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Old 09-15-2014, 02:51 PM   #1
1NiteOwl OP
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September. Spring. Speedweek!

Since 2012 Speedweek has become an annual institution at the far-flung pan in South Africa's Kalahari desert. Through good organising and the support of some key sponsors, as well as the Northern Cape government, Hakskeenpan has been put on the map, attracting visitors to this remote area who would otherwise hardly have known about it.

It's not quite Bonneville but hey, if you start planning now you can watch history being made next year (2015)!

With the promise of a land speed record attempt next year at the pans and a dry run in 2013, it seemed like an interesting destination for a short trip, even after it became obvious that the Bloodhound SSC project was slipping by at least one year.

And so, after convincing one of my colleagues at work about the wonders of camping under the stars, we were off at sunrise on Friday morning for the opening weekend of the 2013 event.



It’s a long ride from Pretoria (where we work), nearly 1000 clicks, so we decided to spread it over two days and enjoy the scenery. More than that, we were interested in taking a look at Verneukpan as well, where Malcolm Campbell set a land speed record of 212 miles per hour (341 km/h) in 1929.

The final point on the agenda was Orania; the much heard of, but never seen (by us) Afrikanerdorp on the Orange river. In all, a route of some 2600 km (1600 miles).



While it was cold and wet in the Cape, our weather up north was fine during the day but only a few degrees above zero at night, promising a good compromise in the desert. Enough to tempt me to leave the outer layer of my tent at home in order to pack some decent coffee instead- an unusual luxury for me.



Instead of meeting up with my friend Schalk for coffee in Coligny en route, we got blown around by some fresh winds together with the mieliestronke covering the fields.

We made good progress to reach Kuruman for lunch, despite the countless roadworks and detours.



Most of the landscape up to this point was pretty flat, but here and there koppies started to appear, as well as signs of open-cast mining activity (manganese?).



We refuelled in Hotazel, which fortunately was not living up its name this time.



Shortly outside the town the tar suddenly ran out and we hit the white sand. Now it felt like we were in the Kalahari proper. After a few squiggles I got into my rhythm, as did Johan after disabling his ABS, ESA etc.



We pull off at the Kalahari Guest farm at quite a respectable time (i.e. before dark), and after introducing ourselves to Francien Noeth we get escorted to the nearby campsite and guesthouse.



Despite declaring ourselves “not that hungry” we get issued with a bag of hardwood, five mutton chops and four braaibroodjies. At only R 250 ($25) for all this, including the camping (and hot showers), it’s a bargain.

The vegetation is typical for a desert, and the buildings and windmill look out of place.



As does this old truck. It’s too dry for it to rust!



The scenery is typical of this area. Remote and relaxing.



After pitching our tents and freshening up, it’s time to tuck into the local fare.



With 720 km covered for the day, there’s only another 250 or so to go tomorrow.

1NiteOwl screwed with this post 09-18-2014 at 09:20 AM Reason: Rearrange pics
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Old 09-16-2014, 02:17 AM   #2
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Keep it coming, I'm watching..............
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Old 09-16-2014, 05:01 AM   #3
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We love those ZA adventure reports

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Old 09-16-2014, 06:13 AM   #4
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Your post brought back fond memories of my wife and I's trip to RSA a few years ago. We hunted springbok and gemsbok just to the north west of the spot labeled "Kalahari Camp" on your track. We could see the Botswana border(a dry riverbed and short cattle fence) from our camp. Absolutely beautiful country, and can't wait to visit again! We were there in April after a wetter than average rainy season, and the grass was thick and tall.

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Old 09-17-2014, 03:30 AM   #5
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Waiting, waiting, waiting....................................
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Old 09-17-2014, 03:25 PM   #6
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Hakskeenpan

We are up at sunrise, make coffee and breakfast and pack our tents.



Francien has advised letting the tyre pressures down a little for the sandy bits, but it backfires when Johan’s front tyre hits a rocky ridge on the way back to the main road. Pumping has no effect, but luckily he has some CO2 “bombs” for his tubeless tyres which do the trick. Soon we are mobile again, but I don’t like this- we still have a lot of dirt to do and Johan does not look comfortable.



We make it to Van Zylsrus, 10 kms down the road. It has a renowned hotel, and the area is popular for hunting and biltong.



We have no interest in either right now and head straight for the local garage to pump the BMW’s tyres. The rear is OK, but the front won't hold its pressure.



We put the bike on the centre stand and check the tyres for damage. There is none, but the same cannot be said of the front rim: I never realised these tubeless rims are so weak on the spoke-holes. Live and learn.



We have plugs, patch and solution, but this needs a tube. Fortunately, I have packed a spare.
But we have to beg and borrow to get hold of the funny tools that are needed to get a BMW wheel off (nada in the toolkit).
The local policeman/ garage owner/ bottle store owner/ mega rugby fan comes to the rescue sending his workers off to fetch some tools.



Eventually we manage to get hold of a ratchet and T45 torx bit, a size 22 Allan bit on a socket and a monkey wrench to turn it. Soon after, the wheel is out and we try to whack it back into shape with a brick and a pick-handle from behind the garage.

Heidenaus are renowned for their stiff sidewalls. It takes the Africa Twin’s sidestand to force the tyre off the rim, so we can remove the tubeless valve and pressure sensor and fit the tube. The tube’s valve is thinner than the tubeless valve stem, so we cut and drill a bottle top with the knife for a nice tight fit between the nut and the rim.



By the time everything is reassembled, half the morning is gone. Fortunately, there is no real hurry and we continue northwards without further complications.



Say no more:



There’s fuel in Askham, and a tar road all the way to our destination, and also to Upington (in the opposite direction). We exchange notes with another biker travelling back to Hotazel before going our separate ways.

At the intersection some cops are hanging around. There’s a festive spirit amongst the locals- they stand to benefit from the influx of visitors like us and the word seems to have spread.



First Groot Mier, then Klein Mier! (Big Ant, then Little Ant)



We cross the first of the big pans:



And then we are (nearly) there.



The main track in all its glory.



If we expected to see modern muscle cars, we would have been disappointed. V8s of my childhood years are the most common fare here:



And old jalopies from even before that. Paint seems to be optional for these ones.



Put foot!
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Old 09-28-2014, 04:32 AM   #7
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For the Petrolheads

A selection of the vehicles at our campsite. Muscle cars are IN!











Although paint is optional, this one’s silencers are removable. Apparently conversation in the cab is rather difficult without them.



A decorative skull up front…



…and a set of wheels in which to go and meet your maker.



At least there were some real sports cars too. Some old…



Some newer….



This Lamborghini Aventador was the fastest while we were there- over 300 km/h - about twice as fast as most of the older vintages. Cheers!



An angular kind of beauty.

I’m sure we even saw the Stig sneaking off for a burn.

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