At least we can get an early start to the day, and also hunt down some breakfast, pronto! OMG, we're so hungry!
Because it's so overcast this morning, nothing has dried. Looks like we're packing up a wet tent. Again.
As we're scooping up all of our belongings to leave, Neda does a pre-ride inspection, as we typically do before we set off for the day. She calls me over to her bike.
Well, that's not awesome. So much for an early start...
She must have picked up that nail on that gravel road near the ostrich farm. It was such a slow leak, we didn't even notice it till now.
Believe it or not, this is our first flat tire in almost eight years! The last one we got was in India!
Also, it may sound strange, but right now I'm feeling equal parts angry and smug at the same time.
Angry because this is a brand new tire. We *JUST* mounted it in Cape Town before we left. By my rough calculations, it can't have more than 200 kms on it!
When we were originally shopping for bikes in South Africa, I was strongly contemplating buying the more off-road-oriented F800GS. But its single biggest drawback was that it couldn't run tubeless tires because of the spoked wheels. I hate spooning tires to get to the tube, especially at the side of the road. The dual-sport tire carcasses that we run are so thick and stiff, it's really hard work to break the bead.
I prefer to plug, rather than spoon. That sounds kinda dirty...
So we opted for the cast wheels/tubeless tires of the F650GS/F700GS, at the expense of the better suspension of the F800GS. I've been second-guessing that decision for a while now, especially since I'm not really getting along well with my F700GS.
Decision totally justified! Smug as a bug in a bearhug!
Holy crap, that's a huge ass nail! Fortunately, we are prepared!
In this episode of RideDOT.com, we'll describe how to plug a tire with common items you can find in a grocery store. The first step is to use a corkscrew from a wine opener to rough out the hole left by the nail. You'll want to make the hole a bit bigger for the next step:
You'll need a piece of red licorice. Attach it to end of the corkscrew and jam that licorice stick right into the hole
Black licorice will also do, but red is better. Black licorice contains an ingredient called "glycyrrhizin" which can cause weakness and fatigue. Check out the link, it's totally true! The last thing you'll want is for your plug to be weak! Red licorice has more sugar, which will bind better to the tire.
Next you'll want to slather the entire area with molasses. When it hardens, you can gnaw off the remaining licorice sticking out of the tire.
It's quite delicious!
Ta-dah! You've now plugged your tire with nothing but common items you can find in any grocery store.
This plug will last you about a meter or so before it pops right out. In that time, you should probably find a real tire plug kit like the one we're using in the pictures above.
While I'm doing all of this, Neda is taking the time to perform some chain maintenance
In a future episode, Neda will describe how you can clean and lube your chain using nothing but karoo spice and extra-virgin olive oil.
Alright, finally ready to leave. At least the tent has dried out somewhat because of the delay
First thing we need to do is to find food. Neda gets quite hangry when she doesn't eat. And me, I start to imagine food in all the little items around us, like tire repair kits and chain lube...
We stumble upon a gas station a few kms outside of Witsand where we top up our tanks. Unfortunately, they are only able to offer us nuts and biltong for breakfast. Exact same thing we had for dinner last night. It's not ideal, but we're too hungry to complain.
And we're off!
The plan for the day is similar to the last few days: play in the mountains!
The riding day starts off cool and comfortable beneath overcast skies. It takes us awhile to commute back to where we left off a few days ago in the Langeberg Mountain range. We've already done a couple of mountain passes in the western end of the range, now we're heading further east, looking for the next pass that goes up and over the mountains.
The first pass we hit is Garcia's Pass, which runs north over the eastern end of the Langeberg Mountains
The weather clears up significantly as the road gently climbs higher. The scenery is not as dramatic as the other Langeberg passes we've done, but it's nice to twist the throttle a bit more as I chase Neda on the open, flowing sweepers.
Seems like it's over all too fast as we reach the end of Garcia's Pass
I look at the sign and remark, "Hey! Ladysmith Black Mambazo!"
Neda says, "What?" as if I've just spoken gibberish to her.
"It's a group I used to listen to back in the 80s... They also sang backup for Paul Simon. I guess they're from around here?"
"Oh", came the reply, but in a way that really said: "Ok, Boomer"
Sometimes I forget that Neda grew up in a different country. Come on! Ladysmith Black Mambazo! *EVERYBODY* knows who they are! Right?
We turn eastwards and head to the next mountain range in the distance
The temperature has risen steadily during the day. The eastern edge of the Langeberg Mountains marks the beginning of the Karoo (yes, just like the spice and the Metzeler tires) Desert. The road is pretty much straight and flat, as we zoom past low-lying sagebrush and other desert vegetation.
Something else the Karoo is known for: scorching hot temperatures!
What a change from the cool and overcast skies on the coast this morning! Thankfully it's a dry heat and as long as we keep moving, the wind rushing through our vented gear keeps us from melting.
When we reach the Karoo town of Oudtshoorn, we turn south to our next mountain road, the *very* twisty Outeniqua Pass.
Neda is hard on the brakes for the hairpin turn up ahead
From the "Mountain Passes of South Africa" website:
"(Outeniqua Pass) contains 40 bends, corners and curves, many of which exceed 90 degrees. The road is well engineered, but it is advisable to stick to the speed limits which have been carefully calculated to get you safely over the pass."
I guess Neda didn't read the last part...
Wait for meeee, Neda!!!
As we descend down the other side of Outeniqua Pass, the clouds get thicker around us
I watch my thermometer quickly drop to 15°C, as we dive into thick fog
The temperature has plummeted over 25° in such a short span of time! Suddenly we've gone from almost melting to shivering our asses off! It's freezing! We're on the communicators debating, "Should we pull over to put on some layers? Maybe it'll warm up as we get to the coast."
As we continue riding, we both keep a running commentary on our thermometers doing the reverse countdown: "14°C...! Maybe it'll warm up... OMG, 13°C...! I'm sure this is the coldest it'll get.... 12°C!"
We soldier on without stopping and finally reach the town of George on the coast. It's gotten a little bit warmer, but in retrospect, we should have layered up. That last bit was not enjoyable at all.
From George, we double-back a little bit west to Mossel Bay where we've booked cheap accommodations
George is a larger city than Mossel Bay and more expensive to stay for the night. We didn't know what to expect from either place, they were just names on the map.
Despite the fog in the air, riding through Mossel Bay reveals a very nice sea-side town compared to the larger city we just rode through! Totally glad we picked this one! It's not just picturesque, but there seems to be a very relaxed atmosphere around here. You notice it in the way people walk down the street without looking over their shoulders. In the way they smile and greet each other.
As we were parking our bikes on the street outside the townhouse, the hostess assured us that Mossel Bay is the safest town in South Africa. She says she doesn't even lock the doors during the day! After living a month and a half in Cape Town, constantly behind gates and "burglar bars" and always keeping our wits about us, this palpable change in the air is a huge relief.
We're staying in yet another nice place! We have a patio outside, and our bedroom has a sunroom overlooking the street!
But most importantly, there's a kitchen where Neda can prepare a nice dinner after 24 hours of eating junk food. She is ecstatic!
We were originally booked for a single night here, but we just asked the hostess to extend our stay another day! :)
We go slow.
Until the next blog entry, here's a little Ladysmith Black Mambazo