A group of us visited ET (Mpumalanga Province) again during the last weekend of May this year. Danie managed to find great accommodation at the Sudwala Lodge, next to the well know Sudwala Caves. Our accommodation for the weekend.
As has become our custom for these short jaunts, we left Friday morning. Rode to the destination and unpacked. Saterday would then be a long loop ride in the area, while Sunday was used for a relaxed return ride. On this trip we were:
André: BMW R1200GS
Magda: BMW R1200GS
Danie and Marlize: BMW R1200GSA
Karen: BMW F650GS
Trish: BMW R1200R
Richard: Honda Varedero
The group, excluding Richard left Bapsfontein bright and early, heading for Sudwala the long way round. This was done to avoid toll gates and to incorporate some twisties in the ride. The sad part about living in Gauteng is the distinct lack of twisties, making us always hunt for them when on outrides.
The first 200km is what we bikers fear most. HIGHWAY! We went from Bapsfontein to Witbank via the N4. Sadly, this straight piece of highway is the only way to get to Witbank. At Witbank we left the highway behind using a backroad to get around the very expensive toll gate between Witbank and Middelburg. We did a quick pit stop in Witbank, before we continued to Middelburg where we joined the N4 again. Fortunately for only a short bit, before we could leave the highway behind heading to Dullstroom, via Belfast.
We took another break at Dullstroom.
The fun now started as the road to Lydenburg have some twisties. Not much, but enough to give us and the bikes notice that we were approaching the incredible Long Tom Pass. Finally! We were actually using the sides of our tires for a change. We regrouped at the turn-off to Nelspruit and may our way via Rosehaugh to Sudwala Lodge. We booked in to the lodge and while some of us shopped for groceries for the weekend, others rode to a small shopping centre next to the N4 to get liquid refreshments.
After we were all together we started the braai and Richard arrived just in time to have supper with us. It was a great day of riding and fun was had by all. We swopped stories of the day, gave impromptu training sessions and sipped at what was on offer before we made our way to bed and the train to dreamland.
We left the lodge early (in our opinion), but not nearly early enough for Karen, a newby, who wanted to ride all night, if left to her own devices. I am sure she slept in her riding kit!
The first stint was from Sudwala Lodge to Montrose, back onto the N4 toward Johannesburg to Ngodwana where we left the N4 and made for Kaapsehoop. Kaapsehoop is a little village on top of the mountains and is famous for the feral horses and blue swallows that also make it their home. It is also one of our favourite places to visit. Not just the town, but getting there is one of the most beautiful roads in our country. We stopped here and enjoyed brunch. Remember, we were not in a hurry.
We left Kaapsehoop after a great brunch and headed toward Witrivier, via Nelspruit. Nelspruit is a large, buzzing town and always very busy on Saturdays. Best is to get straight through without stopping and make for the hills, which we did. We enjoyed the twisties through Witrivier to Hazyview. Here we made a long stop, for no good reason, except to talk and have some ice cream.
After the ice creams we made tracks over Kowyns Pass for the town of Graskop where we did a quick loop past God's Window and Wonder View. At Wonder View we did a piccie stop and a leg stretch.
From here we went back to Graskop, enjoyed the beautiful road between Graskop and Sabie, before returning to Sudwala Lodge for another relaxed evening around the braai fire. Karen insisted on being the trip Chief Braaier and none of us felt the need to debate the issue with her, so she was promply left to do the braai, making fire and all. I must say, for a GUUUURL she did a great job!
Time to go home. First we had a great breakfast. As always the left overs from the weekend, warmed up, mixed up and enjoyed while reminising over the weekend's riding. The route home took us back to Long Tom, via Rosehaugh. We stopped at the Long Tom Canon at the top of the pass for a leg stretch, and piccie opportunity, as is almost mandatory.
We passed through Lydenburg where we filled up with some motion lotion before heading for my absolute favourite piece of road. The Steenkampsberg Pass between Lydenburg and Roossenekal. This is a bit of road that any biker must ride! There can be no doubt!
From here we continued via Middelburg and Witbank back to our respective homes. It was an awesome weekend of riding and sharing with good friends. We will do so again soon. I am currently eyeing the KwaZulu Natal north coast.