Our friend Rob Taylor is based up in Nelspruit in Mpumulanga where he does some flying (fire fighting and instructing) and likes nothing better that getting out on his BMW for a ride. He sent us this trip report:
Funny how something can almost be under your nose but you never see it – passing many times without giving it a second thought. A few months ago I had a mad rush of blood – or something – to the head so I closed my eyes, walked into the Bee-Em bike dealer and walked out with a brand spanking new 1200GS LQ; (my fourth 1200 since they came out in 2004) but that is another story, lets stick to the original. A new bike just has to be taken out for a ride so the next morning we did just that. One of my mates – Gary – who owns a 1200RT said I know just the trip.
We set-off at about 6 am from Nelspruit, picked up the R40 and headed for Barberton. The first part of the road is straight forward but the fun starts as you begin the descent into the Barberton Valley. I am told, and have no reason to dispute the statement, that this is the biggest land locked valley in the World. I can attest to the fact that it’s pretty deep and the road is as twisty as anything you would find in the Alps. Some of the corners turn through 200 deg and man, are they are tight. Beware. It’s the easiest thing in the World to overcook it and leave quite a lot of your skin on the Tarmac – but what fun.
I didn’t know the road so I clung to the rear end of the RT like a leach as Gary knows every twist and turn. My reasoning was any corner the RT will get round so will the GS. More by luck than riding skill I was proved right but once or twice I did feel I was on my personal limit.
We had to stop and take a look at the signage and displays at the second Barberton turn off. I am not going into a long description. The pics says it all. From there on it gets really interesting. I had ridden the route many years before and never realized what I was passing through.
The Barberton tourism board have spent a lot of money sign posting and building lay-byes with interesting dioramas explaining some of the local history and geology. It is fascinating stuff. Most of the geology is above my head but it’s interesting to stand amongst some of the oldest rocks on Earth and to see sands that were once a beach but are now at an altitude of six thousand foot and 3.2 billion years old.
I have realized that you have to ride the route at least twice. It’s impossible to take in the scenery and also simultaneously “give it horns” through the many tight corners and fast sweeps. One ride to see and another ride for some really challenging press on riding. It is too easy to write this off as an out of the way destination but If you are travelling to or from the Kruger it’s definitely worth the deviation.
As I don’t have a passport at present I stopped and turned round at the Bulembu border post. The ride on from there through Swaziland is also a great way to get back to the Midlands in KwaZulu Natal.
Lovely stuff Rob. Watch those cylinder heads!