Durban to Cape Town on a Tiger

Friend, pilot, photographer and fellow adventure bike rider, Steve McCurrach, and his good lady Left Durban just before Christmas and headed for Cape Town on his Triumph Tiger. This is their story, and what a rollicking tale it is:

Greetings friends, family , fellow bikers.

I promised a travelogue of our December epic and I will try here to allow the pictures to speak a thousand words, rather than me gabbling on too much. Having said this, there were experiences and observations which moved us, or amused and which are worthy of sharing.

Many months and not an insubstantial savings effort had gone into the preparation of this tour. Designed to be Durban to Cape Town, via the route less travelled and avoiding tar wherever it was practically possible to do so. The Nav preparation, bike, spares, tools, knowing that we’d each be living out of a pannier box and at times very alone in ‘foreign’ territory, was secretly daunting, which in turn made for a dinkum excitement. Seen in this pic is wee Lexi who insisted on being involved, whilst I went about my final checking and packing.

A delightful departure surprise was a sudden and unexpected escorting out of KZN by Dean and Craig & Wendy. This made it feel like Happy Holidays and a multiple bike tour with best mates.

We did big mileage on the 1st day, in order to ‘get the heck outta Dodge’ and position ourselves directly in the zone. Staying at The Guardian, directly in the shadow of these almighty menhirs. Another unusual geographic view, was that of what could certainly be called Lone Tree Hill.

Going through Queenstown in the ECape the temps were touching 400C and we elected to acquire some ‘rehydration tonics’ and then had a great time in a fast flowing river, chilling out with a few chilled ones. I was very bothered by some sort of perverse pleasure which Craig seemed to be taking, from the attachment of leeches onto parts of his anatomy!

The high mountain hamlet of Hogsback was a delight, and the elevation bringing with it a welcome reduction in the temp, which was aided by a few more of them “chilled ones” and where Dean took some queuing revenge it seemed, in buying his selection at this ‘counter only’ service “pharmacy”, one bottle at a time and with zero sense of urgency. The photographic evidence will show that a good time was had.

Moving onward through Grahamstown, which was eerily quiet, probably due to the university vacation having started and there being no students in town. We were the only occupants of a favourite coffee shop where I guzzled a giant portion of wortelkoek. We got a good rain shower whilst riding adjacent the Addo Park and I’m sure I could hear a a sigh of relief from the dust covered roadside bushes. In the town of Addo we spotted a rail station now turned into a brickabrac shop, with all manner of merchandise, all left unattended and with the shop locked up. Clearly we had exited the KZN thieving zone. Most despairingly I have to say, that if you left a place like this unattended back home in KZN, it would be cleaned out overnight.

Schatzie at the Hammond and I found a car for Ted, who had such a penchant for Citroens that he kept a derelict one for most of my remembered childhood – if I wasn’t on a bike I woulda brought it home for you Dad. Last pic is what Chopin looks like when disturbed from his V flat, broken Key impromptu – damned paparazzi found me in Addo!

Though we had an en suite room only, the Avoca River Cabins was delightful and where we were met by Riaan, with his perfect hospitality and absolute efficiency. The Schatz even found a trampoline to jump on…………………….

Moving SW and onwards, in Patensie we had the pleasure of lunching at Padlangs, a fantastic bistro in a garden setting and with me looking here (below) like the cat that stole the cream, as I’d found a curry reminiscent of those only found back home. Having entered the Baviaans Valley, but not yet the Park, we overnighted at Kudu Kaya. A delightfully secluded 3 cabin affair, run by Theuns & Jannike and which was remote enough that we had to climb part way up the koppie to get cell signal. Of all the self catering places we stayed, this one wins the award for best equipped – they had left nothing to chance and I won’t list the inventory, but one example of even the most obscure necessity; if a fly happened to bother you, then there’s both Doom, or a fly swatter – take your choice.

The third pic reveals something of the daily routine, where at 380C to 400C it is kit off first, then the daily ‘charge-athon’ where the trappings of electronica would get me in it’s grip, with charging GoPro and camera, plus the Sena headsets, cell phones and the GoPro remotes, then clearing off the images from GoPro and camera to the portable HDD, which become the daily ritual.

Into the Baviaans we went and really nothing prepares a person for this; the Holy Grail of Adv biking. The remoteness of it, the challenge of the riding surfaces, always expecting the unexpected, with great variation in the trail and of course the heat – which has one willingly removing their kit at every opportunity.

This trail enters the Park at the one gate and runs through to the other/exit gate and with no side roads, so its just this one trail and once you’re in, you must kinda keep going – and don’t mess up. We saw only 4 other vehicles transiting the Park, all in the opposite direction and with all those occupants looking at us with no small degree of incredulity.

Lorelle’s count was 45 road/river intersections, of which 14 were wet and 7 of those were unprepared surfaces. The road sometimes resembled a ledge, clinging to a precipice and the gradients would have you reeling.

One river crossing in particular was interesting, starting briefly on not so deep concrete, which unexpectedly turned to a pebble bed, then became less deep onto a tweespoor track with the wheel tracks under water and where one dares not follow the instinctual desire to climb the middel mannetjie and ride there, as you will certainly slide back into the ruts. Finally with the exit mere meters away, it became a deep pool, deep enough that the footpegs are submerged and the bottom surface is a bed of river stones making the bars shake and the eyes go very wide. My view is that if you look immediately in front of yourself, rather than at the exit, or if you back off the momentum at all, then you’re probably gonna swim.

We exited this crossing and I took an immediate break, sobering up to the fact that a bike swim right there could cost 2 to 3 days, just to be recovered from this buffalo occupied territory. There’s no phone signal, so you’d first wait for a passer-by (maybe for hours), then they’d then need to reach signal, calling a PE biking/recovery company, who would only reach you the next day. As said – sobering stuff indeed.

Exiting The Baviaans, after giving my Schatzie a high five, we stopped at the Village Trading Post, a superb wee eatery in De Rust where an amusing ‘car guard’ provided much entertainment and insisted on protecting our bike, despite us being in a zero crime village where the bike was parked on the sidewalk next to our lunch table. With his dashing good looks, the Schatzie was ready to trade me for someone who does not do so many river crossings.

We discovered something about ostriches; they run from an approaching bike and then given a brief undisturbed time, their curiosity gets the better of them and they come right up to the bike. Meiringspoort is a geomorphological (now how’s that for a Big word ne) wonderland, revealing some unbelievable rock formation patterns, where an ice age river has carved it’s path through the Cape fold mountains. To drive this pass with perfection surfaces, innumerable river/road intersections and with cliffs sometimes overhanging the road is like watching a big I-Max movie.

Overnighting in the quaint Prince Albert we went the next day on our first day trip to De Hel, a place exceptionally appropriate to it’s name.

The Schatzie seen here in a pensive moment, wondering if we’re sane or not, by taking on the road ahead – little did we know……

This was a precipitous rock strewn track, with elevations high enough to strike fear into the heart of even the bravest goat. Lorelle laughed at me, as I hugged the inside of the track, due to my acrophobic weakness. It was a feeling of accomplishment to do this 45km into the valley and then the same 45km back out, a relatively small distance, but one which took us the entire day.

For the feint hearted this is not a place to go, where some will love it and others will faint.

In Prince Albert I found a wanna be Tiger and a windmill which had eaten too many olives.

An olive producing area of some repute, Prince Albert held a fascination of it’s own and we stayed at Olienhof which is a working olive farm and also doubles as the municipal campsite and a self catering, all run by the most amenable and charming Wendy. It is new, well appointed, perfectly clean, quiet and very reasonably priced – this is a really recommended spot.

Up and over The Swartberg Pass, a spectacular pass engineered by the infamous Andrew Baines and built by Italian prisoners of war, stone masons of note who worked with the available stone only and dry packed all the embankments with no cement – and it all stands solidly to this day! Look there in this pic for me, on the wall in the centre of frame. Then later moving on to some real southern country, of Cape fold mountains and roads which roll on into eternity, with nary a human to be seen.

A definite highlight for us, was getting off the primary routes and into the back country and the smallest service roads. Although the electronic mapping had indicated these as D (district) roads and I had built them into the Nav, it was often hard to believe that this was a D road, looking more like someone’s driveway and me despairing that I’d made a giant mess of the Nav plot – and then the relief of a regular road sign, which farmers don’t put in their driveway i.e. this is the correct route. We were disciplined about using “all of the gear all of the time”, but the protective jackets, trousers and gloves made for a brutal discomfort in these 400C temps. Even sun worshiper Schatzie was seeking shade in this sauna.

A routine into which we settled was coffee and a rusk or snacker bar as the morning get-go fuel, then we’d seek out the first good looking eatery for a solid brunch, seeing us through the day til the evening meal. This one, simply named Koffie Shop did not disappoint, with a delectable mezzo platter and enough trinkets and one liner signs to keep a person busy for hours. We both related to this one “Be happy…..” not because we wanna drive people crazy, but because being happy is the only way to be.

A good question for this style of touring would be “what kit is essential and what kit could I do without?” and its funny how the littliest things can have such importance e.g. a tank top bag with immediate access to a damp chamois. If you ride even briefly behind any vehicle on the dirt road then the visors and especially the GoPro lens are messed and I’d then open the bag, grab the chamois, wipe lens and visor, pass back to Lorelle for her visor and Voila, clean and clear again, without even getting off the bike. With daily temps in the high 30’s and the jacket vents all open, the perspiration is wicked away quickly, with the dehydration being exceptionally high and hence the Camelpack being essential. Lorelle will argue that this pack was a pain, invading her comfort space, but we’d pass the drinking tube between us and the 3Lt would be sapped clean every day. First prize and a task for next tour, will be to find an alternate mounting/place for this essential item – maybe a chest mount unit.

One gets inventive in terms of travelling light and a neat trick is to dispense with numerous pairs of jocks, taking only two of the modern quick dry sports shorts, along with a small bottle of Omo. Not only do the shorts pack away to nothing, but can be washed in a hand basin, hung out to dry and be washed and ready for the morning. The wee bottle of Om o is the key ingredient here.

I am of the age where I have navigated earlier in my life by map reading alone, so I am qualified to say thank God (and Garmin) for GPS. Using two Garmins, a Zumo 660 and the utility 62s, along with Garmin’s BaseCamp software, combining with Google Earth, I would have literally been lost without this key combination. Being a modern era Road Warrior takes on a new dimension, when you halt your Adv bike on a gravel track, to plot a quick alternate track, uploading it right there to GPS and cracking on with utter confidence in where the trail goes.

Ranking right up there with the Camelpack and the electronic mapping/GPS’s, is our Sena headsets. To spend an entire month without headsetsd and therefore only communicating when we had to, by shouting back and forth over the road noise, would have trashed the trip for me. The ability to talk/communicate perfectly normally, pointing out interests, making observations, checking on comforts using these Sena’s and then once in Cape Town and touring with others, being able to link and chat, biker to biker, about the Nav or scenic points was key to the enjoyment of the tour. This is a must have item.

Who remembers those two boeties in the Castrol ads at the bushveld filling station? – well lots of places we used were just like that and at these you will not find your highly synthesised 4T engine oil, or any performance chain oil i.e. these lubes proved to be essential items, even if carrying them was a pain. I found that filling station tyre pressure gauges are inaccurate and unreliable, so having my own trusted gauge was essential, what with the ongoing pressure adjustments.

Items which I missed? – I can’t think of any, and items which I’d not carry again Mmmmm a good question e.g. we never touched the extensive 1st Aid kit, but who in their right mind would travel without that!

I suspect that I am inclining now in the direction of a ‘How To’ adventure biking manual, so let’s move on; with a pic or two of the Cape scenery which abounds and which soothes the soul. Little towns where as in the days of old, the main road and the rail line are the life blood of the town and with kids playing in the quiet streets with their horses. A modern city kid would likely mount the horse the wrong way around and then ask where’s the USB plug-in? Despite the town styles and sizes, we’d never scout for too long before finding a lekker eatery; this one (below) named Delish, was superb and lived up to it’s name.

By coincidence I had picked on a B&B named Fleur Bleu in Heidelberg and Oh my Soul, what a treat it was, with host Rentia providing welcoming hospitality with classy décor and a breakfast presentation which skriks vir niks! On the premises Bernard was nearing completion on a self built medieval French/Swiss style chateau, where he showed us around his stunning carpentry and internal beam structure. I was happy to stay right here, until the Schatz threatened to use her own transport, if I did not suit up and ride on out.

On the Tradou Pass is the Drupkelder a cathedral like overhanging rock cavern with a permanent stream dripping. High up on the rock is a graffiti which the Parks folk can’t easily reach to clean off and saying “Zuma se stort”. In the old worldly village of Suurbraak we chanced to bump into none other than Ms Suurbraak! hair curlers were in and teeth were out.

Whilst I watched the rutted road, Schatzie the Spotter was finding blue cranes everywhere. One of these pictured here is the National bird of SA, I think that it’s the one stretching her back.

I spotted a desolate church in the vastness of the canola and wheat country of Swellendam and paused there to play with some photography.

Little Cape cottages at every turn make this a photographer’s Smorgas Board.

Ten days and 2400kms later it was Cape Town and a great week to chill with Greg and Lynne, who as always provided a home from home and both constantly fussing, in their willingness to please – even if I had to do some of the cooking myself, at Steve’s Bar & Grill.

It didn’t take much encouragement from good ol mate Keith Pickersgill and we were back on the bike, where Keith willingly led us the most delightful touristy cruises of CT and The Peninsula, punctuated by numerous stops where Keith shared his immense knowledge of the area and on a zillion other facts and fascinations. At Big Bay Blouberg I shot a pic of Campbell and Sarah, later rendering it into a spot colour monochrome for effect.

The ride from Gordon’s Bay around the coastline to Rooi Els would have anyone believe you were cruising a Mediterranean seafront in the Greek isle.

We also enjoyed a beer tasting, Yes please, with Keith, Anton, Cam, Sarah…

We joined good ol mates Ant and Bev to watch some of Ant’s tandem paragliding and later a cool social, also popping in on Pete Wallenda and Sue, seeing some interesting paraglider service being done by Dutton at Wallendair. This below could be called parasurfing.

After a superb week in CT it was farewell and back in the saddle, with Lorelle and I having a laugh between us, because we both started humming/singing to Willie Nelson’s ‘On the Road Again’ as we drove away.

It was fantastic to have Campbell and Sarah with us for the first two days of the outbound leg and our first touring treat was the Bainskloof Pass. When one pauses and takes in the complexities of the terrain, then imagining to be Andrew Bains back in the day, on horseback or on foot, climbing through those kloofs and figuring to build a road through there, one cannot help but be awestruck.

From Ceres to Robertson and some time to play on an old train

Our first night out was at Montagu, which is by all accounts an historical village. There’s no industry, only a little surrounding agriculture, so it is a town of the quaintest cottages, very touristy and rather expensive. As accommodation goes it was in Montagu that we had our worst value, if not a down right hustle. This Mountain View Lodge’s own Site advertised at R900 per room per night B&B and then when you hop into the booking agency’s Site the same R900pp is displayed, but not readily seen (only discovered upon arrival) is that down in the small print is the fact that this same R900 excludes breakfast. You can figure that it takes no rocket science, to follow that the guest/buyer goes ahead in good faith, working with what looked and felt like a same fee advertised on both platforms and concludes a booking. Then upon arrival we were promptly told by the welcoming hostess that our booking excludes breakfast. Somewhat disbelieving we questioned this, only to be told that Alain the proprietor is very angry with the booking agency over this as its happened several times before and where the agency’s fee is R120, which happens coincidentally to be the price of a breakfast. So with the agency deducting their R120, there are now no funds available for a breakfast, “but we are welcome to buy a breakfast at R120 tomorrow morning”.

You can imagine how this rests and the next morning I approached Alain proprietor of Mountain View Lodge and with purposeful diplomacy I shared as politely as possible with him, that he needs to make a clear note on his Site and the booking agency on theirs, making this subtle fee adjustment very clear. Well the response was one of belligerent indifference, blaming the booking agency for the mess and stating that if we’d only booked through them directly, avoiding the agency fee then the fee would have included the breakfast. I tried explaining “Alain, you are not hearing me, I don’t know the mechanics of what goes on between you and your booking agency, I can only work with what I see – and as it stands, I am leaving here feeling cheated and with a bitter taste, and If I was a hospitality proprietor then I would want to know about these things.” to which he took off again, blaming the agency and and. At no point did he once say “my apologies for the misunderstanding and/or Thank you for sharing this with me” rather he had an aloof and antagonistic approach.

What is the actual cost of a breakfast? – R30 at worst, so instead of netting R780 (after the agent’s fee), he could have given us the breakfast, then netting a marginally reduced R720, making no material difference to his cash flow, but making satisfied clients. Instead I hated the place and the experience still leaves a bitter taste and here I am sharing it with the world – and I will be making a cut/paste of this on TripAdvisor.

Here’s an interesting concluding note that you’ve gotta read; this Mountain View Lodge was far and away the most expensive accommodation that we found (including or excluding the breakfast deal). We had been targeting and accomplishing a maximum of R500 sharing, or up to R600 sharing including breakfast – this Mountain View was R450 each no breakfast and yet it was the ‘Cheapest’ of all those we visited. I say ‘cheap’ as the tea/coffee presentation was scrimped to the enth, with not even tea bags in paper sachets, just two loose bags (of who knows what age or variety and handled by whom) in a paper thin plastic container. The coffee sachets were, you guessed it, one only each and Ricoffy, no milk just Cremora, etc. There was no toilet door in an open plan arrangement and yet zero deodorising spray, along with toilet paper thinner than any seen on our trip. One item of décor was a canvas painting/print unmounted and stuck on the wall with Prestik.

All round the poorest effort, from a belligerent Belgian with worst attitude that I have ever experienced.

On the left is the Mountain View Lodge return on an investment of R450pp, whilst in the right two images is a pic of how it should be done, with selection of coffees or teas, with the tea bags in paper sachets, real milk, a choice of white or brown sugar, even a rusk and a wee biscuit each and finally, even a little scissor to open the sachets. I won’t list the remainder of the superb inventory and this was for R325 pp at Alpine B&B in MacLear – take a lesson pompous Alain.

OK Phew, I have vented and hopefully forewarned any colleagues headed Montagu way – OK, so now back on the road, at a really nice vineyard style boulevard eatery in Swellendam. Yet again the Schatzie found some alternate transport, this time a zero horsepower cart.

Thanks to the insistence of Gary Greaser we made a dog leg in our routing and after long kms of gravel through barren wheat fields we reached the Malgas Pont. It was worth it, to mount and dismount this hand drawn pont – the last remaining one in SA, where a team of 6 hard working fellows lean against their belts which are attached to the cable and they effectively scrum the pont across the Breede River.

The wheat fields stretch as far as the eye can see, with farms as remote as you could ever imagine. The crop patterns are fascinating and I am drawn to going back there in the wheat/canola peak season of Aug/Sept and doing some aerial photography of what is undoubtedly a candy store of compositions.

There was no ways that these ostriches numbers could be counted, but there were undoubtedly hundreds of them, with Lorelle holding up a feather, as if to say “anyone drop this?”

Approaching George we could see our awaiting fate in the sky from far ahead – and sure enough, we were rained upon in no short measure. It was a torrential downpour which had me hiding behind the windshield and the Schatzie hiding behind me. We were both making our silent thanks, for the smart investment in good rain gear. On the bright side the ominous skies made a dramatic backdrop to these country settings.

If I ever doubted my Nav’s, it was on this day, as the track became increasingly remote and obviously much less used. Where ever do you have a D road with grass growing in the middel mannetjie and it was when we found a typical farm gate across our path that my heart sank (a) asking is the gate locked, and (b) have I messed up royally with the Nav? with this road now looking to surely exhaust itself in someone’s farmyard.

Excuse the raindrops from these GoPro frame grabs, but what is noticeable here is the corrugations and I will share that it is corrugations which make the deflation of one’s tyres non negotiable. Leaving the tyres at road pressure (2.5b) has your fillings rattling loose and the bike getting beaten up, whilst being at risk of easy traction loss, when on the marbles. I learned that I could not be lazy, possibly saying “later, or if it gets rough”, but rather disciplining myself to stop at the onset of all dirt sections and deflating to 1.5b. The traction in the steep ascents of De Hel, through to high speed cornering on ‘marbles’ or when on the corrugated sections, is exponentially improved with pressure reduction.

As if the narrowing farm roads and gates weren’t enough to scare me, we then happened upon a giant electrified gate which struck fear into my heart, anticipating a 3 to 4hr backtrack and going on an alternate route. I was kinda cursing that for all the brilliant navigational attributes of Google Earth, it still cannot show you a locked gate! Then we read the sign and keyed the code in the box on the post and Voila, the gate opened and now we were traversing a game reserve – Yeeeeeeha, who would ever have guessed – and I went from despairing, to being elated about why we don’t do highways.

We are so very lucky to have mates like Pete Wally and Sue, who in CT had given us the keys to their George paragliding home. Despite a proper effort on our part to pay something, they wanted nothing in return, only that we act as if we own the place. Such generosity and what a spot, perfectly situated, impeccably clean and tidy and we loved it. How does one ‘repay’ such kindness!

From George we went up the Outeniqua Pass, being the new/modern pass and with a road surface, conditions and surrounds which can only be described as perfection. Never will you get or see such a road in KZN (enter sad face here) and one is torn between playing with the beautiful bends, or slowing it all down and taking in the vistas. We made the 8km link across the top on the Uniondale road and then entered the Montagu Pass, being the old/original pass down these same mountains. Once again I found myself saluting our road builders of yesteryear, whilst soaking up the delight of descending a single lane gravel track down a massive pass.

Avoiding the motorway, we took the Seven Passes road out of George and headed for Knysna and I now know how the remaining Knysna elephants can hide, year in and year out without detection in these forests, which are the greatest uninterrupted expanse of enormous jungle in SA – surely. The passes are also just too beautiful and without the photos I’d be unable in my own mind to piece it all together, there’s just soooo much beauty.

At this part of EC we had some delightful visits, with Uncle Bruce and Aida, later in the same day to Jay in Wilderness and next morning to the famous Sedgefield paragliding site. It was a highlight to make these stops and to engage with precious people.

At Natures Valley the R102 was closed due to subsidences under repair, but a good local biker fella gave me the Gen; get your pillion to walk around the blockade whilst you mount the heap of barrier gravel – cars can’t do it, but you can. Yeeeeeeha a road to ourselves.

This led on to the Bloukrans Pass – what a treat this was, with everyone else using the motorway atop the giant arched bridge and hardly even seeing the valley, we took the old road over the original little bridge. If you are ever in the EC, then this is a ‘must do’ and before this pass is closed. It is abundantly clear that no road maintenance has been done in years, with mini rockfalls invading the cliff side lane in several places, grass growing through the tar and having to weave around tree encroachment – and it is these elements which make this an Adv bikers candy store. One more rockfall big enough to close the narrow road pass and ‘they’ will simply fence it off forever. Go ride it now.

What was one of our most social overnight stops of the tour came after a brief phone call to old connection John Peacock – and using language which I won’t repeat here, JP instructed us to get our A’s to him immediately. In a short time from our call to arrival, Kath had the table set for four, and we settled down with sundowners, while watching their wild Nyala at a water point immediately below the deck. Kath had some truly memorable golden oldie music to set the tone and we reminisced and laughed our way deep into the night, certain to suffer from some cocktail flu the next morning.

At the Peacocks we had to dig deep, to prevent John from keeping us another night, we’d had such fun and been so comfortable in their wee guest cottage that it took discipline to make our farewells and to move on.

En route to Port Alfred I recalled that Alistair and Lynley Clarke have a holiday home on that coast, which I’d been to before, but could not remember precisely – nevertheless I called Alistair via Sena headset phone and sure enough they were there at Kasouga. I declared an immediate ambush visit which was heartily encouraged by Alistair and which then turned into a stay over. A plot started by Rob Clarke, sold on us by Al and wholeheartedly endorsed by Lynley had us doing yet another completely unplanned stay with friends. Anecdotal here is that as we rolled out the next morning, the Schatzie says to me “I hope that you don’t have any more friends on the East Coast, or we might never get home!”

At the Clarkes’ spot we took a walk through the forest and onto the dunes, in great lighting for photography and a marvellous march it was.

This first pic, a happy hikers group photo is courtesy of Lynley

You know that you are having a good holiday, when you are paying no attention to date & time and furthest from our minds was that our ambush on the Clarkes was on New Year’s eve and the banquet was On! – as only Lynley could do.

From just south of Port Alfred, we went to Grahamstown, then to Queenstown and into the upper ‘Transkei’. The balance of the tour was mostly the pleasant effort of some long roads home, and very sadly here there are no parallel off motorway side roads, but it was mighty pleasant cruising, especially through the post card like forestry scenery from Elliott to MacLear. Between Queenstown and Elliott at Cala we did encounter one wicked storm, where it stood like a Parthenon on the landscape, the pillars of which were now the columns of rain and with huge lightening strikes within. Agonisingly this storm occupied out path ahead, with blue skies on each side and this was seen from 30kms away, wherever our route went, it intersected with this storm. We decided that there might be some discomfort going through, but like the visible sides, we’d pop through quickly and into the clear. So off we went and in the midst of braving the storm, one strike went off so loud and so close to us that I feared the Schatzie was gonna leap off the bike and I was also thankful for the waterproofs.

This bike has impressed me beyond any expectation. Although an eternal optimist, I had a few realisations arising from time to time, where I caught myself wondering “what if” and how to deal with a breakdown, but I would quickly dispel those thoughts with a positive reliance on what is a good machine – and I was not wrong.

The Tiger never so much as murmured, faultlessly delivering, whilst rising to the challenge of the most rigorous touring demands. Fully laden and often on ‘jeep track’ surfaces, sometimes into water and next whacking it on through some clean tar passes, the bike seemed as willing as I was to go on to new adventures every day.

I know that there’s a lot of great brands and great bikes out there, but you can trust me; if I have to go to war on a bike, it’ll be a Triumph Tiger.

Knowing that many folks don’t do stats, I’ll make it 3 lines only – through our 5500kms:
Oil consumption 500ml, chain oil – 1 can, Coolant – zero. Adjustments, tweaks and fixes – Zero (even though I hunted for some)
Fuel R3’190 and 268Litres, which makes R11.90 av Rands per Litre and 4.9Lts/100kms, or 58c/km on fuel.
The max speed recorded on the GPS reads at an unimpressive 161kph, but a very interestingly low moving average of 58.6kph.

Having shared due and fitting praise for the bike, I must not exclude a special word for my wife, pal, pillion and dinkum biker chick Lorelle aka Schatzie.

First I’ve gotta share one laugh; when all the boxes are full the bike is tail heavy and I can’t spin the rear wheel to oil the chain, then the wee Squeeza was employed to lean some forward weight on the top box and on my completion of the oiling, I got up from being on my knees and say “Thanks” – she looks at me expectantly and says “and…. what about the front chain?” I didn’t say a word.

That aside, the truth is that I have ride companions on my ‘call and go ride’ list, who cannot claim a quarter of the ride chutzpah or experience which this diminutive lady has – and that’s said with no offence to those mates, rather it is said in admiration and acknowledgement of the Schatzie’s true grit and a delightfully adventurous spirit. If anything stands out as having made this the best road trip of my life, then it was sharing it with my Schatzie.

Cheers and we’re looking for some calm and short rides back here at home – anyone keen?

PS read below these acknowledgements about a new Adv biking venture which might excite, or involve, or interest you.

Acknowledgments – which is dangerous territory, as someone is bound to be overlooked (but never forgotten) and then I’m in K…….

It seems easy to take off on a grand tour, but in reality these events do not succeed without the backing, however obscure, of various good and contributory folk, who we have the great pleasure to be associated with – in no particular order:

  • Clayton of TrTech, who did a special ‘once over’ pre tour prep of the Tiger
  • East Coast Motorcycles and Quinton, who did a last minute wheel/spokes fix and who does our bike’s major services
  • Pete Wally and Sue for your decades old friendship and George accommodation
  • Ant and Bev Allen for hosting a great night in CT and for joining us on our Peninsula tour – always great being with you
  • Keith P for throwing himself wholeheartedly into some CT ride experiences
  • Crispin for my pre-tour IT prep and top drawer dependability
  • Gary Greaser for a day given up in sharing his EC and Western Cape gems and tips
  • Jay van Deventer the world’s most delightful 50yr old teenager and such fun to be with
  • Roger de la Harpe who responded totally positively to every day’s D&S texts, so encouraging
  • John and Kath Peacock – Eish, it was so good that I’m scared to come back – but when are you free?
  • Al and Lynley Clarke, its as if we were with family
  • Greg and Lynne in CT, you guys are family and you’re valued and dear to us
  • Dean, Craig and Wendy for seeing us outta town and for great ongoing camaraderie
  • Campbell and Sarah for joining us in CT and riding the first few days home with us

Wow Steve, what a story! Makes us want to start packing…

Roger de la Harpe