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SIDECAR AFRICA
Proud stockists of Ural sidecars & spares


CRADOCK TO CRADOCK ALL SEXES RIDE - Sept 2012

And no it’s not ALL SEX – it’s ALL SEXES!  Gotcha there for a moment…

Tuishuise in CradockTuishuise in CradockIt was very early in the morning when we set off on our Cradock to Cradock adventure. From wide and far -Tzaneen, Nelspruit, Bloemfontein, Joburg and even Pretoria!- sidecar riders made the trip to Cradock, the starting point for our most recent adventure. By 3 o’clock that afternoon most contenders had arrived, which resulted in much laughing and joking as always. We were staying at Die Tuishuise, which is well worth an overnight stop. The Victorian dinner at The Victoria Manor Hotel that evening was just splendid.
First day’s ride is from Cradock to Nieu-Bethesda – a short little jaunt of 130km. At some stages the wind howling directly into us and from the side and it got a bit hectic – those vast Karoo plains generate some serious air. On the way to Nieu Bethesda with the Kompasberg in the backgroundMost of the riding was on tar but the last 40km was done on dirt in order to have a closer look at Kompasberg – the 2nd highest peak in South Africa – bet you didn’t know that! The dirt road was a bit of a warm up for what was to come. There were quite a few big puddles along the way from the recent rain. Kompasberg did not disappoint and we had a good look from all different directions.
Lunch at the BreweryNieu-Bethesda is a fantastic little place offering far more than the first glance lets on. First stop was The Brewery – where else? Karoo dust and home brewed beer go hand in hand. After the first worst thirst had been sorted, some riders ventured on to the well-known Owl House of Helen Martin, some went for lunch at The Karoo Lamb and the remainder went to The Kitching Fossil Exploration Centre. The accommodation was spread all over town and very comfortable.
Next morning after a hearty breakfast at The Karoo Lamb, we hit the road to Baviaanskloof (often said in a hushed voice). Today we were taking the road less travelled to get there. Just leaving Nieu-Bethesda, the views along the little pass were spectacular and we stopped a number of times to take in the immense vistas.
VistaIt was mostly dirt all the way to Graaff Reinet and after a quick petrol stop we were back on our sidecars. Roughly 15km outside Graaff Reinet we took the Derde Drif, dirt turn off and soon we were singing past places like Wolwekop, Kransplaas, Vaalplaas, Newlands, Koningsrus, Marais, Klipplaat – these names sound like music to the wandering ear! The landscape and views remained breathtakingly large. At some point we saw an entire koppie covered in flowering red aloes – which made me wonder if that is what it looked like when the English, dressed in their red jackets, went into battle during the Anglo Boer War?

Dirt section before Nieu Bethesda
Dirt section before Nieu Bethesda
Arriving in Nieu Bethesda
Leaving Nieu Bethesda
Leaving Nieu Bethesda
Just after Marais
On the way to Graaff Reinet
On the way to Graaff Reinet
On the way to Graaff Reinet

Road between Steytlerville and WillowmoreLook at the concrete road!A personal surprise was the cement road between Steytlerville and Willowmore! I have never seen anything like it and suggest one comes and rides on this road just for the novelty of it. It is a single lane road and one must yield to the left for oncoming traffic which left us sidecar riders with two wheels on the tar and one on dirt – weird!
We filled up with petrol when we got to Willowmore and had to get some supplies as Baviaanskloof is way off the grid and one never knows what could happen when you enter the incredible Baviaans! Probably be a good time to mention that the word ‘baviaan’ means baboon.

MakkadaatgrotI noticed upon entering the Baviaans that the riders following were riding slower and slower as they tried to comprehend and take in the incredible scenery. Outhouse as MakkadaatgrotSo the last little bit to the Makkadaat Caves took considerably longer than anticipated and resulted in a number of the magicked riders missing the turn off at our overnight place. An enthusiastic Fritz chased them down, in fact so emboldened was his riding that his monkey Des begged Fritz to stop so he could get out! Fritz duly dropped Des and continued rounding up all the wandering sheep and Des on his return leg!
The Makkadaat Caves are a magical place and it almost feels like one is in a fairy tale as one sleeps in a cave house – the cave houses are immaculate and anyone who is worried about bats and spiders and other cave dwellers should not worry, we did not spot one.
Supper was in Oom Boet’s farm shed complete with tyres and implements. Freshly baked bread and lamb chops made everyone smile!
Oom Boet's ShedAs we got further into the Baviaanskloof we started asking about the water level at river crossings and got various different opinions. GS 12000 RescueWhen we found a BMW 1200GS, its rider and the pillion stranded next to one of the first deep river crossings where they had flooded the GS, we knew that this was going to be too deep for comfort.
But never fear! We had James, our super trusty back up driver with bakkie and trailer, near! Man did this turn out to be good entertainment! 9 sidecars altogether which meant 18 crossings for James, 9 of those backwards into water not always being able to see the trailer he is pushing along! Bravo James – this took almost an hour and was repeated another 2 times before the end of the day – all with the cool and calm exterior of the back-up driver never changing!
Everyone was so elated that we sommer decided to take the drowned GS and its passengers with us, with the understanding that should the trailer be needed for a sidecar (unlikely but possibly!) they’re off.
The next water crossing was just too deep to do comfortably and instead of running the risk of drowning an Ural, we got real clever and switched off all engines and tied them together like ducks in a row behind the bakkie. James towed 2 groups of ducks like this and of course there was much excitement and laughing.

Deep river crossing in Baviaans
Ducks in Row
Ducks in Row
Top of Baviaans
Top of Baviaans
Top of Baviaans

This one we rideSmitskraalAnother 2 assisted river crossings followed including, finally, Smitskraal, where it was at least 300 metres of fast flowing water too deep to ride through. We calculated that James had done approx 60 crossings – backwards and forwards before the end of the day. There were many other shallower river crossing that we did with the Urals, roughly 18 I would say. It made for good memories!
Baviaans from the top of the mountains was just spectacular. It really was some incredibly good riding and the road conditions were Ural perfect.
The GS and passengers got given a lift all the way to Patensie. We reached Patensie round 7 that evening and I must confess the steak I had for supper was probably the best one of the entire trip. I can also recommend the Ripple Hill Hotel for accommodation as we had a great time there and the pub is awesome.
The next morning we rode about 100 km tar in the direction of the Addo Elephant Park. A little stretch of this was very near the coast, almost at sea level and it felt as if Vladimir had been given a turbo! It would seem Urals also love the seaside!
Close to the Addo Park’s entrance a road marked Zuurberg Pass turns off. In the old days this pass was the main route from Port Elizabeth to the interior. It was the route the ox wagon took to cross the mountains. I really don’t have words to describe how beautiful this place is to me and what perfect Ural riding this pass is! We stopped at The Zuurberg Mountain Inn for lunch. The ‘Poolside Burger’ was a real treat.
Continuing on the pass and leaving the hotel behind the general condition of the road deteriorates and it almost looks as if someone paved the pass with little cobble stones. One rides right on top of the Zuurberge. Far down in the valley is a landing strip that must be extremely difficult to land and take off on as it is positioned perpendicular to the mountains which are significant and it looks as if the strip has a steep incline.
Anne's VillaOur overnight stop for this stretch of the adventure was Ann’s Villa. Ann’s Villa is situated at the foot of the mountains on the Somerset East side once you have traversed the entire Zuurberg Pass. This is the oldest Inn in the country dating back to the 1860’s. Having crossed this pass with oxen and wagon, the transport riders and their wagons needed some mending and care – hence the establishment of a blacksmith at Ann’s. Well if you had to wait up to 4 days and more for your wagon wheel to be repaired, the logical next step was an Inn for the passengers and drivers. The Inn stood empty a number of years during the last century but towards the end of last century, it changed hands and was very beautifully and lovingly restored to its former glory. A sidecar soldier in full english regaliaIt is an experience to stay at Ann’s Villa and well worth making the effort. Quite convinced there is more than one ghost still staying at the Inn as well! After dinner a soldier appeared in full English regalia and gave a talk on the battle of Roarksdrift – we where most surprised to meet this English soldier there...
After a good bacon roll the next morning we waved Ann’s and the one or two ethereal guest’s goodbye. We were heading On the road to Glen AvonSomerset East way for fuel. At the filling station an interested bystander gave us some advice about roads and closures and where we could go through or not. Our GPS route had been plotted past the farm Glen Avon but the gentleman said we should rather ride the Swaershoek Pass as farmers had erected gates across our intended route. However being the adventurers that we are we decided to stick to the intended route and inspect the gates for ourselves. A good friend and riding buddy taught me – ‘plan the ride and ride the plan’!
So off to Avon we went and wow did that pay off. Still do not know what that pass is called. The locals called it the Avon Pass as Glen Avon is the farm name at the top. I cannot tell you how grateful I was for the Baviaanskloof as a warm up for this stretch of our journey. None of us knew what we were in for – the pass climbs approx 700 metres from bottom to top, to give one an idea! To me this was the best pass of the entire trip – maybe it was just the best because I had not been there before.
WittemutskloofAs we all know, what goes up must come down. And did it come down – we were travelling in first and second gear a lot of the time with lots of help from sidecar brakes and all other brakes. Down down down a little path with rain water ditches, rocks, cattle and all the way to the bottom where the smiles were so big you wouldn’t get them off with soap if you tried!
We got to the via point on the GPS – Klipfontein Station and it really is just that – a Via Point. At Klipfontein we turned into the direction of Wittemutskloof and rode along the Witmosspruit to Tarka Pass. This is a very beautiful part of the world and in exchange for opening AND closing about 8 farm gates we were rewarded with nicely bull dozed roads, courtesy of the farmers. The terrain was rugged and rough and Tarkas up and down made for good riding – couldn’t resist, especially for the ALL SEX readers!
After a quick stop for lunch, no you’re thinking about a 1-stop, this was a padkos quickie – the previous nights’ braai, choppies and boerewors, we rode into Cradock triumphant and victorious!
9 sidecars rode out and 6 days later 9 sidecars rode in. There were 2 flat tyres and some air filter cleaning along the way – what awesome machines the Urals are!
We had our last supper at The Victoria Manor Hotel and needless to say, as the stories grew the fish got bigger and the crossings deeper………

Note:
The name “All sexes” came about as we had planned to participate in the” Nampharm ride for a smile” event in Namibia but “Nampharm” refused to allow our lady riders to participate so we withdrew our 10 entries and did the “Cradock to Cradock all sexes trip” instead as we support all riders no matter what sex ... We now call them “Manpharm from Manibia”

Written by: Ryno Greeff

And a few more pics .....

Lunch at Zuurberg Inn
Built-in flower pot
Baviaans at its best
En Route
Kleinpoort
Hauling