Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Finding the quiet roads between Joburg and Clarens

"There's this motorbike museum in Deneysville", Hardy said.
And since Deneysville is, by some stretch of the imagination, halfway to Clarens, we might as well just go sleep over there the Saturday night.

This time it was going to be a 'light' tour - no tents or sleeping bags or braai grids or giant Tbones. Just the bikes, a toothbrush, a change of clothes and a credit card. And the jerry can to compensate for the TW's lack of range. Over a Saturday and Sunday - no leave required.

The journey was the destination. We would see if we can find quiet back roads. Although the TW can go almost anywhere, it doesn't get there fast. It was going to be around 450 kms or there-abouts of mostly dirt, so we left Randburg just after daybreak on Saturday morning.

Great breakfast and a very interesting museum in Deneysville.

When the R716 turned off towards Oranjeville, we kept straight on the first bit of dirt for the day towards Heilbron (fuel stop) Tweeling (fuel stop).

Between Heilbron and Tweeling. 
Is why we have motorbikes.
That can go offroad.

From Tweeling to Reitz was a bit of tar road on the R26 partially to make up time, and partially because it was the straightest line. From Reitz it was dirt road to Kransfontein again. Sand road and some loose gravel that made for interesting riding.  At Kransfontein we stopped to check the map. While discussing route options (mainly Hardy discussing while I was listening) a farmer stopped to ask where we are from. "Then you must be on the way to Clarens", he responded upon hearing we are from Jozi. "You're obviously going to take the scenic pass into Golden Gate". We weren't, because we weren't sure it was a public road. But apparently it was. So we were. Obviously.

This is a road every cyclist and every biker should ride at least once in his life.
This is why our bikes can go off road.
And why roadies should get bikes that can.

Could not get enough of that road. Have to go back.

From Golden gate on (familiar) tar to Clarens for coffee, pizza and wine.

Sleep, eat and repeat. 

It took us 10 hours to ride about 450 the previous day (ride, breakfast, pictures, museums, fuel-stops, map checks). Sunday was going to be another +-450km so it maybe was a bit unwise to only leave Clarens way after 9. Closer to 10, maybe. 
After a late breakfast in Fouriesburg we took the very scenic back roads behind the mountains that make up the Four Peaks trail run (It's so much easier on a bike!) 

More very scenic dirt roads past places on a map: Slabberts, Paul Roux, Petrus Steyn, Frankfort.

The whole day was dirt roads, back roads and almost no traffic.

By the time we crossed the Vaal river back to Gauteng, we realized we're chasing the sun. We decided to stay on the R59 rather than the dirt-tracks of the 'South'.

It was way after dark when we arrived back in Jozi. Tanks empty, but spirits and minds recharged.


Should have broken a collarbone. At least.

Was riding around 70 or 80 on dirt roads the last bit back - partly because we were chasing the sun. But mainly because of the Helmet Itch. Was incredibly stupid to try to scratch my head while riding. A guardian angel had to work some overtime ...

I googled the helmet itch and it can be various things, from dry air, static build-up due to too dry hair, to allergies. Buff didn't work because as I was moving the helmet round to try to scratch the itch, the buff was riding down over my eyes. Got myself two balaclavas from different fabric, and a third of silk on order. Hope that relives the problem!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Woman's day ride: Blockhouse/Circus

The TW stayed at home while we explored Botswana with the Jimny. By the time we got back, this and then that happened, and before we knew it, the TW was parked for a month and the battery flat. We started it once and let it idle outside the house to let the battery charge a bit. And when it died, we figured that was enough battery charging anyway. So when we finally wanted to take the bikes out, the TW just would not start. We ran up and down and up and down the complex with it to coax the engine, but nothing. Finally looked into the tank - to realise it's completely empty. Siphoned some fuel from Hardy's Honda, then filtered it through an (aeropress-sized) coffee-filter because the siphon-pipe was dirty. By now the battery was not even pretending to be alive - but the running-start worked first time. 

So the idea for Woman's day was just to do a long ride to give the battery chance to charge.

But after Monday evening's incident of having a gun pointed at me and the handler of the gun demanding my cell phone, I spent Women's day morning in a police station instead of finding new trails on my bike. The officer was more interested in the election results and possible effect that might have on his work.

Long story short:
Anyway - so it was lunchtime on the public holiday by the time we got onto the bikes. Hardy's folks stay close to Klipriviersberg, a most excellent base to explore the dirt roads of the South from. 

It was late, so we decided to ride some of our Joberg2C Training routes with the bikes. Some of our favourite 'strava segments' were even more fun on bikes with engines :)

Since we had engines (albeit in my case a rather small one), it was a bit easier to see where this hill goes to or if that track will connect to where we think it does, and we didn't have to be quite as aware of possible mountainbike-hijack areas.

We rode to the blockhouse and then explored the empty building next to it.

We stopped at the circus for a late lunch. BEST pizza EVER.  And a pink cupcake with the coffee because it was women's day.

Back on sometimes the same, sometimes different routes. Here's Kiss-your-handlebar tunnel.

LOTS of playground - have to go ride there often before it gets built up.