Joined: Jun 2005
Location: Eastern Cape, South Africa
Sinazongwe to bush camp
The next morning we get to see what Lake View Rest Camp looks like.
I unpack my saddle bags that got flooded last night to dry stuff out and also strap them up high, it looks like water crossings are going to be par for the course from here on.
I also do some waterproofing to electronics.
After a good breakfast and a chat with Keith, the manager, we get going. As we pass through Sinazeze we buy petrol out of 5l containers, as we won't have the opportunity to fill up for some time from here. They rip us R20 per litre ($2.60).
Anything with wheels can be a victim of the wet season.
Even caterpillar tracks in stead of wheels are no guarantee.
This proves also to be the last intact bridge, the next one and all thereafter are washed away.
From hereon only foot traffic. And of course us.
Wet boots for the second day.
It is really pleasant riding, good gravel and crossing streams every so often.
As we come around a mountain we see a river through the trees to our right, and it’s a big one. This could be a problem. After crossing a washed away part of the road on a footpath we come upon a Hilux bakkie that has been parked in the road for months. Clearly caught between the washed away road and the river. And when we get to the crossing our fears are confirmed, the bridge have been washed away.
I make myself comfortable under a tree and Hennie goes to walk it. Things don't look too good.
We are not keen to backtrack for two days, so we sit down and start working out ways of dealing with this dilemma. The thing about rivers is that the longer you spend with them, the more you get a feel for them and what can and cannot be done. If you take your time, a solution will invariably make its appearance. We watch a local cross the river on a very different line and we walk the river a couple of more times to check the best lines. Finally we believe that it can be done and we offload the bikes.
It’s not too deep, but the force of the water can easily wash the bike out from under you. With local help and a towrope we go for it. We figure that if we are able to stabilize the wheels ,we should be able to get across.
It's hairy, the river is flowing strongly and the bottom has large rocks.
After getting the bikes across we also carry our luggage across and take a well deserved cool down.
We are quite chuffed to have made it across.
Luggage strapped on again and ready to go. Close to the end of this rocky bit I go down and the bike falls on my leg, painfully so. It takes a couple of attempts from Hennie to get the bike lifted high enough for me to pull my leg out.
I am increasingly getting a dislike for the air shock on this bike. When you put a foot down to steady the bike and unload your weight on the seat, the shock pushes you right over because it has such immense travel.
Immediately after we cross this river it becomes clear that we are the first vehicles to travel here since the beginning of the wet season last year. We also again learn the value of Tracks for Africa as the main route has been abandoned, even by pedestrians. Something serious must have happened further on if even the locals do not use the route anymore. With the grass having overgrown the alternative route we have to go down to a 80m scale on T4A to find where the track begins, even so we ride past it four times without seeing it.
The riding turns technical and we have a ball.
This well has a plaque that says it was sponsored by Canadians, and I just want to thank them, they made my day a lot better.
I am generally against outside aid but I must say, these wells make a huge difference to the quality of life of the people living here.
We continue riding and get a wide range of terrain to play on, rocks, sand, mud, clay, ruts, cambers, water crossings, everything your heart can desire. We spend the whole afternoon on the pegs just basking in riding nirvana.
Because everything is wet we get a lot of practice riding all kinds of slippery surfaces, and we learn a new skill. We are used to using the clutch to control the power output on the back wheel. Here however, we learn to modulate the throttle only. Using it to get the weight off the front but being careful not to overdo it so that the back wheel does not start slipping, because we are continuously riding the center ridges between ruts as well as cambers.
Looking for a place to camp proves to be difficult because everywhere is wet.
We finally find a small sandy patch, still wet, but at least not muddy.
I find that with all the falling over during the day, my spare engine oil popped it's cap and everything inside the pannier is now well oiled.
The kids from some nearby huts come to have a look at us but keep a respectful distance of about a 100m. This is new to us.
We've just had the best day. We conquered a river, we rode the most entertaining paadjies possible and we both agree that even if we were to crash and end the trip tomorrow, it was already worth it. We are damn happy.
That night we lie down to the sounds of drums and singing, beautiful female voices. Very atmospheric. During the night we have a rain shower passing through and I am glad that I am sleeping off the ground on a stretcher.
metaljockey screwed with this post 06-16-2010 at 05:21 PM