Fairly recently Diana & I decided to organise a weekend away for riders in the greater Cape Town area… This is how it panned out…!!!
A month ago, we decided to calendar a weekend away and throw it out for the local riders here in Cape Town to join in. Over the past 12 years the tours have been almost exclusively the domain of international riders from all corners of the globe.
Canada, USA, Costa Rica, Colombia, Brazil, England, Scotland, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, Hungary, Dubai, Romania, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand.
This eclectic group of people however are all local and resident in and around Cape Town. A mishmash of motorcycles: BMW 1200GS (Warren & Bryony), BMW 650GS (Tania), BMW 700GS (Diana), Royal Enfield 500 (Keith), Honda Africa Twin (Charles & Wendy), Honda Gold Wing 1800 (Philippe & Xavier), Suzuki 650 Vstrom (Joe).
All feelings of trepidation quickly passed once we met as a group and within 5 minutes had ‘clicked’. Part of the thinking around the weekend planning was to open the ride up to all bikes. We are truly blessed with amazing roads here in SA, both tarmac and gravel. The riders could choose which roads they’d prefer as all roads eventually lead to Rome, I mean, Klaarstroom. This sleepy little village has been passed and missed by many a traveller. I guess it’s not exactly a metropolis. That title may be ever so slightly overstating the villages status within the ambit of South African, never mind international urban sprawls. The Main Road (and it is called Main Road) runs down the centre of the village, population of about 15 souls and that number has increased since the hotel opened a few years ago. We however stayed at the Guesthouse and were hosted by Jeremy and Sharon (their lovely daughter Edwina managed to escape the dreaded group photo). The hotel was the perfect spot for a sundowner on the Friday and Saturday evening, our group may well have doubled the population of the village for those two nights. Sharon & Jeremy prepared the most delicious Braai (BBQ) on Friday evening and a tasty Chicken Pie meal on Saturday.
Friday 20th November, 2020
What a fantastic group of people set out on Friday morning from their respective homes. Bryony & Warren from Table View and Phillipe & Xavier from Cape Town met Diana & I in Blouberg. We headed out via the Malanshoogte Rd through the Durbanville Hills Wine Route, skirted Durbanville City by taking the Spes Bona gravel Road. We then hooked up with Wendy & Charles and Tania & Keith in Stellenbosch. Great morning ride over Helshoogte pass, through Franschhoek and over the stunning Franschhoek Pass. Stopped for a leg stretch on the Theewaterskloof Dam wall, the dam is 100% full with water gently lapping over the dam wall slipway. Great news for Cape Town as we had been struggling with a drought in recent years. After the stop we had a lovely ride on good gravel through Greyton and on to Swellendam where we had a good lunch and rest at ‚La Belle Alliance‘. We had lost some time in the morning so wacked through the Little Karoo in the afternoon via Tredoux Pass and the R62, Huisrivier Pass and through Meiringspoort Pass. We all arrived safely in Klaarstroom as the sun was setting. Our hosts had the braai fire (BBQ) going, we spontaneously met at the hotel pub for a sundowner before returning to the guesthouse for a good meal, good wine, much laughter and... ZZZZ.
No rushing today, we met for a full english breakfast @ 9 am and headed out just after 10 am. It proved to be a very hot day with the mercury topping 37c, after another short delay and over Swartberg Pass we went from Prins Albert side. Swartberg Pass is probably in the top 5 must do passes in South Africa for the gravel riders. Mountain Passes of South Africa website refers to it as the rubicon of gravel passes. The pass was hot and dry, two little stream crossings at the start but quite shallow with no need to get off and check depth. Being a Saturday the pass was fairly busy with several 4x4 vehicles and two mountain bikers tearing down at some point. We stopped for a leg stretch and photos at ‚Die Top‘ with those amazing views both North and South. We were warned of slippery when wet decent due to road works clay surfacing; fortunately the surface had dried from the recent rains a few days prior so well compacted. Back on tamac a spirited ride ensued towards Oudtshoorn, we missed the gravel turnoff to De Rust. Ahhh well, I guess we were forced to track back 18 km via the amazing Schoemanspoort pass we had just rode. Close to the Cango Caves we found the delinquent gravel pass through to De Rust. The gravel was in decent enough condition and we found our way through the Olive Orchards to De Rust. Lunch in De Rust with tons of cold drinks, three buckets of ice cubs later and the mid afternoon took us on a very good daylight ride through Meiringspoort Pass and a stop at the waterfall. This pass is an absolute gem and a testament to the road builders and engineers who carved it through the Swartberg Range, motorcycle heaven. We all got back in much earlier today. Drinks in and around the pool with those special views of the iconic Swartber Mountains on our doorstep. Once again everyone found the themselves in the hotel pub for a few drinks. Superb sit down meal on Saturday around the large kitchen table. Most everyone filtered to bed soon after… tired but loads of smiles and fond dreams of the days ride in excelelnt company.
Earlier breakfast today served from 8 am. The group took different routes home due to time constraints and the usual variety of reasons. Diana & I did Seweweeks Pass on our own. Unfortunate for the riders who could not join us, the pass was absolutely magical, weather was much cooler and more conducive to relaxed riding. The pass is very similar to Meiuringspoort but on gravel, the corners are also somwehat tighter but sceney much the same. Picked up a few drops after Laingsburg and took Du Toits Kloof Pass (another must do tarmac road) back home. Weather had cleared after the pass with views of Table Mountain in the distance. We arrived home about 5 pm. All the folks checked in to say they were all in safely.
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