[B] Beautiful Borders of Barrydale – [Route 62 also known as the Blacktop Highway]

Packing for another adventure seems to becoming effortless, less is more, and the more you can wear on the ride, the less to pack. Knowing the sun was setting fast behind us we headed on the N1 towards the Hugenote tunnel , our home for the weekend, Warmwaterberg Spa, Barrydale was waiting for us.

Making our way through Rawsonville we had 2 stop and go’s and the local on duty waved his little glow in the dark torch at us both times to come to a halt. Coming over for quick conversation, it never ceases to amaze me that when you are packed and kitted for a trip like this, random people always come over and ask the question, where are you off too ? There is just something different to this kind of an adventure than a car.

The night was on us, and for a July ride we had temperatures of mid 20’ties. I hummed all the way through the intekom, and Carel had to endure my grateful humming for good weather. Making a quick stop in Robertson, our home stretch to Barrydale was a quick one.

Riding at night has become one of my favourite times. You lose concept of space and time when driving in the black of the night. The road is quieter, the stars look like dust speckles on a black velvet blanket, and the dashes of white on the tar become a solid white line as your only guide. You can only trust what is right in front of you, and that is all that demands your focus.

Unpacking at Warmwaterberg Spa in Barrydale, we joined in the festivities with my brother and some of his friends, we shared some laughs a warm fire. Saturday morning we ventured on foot for run on the dirt road, the trainers always go with, so explore for us has to be done on foot too, we had a beautiful run and were joined by some of the farmers dogs too, luckily they weren’t chasing us, so we didn’t have to sprint through the veld like two city slickers.

The creases of the previous night’s ride hadn’t even been hung out properly yet and the engine wasn’t cold as we got dressed again. We headed out on the dirt road again in the direction of Ladiesmith. To gain access to Ladismith and Laingsburg via this road we ended up with an early Christmas present. We were escorted through Sanbona Wildlife Reserve as a treat. Motorbikes can enter this reserve with an escorted vehicle, we asked nicely and the guard at the gate smiled wide and gave a nod of approval. Jokingly, I asked him what is the total of lions in this reserve? I coughed when the response that was uttered from his mouth was 4. I looked down at my pants and thought to myself, ‘’no time like the present to test the durability of these RST pants, I guess?’’

We spotted some giraffe feeding on the high trees and some other 4 legged friends on the tour through this reserve. Getting to the exit gate, I was sad that the ending came so soon, but grateful that I still had all my body parts attached. The dirt road took us to Ladismith. Here we did a quick tour through the town and filled up the thirsty engine before heading to SeweweeksPoort. Just when I thought I had seen it all 2 weeks ago in the Swartberg Pas, then SeweweeksPoort happened. I didn’t know I could be more surprised than I already was. So much beauty and so close to us. We had a quick picnic in between the rocks hanging high over our heads. Peace on earth over a packet of jelly beans and the sound of water flowing nearby.

Heading back to reality we chose tar for a quicker route and we were targeted by a swarm of bees that came towards us like a hailstorm, they hit our suits like children at a stone throwing contest. Thank goodness for closed visors and a full kit, despite the heat of the day. To celebrate our victory over Maya the bee and her family of aggressive stingers, we stopped at Ronnie’s Sex Shop on Route 62. This little spot is trademarked on this route. Some places never lose their originality and reputation. As per my previous visit here years ago, it was welcoming, cheerful and relaxing.

Back to Warmwaterberg Spa for a relaxing braai and drinks with our weekenders. It was a perfect ending to another beautiful day.

Sunday morning was an early rise and sadly it was time to say our farewells. Packing up is never as fun as packing in.  Memories get stored away in the panniers and the boots filled with yesterday’s mud get put on for the journey home. 

  

Popping in at the popular Diesel & Crème for breakfast was an absolute must. If you pass through this town, please do not pass this little beautiful place. If you have tasted these milkshakes, you may find yourself driving here on a Sunday just to have one. Any one of these milkshakes will bring out the child in you again, that is promised. The main road of Barrydale is filled with little coffee shops and restaurants rich in culture and art.

Carel asked me again, if I am ready to be left speechless again? I didn’t think it was possible anymore too be left speechless, but he seems to be quite successful. Tradouw pass… you have stolen my heart. The pass was built in 1869 and was constructed by Thomas Bain. The word Tradouw means ‘’ the women’s path’’ n Khoisan.  So beautiful as it reaches into the sky and down into the valleys. Water flowing and the road turns subtly to the left and the right as you go through this pass. Coming to the end, I was hoping to be able to do this one again.

A quick stop at BuffelsjagRivier to stretch our legs and then off to Malgas.

I haven’t been through Malgas since I was maybe knee high. I can’t even remember all the detail. But it’s been years. Another beautiful road amongst the canola fields as it is just a sea of yellow as you ride on the gravel. My favourite color is yellow, and here I was above this ocean of yellow fluff on either side of me. My day was made.

We took a well deserved leg stretch break while being transported over the Malgas pontoon. Malgas boasts as the only town in South Africa that still has a pont. The pont was built in 1914 and is the same that is still in use today. It is operated by 2 men and chains that strap over the sides and is pulled with strength of arms and legs by these 2 as they walk up and down on this wooden deck, transporting visitors and their memories across this beautiful little place.

We lost track of time, honestly I lose all track of time being pillion, now and then I lean over Carel’s shoulder to take a peek at the GPS, and find that leaning like this probably makes me look a bit like Jim Carrey in a high speed chase on Ace Ventura. So I refrain from staying in this position longer than a few seconds, I rather breathe it in and let my body move in the direction and flow of the engine.

Last stop for the weekend was Kleinmond, being blessed with some family and good friends in this beautiful coastal town we had a cup of coffee and good chats and had to say good bye again, with the smell of the salty air coming off the ocean and the sun setting in front of us over Rooi Els, sad our weekend had come to an end, but grateful and blessed to have seen, smelt, tasted and felt the last 48hours.

Where to next

@backroadriderZA & @yellowclarity

Addicted to Adventure – All roads lead to Abrahamskraal

[Soetes & Sop BMW Club Ride – 14-16 July 2017]

When I got into my car on Monday morning, a few things didn’t sit right all of a sudden. I got into the left side, my leg didn’t need much effort to find my way onto the seat and turning the ignition, I all of a sudden missed the icy whips on my knees and the silence which I found in my helmet just a few hours ago.

When the whatsapp group was created a week prior to the trip to keep arrangements clear cut and everyone informed, the common ground amongst riders was the daily weather report, as we watched daily the temperatures dropped. Even though the temperature was looking dismal, no one seemed moved by it.

Friday afternoon we started meeting up and riding convoy from the N1 Winelands One Stop. In our last stretch towards our home for the weekend in between Leeugamka and Prince Albert, we saw the sun set very quickly in our mirrors and the stars started filling the night sky.

Turning off the tar we headed through the last few km’s of dirt road to Abrahamskraal. At night, you don’t notice anything except an old farm style homestead and a windpump which stretches into the sky. Other than that it is pitch dark and sparkly stars.

We were greeted by a lovely couple that became our caretakers for the weekend. After unpacking the gear we all made our way to the dinner area, where there was a warm fire already burning and some ‘’soetwyn’’ to warm the insides. Dinner was served and met all the expectations of hungry riders, homemade soup and fresh ‘plaasbrood’, sold. With satisfied smiles and excitement for the next day everyone made their way off to a well-deserved rest.

The next morning we were all up and dressed for the day’s events. After the briefing we headed out on the gravel and dirt roads, tar would be minimum today, and that was exciting enough to make the atmosphere warm up in the cold.

After a trip through the dirt we turned off for something to wrap our hands around for heat, and drink to heat the insides at the Klaarstroom Hotel. When turning right at this road sign, we were a bit confused by the location. It looked like a town with nothing but informal settlements. Asking a local for directions to the Hotel we were directed down the road. What a beautiful surprise. Die Klaarstroom Hotel is an old fashioned little Karoo hotel and restaurant. If you are stuck with a thirst in between the middle of all the rock you will definitely find refuge here. The sun was finally showing off and we defrosted in the garden for a moment before heading into Prince Albert for lunch. Prince Albert is a small town located on the Southern edge of the Great Karoo at the foot of the Swartberg mountains.

Arriving in Prince Albert we made our presence known unconsciously by taking over the inside of the restaurant at the Swartberg Hotel, helmets and jackets were piled out of and we sat down scouring through the menu, we rode ourselves right into lunch. The banter of the ride went quiet as we all started enjoying the good food and atmosphere. Discussion piped up again, the Swartberg Pas seemed to be served for dessert on this menu, as quickly as we un-kitted, We got dressed again. Heading out of town we took the turn towards the Swartberg Pass. The road had a no entry sign, when pushing it aside, no one saw a no entry sign anymore, rather an opportunity for something beautiful, adventurous and breath taking. Entering that mountain pass leaves you humbled by its beauty. The rock formations are absolutely overwhelming. We were humbled by the size of this majestic rock formation in front of us. The road hasn’t been maintained and has some technical parts as we make our way to the top. The views worth it – over and over again. We stopped at the gate to entrance to ‘’ Die Hel’’ and the last climb to the lookout point of Swartberg pas. Some riders braved the cold and staked their claim at the top while a few took their re-enforcement liquid break down below.

To celebrate another conquered quest, refreshments were in order at the local Bush pub in Prince Albert. Glasses rubbed cheeks with each other as celebration and a sign of respect to each other for sharing in conquering this beaut, Swartberg pas, you have left your dust not only on our tyres but our souls as well. Such beauty cannot be experienced from any governmental tarred highway.

Heading back to our resting place for the evening the sun was setting fast on another beautiful day in the saddle on the dirt of this beautiful countryside.

We were welcomed by a cozy fire and a rewarding plate of ‘braaivleis’. The chatter was a recollection of the day’s events and memories. As expected we all faded early knowing Sunday’s ride home would be a long haul and lots of dirt to cover.

Breakfast was served after a restful sleep for some and others it was a night of sharing a room with someone pretending to be a motorbike and others raised the roof with Pavarotti karaoke.

Everyone fueled up with a full spread breakfast and in the same dust cloud we arrived on Friday night, so we departed. The road lay ahead and we were ready to have another epic adventure in the Karoo.

We hit the dirt road just after the Prince Albert way road towards the N1. During the briefing it was mentioned that we would pass 27 farm gates that would be opened and closed by riders, and without fail the musical gates started early in the journey. We were lucky and seemed to bypass a few. This is a beautiful road. This road reminds me of some of our local movie scenes, where everything grows just ankle high and you can see the small lambs bounce around far in the distance. The track is loose sand and a bit more sensitive and less forgiving than gravel road. Some riders paid their respects to the earth, and moved on gratefully.

Here we met the man made beauty, Floriskraal Dam, she towers up in line with parts of the earth around her and is located on the Buffels river near Laingsburg. The dam wall is beautiful and was built in 1957. This dam’s main purpose was for irrigation. Peering over the dam wall, I had another moment that left me speechless, so much beauty, endless. And how humble I am by my place in all of this. With tired cold limbs, I stood with a full heart again today.

Meeting up for some refreshments at the garage in Laingsburg we had refueled our bodies and greeted some riders who regretfully needed to make their way back home. The rest of the team stayed back for the last party in the mud through the Witteberge which would turn us out onto tar over the train tracks just outside Touws river.

Riding through these mountains, the temperature gauge dropped faster, and it levelled out on 4.5 degrees celcius. The mountains towering above us were thick with white evidence of the cold that pierced through our clothes. The road was wet, muddy and very stubborn on the tyres. With an unfortunate incident one rider had to give his bike the rest of the day off, and take its well deserved break on the back of the bike trailer.

Touws river’s Steers has never been such a comfort before in my life, defrosting over a take away hot chocolate was beautiful. We all said our farewells at the last stop in Worcester. The sun had set and the trip had come to its end. We convoyed all the way home, at the entrance of the toll gate we finally got out first few drops of rain for the whole weekend. The weather lasted just in time for us to get home.

Coming through Klapmuts on the N1, the city lights finally start dimming the light of the beautiful stars we had been living under the last 2 days. Our cement suburban reality was here again.

Today, and tomorrow and even the weekend, I believe some will still be washing the bike gear, and others will be rinsing the mud of the bars and tyres of the bikes. But this kind of dirt leaves its happy place deep with in the skin.

One thing again I realized this weekend, it doesn’t matter who you are, age, profession, gender… if you have a heart for adventure, you will always find someone to share it with.  

Adventure doesnt ever need to end



@BackroadriderZA & @yellowclarity

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[W] Wolseley’s Waterval Bergpas leaves you Wanting

‘So where are we heading to today?’was all I asked while putting on my chubby black batman suit again. The sound of velcro and zips closing was the only response as the words ‘Soon toe en Terug’ was mumbled for the 5th time this morning. I didn’t ask anymore, I just found my place on the seat and huddled forward for the cold that we were about to embrace.

The sound of the engine never disappoints my ears and we left the suburbs for a day of exploring and some nostalgia. The turnoff the N1 to Wellingon and then Tulbagh was a grateful sight of rain that has fallen, and the green fields have started flourishing in this weather. A gentle sigh of relief is what happens on the inside of a warm jacket when this is what you see all around you, for this reason, we all embrace the cold at the moment, our earth needs this.

We stopped at the beautiful talented town of Tulbagh for something to warm our insides and wrapped our frozen fingers around a cup of hot chocolate at Paddasgang restaurant. This beautiful little place is hidden at the back of the town, it boasts with a beautiful little art gallery and an open air restaurant covered with old vines and creepers, which would create some form of shade in the summer, but not today. Neither one of us sat while sipping in our defrosting fluids, this was probably our silent indication to each other that we don’t plan on staying here.

We grabbed the helmets and filled up the steel horse with some juice and grabbed the picnic snacks. I should of known something epic and almost illegal was on the menu for us.

Turning off the tar just outside Tulbagh we headed past the Waterval Nature Reserve in the direction of Wolseley, the evidence of a fire and pine tree plantations are everywhere, we ended up at the Waterval berg pas entry, as I could continuously see the direction we were aiming for, mountain UP. The road has been closed as ancient trees had fallen and crossed entry to this pass, followed by a very clear sign and bunting stating no entry. We parked, got off and explored this natural obstacle on foot.  

It was definitely not an entry viable for a vehicle. We looked at each other and the smile tweaked, what is more intriguing to an adventurer than a no entry sign? Clearing a pathway to wiggle the bike through we decided this is where we need to be today.

With the baboons starting to bark from the mountains as recognition of the intruder’s presence we got back on the black machine again, I really had no idea the beauty it would show me today. I hike and have seen so many beautiful places on my explorations, but have never relied on anything else except my own feet to get there.  

With hairpin turns and lots of loose rock, we made our way up the Waterval berg pas at a very slow pace, trust me we wouldn’t of rushed it any way. Epic beauty as you look down over the Wolseley valley and the remnants of Pine forest plantations that were there many years ago, the blocks are still there and look like they have been sewn together as my Ouma’s lappies blanket. The history of this valley is evident in its natural state.

We stopped at the top of the mountain to take it all in, silence almost unknown to man. Headed to drop into the valley opposite to the town we made our way to the waterfall, speechless, not because I like keeping quiet, speechless because I am overwhelmed by this hidden treasure of Wolseley. How can I have never seen this before, and how can the residents of this town casually walk with their heads dropped when this is their legacy of living here?  Sitting with my feet hanging of this majestic cliff, I realized how small I am in the all of it? How can we boast greatness and arrogance when this roaring waterfall stays so humble living hidden away on this kloof.

With regret time was passing fast and my heart was standing still we needed to say goodbye to this beauty.

Travelling via Kluitjieskraal back into Wolseley we made our last stop for the day at Wolseley hotel where the locals were getting ready for the weekly pool tournament, with the excitement over pool cues and a green velvetie table, all I could think was, how much they are missing living here.

With a whatsapp notification of grey clouds and drops falling back in the surburbs it was time to say farewell to the waterfalls of Wolseley.

Grateful for this town, embraced the cold, and it left us wanting.

Where to next …

BackroadriderZA & YellowClarity