Ferdie tour notes Cederberg trip 2019
March CMCC mini tour to Citrusdal, splitting to Nieuwoudtville and Wuppertal
Friday morning 29 March the first 7 wanderlusted riders assembled in proper order at Durbanville Mediclinic, setting off on a leasurely ride via 2 million Stop/Ry/Gou holdups on the Wellington – Gouda – Porterville route, being flagged to caution by dozens of those friendly ladies holding their flags and these important positions in our national life of roads, and road works in particular.
From Porterville the something that was in Howard’s coffee made him fly off to Piketberg to look for the Versveld pass, going up the mountain of said name. After some directions-enquiries we found ourselves screaming up the flank of the mountain and over onto its fairly flat top. After some distance and having failed to find a lunch venue we resolved to go back down to settle for lunch at the Spur next to the N7 at Piketberg’s entrance.
From there the leisurely ride continued uneventfully into the ‘ants nest’ of Citrusdal’s Friday afternoon in full swing, where we were settled in for a two night stay in the Citrusdal Country Lodge. Swannie took great pains to compile a very democratic shopping list for the self catering, club sponsored and much appreciated braai that evening. He was also the salads champion, having volunteered himself for both nights’ dinner for this essential service.
Next morning early Rob and Monica started their low but fast flight to Citrusdal to join up with the four riders who set off on the N7 to see the bike collection in Nieuwoudtville’s service station. They sent some lovely pictures taken from the top of the Van Rhynspass overlooking the Knersvlakte North of Gifberg. Three dirt road lovers Howard, Chris and yours truly started out over Middelberg pass
on a circular route which would take us past Kunje, then left and back North into the Cederberg area. We found a nice oasis to drink coffee Ceder Resort and then the epic part of the route followed: from there to Wuppertal via Matjiesrivier and Eselbank, places where cellphone coverage is NOT, so Chris, the route captain, had a carefully prepared (and heavy) emergency repair kit kindly carried in his panniers.
Spectacular, remote country. Dirt roads running off into the distance over mountains, all begging to be ridden! We stopped for lunch at Names Neck and made a ‘CMCC’ in stone, right next to the road, to ensure nobody would miss it.
The more ‘technical’ part (never understood why a bad dirt road is called technical, one tends to think highway-tech with rocky huge bottom layers and often resurfaced top layers to carry all that train freight, which nowadays runs on the roads to our all’s peril) of the ride followed soon after lunch in the stretch before you get to Eselbank: some very loose gravel and trecherous sand pits, where the weight in Chris’ panniers made his front wheel climb out and the rear wheel dig in. At one point his horse insisted on taking a quick nap, but we were able to revive him after a few seconds. Then Chris roared away in front of a good-looking rooster tail:
There were different oral reactions to the extreme concentration: my mouth went completely dry even though I did not feel thirsty at all, Howard’s mouth went partly dry, partly drooling. Go figure that one… Chris has not yet reported on the state of his mouth, he was too busy fighting the heavy rear end/light front end.
EselBank is a charming little village, in which I saw no real growth or change since I had the priviledge and excellent health! to ride this same route in 1994, but on a heavily loaded pedal bike that time. The whole place was covered in spring flowers then, especially Biedouwvalley. There MUST be a bunch of content people in Eselbank? The next town with the charming name of Wuppertal, as we know, had recently largely burned down. The extremely steep descent of Kerskop pass entering from the South is still the same, nicely done in concrete.
By the way, the South African spelling on the sign boards is not the probable original German, where ‘-Tal means valley, here we have Wupperthal. It was sad to find very few people there, only
one little group of four, sitting outside the burnt-out skeleton of their house, and four kids playing forlornly in the river. Adding four beeste and two donkeys constituted the sum total of life I saw in Wuppertal. Maybe most inhabitants moved away until their homes can be rebuilt? One hopes they do return eventually.
Out of Wuppertal the dirt road is excellent and we could go back to 80 – 100 km/h, to take us out to Engelsman se Graf, and back onto tar from there over Pakhuis Pass, where I had to help the Enfield trap against the strong headwind, to a refuel stop in Clanwilliam. We agreed to take the N7 instead of the planned dirt road along the Olifantsriver back to Citrusdal as it was getting late, and we had done enough dirt riding for the day.
Another enjoyable evening by the fire and braaied chicken followed, and all too soon Sunday morning arrived, when it was time to breakfast, pack up and head for home.
Some comments on the 3 dirt bikes: BMW F650 GS was piloted by Chris the road captain, another GS of much earlier vintage piloted by our Fearless Leader Howard, and a Royal Enfield 500 Classic ridden by myself, (not having had much faith in it before the trip, but an attitude that was turned on its head!) which puffed and pulled like a tractor through the thick sands. Interest may exist for the fuel consumption achieved over that route starting in Citrusdal all the way to Clanwilliam: 14.something litres for the carburettored GS, 9.6 for the fuel injected GS and the Indian, also fuel injected nogal, came in at 9.2 litres. No flats or flat spots were experienced by anyone, no trouble whatsoever, a fact for which we were truly thankful, as the reality of a breakdown would have complicated the day for all three of us.
Thanks very much to Howard and Chris who did all the arrangements for this tour, and especially to Chris for detailed route planning and the nerve! to take us out on that relatively rough ride. Some parts of it were definitely noy negotiable with a normal car. A dream came true for me: to visit that area again on 2 wheels. Fortunately this time we have good video evidence of us ‘being there, riding there’. Maybe more such adventures could be undertaken in the future – just think about the really earned colours of dust on your bike! I am reluctant to get out the high pressure spray gun and destroy the evidence.
Ferdie Botha Bellville
31 March 2019