Camped by the river and surrounded by the mountains, a cool breeze out of the north put a chill on the the damp, early morning. It would be another hour before the sun crested the mountains and started drying out the tent. This morning we would be riding up Prince Alfreds pass, to a place called Angie’s G Spot, an epic stop for motorcycles in South Africa.
The morning warmed quickly, and gave us an indication of what to expect as we were riding north into the Karoo. The road to the pass quickly turned to dirt and our fully loaded GS1100 handled everything perfectly. There had been recent rains in the area which helped contribute to overall poor condition of the steeper section with ruts and gullies exposing loose rock and larger stones. Melanie did fantastic, although intimidated by the road, with placing her trust in me. Just don’t stop on a rocky incline for a picture. That loss of momentum and traction is hell on the restart. Just as we got rolling again a very large baboon with a baby came out of the forest just in front of us. Melanie scrambled to get her camera just as 20 more emerged onto the road. I didn’t stop, but just kept rolling, and the whole lot of baboons disappeared just as quickly as they appeared, and just as the camera became useful, they were gone. Just another pucker moment to remember.
Finally getting off the side road onto the main pass, we made it to Angie’s. Herold greated us, along with his dogs, as we pulled in. We chatted him for a while about his place. He and his wife, Angie, purchased the property several years previous, and decided to open a restaurant and Inn, for bikers. It has since become a destination stop for many around the world. Sadly, his wife had recently passed from cancer. We split a fantastic hamburger and continued up the pass. A couple bikers told us to head down another pass, Outeniqua Pass, back to the coast, to the town of Wilderness. Lucky we did, more about that later.
The temps were now approaching 37°C(98°F). Turning to the west we rode across the Karoo, which is like high desert with plenty of push your bike kind of winds. Stopping for a drink, for the bike and ourselves, I had a stinging pain in the forearm. A honey bee had found its way up the sleeve of my jacket, again, and left it’s stinger in my arm. Melanie grabbed the stinger and pulled it out, but the poison was already there, swelling my arm and eventually causing a redness from my wrist to my elbow. Little bugger did a good job.
We headed to the pass and back down to the coast. The road twisted and turned on perfect tarmac as the views of the mountains to the beach wanted desperately to distract your concentration from the task at hand. I started to notice a loss of my front brake halfway down the pass, so I eased up and let the engine do the braking for us. We pulled into the small village of Wilderness looking for a hostel, which took us up a steep dirt road, to a closed gate. Damn! The front brake was barely working as we made our way back down to find another backpackers hostel, the Fairy Knowe. As we pulled into the hostel, the line burst sending brake fluid onto the cylinder head. With the steam coming off the head, people came running for assistance. We ended up with a room in the old house, still original, built in 1874. The wooden floors show the wear of many feet along it’s polished surface. The beds are comfortable, the showers hot, food is good, beer is plentiful and the people are interesting and memorable. Just what you are looking for on a trip like this.
Stowing our kit in the room I went back to the bike and, surrounded by “helpers”, quickly diagnosed the issue and zip tired the brake line split for a temporary fix. The hostel pub was just steps away, and as we walked in, the bartender noticed a snake in the tree just by the door I had just walked through. By the time we had all moved to take a closer look the four foot Black Mamba had cozied itself into a crack between the bamboo door and the doorjam into the pub, it’s silky skin and cold black eyes staring back, like death. As a couple guys tried to catch it to move it, like a streak, it was off into the bush. If you don’t know, this snake is considered one of the deadliest snakes in the world. Something about a quick acting neurotoxin, speed of the snake and being aggressive. We will definitely keep both eyes open.
Hopefully, the bike will be sorted on Monday, but for now, stay safe from the animals.