Tankwa Karoo and Cederberg Extreme

Friend and fellow adventure biker, Angus Welch, sent us this Dispatch from Afar:

The dates were set 6 weeks back and the forecast back then was for rain. Weather warnings were  issued…

We get to do a couple of these planned winter rides and murphy has it that there is extreme weather each and every time. Well, it makes it interesting. These trips are hard adventure, a bit of rally then some touring … ART (Adventure, Rally, Touring) at its best!

Our group is a bit like internet dating as we all don’t know each other… Just someone on the WhatsApp group who is keen to come and play and rough it. 8 Takers, no one bailed, even though the weather looked the worst all year … floods, wind, mud, cold… The boys all met at the Caltex garage in Parklands on Friday at 10am. I was very happy to see mainly Enduro and small dual sport bikes and 1 GS…

adventure biking. western cape. south africa

We got going at 10:30 and I immediately took the guys off into the bush. One or 2 minor spills, the odd mirror loose, but we all got to Darling Brewery for a refreshing cool drink and a snack.

Next stop was Hopefield, fuel up and roll on… A short 10km tar section took us to the Berg River where the fun started … We had missed the rain but only just… Mud, mud, mud… Simple as that !! Poor Jason on the GS had a hard time … Dual sport tyres don’t work in this environment. Knobblies – are the only way. Anyway, we stuck together and made a call to re-route to Piketberg on tar as the dirt (mud!) would have taken us another week… We stuck to back roads while the heavens opened on us. Mega rain in the wheat basket of South Africa so no complaints, just press on.

adventure biking. western cape. south africa

Our route took us past Eindekuil then up the old Piekenierskloof Pass and then down into Citrusdal. It was now 5pm and the boys needed lunch so a call was made to have pizza and cool drink at the Citrusdal Lodge. Welcome sustenance for the 90 odd km that lay ahead… We called the Cederberg Oasis to order dinner and say we were running late due to the crazy weather. On arrival we enjoyed a quick chow down and we hit the trail.

It was still pouring down and we were now making for the mountains… It turned out ok as the road surface was pretty firm and we could cruise safely at 60 to 70 km/hr even though the signs say 80… Two more passes conquered and we were going strong. We chatted to a local farmer who had found Jason’s tent in the road… He warned us to take it easy… I did! Some guys have great fun sliding these corners and giving it gas but in the end they always wait and re-group.

adventure biking. western cape. south africa

The group was tired so we had our pre booked steaks which were delicious and 2 beers and were all in bed by 10:30 …

Now you know why the girls issue the pink tickets 😀

Saturday dawned dry and clear. Lekka coffee and a hearty Cederberg Oasis breakfast and we were good to go. Chantel had organised us cool drinks and braai packs for the bush camping.

The route took us along the Eselbank 4×4 trail then onto the Old Post Route. Magnificent riding terrain, mostly technical and slow going. It took about 5 hours to do the 100km.
We found an amazing grass patch down by the Doring River and set up camp for the night.
Jason had knocked a rock with the BMW F800GS so some Pratley’s steel putty repairs were needed.

adventure biking. western cape. south africa

Luggage was a hot topic of conversation around the camp fire. Pork chop, lamb chop, 2 worsies on the braai and 6 beers each… Ah I see a full moon rising… It was perfect.
These rough adventure trips require one to survive with the bare essentials. Small bikes are the way forward for this terrain so I am glad to see a growing trend in this direction.

An early start, a river crossing and a rocky pass took us over to the R355. There were a few thrills and spills plus some damage to the luggage systems… This is rough, isolated terrain… Be prepared! Luckily we are organised and able to fix most things. My bike was making a ticking sound and I was worried that I had maybe put in too much oil… After some investigation it was discovered that it was the exhaust blowing onto the braai tongs that were dangling low… Whew! Some luggage adjustments all round and we made for the Tankwa Padstal for a welcome lunch of ribs and chips.

The guys with smaller tanks were now forced to ride conservatively as it was still 100 km to Ceres for fuel. They all made it even though we de-toured along the Matroosberg road. At Wellington, after a race up Bainskloof Pass, the guys all said cheers and went their separate ways.

The guys are already asking about the next trip! So we have set a date.

adventure biking. western cape. south africa

Some of the basic stats:

  • Day 1 – 325km
  • Day 2 – 100km
  • Day 3 – 350km
  • Level – advanced
  • Bikes – light dirt/dual sport or a BMW F800GS
  • Estimated fuel – R500
  • Estimated total cost of the trip – R1000
  • Gear – camping equipment and food for 2 days

Angus Welch

Table View, Cape Town, South Africa

Many thanks Angus. Looks like a whole pile of fun!

Bruce Houghting.

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