A Gravel Un-ravel in the KZN Midlands

A Gravel Un-ravel in the KZN Midlands.

So… The big GS1200LC had been delivered back to the Man Cave a few days ago after it had been to the BMW Agent in Durban for the front suspension re-call item to be sorted out. New suspension stanchions with the associated collars had been installed and all that remained was for me to take Jabulani (the GS) out for a little “leg stretch”.
Sunday dawned bright and clear, which was a little surprising as the air is often somewhat smoky at this time of year as a result of all the fire breaks being prepared in the area. I had cleaned the GS on Saturday so we looked pretty tidy when we set off with no particular plan in mind although the general idea was simply to ride somewhere for breakfast and to include a bit of gravel along the way.
I found myself cruising gently up the R103, a pleasant tarmac road with enough squiggly bits to keep the superbike guys happy and the gentleman adventurers in good spirits too… Being a Sunday meant that the road would no doubt get busier as the morning wore on.You see, this part of the world is known as the Midlands Meander and many town and city folk ease themselves out of their cozy beds to get outdoors and enjoy all the magic that is on offer; magic that ranges from wonderful coffee shops and eateries to various craft and specialist outlets.
Anyway, back to the ride… I took things easy on the R103 all the way up to Nottingham Road. I had to take it easy – I had indeed encountered some “meanderers”. Nothing wrong with that, it was in fact most enjoyable.

I decided that I’d give a different spot a try for breakfast and so proceeded to the local hotel where I inquired about said breakfast. “Sure” came the reply to my request to be seated outdoors within sight of my bike, “we’ll send a waiter to take your order”. Ten minutes later, without having even been offered a menu, I donned my gear and headed off to my usual breakfast haunt at Barbz Cafe’. Here I enjoyed a wonderful cappuccino and poached egg breakfast stack… Sad to report this way, but it is a pity that potential patrons are seemingly forgotten about…
With breakfast over I cruised on up towards Mount West and continued onto the gravel road leading to Curry’s Post. This road is very scenic, especially when you pick up the views across to the Karkloof mountains and the patchwork of farms and forests to the east. All to soon the road re-joins the tar, but only for a few hundred meters if you know to turn left at the first sight of a dirt road.

bh-elliots nek 2
Elliots Nek. As can be seen the gravel is in great condition. And let’s be honest, this is not a major pass, it’s just a small kink in the road to the lower farms. The views across towards the Karkloof are lovely though!

It’s a short ramble down to Elliots Nek and well worth a stop here to take in the views before bumbling on down past the turn off to Siteka Estate and one or two other farms in the area. The road was in great condition although there was much dust. The area has had precious little rain and this together with the heavy lorries transporting the timber harvest has had the effect of grinding the surface of the road into fine powder dust. But, hey, dust on the rims – it’s partly why we ride on gravel!

bh-top dam
This small dam is another little gem at which to stop and take stock of the surroundings. The water level is quite good however the stream flow is low…

Once again I stopped at the little body of water that I use to gauge the state of “things drought”. There was much more water than a few months back, so I guess, nay hope, that things are starting to look up from a water supply perspective.

bh-lower dam
This is the lower dam which I use as a “drought gauge”. The water is back to a reasonable level thank goodness! And the BMW rims are covered in dust again, thank goodness…

The Khyber Pass beckoned and I swung a leg over the GS, thumbed the “happy button” to fire up the motor and dropped smoothly off the escarpment and into the Karkloof. The day had warmed up somewhat from the eight degrees Celsius it had been at the start of the journey in Hilton so it was comfortable riding as I waved to a log loader driver and a crowd of farm hands catching a lift on a trailer being dragged along by its tractor. Typically great KZN Midlands calmness prevailed as I motored on down to the Karkloof Club to grab a bottle of refreshing water before heading back home.

bh-tracks
Leave only wheel tracks…

A round trip of about 100km in awesome surroundings, taken at a leisurely pace was a fine way to remind myself of the sheer delight delivered by a fine motorcycle ridden in a wonderful part of the world.
Keep the rubber side down.
Bruce Houghting.

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