Gifberg - A misty start to a wonderful weekend

Trip Start Dec 10, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Waterval Resort

Flag of South Africa  , Western Cape,
Saturday, June 5, 2010

Last week I was advised that my clutch cable was in dire need of some oiling... Didn’t think it would be too hard, so with a few sound instructions, I went ahead and took the cable out, but when looking for one of a cansof Q20 in my house (of which I'm sure there are two), I found none!!! So putting the cable back in was delayed until the night before setting off to Gifberg... Not the grandest of ideas... You never know what you don’t know, so best not to leave it to the last minute!! I got the cable back in from the clutch lever down to the clutch gadget at the bottom of the bike only to find that I had about 5cm of cabling to spare...? Not possible!!! Surely the oiling didn’t lengthen it? I panicked quietly... But after a few phone calls and some obsessive checking I found that I’d missed clipping it into a slip just before the bottom clutch gadget... Phew!!! I ended up tidying that up until quite late Friday night... So I did my maths quite carefully before going to sleep... If I needed to pack in the morning, get to the Swartland Engen by 06:45 what time would I need to wake up...?

I AM a morning person, but I don’t like getting out of bed... especially not at 05:45!! The ride to the One Stop was not pleasant. Not pleasant at all!! In fact, riding through the mist in the dark with next to no visibility was an absolutely terrifying experience!! But judging by that, I thought the scariest part of the weekend’s riding was now out of the way. I was right... Except that the mist was to welcome us with smothering arms us a few times yet...
Pete, leading the more advanced group of riders, gave a quick briefing after breakfast. We were to follow the N7 to Malmesbury and would make a ‘safety’ call from there as to which routes we would then follow as the mist was bound to be heavy for a while yet. It was nice to see a fair number of new faces that I hadn't seen in the riding groups before. Also, amongst us was a well blinged up KTM <gasp> Not of the orange variety though, this one blue all around... Even a blue suede seat and blue footpegs!! Nice one Justin!! 
By the time we hit Malmesbury we’d lost a few riders and the backup vehicle... Not a good start!! Rusty who had a few phone dramas of his own chased down the backup vehicle and also attempted to find Chris who’d also missed the turn off. While waiting, Hein joined up with us and as soon as the backup vehicle caught up we were off. Unfortunately having to leave both Rusty and Chris to make their own way up to Vanrhynsdorp.
We slowly made our way through the misty back roads from Malmesbury to Moorreesburg, our visibility very limited... Every now and then the clouds would clear up and we’d eat a bit of dust from the front riders... and then to hit some more mist... and instead of wiping clear water from our visors, we now had red clay plastered all over our visors reducing visibility even more... When we stopped for a break and some photos, all the bikes were covered in dirt!! Although we were sometimes riding as slow as 40km/hr we at least looked like we’d been out playing in the mud. 
We arrived at Eendekuil a little behind schedule. The plan was to be there before 11am so as to give the backup vehicle an opportunity to fill up, but the filling station was closed. A call was made that the backup vehicle would leave us to follow another route through to Vanrhynsdorp as there wasn’t another fuelling opportunity for the next 110km or so...
Pete led us up the gravel pass just below the N7 Piekeniers Pass and then onwards through some beautiful back roads. We’d left the mist behind, whoo hoo, and it was slowly warming up. My happy levels were improving... Every now and then we were challenged with stretches of shallow sand, some rutted roads or a few potholes... all just to keep us on our toes. We finally came out on the N7 about 30km before Vanrhynsdorp, stopping for petrol.
What was meant to be a quick fuel stop on the N7 turned out to be a little longer as Pete had to fix a puncture on his bike. Fortunately the tubeless variety makes this quite a speedy procedure.
In Vanrhynsdorp we met up with Geoff’s group who’d just beat to us to the Puchifino restaurant. They were all in search of food, and trying to escape the heat... I didn’t think I was going to get hot on this day, I was wrong.
Out of Vanrhynsdorp we headed straight up Gifberg where the fun was set to begin. The small farm road gave us everything and more to test our riding skills... sand, ruts, downhills, uphills, deeper sand, rocks... but it also rewarded us with stunning scenery, moments of elation when overcoming some of the technical sections, and a good sense of happiness for being alive and getting the opportunity to enjoy such a stunning surrounds and the riders with us. We slowly moved on, stopping occasionally to make sure everyone kept up. Thanks Rusty for sweeping!!
I don’t think there were too many people who bought plots, but those who did (me included) definitely made sure it was in good property... It's all about location... location... location... I was happily riding behind Justin, oblivious to the fact that I was in deep sand when I noticed his back wheel jumping around. When I felt my front wheel slip I got the fright of my life, opened throttle, jumped out of the track, through a tree and into the fence where the bike came to an abrupt stop and I bailed over the top. I must say, I do believe I fall quite well. I was 100% fine, though bike had a few cosmetic scratches. I also unfortunately kicked off a mirror as I bailed over... None the less, it was perfectly fine and I was soon back on the road following Pete to the Waterfall Resort, arriving just before the sun had completely left us.
Everyone made to their little chalets to find a shower before we tucked into a delicious braai for supper. We also had some neighbours playing us a bit of Jack Parrow at top volume!!! The silence would've been a lot more welcome.
I woke early the following morning to take a ride back to the plot I bought to check if I could find my ear plugs as I realised I’d lost them the previous day. Although not the end of the world, I had to just check if I could find them there else it would haunt me indefinitely. This was the only place I could think that I would’ve lost them considering the tree branches I rode through. Rusty accompanied me for the morning jaunt, but despite the intensive search I found nothing... Oh well...
When I decided to throw in the towel and head back, Rusty quickly sped off to open up the gate ahead. I decided to head across the sandy road but soon found myself stranded trying to get out the other side. I'd dug my back wheel in!! I looked up to see if Rusty was going to head on back to give me hand... but he was not to be seen. OK, now to make my own plan... I’d rock the bike a bit, and see what happens... only to end up digging the bike in just a little deeper!! I looked up... Rusty still not to be seen... I put it on its side, pulled the bike as far as I could, picked it up only for it to fall straight back into the hole... This was exhausting! Still no Rusty!! I put the bike down on the other side, again pulled and drag with as much effort as I could... Picked up the bike... back in the hole... nooooooo!!! At this point, I’m heaving with exhaustion and I’m convinced that Russell’s watching from atop at the farm house having a little chuckle to himself... OK, one more time! I opened up the handle bars, lay the bike down and dragged it until there was no way it would get back in the hole... Success!!! Now just to start the bike and not dig another one!! I opened up the throttle and little by little made my way out of there!! If I hadn’t been as exhausted as I was, I’d have jumped off the bike there and then and done a happy dance!!! I arrived at the farm house to find Rusty happily chatting away to the farmer, completely unaware of the massive struggle I’ve just been through...
On arrival back at Waterfall, we had a few minutes to spare before Pete cracked the whip to get the team going. Pete, I hate to say this but you’re not as scary as Geoff, but at least you got us on our bikes and ready to ride  As we came out of the Waterfall Resort, we rode under a huge bank of clouds where the temperature dropped significantly. Though thankfully the rain held off on us.
The route took us through some beautiful farmlands. I took countless mental photos and still remember one where above was a grey heavy bank of clouds, around us were lush green fields, one long brown dusty road upfront, bikes ahead and some orange lights following. I was in a happy place. It’s amazing what sitting on your bike does to your mental state of mind... Thinking about everything and nothing at the same time, I always feel that I’ve cleared my mind at the end of the day, and this was no exception...
To avoid eating much dust I decided to ride as Arno’s wingman. I’d sat behind him the previous day and had come to learn what his riding was like. Thoroughly enjoyed this... Keeping an eye on the road ahead, giving the rider his space when he needed it, creeping up beside him on the open stretches... There's something really enjoyable about it...
Pete stopped halfway up the pass to Niewoudtville to pump up his back tyre as it was running flat again and melting away. To avoid clogging up the pass, the rest of us went on through to Niewoudtville to fill up and wait for him to catch up.
I thought I’d taken every possible route from Niewoudtville to Clanwilliam area, but again I was wrong. The route was stunning, occasionally embanked by thick bush, then surrounded by mountains, then wide open spaces... just awesome!! We finally found Geoff’s group in Clanwilliam where everyone met up and made their way home either in convoy with Geoff or on their own accord.
Thank you to Geoff & Andy for scouting these routes the previous weekend!! It’s a definite must-do-again ride!!! Thanks Pete for safely leading the group... and Di for opening countless gates!! Thanks to Rusty & Justin for sweeping and helping close gates... Heidi for manning the backup vehicle, and also for attending to some gates... (Seems like there was much exercise to be done)... And to everyone else for making it such an enjoyable weekend!!
Two enthusiastic thumbs up from me!
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