Rob Taylor has just sent us this from Nelspruit, Mpumalanga:
I managed to give up cigarettes. Even though it was years ago, if I had one puff now it would be back to 20 a day by tomorrow. However there is one addiction I just cannot give up and that is bikes. Especially large displacement bikes. No amount of rehab will do it so there is only one solution and that is to indulge. Go for it.
Being on firefighting standby it’s very difficult to get off to go ride but sometimes the powers what be, those that must be obeyed, let us off at 4pm and that is just enough time to “put leg over” and hit it.
My favourite short ride is from Nelspruit Airport down to the main road, turn right at the bridge and then tweak its ear. That surge of stump pulling torque is the root cause of the addiction. That consistent, unstoppable surge of super smooth torque gives a sensation that is unmatched – BMW have really got it right with the LQ 1200’s. Initially I thought it was a minor improvement on the older air-cooled models but it’s not. Much, much more capable.
But I digress. The road from Old Nelspruit Airport to Kaapsehoop is only about 23 k’s but it climbs 2000 feet and is just one smooth sweeping curve after another. Beware the timber trucks lurking in the blind corners; although they are very good about driving on the left hand verge one still has to be careful. You don’t have to be a Valentino to clock 120 kph through some of the corners and if the timber truck is doing 7 you could spoil your afternoon.
The views of the Barberton Valley to the South and the Escarpment to the West are spectacular but again decide if it is going to be a scenic ride or something a little more aggressive. The two don’t really mix.
Kaapsehoop is a quirky little place. My GPS tells me that the altitude is exactly 5000 foot and mercifully always much cooler than Nelspruit. The thin air does have a side effect as all the local inhabitants are – ahem – shall we say a bit different or alternate. There are probably more greenies, artists, misfits and whatevers than any other dorp in South Africa and I am including Clarence, Dullstroom and Hartebeesport Dam. It does have a character all of its own and if you are in this part of the World put it on your must see list. You won’t regret it.
To get into the village turn off the main road and take the rather badly maintained almost road that creeps between houses. My favourite watering hole is the second pub on the left. Salvadore’s. It doesn’t fit into an exact box. Yes it’s a pub and yes it’s a Pizza joint but there is something about it that defies explanation. The decor is rough and ready, the ceiling is an old Victorian patterned job and the walls are adorned with artefacts, relics and things from the gold mining days. This must have been the stamping ground of Boers, adventurers and other pioneers. The people on both sides of the bar counter are friendly and like nothing better than to strike up a conversation and go off on some yarn. And that’s just the locals. There are plenty of tourists that stop for a quick pint and bite as well.
Ranging between the houses are what the inhabitants call The Kaapsehoop Wild Horses. To me they are not wild horses at all but feral horses and constitute a dangerous risk if you are on a bike. Well that’s the greenies again.
After a quick one, and I mean only one; time to head back down but with the batteries charged and sanity restored.
Thanks Rob – Cheers!
Roger & Bruce