2014-03-21 to 23 Human Rides Day and Long Weekend at Warmwaterberg Spa (Route 62)

“Let’s plan a weekend away for a change” said Paul after a recent Sunday ride.  “Good idea”  said the Nav, as he had been thinking about a trip to a warm water springs somewhere.  We know that Ben cannot resist and  that we would have a few other takers.

Human Rides Day, aka National Braai Day provided the perfect opportunity as the extreme heat from the summer dropped down a notch or few: cooler is just perfect for a longer trip.  We had a group of 5 (Nav, Ang, Paul, Stuart, Erich) and Ben joining at the 11th hour to make it 6 that left Cape Town on Friday morning.

Day 1:  376kms – 50% gravel/50% tar.  Cape Town to Warmwaterberg.  After meeting at the Engen 1-Stop on the N2, the first 100km or so to Boontjieskraal was on the busy N2 with many of the Buffalo Rally-bound bikers passing us by at high speed.  We hit the gravel road at Boontjieskraal. Through to Greyton for some peace and quiet and breakfast.  For some early arrivals at the Engen 1-Stop this was the 2nd breakfast of the day, however we do not judge!  Shortly after 11am we hit the road through to Riversonderend, and were delayed by 1.5hrs to fix a back wheel puncture on Tululah (Paul’s bike).

Thankfully Ben had changed a tyre before, otherwise I think we may not have got much further on the day.  To cut a long story short, we found a new use for shampoo and managed to change a tube successfully!  After a brief stop for a cool drink at Riversonderend, we hustled our way to Swellendam on the back roads via Stormsvlei.  This is also part of the Epic Cycle Challenge, and we were really glad to have 650cc’s between our legs.  The veld is in fantastic condition after the good rains and it is a real privilege to be able to ride these roads and enjoy the scenery.

At Swellendam the team split as the more adventurous headed for Gysmanshoek Pass, while the others headed over Tradouws Pass.  Both are spectacular, one being gravel and the other tar.

The day was becoming long after our puncture repair, and we were all happy to get to our comfortable chalet at Warmwaterberg and let the hot water pools ease any aches and pains from the day’s riding, which was followed by a huge dinner at the very hospitable restaurant at Warmwaterberg Spa.

Day 2:  292kms - 80% gravel, 20% tar Warmwaterberg, Seweweekspoort, Gamkadam, Anysberg.  With a little assistance from the Nav, the team got going early for breakfast in Ladismith.  (his nick-name is already Rolex and I couldn’t resist adding “Talking Clock” when he kept on rushing me).  Here we learnt that a proposed route through to Rooiberg was not possible as the gates were locked, and decided instead to head through the Seweweekspoort and down to the Gamkwa dam, before returning via Anaysberg.

The riding is truly the best that one can find anywhere (move over Sutherland) and we were enthralled by the sheer beauty of the streams, mountains, blue sky and scenery generally.  The 30km there-and-back trip to Gamkwa dam is very worthwhile as the views across the Bosch Luys Kloof on the descent is really breathtaking.  It got a little toasty by the time we reached the dam, and everybody piled into the refreshing water – some with boots and all.  Check out the video!

The humps in the road on the way back make for good ramps if you are brave enough to take them at speed.  The trip back via Anysberg was uneventful, although the passes and scenery leaves a huge impression.  Our last stop 3kms before Warmwaterberg Spa was at Ronnie’s Sex shop (Barrydale) where we enjoyed a welcome drink and late lunch whilst taking in the atmosphere.  Anyone travelling on the R62 near Barrydale area must visit this iconic spot.  After a long and steamy day in the saddle (292km to be exact) the warm water was most welcome, followed by an awesome braai for dinner that evening.

Day 3: 330kms – 60% tar/40% gravel. Warmwaterberg Spa, Sanbona, Ouberg Pass, Montagu, Franschoek.   With another early start after coffee and rusks, we headed on the back roads to Montagu.  This road passes through the Sanbona Game reserve where they allow bikes to transit and which gave us the opportunity to do a bit of game viewing.  We saw Rhino, Kudu, Gemsbok, Springbok, Steenbok (while avoiding being eaten by predators) and rode through a thickly wooded river bed navigating around very fresh looking elephant dung.  One feels just a tad vulnerable on the bikes knowing that there are these huge creatures (as well as white lion recently released) roaming around the park. Luckily I think our bikes growl loudly enough to ward them off! We were met by a game ranger who followed us through the last 10kms of the park to ensure that we made it through the park unscathed (tooth and claw marks are not the kind of accessories I’d like to add to myself or my KLR!)

Our route took us through the Ouberg Pass on to breakfast and fuel at Montagu, followed by an enjoyable but uneventful ride home via Scherpenheuwel, Villiersdorp, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch.

Our route
What a beautiful start to our day!
He earned his badge and acquired an additional nickname on this trip...
Met up with the group at the Engen 1 stop on the N2 near near Somerset West
Paul enjoying the scenery near Genadendal
Eric on his Suzuki DR650
The group catching up Searle's Trading post in Greyton where we stopped for breakfast
Stuart opted for hard luggage
My KLR sporting Flying Brick luggage - I have space for EVERYTHING! LOVE this bag!
Greyton's NG Church towering in the background
Riviersonderend next stop
Ben & the Nav waiting for the stragglers
no windmills so had to find an alternative....

the panornamic view
A relieved Stuart
and here comes Erich but still no Paul....
so we turned back to find Paul.....
Paul encourtered a flat and we were glad to have Ben with us, the only one with experience of changing a tyre 
Paul putting his compressor to the test for the first time!  After a few hiccups, got it working!
and the first time he uses his on board tool kit...
at least we won't run out of petrol with Erich around..
ingenious tripod
group effort
Paul found a new use for his shower gel
messy job!
Talululah getting undressed again.... ooh eh eh
job well done boys!
an hour an a half later, and we're good to go again.. now BEHAVE Talulah!
The most amazing spider webs spun across the bridge's railing
Paul and his Talulah crossing the river on route to Riviersonderend
next up was Erich on his Suzi
beautiful farmlands in the Overberg
on route to Swellendam
I think I spotted more owl boxes in the Overberg than windmills
Swellendam to the right

the last rains a few months ago did a lot of damage to river beds and crossings
Ben in action
Jack Russel waiting patiently to chase its next victim (Talullah)

This pass is definitely NOT for sissies and definitely worth the sweat
Did you know: The Gysmanshoek Pass follows an historical ox wagon route dating back to the mid 1700's. This is an old gravel pass through a natural cleft in the Langeberg Mountains between Heidelberg in the South and the Little Karoo/ Ladismith area in the North.  Depending on the weather, things can get tricky on this pass. Not too many people have travelled this delightfully scenic and off the beaten track, pass.
We made it to the top unscathed- what an amazing view 
Check out:  http://www.mountainpassessouthafrica.co.za/find-a-pass/western-cape/item/249-gysmanshoek-pass.htm
The brave ones... Erich and Stuart opted for the less strenuous route to Warmwaterberg
The Nav taking a welcome break (check out the  sign behind him)
Talulah's right hand flicker falling off.... good girl gone bad? 
'To the right guys' says Paul, not much further to go..
After a long day in the saddle, smiles all around as the boys finally get to enjoy the hot spring at Warmwaterberg  
The guys enjoying a joke while Stuart is out somewhere trying to find us something cold to drink
Let's just say that the girl who took this pic had one too many to drink - at least we got a group photo...
The accommodations were superb and better still, the Nav brought good coffee along!
The view of our cottage (comfortably sleeps 6) and our trusted steeds 
Panoramic view of the campsite at Warmwaterberg Spa - a MUST visit!
Nice clean communal ablutions in the  camp
Roman bath inside the ablution facilities
Ben getting ready for our next adventure
Breakfast is SERVED! 
the moment the Nav got a new nickname - 'talking clock' for rushing the group (again)
No its NOT a meerkat on a bike, it's Erich on his Suzi leaving Warmwaterberg on our Saturday excursion
Stuart fiddling with his ABS, again....
Breakfast at Andri's in Ladysmith - nice hat Erich!
A quiet, lazy Saturday morning in Ladysmith
Did you know: The town was established in 1852. Named after Lady Juana Smith, wife of the Governor of the Cape, Sir Harry Smith. The original Ladysmith was changed in 1879 to Ladismith to prevent confusion with a similarly named town in Kwazulu Natal. Ladismith serves as an extensive farming area with ideal climate for the production of quality fruit apricots, peaches, plums, nectarines and grapes. Ladismith produces a third of South Africas apricots
From Ladismith through the picturesque Hoeko valley - Erich on route to Seweweekspoort

Stuart entering Seweweekspoort
Did you know: Almost directly opposite the turnoff to Amalienstein, is a road that heads into the Klein Swartberg to Seweweekspoort. It was used by early farmers to penetrate the Great Karoo. It is 17 km long and very rugged, the scenery wild and frequently the slopes or spurs of the mountain leave a narrow pass just broad enough for the stream to find a passage, while precipices of naked rock tower like walls of a natural bastion on both sides. 
There are various explanations as to the origin of the name Seweweeks-poort: ranging from the length of time it took a commando to take a band of highwaymen into the Great Karoo; or for the authorities to catch a rustler who escaped into the poort; or for a gang of brandy smugglers to return from Beaufort West.
 Another explanation is that the poort was named after one of the first missionaries from the nearby Amalienstein mission station, namely the Reverend Zerwick and that the locals could not pronounce his name and named it Seweweekspoort. Most authorities though accept the explanation that the name is derived from that of the Seven-week's fern (Polystichum adiantiforum), called Seweweeksvaring in Afrikaans, which occurs in moist places and crevices.
Paul & Talulah mesmerised by the breathtaking scenery of Seweweekspoort
Magnificent vertical rockfolds reflect the volcanic eruptions millions of years ago – forming the chain of Cape ripple-like mountains.
A close up pic of the rock formations - AWEsome!
A welcome stream with FRESH, COLD water to fill our water bottles
Erich praying to the photo gods to get the perfect pic of Seweweekspoort
Where's there's water, there is life!  Ben enjoying his fill
and a river runs through it.... 
Did you know: The gravel road connecting the Little and Great Karoo curves over the Seweweekspoort River a total of 23 times, between vertical rockfolds and under towering peaks, including the highest peak in the Western Cape, Seweweekspoort Peak, which rises to 2325m

Sadly it is time to move on... more adventure awaits

Exiting Seweweekspoort on route to Bosch Luys Kloof/Gamkwasdam
We were not alone.....met up with another group of riders on route to the dam

Stuart crossing a shallow drift with the Nav followoing closely behind

Damn,I missed the splash......sorry Nav!  note to self * take off gloves before taking a pic * 


The +/- 35km road to the dam ends in a Cul Du Sac 

Following my leader

15kms still to go
The chalets offer beautiful views over the northern karroid hills and Elandsberg Mountains

The ox wagon route to Beaufort West - very popular with serious 4x4'ers
Almost there!

and there she is.... the majestic Gamkapoort Dam

Dam nice view.....

The boys coaxing me to come and join them in the water - didn't take much to persuade me!

Paul went in Boots & All
Up in arms against the raging midday heat - not for long...

bush garage

Ben & Erich - Slightly soggy, but finally cool

and now for the 35kms back 

the road is long, with many a winding turn....

so perfect and she's all mine - the view's not bad either! 
Unusual seeing the Nav riding at the back....
The Nav exiting the Gamkapoort Pass
Picturesque Gamkakloof valley
I knew it wouldn't last..... only one place for the Nav and that's in the front!
The Nav found a great gravel road to Ladismith
Paul making sure that everyone is still behind him - gravel to Ladismith
Spot Erich coming up a mountain pass close to Anysberg
Stuart on Anysberg mountain pass
Erich in action on Anysberg mountain pass

Goodbye or not?  Ben couldn't resist doing some more gravel with the group

Last stop for the day - Ronnie's Sex Shop off the R62, 3kms from Warmwaterberg Spa
Cheers guys - Ben off to Swellendam to visit some friends
Inside of the pub at Ronnie's sex shop
Paul lingering longer over the brighter lingerie
but butt isn't that Ronnie?
David trying to turn me into a playboy bunny....  Nice try!  Boys just wanna have fun.....
Stuart will be having nun of this....
Making sure the steeds are ready for the ride home
Beautiful sunrise in the Karoo, as we depart from the Warmwaterberg Spa 
The Nav surprised us by taking us through the Sanbona Game Farm on route to Montagu
Feeling a bit nervous after hearing that 4 white lion have been released in the park in recent months
yes, there are 5 of us on motorcycles... 
hmmm, no 2 wheelers allowed but still they let us through...
A Game ranger met up with us in the park to escort us out safely (phew, i was relieved!)
Exited safely - what an exhilarating ride through a beautiful game park
The Nav  checking his Garmin to make sure we are on the right track
Thumbs up from the Nav
next stop Montagu for fuel and breakfast
Die Kloof padstal in Montagu for breakfast - great recommendation Paul!
Something fishy about these tools
As usual, the Nav ready before all of us.. ooh eh eh... 
Scherpenheuwel on route to Villiersdorp
Love it when the Nav takes us on new gravel roads
Final goodbyes in Franschhoek
What an awesome 3  days spent doing what we love most!  SUCH FUN and so blessed. Thanks guys for joining us on this memorable journey and a BIG thank you to our Nav for once again planning an unforgettable trip!   As always, we look forward to the next one, which I am told will be a 3 day trip into the Cederberg at the end of April.  Got to love long weekends! 

Till next time, safe travels everyone

4 wheels moves the body, 2 wheels moves the soul

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