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Low-veld Bike Trip 25 April - 28 April 2014

07 May 2014

Two Wheel Tours and a couple of friends went on a Bike Trip to the Low-veld in Mpumalanga South Africa to visit some of its beautiful attractions like God's Window, The Potholes, The 3 Rondawels, Sudwala Caves, Inyaka Dam, Pilgrims Rest, Sabie, etc.

Belfast Rest-StopOur journey started on Friday 25 April from Pretoria. After filling all the bikes we left via Lynnwood towards Bronkhorstspruit as we decided to take the scenic route and skip the toll routes.

Initially there were only 3 bikes, a 2005 BMW GS1200, 2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX10-R, 2008 Yamaha R1 and one car as one of our friends had a 4 month old baby.

From Bronkhorstspruit we took a turn towards Witbank, more commonly referred to as "Mordor". We missed a turn-off that is supposed to take you under the N4 highway and continue on the other side towards Witbank at which point we arrived at a gravel road with nowhere to go and the N4 buzzing a few meters from us.

Once we rectified our error we continued to Witbank where another tricky turn-off was missed and we ended up in a location. It was agreed that we will take the N4 and turn-off further down towards Witbank in order to carry on straight towards Middelburg.

A quick rest stop in Witbank at a garage to relax the legs and bums preceded our stretch towards Middelburg where a fuel stop was needed to make sure we would reach our next pit stop. Once refuelled we left towards Stoffberg from where we turned-off towards Belfast.

Another rest-stop was taken on our way to Belfast and pictures of the group and the surrounding areas were taken. We departed once again and once in Belfast we redirected ourselves towards Dullstroom to meet up with the car which took the N4 Toll Route from Pretoria in order to save time and miss some of the ghastly potholes we encountered on our route.

Upon arrival in Dullstroom we all took a much needed break and discussed the trip so far as well as our plans for supper. It was decided that we will push on towards Lydenburg and have some dinner at the local Spur.

The 50km between Dullstroom and Lydenburg provided some excitement as we had to duck and dive some of the potholes thrown in our way. By this time we were all a bit hungry and couldn't wait to get in Lydenburg. A quick group photo session preceded our arrival at the Spur in Lydenburg.

Pilgrims RestAfter our bellies were filled, more photos taken it was off to the nearest garage to fill up for our last stretch over Longtom pass, through Sabie towards Pilgrims Rest where we stayed in District 6 in 6 sleeper self-catering units.

By the time we left the spur it was already dark so we drove carefully over Longtom Pass and it's treturous corners which can be unnerving at times. Stopping in Sabie before we continued was our next rest break and we had to wait for the car which we lost upon leaving Lydenburg.

By the time the car met up with us you could already feel the temperature dropping but we were not phased and ready to proceed to the Engen Garage in Sabie in order to get some firewood for the night.

Wood purchased and we were off towards Pilgrims Rest with a final stop at the turn-off to wait for the car to catch up.

The small curvy road towards Pilgrims Rest was another shaker but we all held it together and arrived safely at our destination where we unpacked, lit the fire, talked about the day's ride and finally turning in.

Saturday morning dawned and because Pilgrims Rest is in a valley surrounded by mountains it took a while for the sun to come out to which one of our friends remarked how "fresh" the chilly morning air is. Mist in the lower valley provided some spectacular scenery in the morning.

Once we all awoke we made breakfast, took baths and got ready for the day's ride which was to be our scenic route for the day.

3 RondawelsWe departed from Pilgrims Rest out onto Robbers Pass with its nice and twisty road towards Origstad, but after all the twisties a short break was required before soldiering on towards Origstad and for the car to catch up.

Upon arrival in Origstad, a town so small that if you have to turn out for a chicken in the road you would miss the whole town, we stopped for a refuel required for our day's ride.


From Origstad it was a nice drive to our next turn-off towards Grasskop and on route to our first site, the 3 Rondawels, but before arriving we had some amazing twisting corners, mostly fast but comfortable.

Another group photo was up when we arrived at the turn-off to the 3 Rondawels from where we departed to park and walk towards the site for some stunning scenery and interesting information from one of the local guides.

PotholesOur next stop was the Potholes which was preceded by another twisty and beautiful road to allow us to enjoy our rides. The Potholes are carved in the rocks by water and rocks from the waterfall due to the swirling action in which the water falls and small pebbles start to wear out the rocks.

Some much needed ice-cream was enjoyed by all from where we visited the potholes and waterfall for some nice scenery and photo's.

Our original plan was to proceed towards God's Window but we had friends on the way from Pretoria who couldn’t join us the day before due to work. We decided then to pass God's Window and rather do it the next day when everyone is there and so we left the Potholes for Graskop to get some more wood and ice for the night at the local Spar.

From Graskop to Pilgrims is another short burst and upon arrival in Pilgrims we stopped at the Royal Hotel to meet up with our friends and enjoy a much deserved drink after the long day. Now we were a bigger group, joined by a 2011 BMW GS1200 Adventure 30 Year Edition and a 2012 BMW S1000RR.

We returned to our quarters, lit the fire and had some more photos and talks about the day. We grilled some patties on the fire, while listening to good music and enjoying the comfort of friendship. The evening air was noticeable but did not deter our communion, which inevitably ended in everyone turning in after a long day.

Another "fresh" morning turned up on the Sunday and we were awoken with some much needed coffee and breakfast we made after everyone came out of their slumber. Once the sun was out over the mountain ridge it was very cosy and we all baked a bit while discussing the day's journey.

From Pilgrims Rest we headed back towards Sabie on another nice twisty road for a fuel stop at the local Engen garage. The plan was to ride the famous 22 with it's 22 winding turns towards Hazyview.

After an initial uncertainty we took the 22 with confidence and enjoyed our machines. Unfortunately after the various turns ended our last few kilometres were riddles with potholes and we had to duck and dive to miss the holes and traffic. The experience was one of constant terror and fear for our bikes but we managed to get through unscathed to stop at the curio shop at the T-Junction on the end of the road.

A much needed rest-stop was made to while the baby was fed and diapers changed.

Inyaka DamWe then departed toward Bushbuck Ridge to take the Graskop turn-off. At the T-junction we turned towards the Inyaka dam for a quick stop on the bridge. Photos were taken and the landscape admired. From the Bridge we also showed our friends where God's Window is which we would be visiting later the day and from where the dam we were currently at is visible.

Before continuing straight towards Graskop we made a quick detour to show everyone the old run which used to run through the middle of the dam back in the day when there was no wall. Unfortunately now it sits under water but you can see from the one end where it came out on the other side.

God's WindowOnto Graskop with more twisting roads, potholes and a pillar tunnel on the mountain side was the order of the ride. Navigating through Graskop towards God's Window was a short but enjoyable burst.

Once at God's Window we readied ourselves for the long walk up the staircase to heaven or otherwise known as "Hellshoogte" due to the nature of the gruelling climb, especially in biker boots.

Once atop there are plenty to see, far and wide. The view is phantasmagorical and one has to appreciate sites like these and the beautiful country we have. The photos taken cannot describe the view and depth of nature's beauty.

Lunch was on the menu and after darting towards Graskop we decided to skip the usual Harry's Pancakes for a Biker Bar just around the corner and boy was this place packed with signs and memorabilia! This is a must see and stopover spot for any bike passing through Graskop.

Bellies filled we stopped at the local Spar again to get some more wood, ice and other items for the night. The car and the GS1200 Adventure decided to head straight to Pilgrims Rest upon viewing the clouds but the rest of us decided to soldier on as the plan was to do the 22 back up towards Sabie.

From Graskop we took the road back towards Bushbuck Ridge with a quick stop at the monument at the Pillar Tunnel for some photos and viewing of the scenery on a gravel road close by.

Leaving the tunnel we took the newly built road towards Hazyview with fast sweeping corners, ideal for any superbike enthusiast. Alas our fun was hampered twice by cows in the road which could have ended in steak, bikes, leathers and bikers for supper, but we survived.

Sudwala CavesTunring back up on the 22 towards Sabie we ducked and dived again on the first part with all the massive potholes, twice almost being taken out by cars driving across the road to miss the potholes.

We continued our journey on with the 22 corners but the fun was stopped half way when it started to rain softly, but enough for the road to be wet and dangerous. We soldiered on at a steady pace with rain pouring and misting. One of our friends even received a confused dove to the helmet in the rain.

Near the end of the 22 just as we got to Sabie the rain started to come down harder, but we were determined to get to Pilgrims Rest as fast and safely as possible. By this time we were all soaking wet in any case so stopping for the rain to clear was off the board.

The final stretch between Sabie and Pilgrims saw us driving through heavy rain with visibility severely reduced and visors fogging up.
But alas we arrived at the turn-off towards Pilgrims Rest with only the last bit of treturous winding road ahead.

Needless to say we all arrived in once piece and were all eager to get out of our drenched clothes. Some interesting attempts were made to dry out our clothes by baking them in the ovens which worked extremely well.

Once we were redressed, a fire on the stoep was made, drinks were poured, music played and our evening started after-which we all retired to our quarters to climb into our warm beds with their fluffy duvets and blankets.

Monday morning dawned and our clothes were still pretty wet. Most of our morning was spent with some more baking of clothes and gear to get the worst wetness and moisture out.

To pass the time we had some coffee and breakfast and started to pack up our bags and getting ready for the last day.

We departed from Pilgrims Rest for a final time towards Sabie for another fuel stop at the Engen Garage, from where we proceeded towards White River.

The White River Road was another fantastic twisty and winding road with mostly high speed corners.

A quick rest-stop was made just before White River after we encountered a blockade for the cyclists stupid enough to ride their bicycles so far.

Continuing through White River we were taken partly through Nelspruit for our turn-off on the N4 towards our next destination, the Sudwala Caves.

Upon arrival we encountered more gruelling steps and this time we were convinced we found the stairs to hell!

A filling lunch with burgers and some hot pepper sauce, which tasted like T-Rex pee, filled our aching stomachs’ and readied us for the tour inside the Sudwala Caves.

Once inside the caves we marvelled at the wonders inside and ate up the information poured down our throats by our tour guide. The most amazing thing is the structures inside, the history and the formations. To top it off, one has to really think hard when comes to the age of the stalagmites and stalactites.

With the Sudwala Cave tour at an end it dawned upon us that our lovely weekend has also come to an end. We decided to take the N4 Toll Route back towards Pretoria as we were all eager to get back home.

The ride from Sudwala to our next fuel stop at Milly's felt like ages but we eventually got there with the sun starting to set, sore bodies and warm coffee and drinks in our hands.

We left the garage to continue our journey to Pretoria which ended up in another night ride by the time we reached Witbank, but we soldiered on still towards the last Engen garage just outside of the final toll-gate before Pretoria for a final fuel-stop.

From the Engen our journey was to end at the Shovels Pub in Wapadrand, Pretoria for a last drink and goodbye.

In the end we all agreed, it was a fantastic weekend! Definitely one for the ages!

Sunset

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Comments

2014/05/07 03:48 PM

Adventures in Mpumalanga land

Just a big Thank You to everyone who joined on the trip... Good times, great riding, fantastic company and beautiful scenery...including the lovely ladies.

Cannot wait for the next one.

P.S. Loved the baking of wet clothes idea whoever came up with that is a genius