Joined: Feb 2006
Location: Close to Cumming (GA that is)
Cape twisties and monkeys
Trip Day 5: Cape Town Passes
Today is shaping up to be by far the best day of riding yet. While still in the US, Gary had managed to hook up with a local Ironbutt member who had put together a route which promised to include all the best mountain passes in the area. We called Riel last night and a 7am he arrives at Hillary's as planned and we're ready to get going.
Riel strikes a pose
Our tour guide for the day fitted my preconceived stereotypical Ironbutt mold to a T. Let's see: Big touring bike equiped with appropriate electronic gizmo's wired in for ease of navigation - check. Well broken in textile riding gear - check . (Most of our riding companions were wearing leather and Gary's well worn faded Tourmaster jacket, with over 100,000 miles on it was a source of amusement to the majority of the SA guys. I'm sure they wondered why the hell I was wearing a non-black suit too). Obligatory flip-up helmet - check. And in true Ironbutt style I can only remember seeing him (reluctantly) take it off for breakfast! A good rider though and he fitted in quite happily with the rest of the crowd.
After gassing up (sorry - filling up with petrol!) and threading our way through the early morning Cape Town traffic (no mean feat in itself as a lot of it was totally gridlocked - did I mention lane splitting totally rocks, and the Cape Town drivers appeared to be equally aware and accomodating of motocyclists as were those in Jo'burg) - we eventually rode into the first foothills of the Cape Mountain ranges.
Lane splitting through the thinly trafficked Cape rush hour
The SA guys had talked these roads up pretty significantly and following what had been for the large part, four days of scenic yet fairly undemanding riding, I think everyone was subconsciously more than ready to boogie. Half a dozen itchy trigger fingers twitched nervously as we hit the first rise, but any thoughts of immortality were immediately negated (at least in my mind) by some pretty sketchy patches of sand and small gravel in the first couple of hairpins. Fortunately for the rest of us, our leader, Riel didn't get to be an Ironbutt elder by riding like a testosterone addled teenager at every opportunity, and he maintained an excellent pace that was spirited yet realistic.
More sand for the roadies to play in
Within a few miles we make our first stop and prepare to ride over Franschoek Pass. This turns out to be an excellent route that winds ever upward with one or two pretty technical sections. At the previous stop Riel made a point of warning us that there are three or four corners up there that can really catch you out - I personally identified at least two of 'em.
The scenery was spectacular even though elevations weren't really that high (<4000ft)
One thing I've noticed about the road markings in SA is that they don't generally seem to give you the kind of corner speed advisories that I'm used to in the US, which makes judging entry speed a little more tricky. I did notice one exception to this though on one of the passes later in the day, where there was a downhill section which had such a notorious harpin that the warning signs were initially positioned a couple of kms from the actual corner and then repeated every quarter km or so until the obstacle came into view.
'ALRIGHT I GET IT, IT'S A FREAKIN SHARP CORNER'
There's a similar set up just south of Moab on a road that takes you back into Colorado and I remember thinking the same thing then - although me and the bike almost went over the cliff when we finally got into the curve. some of us just wont be told.
If you want to be an Ironbutt guy, you've got to quit smoking and ALWAYS wear your helmet.
We almost went to church
Back to the plot: we stopped slightly beyond the top of the pass for a couple of pictures which also allowed everyone to regroup. The stop provided a spectacular view out over Franschoek itself, but after a short stop, progress was eagerly continued, since if my memory serves we could smell breakfast being cooked in the valley below. The descent into Franschoek was fairly steep and technical, but everyone seemed to be coping fairly well, especially the guys on the bigger bikes, and those with passengers. There were some unexpected (at least for me) obstacles to contend with too. Coming 'round one corner with a fairly good head of steam, suddenly there was a troop of at least 20 baboons all over the road.
'LOOK AT ALL THEM FREAKIN MONKEYS' I thought to myself , as this was the first sighting of the entire trip. - If you're typically only used to seeing the occasional squirrel or two in the road, a shitload (is that the correct collective noun ) of monkeys definitely gets your attention. We scattered the whole lot of 'em before I managed to get my camera out, but fortunately plenty more photo ops would present themselves later in the trip.
The view over Franschoek
Cruising down the main drag in Franschoek the culinary reconnaissance by now focused inevitably on the object of our collective nutritional desires. However, since this little town appeared to be one of some taste and refinement, alas there was not a single Wimpy to be found. So reluctantly we resorted to a rustic little joint on main street with an open air porch and excellent coffee and omelets. NO MEGA COFFEE THOUGH DAMN IT.
After a belly full of decent food (for a change) we set off to hit some more primo riding terrain
In some parts of the ride, some serious cross winds were gusting and progress was pretty tricky to say the least. In fact at one stage Gary pulled up at an intersection and was waving my wallet in his hand, which I'd dropped a few miles previously. Fortunately all contents were intact, but we never did figure out if I'd just left my pocket unzipped of the wind had opened it up (probably the former).
Koshik under a rock - this particular pass was really technical
At about lunchtime the crew pulled into Ceres to gas up and get a quick snack. At this point some of the group had seen enough and decided to go back to Cape Town. Riel offered to continue riding for a couple more hours if anyone was interested. I came to ride and so did Gary, so we were up for it. Koshik on the blade also wanted some more, but most impressively Narissa, who was given the chance to bail, decided she'd love to do a few more passes on that torture rack known as the blade's pillion seat. Impressed does not begin to describe it; either that girl's a complete masochist or one of the most upbeat characters you could wish to meet (it could just be that her ass is completely numb by now though).
The rest of the ride was pretty taxing as the temperatures had climbed considerably and we still dealing with some very gusty winds. It seemed that we had to deal with a lot of fairly straight boring road just to connect a couple of passes together - could've just been fatigue though. That being said, we were still having enough fun to bypass the shortcut through the Huguenot tunnel and take the twisty route home (Sir Lowry's pass I think - but I was pretty delirious by this stage). Anyway, it was a great day's riding, all made possible by our expert tour guide: thanks Riel.
'Did I mention I once strapped a 500 gallon jerry can to my ass and rode up and down the Florida Turnpike for 3 weeks without stopping?'
'That's nothing - you know your body's made up of 60% water right? Well I once lay out in the sun for 6 days, got completely dehydrated, drank 10 gallons of gas and then managed to ride 1252.7 miles without stopping for fuel by pissing in the empty fuel tank. I looked as wrinkled as a turtle's scrotum afterwards though.'
'Yeah well........I did that TWICE!'
Gary and Riel - discussing all things Ironbutt
A few km outside Cape Town we parted ways with Riel and since none of us really had too much idea where exactly Hillary's house was, it was left to the magic of GPS to take us home. We found it without too much trouble though and soon met up with the rest of the guys, who'd been chilling for a while. Relaxation for the rest of us was short lived however, since the Cape Town Thinkbike guys had organized a memorial braai in honor of their fallen comrade: a Thinkbike icon 'Bucaneer', (who had been killed when a bus pulled out in front of him exactly one year ago to the day.)
Dave aka 'Midnight Special' was hosting the event at his house and the plan was to crash there for the night and head out the next morning. For some reason I just assumed this place would be a few blocks from where we were staying, so I decided to go sans ATGATT for once. However it ended up being clear over the other side of Table mountain park and so we ended up riding not only some pretty twisty roads, but also lane splitting up the middle of some pretty heavy two lane traffic.
It was a bit foggy a Dave's place
The Braai was a lot of fun though and the food was great too, however for some reason (probably we were tired and the party was likely to go on all night) the majority of us decided to head back to Hillary's place sometime just before midnight. so we hit the same twisty route back to the house - only this time in the dark and much colder - still no ATGATT. The payoff was definitely worth it though, as Mikie stayed at the braai, so the soundtrack for that night's slumber was significantly more tranquil.
Douf screwed with this post 04-13-2010 at 07:56 AM
Reason: Added Pictures