best thing about a weekend like this is the fact that very little planning is necessary, the hardest part is making place on the bike for a tent. We met for sanity sake at the Engen in Plattekloof, knowing that by now we all are au fait with this garage as a meeting point. Stefania’s bike decided to break the ice and trend for our relaxed ride and was so relaxed it just didn’t start. We ended up detouring via Vredehoek, with Carel jumping like a kangaroo on the motorbike freeing downhill in town. Here you place your hands over your eyes and remove one finger, just because you cant look, traffic in town, freeing down hill with a tempermental motorbike is a recipe for …….. after a few attempts the little ninja took, and the engine roared making its awakening presence known.

Now we were all awake, ready … from the N1, it was a quick dash through traffic to the N7 and the country side commenced just outside Durbanville turn off.

The previous nights rain had left the fresh earth smell hanging in the air, accompanied by a cool breeze which was welcomed as I rode with an open visor. It was literally a few gear changes and the dirt was under my tyres already. Admittedly a few minutes later I wasn’t feeling it. Neels says I have a Kopwurm.. I am starting to think he is right. After a few serious chats with this KopWurm, I decided that he lost and Jani won the round and put my fears and doubts in the dust behind me and just embrace the day.

I placed myself at the back with Andreas when we entered the Haaskraal road, so that I could flex my confidence muscle a bit more. Looking down my speedo was reading 90kms per hour on dirt and I was standing. KopWurm – you lose!

We took a refreshment stop at Du Vlei Padstal. The hot chocolate here is one of my favourites and shortly after stopping, the warm sweet beverage found its way into my hands.

Carel once again turned us off the tar, soon we were on Delsma Farm road that goes through to Gouda. This dirt road was a pleasure riding and we ended up coming into Gouda and then turning right towards Porterville. With the stop and go’s it wasn’t too much of a hold up and we entered the town soon enough to make the local butchery in time. We all peeled into the local butchery, the owner recognized Carel, and before we knew it half a cow was being sliced into steaks, with some complimentary braaispice for our barbi in the valley. Pitstop for cold beverages and then we headed out, exited Porterville we took the turnoff to the right, Dasklip / Cardouw road to make our way to Dasklip Pass, the one that would drop us in the valley at Beaverlac.

Some more dirt under the tyres and soon it turned to a now neatly tarred pass. The narrow pass trickles along the mountain side, making ascent quick. We stopped at the grid, to take in all the beauty below us and saw the path in the distance that we were on just a few minutes ago. We now understood why Carel made sure we had a cold beverage. Here we saluted and high five’ed each other for a good day to be alive and healthy.

The drop to Beaverlac commenced, it is a quick descent of sand, and loose rock. By now the comms had died, and the Kopwurm too. In 1st gear I spluttered down the mountain like a snail clutching to a wet rock. I got down, in one piece and so was my bike

Beaverlac is a natural heritage site in the Grootfontein Farm, it is hidden in the Olifants River Mountains and is situated in a 5000 hectare secluded valley surrounded by the Ratel and Olifants Rivers.

We all unpacked and set up camp at this beautiful camp site with in minutes bike gear was replaced with shorts, tshirts and barefoot as we made ourselves comfortable around the fire where Collen had already set up for us. With Bernie and Pi, his 2 precious bulldogs came with to be our brave body guards for the evening.

Sitting around the fire, I can say that a year ago, I didn’t know any of these people and here we are spending such a special time in such an amazing place sharing stories and dreams. We all have different careers and yet our idea of a good time is this. I have learnt that doing trips with people who enjoy what you enjoy, there is never admin.

The evening ended as we all found our way to our little cacoons for a well deserved rest

The next morning we ventured on a hike to explore the beautiful landscape followed by a refreshing swim in the rock pools of Beaverlac. The rock pools are beautiful and clean and a relief for all campers on a warm day. By lunch time the fire needed to be extinguished and the tents packed up for our route home again.

Carel didn’t hold back on the route and dirt and dust was there again. We made a few detours on a few farms, accidentally on purpose. Not one of us minded, as a good day is a good day, lost or not. We went past the Misverstand dam. And then did the long stretch of dirt before Riebeeck Kasteel. We entered the tar there for a quick trip through the pass to Malmesbury. Here we said good bye. As we hugged each other the dust lifted off our jackets as a sign of another successful day.

… when you were a child at a funfair, and you stood in the queue at the tornado, your hands used to shake as you held the ticket out to the conducter. You proceeded with caution onto the contraption that would spin you around and upside, and you would scream with exhilaration. When it would come to a dead stop you would hold onto the railing while you get off again with adrenaline pumping. And the first reaction would be.. ‘ lets do it again’ –

Monday morning when I opened my eyes… that was the words I uttered.

#addicted

Lambert’s Bay Leaves us Longing

[Bmw Motorrad – Lambert’s bay overnighter – 10 & 11/02/2018]

Waking up on a Monday morning after a weekend like the one we just had, it feels almost insignificant to have to get dressed in clean clothes, drink coffee from a dust free coffee mug and put on a computer to download emails and enter the adult world of a routine based day. Just yesterday we were covered in dust, never minded by bad hair and dirty clothes, yet the feeling was one that money couldn’t buy and the thrill was child-like. Today we adult again.

On Saturday morning we were summoned to the Swartland Engen garage where we would meet our travelling friends. These meeting points on the first day of a trip, are never the same. You shake hands with strangers, try to make note of the names you don’t already know, and in your mind you have already forgotten them as your craving for coffee takes over with the first sip of some warm java. With that in mind you already know that when wishing each other farewell tomorrow afternoon, we will already be old friends.

Geoff was our leader for this trip. I have never joined one of his trips before, but his legacy had left me curious and excited for the dirt road ahead of us. Obviously we had chosen dirt with a touch of sand. We headed out and just past Moorreesburg we stopped to deflate tyres to prepare for the gravel and sand. Uncle Ewert stepped off his new lady in red, GS1200 (it was her maiden voyage to dirt) with a slight nervousness as he removed his gloves. I noticed his excitement and slight nervousness as he had never taken this lady on the dirt before. With words of encouragement and motivation we readied up for the dirt. Roads were beautiful with open fields, blue skies filled with cotton wool clouds. As the dirt moved under the rolling tyres his lady became comfortable with the new texture on her rubber and Uncle Ewert was dancing in the seat. It was a good day

At Picketberg, Carel noticed his sprocket had lost its teeth completely and had to make a quick dash back to Paarden Island in Cape Town while I had to pillion with Geoff. As we exited Piketberg garage the comms unit died, and I knew Carel was quickly approaching Cape Town with a bike that was in need of 911 treatment.

The dirt road took us from Citrusdal to Clanwilliam. To be pillion with Geoff was an absolute party. His skill level is amazing, and the bike – oh well.. need to get one of those ! *wink*

We filled up again in Clanwilliam and then made our way back onto dirt en route to the N7 via Bulshoek dam. Admittedly, now when Cape’ies see water they want to stop and bottle it to take home. The specks of water we saw on this road made us all breathe a heavy sigh of relief in our helmets knowing the seriousness of our current situation at home. We stopped at the turn off at the N7 and noticed some of our fellow riders were slightly delayed. Geoff turned back to find them and we used this opportunity to stretch legs. Finally on line with Carel, he was very quickly making his way back up the tar from Paarden Island to join us again at Klawer.

With one or 2 altercations all our riders were safe. At Klawer we stopped for a well deserved lunch and some cold liquids for dusty throats. I heard Carel’s 800GS coming into the parking lot and was grateful, all the chickens were in the nest again. Now we could have a peaceful journey to our destination at Lamberts Bay

The last stretch of dirt from Klawer to Lambert’s bay was tougher than hoped for. Geoff warned sand, and until then we hadn’t had much. The road was loose and everyones average speed slowed a little with the wakening of it.

Safely at Lamberts bay hotel we checked in and met up with the group that road the tar. Everyone shared stories of the day and the reunion had commenced.

Our bus fetched us and the bikes rested as we piled in for dinner at Muisbosskerm.

‘’ FOOOOOOODDDDD GLORIOUS FOOOODDDDD’’

The setting, priceless … painted skies with pink, yellow and blue. The aroma of seafood filled the air. The conversation and atmosphere was joyous. And you take a moment to embrace all of it and realise again… grateful and blessed to have a good life.

Many people would probably not grant themselves this treat if it wasn’t for events like this, yet we all deserve this spoil and sunset.

With tired bodies we piled back in the bus like school children after an SOS camp, excited, loud, and tired and headed back to the hotel. Some die-hards proceeded straight to the bar, while the rest seeked a quiet room and pillow.

Sunday morning we did some exploring of the town at sunrise as the seagulls replaced the alarms just after 4am. Lambert’s bay is a little fishing town that is known as the ‘diamond’ of the West Coast popular for its amazing seafood, bird life and beautiful beaches.

We met for breakfast, geared up and ready for our adventure homeward bound.

We headed inland again and took the Cedarberge route on the dirt. The road was as expected beautiful, dusty and endless. We rode through some valleys that had recently had fire and the smell of burn still lingers in the air.

Stopping at Cedarberg Oasis was a welcomed visit. Legs stretched and some ventured into the pool for relief of the days heat.



Shortly afterwards we geared up for the last time. Next stop would be Ceres.

The road from Oasis to Gydo pass is one of my favourite dirt roads. I enjoyed the quick exit of dust and sand as we entered the tar.

Over Gydo pass the evidence of remnants of a fire show and looking down, dam levels are low.

We said our farewells and well wishes at the garage in Ceres where tyres were pumped up again, tanks filled and gear dusted off. Reality kicked in, and we were homeward bound. Yesterday morning we were, some friends, some strangers. Spending time on roads like these, makes you grateful for the guy in front of you and the guy behind you.

Thank you Geoff for taking us crazy ‘ies , it was an epic adventure.

It really isn’t about the destination, it’s all about the journey. A trip like this makes that quote such a reality.

Sitting in front of the computer today, with your favorite coffee mug, dressed in a clean shirt and well groomed hair. You have flashbacks of yesterday and realise… it’s a good life with dirt and 2 wheels !

Once in a blue moon – 31 January 2018

Once in a blue moon…

“She used to tell me that a full moon was when mysterious things happen and wishes come true.” S. A. Thompson

The monthly BMW Motorad Club meeting is usually held on the last Wednesday of every month and just so happened that this time it was held on the last day of the first month of this new year. We were spoilt with a special phenomenon of having to share the evening with the Super Blue Blood Moon. There is a strong possibility that in our life time we will not bear witness to this amazing natural event on any calender.

We met at the club house as usual and the reunion began as most of us haven’t seen each other since our end year function in December last year. The year started in full force and it feels as if we are really only touching ground now. After the catch up and banter with friends we sat down for an informal meeting just to get all the formalities out of the way. Admittedly I think most of us were already distracted because we knew there would be a ride involved, a beautiful rising moon and a yellow setting sun, with an unknown destination.

Getting our fifteen minute departure alert, everyone scattered and filled the parking lot, as helmets were being put on, jackets buttoned, the atmosphere was one of excitement and joy. Age not applicable, as it we all share the same passion. Here you realise again, no matter how small the dream, it does come true.

We headed out with Neels as the ride leader. Soon we ended up passing Durbanville hills wine estate. Looking back it was a sight that gave me goosebumps. The headlights of the motorcycles lit the tar like Christmas lights on a lifeless tree. What a sight, with the yellow rays of a setting sun on our beautiful Table Mountain. Dreams come true.

Our surprise destination was Bloemendal restaurant on the hill. This restaurant has been closed for a while. As we headed up the hill, the last of the sun was kissing the ocean good night and the moon started taking her place in a dark sky.

Everyone made way to the opening in front of the empty building. Picnic blankets were spread out on the dirt. Champagne glasses, treats and snacks devoured, while the silence was colored in by laughter and an excitement in the breeze.

Having Oliver join us last night again, one local word has resonated with him, ‘’Lekker’’ – Oliver, this top night we would consider to be ‘’Flippin’Lekker’’

“Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.” ― J.K. Rowling

So we all share in this child-like excitement for the natural beauty, dirt roads and challenges.

May last night’s ending of the month only set the pace for your own February .

‘Ciao’

‘’ Barrydale and Beyond ‘’ .. Where breakfast ends with a pink Sunset

[BMW Breakfast Ride to Barrydale with Neels – 21/01/2018]

The reality of the day is still lingering like the dust on my rims of yesterday’s ride. The Duckling and me have been in a steady relationship now for about 8 weeks, but we keep our bonding time limited to approximately 200kms at a time.

Seeing Neel’s name on for the Sunday breakfast ride and planning a visit to Barrydale for the infamous milkshakes at Diessel & Crème, I suspected my relationship with lil’ducki would be a bonding experience.

We met at the Engen as per usual. We had our meet and greets with the other like-minded souls and were introduced to Oliver who is on a 5 month cross country sabbatical on his Triumph. He comes from Switzerland and has chosen South Africa to be his destination of choice for conquering roads and country side. Well, a feather in our cap for this one. When Neel’s had a few minutes to gather his thoughts over a BAR-ONE (breakfast of champions), the glint in his eye appeared and the smile broadened and I got nervous. I immediately assumed my assumption of tar and 400km’s was a distant memory. Once again : Assumptions … Oopsie!

We headed out and were soon enroute towards Bain’s Kloof, I took my place delicately at the back of the group. To best describe my approach to this pass would be like an elephant on a bicycle in granny gear trodding up a hill…. You have the picture.. that was me.

Oliver’s opinion of our Bain’s Kloof, ‘’it reminds me of Switzerland’’ .. well done Thomas Bain, you did well!

Through the pass we headed towards Worcester, Carel says, here we can ‘lepel’ it, being at the back and having riding the small sister amongst the big brothers, I felt I was doing the ‘lepel’ thing quite often.

We headed towards the Hex River and turned left towards the direction of Nuy Valley. Here the tar ended and the gravel just happened to fall in front of us. I just smiled in my helmet, ‘’ Ja Neels !’’ being an absolute amateur at gravel and dirt, and now riding in a group, my heart was pounding in my throat all the way down to my heels resting on the foot pegs. Besides the sound of my heart beating, my eyes and soul managed to take in the beauty around me, understanding this wouldn’t be a place I would of just happen to pass by if it wasn’t for this moment. Grateful for these seconds and minutes we stopped to put our feet on the soil just to ensure the dream was in actual fact a reality.

Soon we reached tar and made our next stop Diessel & Crème in Barrydale, which was in actual fact the destination. Yet it felt like the cream was already over my lips as I had my dessert on the gravel roads. Soul was fed already, now it was the tummy’s turn.

If you still haven’t visited this heavenly venue… you will not regret the outing. If you want to see grown men become children again, just show them the milkshake menu. Here we shared banter and got to know each other better. The milkshakes were gratefully received on starving bellies and the meals monstered down. The heat was on us and refueling was necessary for what was still coming.

Before we left I noticed Neels eyeball his gps quickly and decided to chuck my caution to the wind and to wing it as he would expect me to. ‘’Jani, hou kop, Bly Los op die Fiets’’ … and that was it.

Tradouw Pass, another Mr Bain design. You never disappoint me. Beauty in cliffs and valleys, rock and fynbos.

From here the turn off for Malgas came fast. Some more treats in dust and dirt. A quick stop for water on the empty farm road left us with a beautiful and welcoming surprise. Giant water drops falling from an open blue sky onto thirsty ground and flustered cheeks.

A quick and welcoming leg stretch on the Pont over Malgas and straight to the Malgas Hotel for necessary hydration. Sitting under the massive tree, the wind swayed the leaves back and forth as a comfortable manual aircon. I stay humbled by these moments. In the norm of it all, we rarely appreciate the cover of a tree or even the leaves moving due to a soft breeze. Days like this, you find refuge under a tree around a table with good company.

Back on the road we tackled the last stretch of dirt towards the Bredasdorp turn off. With a longer than planned leg stretch, our Captain got a flat and we all used the opportunity to get a free BMW workshop lesson on how to change a tube, tyre and detox in 30 degrees sun at the same time. luckily spirits were still high and the sun was starting to say its almost time to say good night.

The last stretch went fast. It was Bredasdorp, Napier and Caledon. Last fill up in Caledon I wondered how I would dismount my duckling… with effort. I felt like a lego man with a 90 degree body as I came off. All I could do was laugh at myself, there weren’t words that I could physically speak that would describe what emotional or physical state I was in at that stage. It was all surreal to me.

The weather changed from heatwaves and beating sunrays to a pink sunset that painted our skies for the last stretch home on the N2, coming over Sir Lowry’s pass, two things filled my being. Grattitude and humility.

People ask how long does it take to really get to know someone, it took 580km’s in a few hours to turn strangers into friends…

With a glint in his eye and a naughty smile, you can be sure a breakfast ride with Neels will be something you will never forget.

#learningtofly

I get it !

When Carel asked me a few months ago if I wanted to tag along on the motorbike, so he could go fetch something at Donfords Stellenbosch, I remember scrambling through my clothes cupboard looking for appropriate motorbike attire, but nothing in my floor cupboard would have been appropriate anyway as I exited the house with a casual jacket, jeans and some uggboots – ‘’ ankles, Jani, we like them whole’’ is all I heard, as my mother’s voice subconsciously whispered in my ears. As men usually find themselves distracted in a motor vehicle or hardware store, distracted and lost in Donfords was no different I would of imagined for him, and I ended up entertaining myself – familiarizing myself with names, models, clothing, padding, helmets – gloves and boots. All of a sudden I felt like a zit on a models face. Such elegance and class, but yet the posters against the walls showed a lifestyle that I had already started living, except it was on foot and on every trail I had time and petrol money to get to.

My interest peaked, but I moonwalked myself backwards out of the display room, as I wasn’t dressed for the occasion at all.

After that I think it was downhill skating for me, first the jacket came and then the helmet, the intekom, the gloves, the pants, the socks, the boots, the inners , the buff… it was as if I walked myself through gumtree and came out the other side as an overall well-dressed pillion of off road BMW GS riding.

I haven’t been doing this – ‘’SIT STIL EN BLY STIL’’ pillion task for that long, and already it is all over me, even I get withdrawal symptoms if the black fat pants haven’t been on my body for a while and I haven’t heard the sounds of velcro and zips and an exhaust pipe that is unique when it starts. The sound of it already is an automatic signal to the brain, suit up and now it’s party time.

We toured quite a lot this year – we have visited some beautiful places, From Seweweekspoort to Malgas, the Diamond coast, Vioolsdrift and the Cedarberge just to touch on a few, I am still learning to sit still, but the idea of a possibility of my own bikes exhausts sounding the alarm of an instant adventure definitely tweaked in my soul. I need to earn these bragging rights now too.

So my partner in all things fun assisted in finding me a suitable fit. The BMW 650Dakar. Have you ever seen this bike, she is beautiful and after 2 quick visits on the grass just so we could make our acquaintance was all that was necessary to brave the open road.

I get it Guys ! I do now…

They say 4 wheels move your body and 2 wheels move the soul. Well, I get it now. Riding pillion is an awesome treat. Riding your own bike is an adventure.

I am very much an amateur and this piece probably doesn’t warrant a report, but I get it now. The smiles I usually witnessed through the visors of our friends on trips, I am sure was visible under my visor yesterday as well.

My daughter pillioned with Carel yesterday, while I was riding my own bike. This was her first long ride, more than just a ride in the suburbs. On our way to school this morning in the car, chucking along in traffic, she mentioned … ‘’ mommy, you know hey, being on the bike, I wasn’t scared at all, I was free ‘’’

So I guess I am learning my rights now too…

#learningtofly

Fluit, Fluit – Ons  “Vioolsdrift”storie is uit

‘en hoe gaan dit vanmore met jou?’ …. Hy antwoord stadig en trots,  ‘opgestaan’

This is how the people in the Northern Cape greet eachother daily, instead of answering with the normal answer as we would give it, ‘fine’, ‘well’, ‘ok’… they always answer with ‘opgestaan’. In one word it all comes together, with a grateful smile, they give thanks to being able to wake up another day, to be able to see into the endless open spaces in front of them, to be able to hear the sound of the birds wings flapping together as they take flight into the morning sky, to be able to smell the fresh air of the Richtersveld, to be able to feel their surroundings, they are ‘’OPGESTAAN”. Grateful and humble…

When Carel and I decided to plot a quick escape for the border post, it started off as a two day trip, then within minutes it turned out into a six day trek up the coast to Vioolsdrift. If we were left with a longer time to linger, it could of easily become a month journey without hesitation.

We left early on Thursday morning, while most people were still sitting in traffic, we were already hot on the N7 in the direction of Lamberts Bay. We turned to dirt and headed coastal our first stop was Doringbaai for a leg stretch the day was going to be long and beautiful. One of the little boys bravely enquired about the bike and its capacity and I giggled on the inside as I could imagine Carel’s less child like reference of his GS to a ‘’scooter’’ as he asked, “Middag Uncle, hoe v’nig ry di scooter?”. This unlikely initiation to the West coast set the trend for our trip, one of humility, kindness and gratefulness. Back on the stof scooter, our next stop was the beautiful beach town of Strandfontein. This town is a popular holiday destination and has the prettiest restaurants on the beaches. Considering we had left so early we took a few minutes to sit on the deck overlooking the ocean, with red noses sipping on our drinks. It was here, our little piece of heaven on the open road had arrived, always on time, never late.

From here on our stretch to Lutzville was a quick one, we filled up and headed out to the town of Garies. The jokes about the folks from Garies is almost as popular as the jokes of the people from Brakpan, so we made sure we could tick this one off the list as well. We found a coffee shop hidden away at the back of a fuel station called ‘Die Koperketel’.  The people in these towns are so friendly, and kindness seems to be part of their DNA, they don’t have much of the fancy, but they are rich in the things that matter. We had a well deserved lunch and exited the town onto the gravel roads to Hondeklipbaai.

Hondeklipbaai is a small town on the coast. This little town is so small, stop signs aren’t necessary and they really have more dogs than humans. We stayed at Skulpieskraal, a quaint little campsite. We unpacked the stof scooter and replaced our heavy gear with some casual clothes, grabbed the helmets again and went exploring.  As you ride along the coast through the town, one thing is evident. This coastline has made victim of many a vessel as the scraps of metal and material lie rusted on the rocks.

Here we ran into a couple from Rustenberg that we ended up travelling with for 2 days as we shared a dinner in the ‘Die Rooispinnekop Restaurant’. We shared stories about where we came from and where the road takes us. The common ground was exploration. After a grateful rest, the sun rose nice and early and we put the trainers on and headed out for our morning hike. The dogs accompanied us and acted as Hondeklipbaai’s personal tourguides, waking up all the other residents in town at the same time.

Day one was complete and our expectations fulfilled of this little coastal gem. Heading out to Kleinzee we needed to travel via ‘The diamond route’ which is the coast line that has been associated with the De Beers. It is another highway of gravel and dirt that is like trifle at Christmas for any dirt road junkie.

As we slowed down to enter Klein Zee, it felt like we entered a ghost town. It was so quiet, the houses look mostly empty as you ride through the streets. People seem to be a luxury here. As usual my antenna for coffee peaks when we ride into any town. I pointed the red coffee sign out to Carel. The arrows took us to the home of Jack & Estelle. We ended up sharing a coffee with this couple on the stoep of their home. Aunty Estelle has made her own home a coffee shop and when you pop in for a coffee, they sit with you on the stoep of their retirement home. I once again am left speechless by the kindness of strangers. After an hour of sharing, I am reminded that adventure and a love for all that is beautiful in the simple things doesn’t have an age category. It is open season for an age. The choice is ours.

After a quick petrol and coffee stop in Port Nolloth, the wind literally blew us in the direction of Alexander Bay. After serious negotiation with wind and sand we made our tour through Alexander Bay with helmet on and fully kitted to prevent sand becoming the only thing we would eat for the day. We rode coastline along the river up to the mouth where the river enters the ocean. Through the sand storms the beauty of our earth’s natural beauty was appreciated.

Considering the next day we would be without the luxury of a fuel we ensured the stof scooter and fuel bladder was full. We exited the town and headed into the Richtersveld where we spent the evening with friends at Brandkaros on the Orange river. It was a beautiful night with a sky that was well lit with the perfectly rounded full moon. Brandkaros is a holiday resort on the river that is operational with solar electricity and fresh water. Our feet set to the river banks the next morning for our exploration hike along the river. With nothing but animal prints on the sand, you realise you are definitely in the minority in this area. Bird life is plentiful here and the silence became something I long for already.

We packed up our few human belongings and headed into the desert with the scooter again, stopping off at Kuboes and then Eksteensfontein. These 2 little lost towns in the middle of the desert leave jaw-dropped and speechless. There is nothing. No shops, no stop streets, no banks. Just a few houses, a church, and here and their Mary’s little lost lamb in the desert. Yet with all the nothingness, the residents smile broadly and wave as we ride through their piece of heaven on earth. They are ‘’opgestaan’’ with their lives. We tend to always want more in our busy lives, but long for a carefree smile that a local wears everyday in a town in the middle of a desert, who has no luxuries of an ATM to draw money, for a can of cola.

The pass that takes you from Kuboes to Eksteensfontein is a well travelled pass, that is soaked with beauty and loose rock and sand. It is a candy shop for riders of dirtbikes. With a fully loaded stof scooter and myself as pillion, this scooter earned his stripes over and over again.

We overtook about 6 4×4’s and trailers through this pass. Apparently it’s all about momentum. Every time I echoed swear words of panic over the intekom, Carel piped up, ‘’ dis net momentum Jani’’ ….  

After Eksteensfontein we turned right onto the sand towards Steinkopf. We were about 40kms from Steinkopf when I was told to sit very still. ‘still, seriously, that’s what I had been doing all the time’ within 30metres the scooter wiggled its way into the sand. We had a blow out on the front wheel. Front wheel off, tools out – mechanics in the desert 101 had commenced. The 6 4×4’s that we passed stopped in convoy to help us. The company of humans was appreciated as Carel had to perform with an audience now as well.

I kept myself out of it all, what I know about snake-bite punctures and tyre blow outs is limited. I felt a hand on my lower back, and heard my name being called as the voice asked if my back is okay. I turned around, shocked to find my doctor standing behind me. He was in one of the 4×4’s and was driving back after a holiday with his family. Knowing my medical history, he asked if I needed anything and if my vertebrae and neck was behaving on this terrain. I smiled and told him the pain is worth it. He shook his head and smiled. Knowing that he saw what I saw while we came over the pass, he didn’t argue.

After an exciting afternoon we made a liquid stop in Steinkopf before heading for Vioolsdrift. We headed for the tar for the last stretch. Turning left at Vioolsdrift, we opted for keeping it proudly South African and headed up the Orange River via Kotzeshoop, considering I have a red smiley in my passport from Namibia and my previous expedition’s in my earlier days in a Scania.

We stayed at a camp on the Orange river called The Growcery. It is a beautiful camp on the river. Very lush and green and vegetable gardens have taken over. The food you get served comes from their gardens and the showers are open air. After a dusty desert day, this felt like an oasis as we stood with our feet in the Orange river as the Richtersveld mountains stood majestically at our backs, black rock towered on the opposite side of the dirt .

We shared a meal prepared for a king that night by the young gentleman that stays on site. His kindness and passion for living well is contagious as we spent the evening sharing adventures and moments that make us who we are. The next morning our hike was chosen for us by an Australian cattle dog that led the way into the Richtersveld mountains. We hiked up an old dried up river bed. With black rock all around us. Hear I could have easily been willingly lost and forgotten. Such simple beauty. When we got back, we mentioned the fact that the dog had led the way, and were told that ‘Lucy’ had recently conquered her first 10 day trek in the desert with her owner. Seems respect for our new four legged friend was in order.

By now, the stof scooter had changed color from black to off grey from all the dust, our kit had faded a little too, getting dressed again, I was grateful that we both still felt insanely awesome and daisy fresh.

The quick dash to Springbok with Vyfmylpoort as pudding for a fuel up session, human and scooter, then we fled the town via Spektakel pass and entered the Namaqua Park. During our time spent in the park, we embrace the beauty around us. The clouds seemed to canvas the skies and fall perfect shadow colors over the open spaces. We exited the park and headed through the Grootvlei pass into Kamieskroon. Here we were surprised to find our accommodation was a small little homestead on a sheep farmers land. The picture you would get of Ouma and Oupa sitting on the stoep…. Yes ! We welcomed the farmer’s comments of giving us permission to open and close gates as we walk the lands. So we did. We opened and closed gates in the sheep kraals as we walked through them all until we exited the boundary lines into the kloof the next morning. Seems the water crisis has affected their farming and they have had to discard other fields and now only farm to keep the sheep going. The Grootvlei farm has been in their family for over 150years and is still successful even though it has been through many changes and challenges.

The next morning we knew the turnaround was officially homeward bound as we exited the farm after a refreshing hike.  After making Van Rhynsdorp with 1 litre of petrol to spare, we knew the next few hours would be amazing as we had covered the ocean, the river, the farm and now it was just going to be mountains, my favourite!

We turned off the N7 just outside of Klawer and rode next to the river parallel with the N7 until Clanwilliam. A quick town in and out and then back off road… we headed into the Cedarberge. I have never been here before so it was all eye feasting for me being pillion I didn’t need to focus on bumps and rocks and paths of sand, I could just take it all in with an open visor. We turned towards Wupperthal and Biedouwvalley. Breathless moments on these beautiful roads. These are some of the Western Cape’s best kept secrets hidden away and kept safely between mountain passes and fast dropping valleys. Wupperthal is such a pretty little Heritage town. They are busy giving the little town a fixer upper and some of the thatch roofs have already been replaced, keeping it still authentic and clean. Climbing the rocky cliff that leads to Eselbank was to say the least an interesting feat. At one stage staring down the cliff as the scooter ‘billy-goat’ed itself up the mountain I questioned my likes and dislikes as a girl, and wondered why I never took interest in make up and high heels, feeling a big bump over a rock I was shaken back to reality , neh – make up and high heels were never really my speed and who wants to climb mountains in Gucci anyway.

We stopped at the ‘Waterval’ just before Eselbank and took our few minutes of leg stretching as we walked over the cliffs of this waterfall. Immediately I am humbled and a sensation of absolute gratitude overwhelms me, for everything we have been able to experience and explore over the last few days.

Our last night was spent at Cedarberg Oasis. A home away from home and perfect choice to end off this epic trip. With a hearty meal and good stories shared with the Oasis family we headed for lights out early as Cedarberg Mountains waited for us at Sunrise. We hiked the rocks at Truitjieskraal the next morning. With a hand drawn map of all the tunnels, nooks and crannies of these ancient giants we were able to explore the bushman drawings on the rocks of a time before things were complicated and concrete.

Great appreciation for this experience. I have seen you, I have walked on your lands, and I am left absolutely speechless and in awe of your beauty, our Cedarberge.

We packed the scooter for the last time and a very heavy heart, we would be back in our own beds by sunset.

Dropping down Gydo pass, it felt as if even Ceres was too busy now all of sudden, a few weeks ago this felt like my quiet haven. To end off our trip in good fashion with everything local and simple, the ‘Tolhuis’ in Mitchells Pass served up roosterkoek with jam in a tin plate and some good hot chocolate in a tin cup.

Today we are ‘Opgestaan’ … to be young, alive in a time like this where there is so much to explore and endless roads leading to the most beautiful and unexpected towns of our beautiful country.

Hope & Joy stick together like Velcro !

WilddogsForum

[Protea Heights, Brackenfell]

A few days ago a thread started on Wilddogs for a crazy neighbourhood kid in Brackenfell who has a serious love for motorbikes.

When this little man, Dewald greeted his friends yesterday after school, one thing was for sure, he had no idea that coming back on Monday with the news of his weekend adventure would be one that is now a realisation.

As the excitement behind the scenes grew on the forum about “Velcro’s bike hunt” ( the ‘dogs’ baptized him with this name, and it has now stuck – like his passion for motorcycles), it became like a veldfire of hope and excitement that spread through the wilddogs daily feed, with updates of funds donated, contributed, riding lessons offered and riding gear supplied.

Being a novice to this forum, one thing I am sure of is that the diversity of people involved in this project is amazing. Riders operate under screen names yet the passion for outdoor living is exactly the same. This part of themselves they got to share with a little boy in the suburbs today.

It all came together today as the mass delivery was arranged for this afternoon, as the ‘screen named’ riders met at the parking lot of a shopping mall in Brackenfell.

Admittedly, my daughter had hijacked my helmet and jacket today again for the position of pillion, and I tagged along in the car. We met the faces behind the magic and left in a convoy for delivery of the motorbike to Velcro. Riding into the neighbourhood left an echo of droning engines behind as all the bikes parked on the open field in the centre of the crescent. Brett called Dewald closer to ask if he was fully aware of what was about to happen. I know we were all standing there with pounding chests, so the little man’s silence was probably an indication of him just listening to his own heartbeat pound in his throat as he was encouraged to remove the blanket off the 2 wheeled beauty tucked safely on the bike trailer.

The atmosphere was one of excitement, joy and hopefulness.

Well done Dogs! You guys and ladies are epic dreammakers of hope for an adventurous life! Today you not only handed over a motorbike and kit, you opened a boys eyes to a very different life of fun and adventure, by doing this, you also showed the rest of the world, that in all the chaos and negativity there is always something to be excited about, and there is always something to be hopeful about.

Keep dreaming big, because today it showed – dreams do come true!

Proud forum members!!

Black_hawk (@backroadriderZA)

Plainjane(@yellowclarity)

[C] Ceres serves it Sunny-Side-Up !

… So Seriously, why Ceres?

When you live in the Western Cape and your nose points to adventure and dirt road, you will almost, always find your way to a garage in Ceres to fill up before heading to Gydo Pass or Tankwa Karoo.

We travel too and through this beautiful town so often that we rarely give it credit for its endless rock mountain tops and beautiful orchards and friendly residents.

Did you know that Ceres was named after the Roman goddess of agriculture, this does seem quite well suited considering the area is extremely fertile and some major producers of our fruit and vegetables come from this area. The orchards create flowing-like oceans on either side of the road. While you are enjoying the silence in your helmet. It’s like watching the discovery channel on mute with a window open.

Knowing that our solo trip to Vioolsdrift is just around the corner, opportunity for time in the saddle is becoming limited and now we have to make the most of every chance we get to sit, and sit, and sit and maybe stand now and again.

Heading to Ceres to spend the weekend with friends seemed once again an appropriate time to sit and sit and sit.

The weather was once again perfect as ordered. The sun proudly showed off as we headed over Du Toit’s Kloof pass and took the more scenic road through Slanghoek from there. This beautiful road also never gets old. It rides beautifully, and we all get tempted to put foot here, or extend the right hand wrist action a teensy bit more.

We stopped off at Calabash in Bains Kloof to have something to eat. After the fire in 2016, the restaurant still has some work to do, to be able to get back to a state of being fully operational. Despite the structure devastation, the pizza is still epic and the wet for the throat serves its purpose well indeed.

Enjoying the quick dash through the beautiful Michell’s pass we stopped at our home for the night in Ceres. Having good souls to share a fire and good food with makes any small town feel like home. We traded the bike gear for shorts and t-shirts and that was a perfect ending to another grateful day on our beautiful roads.

Sunday morning’s sunshine peaked through the blinds, and it was an open invitation to take on the mountains of Ceres. We enjoyed the fresh air and hills that the trail had to offer us on the 13km hike making our discoveries at the Ceres Koekedouw Dam. The dam water levels once again became a topic of conversation and concern. The dam is currently at 42%. Despite the despair of it all, I couldn’t help but be joyful in these moments, winter has been grey and very cold, and here I was served with a buffet of sunshine, beautiful views and blue skies.

We enjoyed a lovely brunch together, and got ready to make tracks again. It is always a somber feeling greeting friends we don’t see often enough.

Having a quick stop at the ‘’Hill billy’’ padstal on our way out over the ‘’white bridge’’ , I was too curious just to pass. This little padstal is a must if you love anything that is Karoo and Tankwa. It has little ‘’Akkies Vir Rakkies’’ as Carel would politely put it.

We chose the legendary Bain’s Kloof home, Mr Thomas Bain was really an artist of roads. Riding cliff side, it’s a canvas that accompanies the little white rocks on the tar.

Dropping into the valley near Wellington, the fire scars on nature’s skin is still there. The rain hasn’t been enough to wash away evidence of the burns.

Our last stop, is somewhat a of tradition for us. The famous Paarl de ville. This local pub restaurant is really one of our favourites. We ended off another good time and safe journey on the GS in good taste.

Heading back through Durbanville, Carel let me extend my right wrist on the throttle by taking his hand away. Over the intekom, I know he was talking about ”how to?’’, admittedly the reaction of the engine to the movement of my wrist was the only sound I was paying attention too.

Sold !

@backroadrider & @yellowclarity