Jozi2Kozi – Not for Sissies, Untamed, Unridden Africa

| October 21, 2015 | Comments (0)

From early afternoon they rode in, some stumbled in after dark, sand splattered on their bikes, all tired but with smiles splitting their faces. Words seemed hard to find, “the best ride of my life”, “incredible”, “what scenery”,” I lost my humour for 20 minutes on the tough start to the gorge then wow wow wow”.

This was Day 3 and the red route left the pleasant lawns and cricket pitch of Mkuze Country Club with its delicious steak lunch and entered another Africa, one filled with fever trees, red cliffs, a mind boggling gorge and a few little sand monsters. Two worlds, extremes apart, a little like our country and a little like every day of the 3 day Jozi2Kozi motorbike ride.

DSC_0010Riders cross the grasslands
At registration the Jozi2Kozi T shirt which all riders received said it all, Africa Not for Sissies, ..and the Jozi2Kozi logo with its payoff line Unridden, Untamed, Africa.. was that an invitation.. or a warning?

DSC_0028Rolling grasslands of the start

Starting in rolling grasslands near Nigel, the imbongi, a traditional praise singer welcomed the riders with his sing song chant, wishing them well on their ride, a traditional greeting which would bless each morning. Fats the giant MC reflective of his name gave a short briefing and the riders headed off.

Hendrik Reyneke, Adriaan Steyn, Bennie Pienaar, Le Roux ErasmusHendrik Reyneke, Adriaan Steyn, Bennie Pienaar, Le Roux Erasmus

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Day one was a breeze, long gravel highways and easy twee spoor farm tracks. A route to lull the senses but more important to settle the riders, let the adrenalin flow, get some wind in the hair and relish the rolling open roads of Mpumalanga. That evening, sponsored Namaqua wine and lots of other drinks flowed at the lovely Country Trax Offroad Academy, to the extent that the briefing was filled with chatter and kakpraat…. Many would regret not listening to that briefing as day 2 showed its fangs.

IMG-20150810-WA0156Country Trax Offroad Academy

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Day 2 dawned, a lovely sunny day, two routes awaited us the red down Vuilonderbroek pass, up Bitch Pass followed by crossing the Pongola and its rugged valley twice, the route ending in Ithala Game Reserve. The Green route followed a gentler pass, gave riders the option of Bitch pass and wove its way along gentle twee spoor to Luneburg Mission for lunch followed by a gravel and tar mix through the Bivane valley also ending at Ithala.

DSC_0017Gavin Morton with the Vuilonderbroek behind

The Red Route, view from VuilOnderbroek towards Bitch pass in the distanceThe Red Route, view from VuilOnderbroek towards Bitch pass in the distance

FK me that was steep, James Cunningham, Leon Louw and Richard Lemmer discuss the pass, small spots behind them are the rest of the bikesFuck Me that was steep, James tells Leon Louw

Vuilonderbroek lived up to its name, a vertical rock infested descent twisting down the escarpment. Many a bike was “rested” and the cursing mixed with elation at the bottom. The advantage of bike resting was enjoying the spectacular views of the valley below. Shortly after VuilOnderbroek was equally steep yet slightly easier bitch pass, many of the green route riders joined here with many big bikes and a few with pillions braving the pass.

Ken Whitfield on his first enduro ride up Bitch PassKen Whitfield braving bitch pass

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An easy fun farm track got us to Luneburg German Mission for a welcome lunch and adventure stories. Others like Jame Cunningham spent lunch fixing the moose in his tyre … this is no moose knuckle!
Leon Louw, James Cunningham & Seamus o Brein trying to do a moose removal - who said moose knuckle

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DSC_0047Lunch in Luneburg German mission

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After lunch the fun started, a few GS adventures, Super Teneres and 1190’s had joined the red route with a plethora of smaller 500’s 450’s and 690’s. The large bike riders showed admirable skill or tenacity where skills were lacking. Rocky passes, river crossings and awesome twee spoor tracks clinging to the side of bushveldt hills. Some coudn’t resist the edge!

Seamus oBrein awaiting help while GG gets the pic firstSeamus O Brein shoots over the edge, GG helps but not before taking the pic

Mike Phol & James Cunningham watch Gavin Morton, Brian Bontekoning & Hardy Botes fix James Tyre, way to go James

Groups of riders, strangers earlier helped each other manoeuvre, drag, push and splash across the Pongola river – rocky and slippery, the Mokonyane stream – flat but flipping deep, and the second Ithala crossing where a large group gathered to gape and photograph while organiser Andy Coetzee waded back and forth showing off his abs and helping riders across.

 

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On this day, one group of riders stood out, the Le Roux brothers and their wives who not only did the whole red route bar Vuilonderbroek but did it with their wives sitting happily as pillions across all the passes or rivers. The day ended with a 10 km ride through Ithala Game Reserve enjoying the abundant giraffe, Zebra, Wildebeest and Eland. The pub and dinner was filled with stories of adventure, daring, excitement and a very attentive riders briefing this time!

IMG-20150810-WA0208The last group walk into Ithala, clearly exhausted

Day 3, the sun rose to riders leaving in groups for a slow game drive through 15km’s of Ithala, a privilege to view game from our bikes and enjoy the incredible mountain vistas that dropped off down to that dreaded Pongola crossing. The rocky gravel Zululand roads and some twisty single track through Zulu homes, aloes and towering Euphorbia cactus forests were beautiful but took their toll on a bunch of tires with roadside repairs the order of the day. Similar to the valley of a thousand hills this road snaked along the crests of hills, dropping dizzily and then rising again through bush veldt, Zulu kraals and on the edge of game farms. Single track red sections wove through impossibly thick thorn bush passages, following the footpaths of a million barefoot Zulus.

Gavin Morton in Zululand I presumeGavin Morton, In Zululand I Presume ?

Thomas Eich, Dave Griffin, the bandaged one preparing for Mkhuze gorge and fixing day 3 red route damage withthe cricket and Dave Hepburn in the backgroundThomas Eich, Dave Griffin, the bandaged one preparing for Mkhuze gorge and fixing day 3 red route damage with the cricket and Dave Hepburn in the background

After the previously described lunch at the country club, the teams had three routes, green, purple and red. The red Mkhuze gorge route led from the fever tree lined river to an awesome sand monster track of thick sand weaving down a tunnel of trees, each branch smacking you or ripping at you as your bike snaked from side to side.

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Gavin Morton on his Amageza machine in the lower end of the Mhuze Gorge

Mkhuze Gorge

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Opening out onto a kinder sand tweespoor we picked up speed, locals cheering waving and dancing at us as we rode by. A bush path led to Lake Sibaya with its hippos and fish eagles before heading to Kosi Cabins for our finish and final party.

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The easier routes crossed the Lebombo range via a steep goat track with awesome views of the flat Mhlabuyalingana (the earth is flat) coastal plain before following an easier track through the sand, although the odd sand monster still lurked and some many a bike was seen resting in the soft sand.

Kudos to the invisible support teams, Charly Harrison rescuing drowned and broken bikes, Fats and his team racing ahead and putting up tents, weary riders arriving at the overnight venue their tents setup, their bags alongside. Bertus Prinsloo and his team of medics, rescuing, sweeping and pretending this was hard work as they rode their bikes with the group. The lunch and overnight venues outdid themselves with plentiful and delicious food.

Sweep driver Charly Harrison with bike fuelSweep & Support Driver Charly Harrison with the umm bike fuel

Each day gave us a new route, each night a new venue, the Jozi2Kozi was an incredible exploration of the North Eastern part of our country from the rolling grasslands and mielies fields of Mpumalanga, dropping into the broken rugged valleys of Northern Zululand and into the fever tree speckled sandy coastal forests of Maputaland. There were some really tough routes and some easy ones, from those who had never ridden offroad before who tackled and beat the red routes to the tough and competent and the newbies who slowly explored the green relishing the views and the countryside, there was a challenge and an experience for everyone.

The Jozi2Kozi Thrills & Spills Video

To quote a rider Kapsi’s email after the event “I just want to say well done for ensuring an amazing experience over the past few days doing Jozi2Kozi. It was an experience of a life time and so well organised. You can tell anyone who asks “The red route is a red route”!!! Like you said Africa isn’t for sissies …”

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And Dave Griffin of RAD This was my first proper offroad Enduro type event and I must tell you that I absolutely loved it, the organisation, the people and the riding were all outstanding! Thank you guys for all the organising and for accommodating us so professionally and effortlessly, I will certainly be back next year and will keep your event as my personal reprieve where I can ride and enjoy the sport I work in.

What more can we say, The Jozi2Kozi, now ridden, but still Untamed Africa. Book your spot now for 2016 at Jozi2Kozi

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Category: South Africa

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