The weather forecast predicted rain for Sunday morning, which is usually when we head out for a ride through the back roads and tracks here in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands. And sure enough, as I write this, a soft rain is soaking the misty forests and grasslands, and cool fresh smelling air wafting in through the open window – a welcome change from the stifling heat of the previous few days. As gorgeous and as wonderful as this is, it’s really not the sort of day you want to be out, exploring on a motorbike. So, we went riding yesterday. Just Pat and me. Bruce and Sharon had prior commitments and Howard and Debbie were up in Johannesburg, Howard racing his Mini at Kyalami.
We headed out early from Howick on the Karkloof Road to make the most of the coolest part of the day. Wow, it was beautiful – the low lying wetlands were covered with Kniphofia or Red Hot Pokers, their orange flowers, er, poking up through the reeds, and patches of pink flowers (I have no idea what there are) adding to the splendour. The views, as we dropped down into the Karkloof Valley, defied description and all was good – one of those moments where you could just keep riding forever…
We turned left off the P141 on to dirt (yay) heading west on P145 that becomes the D293, taking us up the familiar Khyber pass, pine and eucalyptus scented air drifting in through the open visor of my helmet. I must say that the little CRF250L battles a little on these steep ascents but there are 6 ratios in the gearbox and we found one that got us up the pass at a reasonable rate of knots. There are plenty of places to stop to take in the views, stop for a coffee (you did remember to pack the flask?) or just enjoy the environment.
A right onto the P165 and a quick left onto the P144 takes you down a lovely little pass and onwards past Boschhoek Golf Estate and to Balgowan, site of Michaelhouse – the boys college that featured in the Spud movies. Our goal was the explore the D515, a road that we haven’t done for many years. Alas, it’s a dead end so you’ll have to return along it (it would be fantastic if it could link up with the D18 and make a circular route) but it’s still worth the ride. The views west and north over the Connemara farms and onwards to Nottingham Road were simply stunning, the mighty Giants Castle peeking out above the foothills. (Note to pillion: Remembering to put your gloves back on after the break will mean that we don’t have to ride the route again to look for same).
Breakfast beckoned and so we made our way south along the R103, D182 and P133 to Caversham Restaurant overlooking a diminutive but very beautiful waterfall on the Lions River. Smiling, helpful staff and delicious food make this a worthwhile stop, certainly for breakfast. A quick squiz at the lunch menu means that we will have to return sometime, a little later in the day.
What a lovely, easy little ride. We were home late morning before riding got unpleasant in the heat. Gotta do it again sometime… And Bruce, Sharon, Howard and Debbie, you missed a wonderful ride!
Roger de la Harpe.
Oh, and here’s a little travel tip for you: If you are in the area, check out Ardmore Ceramic Art – they create the most amazing pieces – you will be temped. And they deliver. (Not too sure how clever it is carrying a delicate piece of ceramic art on an Adventure Bike)