7 PASSES OF LIMPOPO
(24 December 2015)
Did you know that there are only a few places in this world more dangerous than home?
Maybe that is why I often grab a bag, strap it to the back of my bike and head to the mountain passes! With no purpose, no deadline, no limits.
Travel is the excuse normally used by people when they go on holiday. But I travel to meet, to discover, to explore.
This chicken left for a weekend to discover the 7 passes of Limpopo.
Being one of the driest, warmest summers we’ve had, I stopped in the town of Northam for a breather. The garage pie was rou, the colddrink was lou, and myself a bit flou.
But I set myself on a slow pace, deciding to only do as much as an overheated chicken can achieve in one day.
This pass literally translated is called FLY pass. Fly… as in the little annoying black thing that likes sitting on dog poop. This area was infested with the Tsetse fly in the 19th century (…the little annoying black thing that likes sitting on dog poop WHICH BITES!). But I encountered none such vampire flies and ticked off my first pass for Limpopo.
Having been spoilt this year with extreme pass riding down Sani and van Zyl’s, I was hoping Limpopo would offer me more of a challenge. Luckily there was the next pass, the hardest of them all but still a wee morsel in comparison.
Bakkers pass (D794)
They recently had quite a bit of rain and some parts of the pass were flushed down the ravines I crossed. I hopped a few loose boulders and took a quick rest at the top under the only tree I could find. I was swimming in my jacket and the two bottles of water was just the right temperature for a nice cup of coffee.
A mountain pass is a route through a mountain range or over a ridge. If following the lowest possible route, a pass is the highest point on that route.
This pass was a flat long stretch of road with a little bit of sand riding as entertainment. The bridge is located right in the center of the pass, for thou shalt miss the pass if you travel too quickly…
It was already past 5pm when I found the turn off to the next pass. My brain had to go into quick calculation mode to determine if there was still enough day left for one more pass.
As I turned off the main stof road, a farmer stopped at his farm gate next to me. I pulled over and inquired about the distance of the next pass. It was only about 5 more clicks and I could watch the sun set from the top. I asked about accommodation; and told him if it’s save next to the road, I’d camp under the next tree.
He dropped his head (he might have even rolled his eyes) and invited me back to his farm once I came back.
Jan Trichardt pass (D794)
This pass had an amazing view half way up. But, I didn’t waste too much time, I was hoping for a cold glass of water that would go nice with my two shots of Jack I had in my pocket. Jack…. Mmmmmm!!!
At the top I watched as the silent sun pushed long shadows over the sand.
Back at Camp-Danie, the dogs welcomed me with a hearty bark. I stopped under a nice tree in the garden and started off-loading my tent, but Danie invited me in.
First things first, I offered him R100 if he had a cold beer. Again I saw his head drop?!? I almost collapsed on the floor, when he told me that he’s not really a beer drinker. I thought he must probably be the only geheelonthoudende (a long word that only SOBER people can spell) farmer in the world, ever!
I got ready to grab my helmet and head further down the road, when he mumbled that he’s actually a whiskey drinker…
Manna uit die hemel!!!!!!!!!!!
He took me for a quick tour to the stables, where his lady friends insisted on some selfies… or would that be horsies?!?
We sat at the kitchen table, sipping our whiskey… comparing bikes, complaining about bikes, dreaming about future bikes. You know…? As normal people do that knows nothing about each other.
I woke up the next morning with a Border Collie curled up next to me, still busy herding my counted sheep flock. Must be why I had such a lekker snooze!
I had a coffee and said my ‘Dankies’ to Danie Weilbach!
Rankin’s pass (P240/1)
Rankin’s pass is actually only a SAPS outpost. I guess the ‘pass’ is probably more like a free get-out-of-jail card?
On my travels further down the road, I found a bull-ring. But the bull didn’t want to give it up…
I stopped at an old mill (which I later discovered dated from the late 19th century). It was later changed to a small shop, but eventually closed down due to crime.
A bakkie stopped next to Brom and the tannie wanted to know where the rest of the riders were? When I told her that it was only me, she nonchalantly said, “Nou maar dan moet jy maar omdraai en kom tee drink.”
Tannie Betsie Plotz had me at TEA!
I followed them back to their farm where the tannie was already boiling the kettle. We sat at the breakfast nook and again compared bikes. They have a son living in Pretoria that is also a biker. She made a note of Brom’s brand and size so she could tell her son all about it.
There was two more passes left, and I ticked them off swiftly.
Die Noute (D178)
When you face a mountain, you have several options.
If you have time, and maybe a shovel – you can dig under it.
If you are rich and have a plane – you can fly over it.
If you are a ninny or just lazy – you can go back the way you came.
If your name is Rock Biter and you starred in the movie Never Ending Story – you can eat through it.
If you are egocentric – you can ignore it and pretend it’s not there.
If you are determined and harregat – you can build a pass and cross over it.
Kwaggasnek pass (D178)
I stopped at Mulligans on my way back home and caught up with the usual crowd there. Again we were comparing crazy tales of bikes and the first Roof races. I found out that Chris here won the title a few times back in the 80’s.
The top of a pass is frequently the only flat ground in the area, a high vantage point. It might be a bit of work to get to this point, but from here you can see all around. What you’ve achieved and what still lies ahead. So, when things get rough and you’re feeling down – make for the next pass! You might just find some friendly people there, all with a few drops of ‘bike’ in their blood.
Tannie Moira de Jager (age 81)
SA’s first Adventure Bike LADY!
I have found the Eve of the adventure-biker-chicken bloodline.
She might just be the first female biker from Cape Town, with gallons of ‘bike’ in her blood. Moira purchased her first bike in 1954 (at the tender age of 20). It was a BSA 250cc which was 2 years old.
“I was getting a lift to work with my dad. I don't know how well you know Cape Town, but one of the two exits from Cape Town to the southern suburbs was De Waal Drive (M3) which was a single lane in each direction. The cars stood bumper to bumper while the bikes came pouring past. Why buy a car and get traffic frustration? So, I joined the motorcycle fraternity. Of course, these days there are many female bikers and scooter riders, but I think they are braver than I was as the traffic has become very challenging.”
One week later she got her licence and the following day, accompanied by her younger brother and his friend (both on Nortons) they left Cape Town for Johannesburg. The purpose of the trip was for her brother's friend to visit his girlfriend. She assumed he just wanted to prove to her that he could ride his bike from Slaapstad to Jo’ies (and as it requires any adventure lady, she decided to escort him there just to make sure he got there safely).
They didn't have any suitable motorcycle gear, and helmets were in those days optional, gloves were cumbersome especially for small hands (…she is only 1,5 meters tall). She did have jeans and a corduroy lumber jacket, which at 5 am did not provide much protection against the elements. They weren't in a hurry so they stopped at Worcester for breakfast and took their time about getting going. They got as far as Richmond where they decided to spend the night.
The following day turned out to be much warmer and they got their faces very badly burnt. The second night they stayed over at Winburg (“where they must have had a generator to provide electricity for the town as at 10pm everything stopped and went dark?”). They arrived in Johannesburg the following day.
The disc '4/5' on the Bike refers to 3rd Party Insurance for 1954/55 which was compulsory for all vehicles in those dark ages!
Two years later, with her boyfriend on the BACK (cause that’s how we biker chickens roll), they made the trip to Port Elizabeth. They had planned to go to Durban, but at that stage most of the N2 the other side of PE was gravel, so they decided that PE was far enough. They left in the rain (the month was May) and had a fair amount for the whole trip. Of course on a bike you have limited luggage space, meaning minimal amount of clothes, and getting wet was not part of the plan. However, they did get back in one piece and that was the end of her lang-pad riding.
If ever you need any adventure assistance (albeit with colourful language - at no extra price), take your bike to F-ing Conrad at Offroad Cycles. I got an F-ing service and new F-ing rubber on Brom, and Kraai got her 207th F-ing indicator replacement. YEAH!
Pass the buck!
Nene, the finance minister might be saying No-No, but I’m not asking for a jet or a lodge in Nkandla. I’m just asking for a few pitte to fill up my tank for the next newsletter, please.
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