This was the night that DieselDave convinced LeonDude to join him and Pebbles for the 2018 Baviaans Kloof bash. (Baviaans Kloof = Baboonís gorge).
I, sleeping quietly in the garage at the time, knew nothing about any of this.
I started to suspect something when LeonDude replaced both my tires and went over me carefully, poking this and prodding that, making sure that everything was in order with me.
He needn't have bothered, I am always ready to go.
I should probably introduce myself.
I am The Beast. I am LeonDude's DR650SE.
I started catching bits of conversation, and pricked my ears. We were heading south, to the untamed hinterlands. I have been there before, but this place, Baviaans Kloof, was new to me. I gathered that my riding partner, John Deer, would not be joining us on this trip, as his rider, Cave Girl, could not join us. This made me sad, but LeonDude promised to take good care of me.
I don't know what he means, it's always me taking care of him.
So the day arrived. I was loaded onto the back of Dave's pickup van (the shame!) and Red and Silver (As I call Dave and Pebbles' KLR650s) were loaded onto the trailer and we were off! We drove to Colesburg, where our ride was to begin.
Early morning on Thursday LeonDude pulled out of Colesburg, but something strange was going on. We were on a highway, and Red and Silver were not with us. What was Leon up to? As always LeonDude does not ride long before he pulls into a secluded spot, and out comes the coffee.
We had a good laugh at the drunken railway track.
There were flowers too.
I havenít got a map, but hereís a picture showing our approximate position.
I could only hope LeonDude remembered that I have a very small fuel tank.
He did, we filled up in Middelburg, then Graaff Reinette, then headed out again. About 40 kilos out I hear Leon grumble something.
He pulls over, checks the maps and GPS, and starts swearing. We are on the wrong road. Leon does not seem too worried, he just scans the map book.
I don't understand, surely he should have a destination in mind? We head on, going towards Klipplaat.
Here, out in the bush, I start to suspect that Leon has caught sunstroke, because he starts acting in a very strange manner.
He stops every now and again, jumps off, inspects the area, then hops back on and off we go.
After doing this a few times he eventually stops where a railway line goes over a culvert. He hops off again, then he checks the height of the culvert!
Then he checks my height, and then he starts unpacking me!
Dude! We are in the middle of friggin nowhere, what are you doing!
But he seems determined, he unpacks and hides his stuff in the culvert under the railway track.
The he starts me up, pushes me into the dip and up the other side, and I realize he means to hide me under the culvert too! The man has gone loopy! Loony tunes!
There is a catch though. My front wheel clears a little step up into the culvert, but my back wheel digs into the railway ballast, and I am stuck!
Sweating, swearing and cussing, he manages to pull me back into the dip and parks me there.
Now, before reading further, check this picture out carefully, and then tell me the man is sane!
If you didnít see me in that picture, scroll back and study it again. In the lower right hand corner, thatís me.
After much scratching of his head, frowning and more acting weird, he collects loads of dried sisal flower stems and hides me completely. He also turns down my mirrors, and hangs a shirt over my number plate, and now I am completely hidden.
And there, under the culvert, the dumb-ass bivvies for the night! The sky here is covered with crows. They are noisy, but LeonDude seems to like them. Weirdo.
LeonDude seems to enjoy it though. He sits and drinks whiskey, staring up into a sky carpeted in stars. Well, whatever floats your boat, Dude. At 2 in the morning some sheep come along, and the crows don't go to sleep.
Sunset turns into night, night into an early morning covered in mist barely concealing a spooky moon, and then dawn arrives in all her pinkness.
He's up early in the morning, and that is when he finds that I am properly stuck in the dip where he left me. He's struggling to get me out, more sweating and cussing ensues, when I shout at him 'I'm a DR, whack the power!'
Friggin hell he can be slow, but he gets the message, twists the throttle and a moment later I'm standing next to the road. Soon I am packed, and we head off. Through Klipplaat and into Steytlerville, where I get petrol and he gets breakfast (venison pie).
Church close to Klipplaat
(Church bell. Reminded me much of the bell on Verneuk Pan)
Between Staytlerville and Willowmore there is a weird concrete road where we were expecting dirt, so we reach Willowmore sooner than expected, get petrol and head out of Willowmore.
After Willowmore I find it, a sign that reads Baviaans. Leon does not have to turn, I head there on my own. I want Leon to twist the throttle, but he is sightseeing, and hangs easy. Bikes start passing us. We roar greetings at each other in the tight twisting gorges, exhilarated at the spectacular scenery and riding conditions. Hard pack, gravel, marbles and even a bit of sand, everything to entertain the riders.
We meet a couple of riders at a cafe, us bikes sniff some tail and then we are going again.
Leon is enjoying the road, I can tell by the relaxed way he is riding. Not too long and we are parked under the shade-port next to cottage 3 at Doornkloof.
Here we meet Johan and Allen, and their bikes. Leon unpacks and relaxes, but I have an itch, on such a spot that I just cannot reach to scratch it.
When Red and Silver arrive, Red is in pain. He has picked up a rusty piece of metal, and his rear wheel is going flat. Silver is in an even worse condition, her radiator is leaking. They are not happy. Dave and Janine go off for drinks, promising to solve the problems in the morning. I do not sleep well, that itch bothers me.
Early next morning Dave and Leon want to go ride, but first, fix that puncture on Red. They are halfway through the job when I hear Leon make a comment about my back tyre, something about a piece of wire.
I feel a sudden burning sting where I had been itching as Dave pulls out a piece of wire, and I start losing pressure in my rear wheel.
Well, so much for riding today. Two punctures get fixed, then there is more drama as something else is wrong with Red, and he gets stripped down and fixed (his choke cable stripped and came out!). By the time the repairs are done they have started drinking, so no riding today, they go off to socialize while we catch up on sleep.
On Sunday morning I can see they had a big party, the eyes are blurry and movements slow.
But they load us and off we go. We get out of Baviaans, head south and soon we enter that most spectacular pass, Prince Alfred's Pass.
Leon stops for breakfast in the deep gorges, then on we go until we get to Kom-se-pad.
Then it's petrol in Knysna and into the seven passes. Leon is grumbling, he is tired.
He stops for a proper rest in the second pass, then fifteen minutes later we reach our destination in Karatara.
When Red and Silver arrive I hear Red has had another flat rear. Our humans are tired, they eat, drink and hit the bed early. I'm just glad that Leon has come to his senses about where he sleeps.
Early next morning we are going again, a few more passes, but then there are roadworks, Leon misses a turn and we land up on the N2. This turns to our advantage as we end up watching dolphins play in the surf while Leon eats breakfast.
We head off again, polish off Montagu pass and Perdepoort pass.
We join Dave and Janine for lunch in Oudtshoorn, where Red tells me he has had no more punctures, good for him.
I am excited, the road from here leads into Die Hel. (Die Hel = Hell). Soon we are heading up Swartberg pass. Just over the top Leon gets very excited because he manages to spot some rare bird, a cape sugarbird. Well, if it makes him happy.
But Leon is acting strange again, as if he is looking for something. I start worrying. Silver and Red pass us, and soon I am heading into Gamkaskloof!
New ground for me. Leon has been into Die Hel twice before, but this is my first time. I think we should be hurrying up, but he is acting strange again, stopping to poke around in what little bush there is, and there really is very little bush. Halfway into the deep gorges Leon does the unbelievable, he turns me around and heads back! I am shocked, I cannot understand this foolishness, there is not enough time to ride out to find a place to sleep in town. A dark shadow falls. Leon stops to check if it is a cloud or if the sun has gone down, but it is a cloud only. Then he kicks out my side stand and dismounts, and only now do I notice there is a track leading off to our right, which he starts walking up, MX boots and all. My human has lost his last marble, the loose screw has fallen out and the last vestiges of sanity has flown.
There is a run-down stone building, roofless, just up the track. Leon investigates this, but he looks pretty disgusted.
To my own disgust I am soon to find out why. He comes back, fires me up and, for fooks sake, rides me up the path! He stops outside the little ruin and unloads his luggage.
Soon he is using a stick to clear the worst of the filth out of the ruin, and then he parks me in there. Like he had done a few nights ago he hides all my shiny bits from view, then takes his little stove and goes outside. The truth is sinking in, he plans on spending the night out here, in the wilds of Gamkaskloof. Someone, call the guys with the straight-jackets!
Next morning and I got my wish, a solidly frozen dude sticks his head out of the ruin.
Oh well, all is soon forgiven as we head out of Gamkaskloof. Going down Swartberg pass, LeonDude is shouting in his helmet, something about having wild-camped Gamkaskloof. Whatever, keep your eyes on the road Dude!
We get coffee, breakfast and petrol in the little town of Prince Albert, then head off to Willowmore. The last hundred kilos there is an almost straight dirt road, with just enough dangerous dips to keep Leon awake. Even so, he has to stop and get off to wake up.
From Willowmore we head north on tar. In Aberdeen we get a message from Dave. They took two and a half hours to get out of Die Hel to the top of Swartberg pass. Apparently Janine cussed a few times. There was sand involved.
Just outside Graaff Reinette we sleep at a very nice little spot, where Red and Silver tell me the whole story of their ride into Die Hel. Apparently parts of the road was sandy, they had water crossings and lots of loose stuff.
The next morning I take Red and Silver to the valley of desolation lookout point, then we head to Nieu Bethesda.
Leon, of course, loses the plot and does not follow the route, but the road is so good that we don't care, we enjoy it.
At the coffee shop Dave mentions that we have 200 kilos to go for the day. I think uh oh, thinking about my small petrol tank.
Leon does not notice anything, so I start screaming at him. Eventually he notices, stops and checks the GPS. He starts grumbling, there is definitely a fuel issue.
There is nothing for it, we can only do half the dirt, then we opt out to the highway and crawl up to Middleburg for fuel.
After filling up, there is only a hundred kilos to go on this ride. Leon stops next to the road for coffee, enjoying the time out in the wild.
We ride another fifty kilos, through a spectacular pass called oorlogspoort. Suddenly we start coming across patches of mud. Leon takes it easy, giving the mud monster the respect it deserves, but still messing me up good and solid. Twenty kilos out of Colesburg he stops for more coffee. Too soon after that we are parked at Sunset chalets.
Not long after, Red and Silver pull in, muddy, dirty and tired as dirt bikes should be.
I get loaded on the pick-up for the trip back north. The next morning, Dave is to have two last bad surprises.
Silver will not start, it is too cold for her. And, just to complete his trip, Red has picked up another nail in his rear tyre. They go on the trailer, and i have no doubt they will get lots of TLC once they get home.
As for me, I want to soak in a bath, have my air cleaner washed and dream of the next trip.
The next morning is, as you can see on the photos, freezing cold as we head back up north, to the land of the big smoke.
I also have a nasty surprise for LeonDude though, the bugger. Instead of giving me the bath and TLC I deserve, he goes off for a week of frolicking in eSwatini (Swaziland, if you donít know). So when he opens the garage door on Sunday afternoon, I present him with a flat tyre. So puncture score in the end: DieselDave 3, LeonDude 2.
You win, Dave.
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