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Old 03-27-2009, 05:17 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Captain Crash
Thanks for a great ride report. Glad to see you enjoyed your visit, hopefully your positive experience will reassure others they won't be executed as they step off the plane and give them inspiration to step out of their comfort zone and come and see a stunning country.

For a while (read that as a few years) a couple of mates and I have been planning to do a ride around S.A. following the coast and the border as far as possible. If you can make the effort to fly here and do it I guess there is no excuse for us, we are going to have to get off our lazy asses and get it done.

It's well worth the effort and in fact although there were more a few areas that looked a bit dodgy, the local people we came across were typically very inquisitive about our trip, what the US was like etc. A lot of the terrain was a bit more westernized than my ignorant preconceived foreigner imagination had led me to believe (the rural east was the South Africa I had imagined). But the folks in SA, both our trip companions and the general public were definitely one of the best features of the trip.
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Old 03-27-2009, 08:20 AM   #32
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Baboons are dangerous - and are attracted by food.

Trip Day 6 - Cape Tour

Today was a scheduled rest day and members of our group had various plans on how to spend it. Gary and I had looked at all the typical tourist options around Cape Town and (after talking to Hillary and Thor who are both experienced paragliders) we had decided that today would be a good time to do our first parachute jump. We'd made the arrangements the previous day, but unfortunately the day dawned overcast and the jump school had temporarily delayed flights until things improved. So we wandered up the road, had breakfast (non Wimpy) and took care of a couple of housekeeping chores, basically killing time hoping for the clouds to clear up. Eventually it looked as though the jump was a lost cause, so we headed back to the house.

The rest of the group apart from Koshik and Narissa (who were fortunately getting the chain replaced on the 'blade) planned to meet up with a few of the Cape Town Thinkbike crew and do a tour around the peninsula, so we tagged along on that. What better than to spend the rest day riding, eh? Of course as soon as we set off the clouds miraculously disappeared and we were treated to beautiful weather for the rest of the day.

Waiting at Dave's (midnight Special's) house for Jeremy (Clock) and Marinda (Tic Toc) to arrive.

The route quickly made it's way towards some of the most beautiful coastal riding I have ever seen and we cruised along for once at a fairly relaxed pace (thanks Dave) stopping to take plenty of photos.

Eventually we arrived at the Cape of Good hope National Park. The scenery in the park was truly stunning and presented numerous photo ops.

The De Gama monument

Subsequently however, as we rode down to Cape Point, we witnessed a series of events that, if anyone had had the presence of mind to have had a video camera on hand would have been an instant Youtube classic. We
came across a couple of stopped cars in the road whose occupants were watching a couple of young baboons. The car we pulled up directly behind was a Volkswagen Polo, whose three oriental occupants were throwing
cookies and chips out to the young animals. Suddenly, and without any warning a full grown adult baboon (I'm guessing these things weigh 100-150lbs) jumped in through the window of the car and all hell breaks loose.
After witnessing something that looked like a tornado in the inside of that car for what must have only been a matter of a few seconds (but probably seemed like an eternity to the human occupants), the door opened on the other side of the car (I'm still not sure who or what opened it) and the baboon jumped out the car clutching a bag of groceries. It then proceeded to examine the contents of it's haul right in front of us. Unfortunately, none of the car's occupants attempted to recover the bag.

'Aaaahhhhh, aren't the ( little) baboons cute'

'Go and keep those dumb bastards distracted a little longer'

'Lemme see, what have we got 'ere then: chips, cookies, soda.......'

I'M A FREAKIN MONKEY FOR GOD'S SAKE. Sometimes I get so sick of this crap, I think it'd just be easier to learn to drive, steal a car from one of you dumb suckers, then drive my furry ass to a Wimpy where I'd get some REAL FOOD.'

It looked as though it probably wasn't the first time these guys had pulled this little stunt and indeed when we rode back up the same stretch of road late in the day, there were a number of cars stopped feeding the young baboons, with no adults in sight.
Apparently Homeslice is quite notorious in these parts - from the local paper:,00.html

No shit

After that little incident we carried on down to the Cape Point where we stopped for a coke and a smoke in the restaurant there, and maybe a few of us considered the sanity of currently carrying food in our tankbags.

The view from the outside deck on the restaurant was also worthy of a photo or two.

With the excitement in the National park over, we continued along the coastline stopping at the Cape Boat and Yacht club briefly where someone snapped a picture of a (w)anchor.

Passing through the Simonstown area, I spotted a sign for the Cape Penguins. Now here's something else I don't think the typical ignorant foreigner (Hey! that's me) associates with this country, so I was eager to stop and see them. However, by this time, everyone was getting kinda hungry and so we ended up blowing right by the penguin beach and stopping for a late lunch in Fish Hoek.

Individual plans were varied at this stage. Paul and Cindy took off to have dinner with Paul's sister, who lives in town. Dave and the Cape riders headed back home (thanks for the tour guys) and Gary and I joined Mikie and Di to tour a few of the other Cape Town areas that Mikie's familiar with. We started heading up Chapman's Peak, however the road was closed due to some falling rocks (which is apparently a fairly regular occurrence), so we doubled back and instead went an alternate route around to the Camps Bay area.

We made a stop in Llandudno, a pretty high class area (in sharp contrast to the little shite hole of the same name in Wales that I'm more familiar with) and went down, on Mike's insistence, to the nudist beach at Sandy Bay. However to everyone's surprise, our exhibitionist friend was content to merely have his picture taken at the pathway sign rather than give the locals an inferiority complex by baring all on the actual beach. Maybe it was the thought of more sand that put him off the idea?

We then carried on through the ritzy areas of Clifton Bay and Bantry Bay. This is an extremely upscale neighborhood and as we followed the coastal road along through high dollar shopping and restaurant districts, it reminded me of the type Southern France/Monaco location you might have seen in an old Sean Connery era James Bond movie.

Koshik -with 'blade just out of shot

One half of the happy couple - Blade still out of shot

Since our current location was convenient to some great views overlooking Cape Town from the cable car terminal, we rode up there and took a couple of pics. Looking over the bay below was magnificent, but it was getting pretty dark by then and none of the shots came out that well; but fortunately for us, Koshik and Nerissa had been up that way earlier in the day (went up the cable car too) and they got some great pics.

After a pretty short ride back to our digs, we hooked up with Koshik and Nerissa for coffee and deserts at a local cafe. Thanks to those guys for the great sunset pics too.

Douf screwed with this post 03-27-2009 at 08:40 PM
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Old 03-27-2009, 03:03 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Douf
I'm reloading subsequent days on a 15" format. Let me know how that works out for ya! It's possible that I may be able to resize the existing shots, but like most of the software I use, my knowledge is just enough to be dangerous!
Looks great, thanks! I'm looking forward to more.
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Old 03-27-2009, 05:31 PM   #34
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Trip Day 7: Cape Town - Barrydale Spa.

Today we leave our friends Hillary and Thor who've been great hosts for the last couple of days. I'm sure it's bitter sweet, especially for Hillary, who's had eight people crashing at her house. Thanks again guys.

Heading out from Hillary's for the final time.

Koshik's new chain - lookin good

It's Friday, so it must be Think Bike Coffee Morning day. The Capie Thinkbikers have the same arrangement as the guys in Jo'burg, so the day starts off with the traditional coffee and BS session at a local Java shop.

There's a pretty good turn out and I recognize a few of the guys from Dave's Braai a couple of days ago. This is also where we say goodbye to Mikie unfortunately, as he planned to stay in Cape Town for a few days then ride back to Jo'burg solo. I think we were all pretty sad to be loosing a member of what had by now become a fairly close knit bunch, and I was apprehensive to speculate how the group dynamic would be affected by the departure of one of its' key personalities. He provided a lot of laughs for the rest of us, and if nothing else we'd have to find someone else to victimize.

Disaster almost strikes just after we leave from coffee, as Paul is forced to take evasive action when a car blows straight through a red light and almost t-bones him. Everyone else in the group witnesses this incident; it would've been a show stopper for sure and I swear the near misses are sometimes mentally worse than the actual crashes and I know I replayed those moments repeatedly in my mind for the next few miles.

Rage on, General

However if anything was going to erase those nail biting memories, it was the combination of road and scenery awaiting us on this morning's ride. For any of you reading this who've been impressed by the legendary highway 1 along the Northern Californian coastline, be absolutely sure to check out the stretch of coastal road between Cape Town and Hermanus if you ever have the good fortune to be in the neighborhood. It's an absolutely stunning piece of real estate, largely devoid of traffic when we were there and, if the rest of the trip had totally stunk, this alone would have been worth making the trip for. The whole vibe was reminiscent of some of the classic Mediterranean coastal stretches, once again totally blowing away my preconceived notions of this wonderful country.

I took a few pics but as usual they're a pale reflection of reality.

The GS looking all studly on the coastline. FWIW I used the Wolfman KLR specific luggage on the bike and it worked great. No problems with the high muffler and even the rain cover was deployed successfully a couple of times.

Another piece of gorgeous coastal blacktop.

Eventually we rolled into Hermanus and found a nice little coastal outdoor restaurant to get some brunch at. There was a guy offering to wash the bikes in the parking lot and after we had sicc'ed Koshik on 'em to firm up the price, Gary and I had ours done for R15 each ($1.50).

Not Wimpy, but it'll do

Shine 'er up Scotty!

Our next major destination on this trip was Cape Aghullas, corner number two, and in reality the most iconic of the four since this is where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet. As we neared our destination it was evident that we were leaving the metropolis of Cape Town behind as the landscape was starting to look a little more remote and the settlements more sparsely populated. Still beautiful though. Although Aghullas itself looked like one of those typical end of the earth outposts that people go to just 'cause they're there, Paul remarked that he'd visited the place as a child and that it had in fact grown considerably since that time.

Rolling through Cape Aghullas

Anyway we rolled up to the lighthouse at Aghullas point, had fun taking pics there and it felt great to have achieved another major goal on the trip. Gary and I still had it in our heads to do the 'one foot in each ocean'
thing though and so we rode down the dirt road and ultimately the short footpath that lead down the final couple of kms to the point itself. We rolled the bikes up onto the platform and a got a couple of shots to show our future grandchildren.

Even got a picture of the Fluid Film at the Cape. I'll spare you guys *all* the details, but Gary and I were each given a small aerosol can of this stuff by the TB guys at the first gas station were the trip started and, suffice it
to say they all appear to be very enthusiastic about its' many uses (chain lube, leather conditioner etc). Dave (Midnight Special) down in Cape Town is even the SA rep for the stuff and he had half his garage full of 50 gallon drums of it. It got to be a source of group amusement that Fluid Film could fix just about anything and consequently it features sporadically in a number of the pictures.

The last couple of kms to

Almost there

Wait for me

Oh Yeah!

The Fluid Film - front and center

One foot's hot - the other one's cold There's actually a line cut in the rock, so you can really nail the 'two oceans' shot - assuming the line's in the right place

As Gary and I rode back up the dirt road feeling full of adventuresome thoughts, we returned to find the rest of the group chatting to this Dutch couple who had apparently spent the last six months riding down through Europe from the Netherlands and also down through the entire African continent, camping the entire way. Now there's a ride report I'd like to read. They did give a website address, but I haven't read the report yet since (a) it's written in Dutch (b) the link didn't work.

We are..........

Not in the remotest sense......

Worthy ..............

Hanging with motorcycling royalty at the Cape, and not a support crew in sight - eat your hearts out Ewan and Charlie
........and notice how Gary's 100,000+ mile jacket suddenly doesn't look quite so ratty.

'Yeah, me and Narissa are thinking of doing the same trip on the 'blade.'

But talk about feeling deflated. Those two managed to send me from intrepid global adventurer to pathetic middle-aged rich American asshat in about five seconds flat. :ymca Fair play to them though, it sounded like an awesome trip.

Next up: let's see if we can get arrested?

Douf screwed with this post 04-01-2009 at 07:54 AM
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Old 03-27-2009, 08:04 PM   #35
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Great report and pics.
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Old 03-27-2009, 08:54 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Sparkdaddy
Great report and pics.

Thanks for taking the time to read it I'll probably get some more done tomorrow -the weather's gonna be crappy in Atlanta and I'm putting off doing the water pump rebuild on my KTM

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Old 03-28-2009, 09:17 AM   #37
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Wicked Hello Officer

Day 7 (continued):

From Agulhas we retraced our route back up to Breadasdorp and then carried on in a northeasterly direction briefly joining the N2 in the vicinity of Swellendam until it intersected the R324 to Barrydale. This stretch of blacktop took us up over the over the excellent Tradouw pass, where we did (at least for me) the most spirited riding of the trip so far.

I can't recall having to put quite so much effort into keeping up with my old buddy Gary in the past - either he's faster, I'm slower, or both - anyway I was just glad that he was riding up front, because I might have been taking a flying lesson riding alone at those velocities. The pass is pretty technical generally, but when we came over the top on a reasonably straight section we were riding at a pretty good clip and then we ran straight into a police checkpoint, our first face to face encounter with law enforcement of the trip.

Assuming they had a couple of spotters back down the road, where we'd obviously shot obliviously by, I feared the worst. The rest of the group by now had also pulled in behind us, and we were all busy showing documents to the law enforcement. To add insult to injury I produced a foreign license (technically legal, but potentially questionable) and a registration document for the rental bike which was a photocopy of the original. They weren't too happy about that (Gary's bike was the same way too), but rather than write us up, they just told us to make sure the rental guys made sure to leave the originals in the bike in future and they'd be less charitable with any further indiscretions from their customers. No problem.

After that though, rather than dragging us off to jail for gratuitous speeding, they started chatting about our trip and were interested to know what Gary and I made of their country. Contrary to some of the horror stories I'd read about South African law enforcement, these guys were really cool and soon enough we were on our way.

A short distance up the road, after refueling in Barrydale, the infamous Ronnie's Sex Shop came into view. The SA guys had mentioned this place on various occasions during earlier parts of the trip and I got the impression it was somewhat of a national institution (at least in biking circles).

Inside the bar at Ronnie's

Legend has it (tourist legend anyway) that 'Ronnie' had decided to open up a little store and had carefully painted 'Ronnie's shop' on the side of it. However, the night before the joint was due to open, his friends had added 'Sex' to the sign and so Ronnie's Sex Shop was born.

'Come on in suckers'

In reality it's a total tourist trap in the middle of nowhere and consists of nothing more than a small bar and a gift shop selling just about anything you can think of with 'Ronnie's' plastered over it. It suckered the majority of us in though, and we finally left the place having reduced their supply of t-shirts, hats and souvenirs considerably.

However although there's no actual connection to anything remotely sexual, ironically Cindy and Di both ended up on their backs with their legs in the air. The reality of this sordid tale though, is that Di jumped on the back of Cindy's bike (they were riding together after Mikie left) and with Cindy somewhat tired from the day's mileage, the whole plot tipped over in the middle of the road.

The 'Spa'

We were still intending to make it to Outdshoorn by the end of the day, which left about 150kms still to ride. However with fatigue already setting in, we located a spa just up the road from a recommendation at the sex shop . However since the was no reply on the 'phone, Paul set off to check the availability of rooms. He called from the spa shortly after, having reserved our accommodation for the night and so the rest of us set off. There were a couple of dirt kms to traverse before we got there, much to everyone's enjoyment, but regardless, everyone arrived more or less unscathed. The 'Spa' such as it was resembled something that the Griswalds may have found in their 'vacation' movie, with the accommodation being a selection of non air conditioned cabins.

Apparently the cabin doubles as a sauna during the middle of the day

The spa section was in reality a series of warm baths of differing temperatures, which I think was probably not what the ladies had been hoping for when they heard 'spa'. However most of the team jumped in anyway and enjoyed themselves before we had an excellent dinner (which I think was some of the first authentic SA style food we'd had on the trip) at the bar/restaurant.

It's all good after a day riding

SA cuisine - ground beef with bananas on top - pretty good stuff actually.


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Old 03-28-2009, 11:36 AM   #38
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An Unexpected Visitor

Day 8: Barrydale Spa - Port Elizabeth

We left the Spa bright and early (and quite crisply if I remember correctly given the weather conditions).

The immediate dirt road start didn't result in any pilot mishaps and we rejoined the N62 after a couple of kms and headed east towards Oudtshoorn (once known as the Ostritch feather capital of the world apparently).

In light of Cindy's mishap with a pillion at the end of yesterday, Paul saddled up with Di on the back and Cindy strapped the balance of Paul's luggage onto her steed.

On the outskirts of town Oudtshoorn, the GPS was consulted for a suitable breakfast location and predictably the inevitable Wimpy soon came into view.

Wimpy Parking Lot

By my calculations, it was actually a couple of days since we'd darkened a Wimpy's doorstep, so I guess the culinary director can be partially forgiven just this once.

Loaded up on caffeine/nicotine/fat the crew headed out on the N12 towards Meringspoort, which is home to one of the best canyon style passes in the country.

It was a treat to ride, being technical in places and incorporating some stunning scenery, reminiscent of the semi-arid red rock formations in Western Colorado. The pass itself was a detour from overall route, so we ended up treating it as a spur and riding it twice.

Gary and I ran a pretty good pace along there, but Koshik cruised happily along with us too, which was impressive as the two up blade must've been a bit of a handfull in some of the tighter sections compared to the dual sport bikes we were riding.

'Where did I put me ciggies?'

Continuing along the N12 back through Oudsthoorn, we headed south and rode some excellent twisties before ending up at the Outeniqua pass, which from the looks of the number of sport bikes tooling up and down there is a favorite haunt of the local knee dragging crowd. The SA guys had arranged to meet their buddy Chris, who's a Firstcare Medic in the area. We sat and chatted with him for a while at the top of the pass while a selection of high performance hardware blasted back and forth.

Koshik made a couple of passes too and we got a couple of decent action shots.

The scenery at this point was quite spectacular with deep valleys running in either direction.

The crew and Chris at
Outeniqua pass

Fortunately it was a quiet day

The road carried on down to the town of George, where we joined the N2 and ran eastwards along some beautiful coastal roads ultimately towards Knysna.

Initially, we got a little out of tune musical accompaniment at the gas stop in George.....

A little Fluid Film soon improved things

Rotary = Roundabout = Circle - 'keep left'

The N2 to Knysna

Location, Location, Location

Knysna reminded me more of someplace more akin to an upscale intracoastal waterway resort in Florida, rather than the sort of thing I was expecting to see in South Africa.

The town sits on a lagoon and we stopped at a waterside mall, spending quite sometime eating lunch and relaxing.

More lunch anyone?

Even by the laid back schedule that we'd generally been running on, this particular stop seemed to take much longer than usual.

Gary - trying to figure out cricket - forget it buddy we're only here for three weeks

However as we were filling up at a petrol station after lunch the reason for our tardiness revealed itself as Ian rolled up on his GS all the way from Jo'burg.

'Last time I saw you, I was sucking your exhaust fumes in Soweto'

He'd sorted out whatever had kept him from joining the trip at the outset and had set off very early that morning to ironbutt it down to meet us. Paul and Cindy had been monitoring his progress the whole day and the timing of his arrival I guess didn't go exactly as planned hence the lunch time delay.

With our new crew meber warmly welcomed, we set off once more and headed along through Plattenburg Bay and along to Kurland where we made a detour off the N2 down to the coast at Nature's Valley.

Scenery at Nature's valley

Fluid Film, and other FF's at Nature's Valley

Narissa's continued inability to order a decent backup lunch for him, finally gets the better of Koshik

The weather had taken a turn for the worse sometime after lunch and at the coast it was windy and overcast, but so far not too much rain had fallen. Leaving Natures Valley eventually, we carried on down the N2 to Tsitsikamma National Park ( and the park roads eventually led the group to rugged coastline scenery where the Storms River enters the ocean.

Park Entrance

The rugged inlet at Tsitsikamma National Park

Gift shop and restaurant

Tsitsikamma local

At this point there was some discussion about calling it a day and staying at the park's beautiful ocean side campgrounds. However the apparent reluctance to break out that 'emergency' camping gear was pretty evident throughout the group, so it was decided that we'd hightail it to Port Elizabeth and spend the night under the cover of some bricks and mortar instead.

By my rough calculations we still had about 150 kms left between us and Port Elizabeth, which was unfortunate as fatigue was beginning to become a factor for some, especially, I would assume Ian, who'd have ridden around 1000 miles on the day by nightfall.

The ride to Port Elizabeth was going to be over as quickly as possible judging by the rate we set off at, however progress was delayed somewhat when we lost Cindy. Paul had stopped on and off ramp at Humansdorp and unbeknown to either of them (probably shielded by a truck) Cindy had blown right by. The rest of us stopped for gas and started to stress over her whereabouts. Koshik left Narissa with the group and was dispatched further eastwards on a high speed reconnaissance mission. Finding no sign of Cindy, but instead some debris in the road (looked like maybe a TV set that had fallen off a truck) which heightened the collective sense of disaster, he reported back the bad news. In the meantime without Narissa to hold it down, the passenger accommodation had slipped off the 'Blade and burned on its' upswept pipe. Without any other sensible course of action, the group decided to carry on to Port Elizabeth and hope that we'd spot her along the way. In the meantime apparently, Cindy, having figured she was going to run out of gas eventually, stopped to refuel, but didn't bother calling any of us. Eventually we found her sitting on the side of the N2 (by now in the twilight) waiting for our arrival.


Paul, if you're reading this, I never got the chance to cuff her upside the head (maybe it was the panic and subsequent relief that she was in one piece). Please do the honors on my behalf when you get the chance.

'Praise Dog' - a church earlier that day

With the crew fully assembled once more, we continued into Port Elizabeth to find a hotel. However before that was taken care of, we inexplicably stopped at a Diner for a bite to eat, which was strange because no-one seemed that bothered about eating at the time. Some good did come of it though, since serial purse misplacer Di (beating my wallet loss by 2-1 with this one) had this time left the offending item at the top of the pass earlier in the day; but a couple from Uitenhage had picked it up and brought it down to the Diner where it was returned to it's rightful owner. Eventually rooms were booked at a local B&B, but on arrival we couldn't find anyone there to let us in. We did come across an apparent alcoholic at the premises though, who let us in to the gated courtyard. However, he seemed more concerned about the delivery of his next bottle of whiskey rather than our predicament, and ultimately I was happy enough to leave just to get away from his whining. We called a number of places, but since it was getting late, there were very few vacancies for a party of our size. Ultimately we made a reservation a couple of miles outside the town center, which seemed much further at the time given our collective level of fatigue. It turned out to be the best place we stayed at the whole trip though and looked something like a converted stable block in a large country house, but by the time we got there we were all too tired to care. One little treat was still waiting though, as the long driveway was about 60% sand, so of course our deputy GSA rider did an admirable job of perpetuating the Sand reputation of the big Beemer and wiped out in about the first fifty yards.

'Deja vous Di' with Deputy Mikie

I guess I'll cut him some slack this time though, since he was probably running on fumes by that stage.

Style points 8/10

The accommodation came with it's own security guard, who appeared to be a little hungry


Dog tired

Douf screwed with this post 04-01-2009 at 08:12 AM
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Old 03-29-2009, 09:09 AM   #39
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Laugh Hey you FF's, let me tell you about electric vests

Day 9: Port Elizabeth to Kokstad

Having Arrived at the night's stop under cover of darkness, the true splendor of our surroundings only became evident the next morning and before departure, the majority of us spent some time wandering around the grounds sipping coffee and taking a few pictures.

Nice Digs - the B&B at Port Elizabeth

Secure parking out of picture (= sandy driveway)

Since our host had given us such a big sales pitch on the premises when we arrived the night before, it was unfortunate that it was being treated merely as a place to crash for the night.

'I wonder if it'll fit in my suitcase?'

One aspect of the surroundings that wasn't particularly welcome however was the sand road out of there, but we managed to depart without any further mishaps.

The day's journey commenced with a light drizzle falling, in spite of which the crew headed off in familiar fashion toward breakfast in Grahamstown and the inevitable Wimpy. As I recall the GPS recon must have been a bit sketchy at this particular location since we got a pretty good tour of the town (and a few of the back street parking lots) trying to find it.

Ironbutt epiphany - Gary realizes frenzied breakfast trip planning isn't half as much fun as bullshitting and drinking coffee

Maybe in better weather

Suitably nourished, we headed out on the R67 through Fort Beaufort in a generally north easterly direction, joining the N6 at Cathcart and heading towards Queenstown, before which we hung a right on the R61. Presumably, judging by the place names, this area had been settled by my British ancestors and I'm assuming they also typically found the weather to their liking if it was anything like today's. In the classic English tradition it was quite foggy with a steady drizzle falling and as we headed further into the hills, the conditions deteriorated further.

However despite the limited visibility, it was evident that we were quickly leaving what, up until now had generally appeared to be a fairly western looking South Africa and entering a part of the country that was more in keeping with my preconceived notions of this foreign land. This perception was brought into clear focus when we entered Engcobo.

Running low on gas, we rounded a corner into the town and pulled into the first available gas station. It was like we had suddenly crossed the border from first world into third and upon pulling up at the pumps, we were immediately surrounded by a throng of curious locals. From the looks of things, there probably weren't too many white folks traveling through these parts generally, so a group of half a dozen motorcyclists suddenly rolling into town was quite a spectacle. The town itself was quite actually quite vibrant, since there were people wandering all over the place, in sharp contrast to the south eastern US of my residence where folks don't generally get out of their cars that much if at all possible; and despite the obvious poverty it actually looked like quite a fun place to live (yes, the grass is always greener).

'Hiya handsome, is that Eau de Fluid Film you're wearing?'

'As a matter of fact, yes it is'
'Paul - your days are numbered son'

'My freakin arm's killin' me - how many gallons does this pig hold?

Hey, Hey, - most of it's for that worthless 'blade - probably won't make it out of town before hitting reserve

'Yeah, and right here's where I tried to get those stupid Americans kidnapped/mugged/raped in Soweto' Ian gives an impromptu GPS workshop to a few of the locals

However, in case there's any doubt - Engcobo aka the middle of nowhere


After heading out of town we set off on the R58 towards Elliot, a route which had been eagerly anticipated as one of the more scenic parts of the trip. Unfortunately with the uncooperative nature of today's weather, the beauty of the surrounding countryside was obscured by limited visibility, and the constant rainfall made the mountain roads extremely dangerous (especially with the amount of livestock that was roaming freely in the area).

Unlimited Visibility

Either it was still very foggy at at this point, or we'd just stopped for another smoke break

If the weather had been better, we'd have seen this

Rounding a sharp curve as we made our initial ascent out of Engcobo, the perils of our travels were suddenly brought into focus by the sight of a minibus, which had crashed while trying to avoid a couple of cows that were in the road. The vehicle was upside down in a roadside ditch, one of the cows was obviously dead and the other looked pretty seriously injured. I don't remember (or don't want to remember) what happened to the occupants of the bus.

Downtown Elliot - notice sign for 'Surgery' in the background

With this terrible scene vividly implanted in our minds we continued carefully along through the mountains to Elliot. Taking a break for a couple of the bikes to refuel, we discussed the merits of continuing though the mountains and decided to curtail a previously planned trip back and forth over the Barkly pass, which would inevitably have merely been a rain soaked exercise in accident avoidance.


Competing for space with his underwear - Koshik contemplates dumping Narissa in Elliot

With survival uppermost in our minds, we left Elliot and continued along the R56 through Ugie and on to Maclear, where we turned right onto the R396 and headed towards Tsolo. During this portion of the ride we had our second encounter with South African law enforcement, exiting a mountain pass, which if memory serves was just outside Ntywenka.

Quite how fast our noble leader Paul was travelling when he blew by the hilltop spotter is anybody's guess, but Gary and I were somewhere between 140-160 kmh as we went by, which put us maybe 40 over the speed limit.

Roadside footage from the Police hilltop spotter camera - possibly

When we pulled into the inevitable check point, I thought we were screwed
for sure.

I fumbled nervously with the Fluid Film in my pocket as we dismounted the bikes and after the mandatory document checking procedure: some friendly banter, a few enquiries about our trip, a couple of pictures and amazingly we were on our way. I love these guys.

'Hey, at least I wasn't going as fast as that dude, officer'

'5000 kms? - On the back of that thing? You're shittin me'

Just out of picture, Paul gets a roadside cavity search - much to the amusement of Gary and Ian'

'He'll probably get up in a minute'

'American Dollars? That'll do nicely, sir!'

'How about that nice vest of yours, for my Thinkbike jacket and a squirt of Fluid Film?'

'Don't push your luck sonny'

'Ummmm.......I dunno officer, it 'just' fell off down the road - ticket avoidance SA style

FYYFF's - language problem with the lobster gloves - Eventually I resorted to giving the locals a Vulcan salute when appropriate

As we entered Tsolo, we came across a bit of a detour, since the main drag through the town was undergoing some maintenance, and consequently the road signs sent us through a couple of the town's back streets This resulted in a little added drama since these streets were all dirt which, having been subject to a day's steady rain, were a bit sloppy.

Got dirt?

We carefully picked our way through without any major problems and at this point were fortunate enough to witness some kind of mid afternoon religious ceremony (possibly a wedding) which appeared to have about half the town in attendance. As I recall, I was told that it's common courtesy/custom to invite just about everyone to a gathering of this nature, which explains the amount of people there. Apparently people take their religion fairly seriously in these parts and it was quite surprising how often you'd see people who were fairly well dressed walking along the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Most folks in the Eastern Cape (and indeed in the majority of the country) don't have their own vehicles and consequently the minibuses used as the typical mode of transport are a constant hazard since they're continuously stopping to pick up passengers.

Apparently, this wasn't the first day of rain in these parts

In this part of the country, we also had to be constantly vigilant as the wandering livestock (mainly cows, goats, and a few pigs) was a permanent hazard and even more numerous than we'd previously encountered. Apparently, a local man's wealth is gauged by how many head of cattle he owns (in which case I'd have thought they'd have been better looked after). Our native riding companions had warned Gary and I (without a hint of apparent irony) that human life is much cheaper than a cow's in these parts; so given the choice of hitting a cow or a pedestrian wandering along the road, well........... They'd also assured us that far from wandering wherever they please, most cows were usually being monitored by a young herdsman. If those guys do exist though, they must keep a fairly low profile, since I can't say I ever noticed one.

Some of the housing looked a little more traditional

The final stretch of the day's trip was along a generally uneventful stretch of the N2, although a couple of the bikes were running on fumes by the time we reached Kokstad and that kept things interesting. We were pretty tired by the time we rolled into town, since although total mileage for the day wasn't huge (about 700kms), the bulk of it had been covered in some pretty nasty weather.

In reality it was a relief to see a place that had some semblance of civilization about it, because in reality I can't remember seeing anywhere that would have possibly had any lodging facilities since we'd left Port Elizabeth that morning. So kudos to our General for attention to detail on the route, but I guess in retrospect it would've added to the adventure somewhat if we'd have ended up pitching our tents somewhere in the rain soaked Eastern Cape.

These were the only two dry corners during the whole day's riding - I can't remember where we saw 'em though, so I put them here

As it happened, though we pulled into the first gas station we saw on the outskirts of Kokstad, that by some streak of good fortune (or maybe perhaps more careful planning on the part of our addicted leader) had an adjacent Wimpy in the parking lot. Obligatory Mega Coffees having been collectively consumed, the manager recommended a friend's B&B on the other side of town where we ended up spending the night and ordering a truck load of Scooters take out pizza for dinner.

Except Narissa and Koshik, who had previously arranged to spend the night with relatives in Pietermaritzburg which would require well over 100kms extra riding. Kudos, but they were welcome to it.

Douf screwed with this post 04-01-2009 at 08:25 AM
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Old 03-30-2009, 02:01 AM   #40
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Extra 200kms in the dark and a little rain...not great after the days riding.
But the home cooked meal and my old bed ... was worth it in the end.

Great report thus far ... will chirp in later
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Old 03-30-2009, 03:37 AM   #41
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Great report. Fun to read all the way. And the pics are awesome.

Just out of curiosity- I have seen some reddish (perhaps orange or indigo) looking piece on the headlight of some bikes (also seen it in some other SA trip pics as well). What is it??
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Old 03-30-2009, 03:42 AM   #42
Joined: Mar 2009
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
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Originally Posted by Haroon
Great report. Fun to read all the way. And the pics are awesome.

Just out of curiosity- I have seen some reddish (perhaps orange or indigo) looking piece on the headlight of some bikes (also seen it in some other SA trip pics as well). What is it??
Orange, its basically a plastic lense cover/protector.
Personally I think it looks crap, but thats my opinion, a lot of the guys here have it and they recon it makes them seen better by cages.

I prefer to run my Xenon/HID lights.
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Old 03-30-2009, 04:14 AM   #43
keep on..... :-)
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excellent RR and perfect pictures !!

I would also like to travel in SA !

Thank you for sharing with us
Greetings from Germany !

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Old 03-30-2009, 04:46 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by TravelBike
excellent RR and perfect pictures !!

I would also like to travel in SA !

Thank you for sharing with us
Hey Thorsten,

Thanks for keeping up with the report and for your positive comments. I'd like to do a bike trip in Europe/Germany; where are you located

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Old 03-30-2009, 04:52 AM   #45
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Originally Posted by MikieSA
Orange, its basically a plastic lense cover/protector.
Personally I think it looks crap, but thats my opinion, a lot of the guys here have it and they recon it makes them seen better by cages.

I prefer to run my Xenon/HID lights.
Speaking as a tourist and not normally used to riding with these lens covers; when looking in my mirrors, I found it was defintiely easier to pick out Ian's orange light versus a regular clear one. I can't really comment on Paul's yellow lens since I can't actually ever remember being in front of him

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