Road Trip: Taking on a Midnight Trip to Coffee Bay – Day 1 of 5
What better way to follow up a cross-border trip than with a long trip to the Wild Coast exactly a week later, this time around riding a 2019 Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L Manual.
Exactly seven days after our cross-border trip to Lesotho, I was thrilled to get another opportunity to take up on another road trip. It was the second-leg of our maiden, Pride of Africa/Ubuntu Adventure Ride 2019, and our destination this time around was the iconic natural wonder Coffee Bay, which is perfectly located on the Wild Coast, Eastern Cape.
My partners in crime, one of my lady colleagues who was alongside me on a second bike was also on a 2020 Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L, but her bike was in Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) set-up, last but not least the rest of the team comprising of three lady journos were driving in an Isuzu Mu-X 7-Seater SUV support vehicle, this was attached to a bike trailer.
To tackle this long journey from Johannesburg to East London we had to endure a gruelling travel distance of about 1040(km) one-way, via what I would call a longer route. We were very determined to reach East London on the evening of the very same day, so with that in mind it was crucial that we leave Johannesburg just after midnight on Thursday, 12th of December 2019.
Embarking on a bike trip around midnight! This was most certainly a 1st for me, have you ever had to take upon a bike trip around 12 midnight? My safety measures before and during the trip included but not limited to the following, doing a bike pre-trip inspection beforehand, going to bed at 5pm on Thursday evening so that I had adequate rest, and making sure we got enough rest time at every pit stop.
Day 1 – Goodbye to a Freezing and Dark City of Gold!
With minor delays, before sunrise on our departure day I was excited we had covered some ground in very dark and cold conditions along the N3, N12, then South via R59, R57 and R26 through small towns like Vereeniging, Sasolburg, Heilbron and Reitz before stopping over in Bethlehem for some hearty breakfast and refuelling of bikes, at this point in time we had travelled roughly 300km from Johannesburg.
Pleased, the Africa Twin LED headlights are extremely powerful, thanks to the latest LED technology fitted on the bike, at some point they were even an annoyance to our support vehicle driver, funny enough. To mitigate against this the car driver kindly requested us to power down and maintain a gap of about a length of football field between her vehicle and our bikes. I found these LED headlights to be extremely beneficial especially if you are riding on very dark secluded roads like we were, in city riding they also provide good visibility of the bike and rider.
Like a spring in someone’s step, It was clutches out in Bethlehem as the sun begun to shine over the horizon, re-joining the R26 riding along the same spectacularly mountainous formations, one would have been forgiven for thinking we were headed back to Maseru, this time around though our route would traverse pass Maseru, around the Lesotho border line through small towns such as Fouriesburg, Ficksburg, Ladybrand, Zastron and Rouxville to get to our next major pit stop at Shell Ultra City Aliway North, about 344km (+-4hours of travel time) away from our last major pit stop in Bethlehem. This is located just across the historical steel bridge structure in Aliwal North, which crosses the mighty Orange River.
I must be honest, prior to the above pit stop fatigue was showing me flames! To make matters worse the solid and angular shaped bike seat fitted as standard on my Honda Africa Twin was threatening to make me a double amputee, one could argue and say this type of seat geometry is more orientated for off-road riding, however for long distance trips I guess a seat fitted with more comfortable foam could make life easier. I can only hope that this issue has been addressed on the new generation bike for year 2020. To mitigate against fatigue during the above pit stop, we had a good rest over our lunch break, and we stretched our legs by walking around a parking lot.
Moving swiftly along from frustrations, I was still pretty much pleased with the overall performance of my Honda Africa Twin Manual, with a slight pull of a throttle the engine can easily accelerate out of any sticky situation, without having to tap down a gear, the 21in front and 18in rear tyres fitted to my bike were also holding their own, they provided awesome long-distance travel comfort and grip as expected, at the fuel pumps when we were refuelling our bikes it was evidently clear that my bike’s fuel consumption was always a tad lower in comparison to its DCT sister that my colleague was riding, this could have been attributed to the difference in engine power delivery through the two different transmissions, fuel consumption on my Honda Africa Twin Manual was around 5.75 litres per 100km, versus 5.9 litre per 100km on my colleagues’ bike in DTC set-up.
Like 5 year old kids who had just received some toys with their McDonalds Happy Meals, we continued with our ride from Aliwal North along the N6 route South passing Jamestown, at some point we had a bit of a scare from an evidently dark rain cloud in a distant horizon, overwhelmed with anxiety we immediately pulled over on the side of the road for a few minutes, in anticipation for a heavy rain storm up ahead we were forced to put on our rain suits. By the way, surprisingly we did miss that rain cloud by a smallest of margins.
Riding the last 200km section of the N6 between Queenstown and our ultimate destination in East London was exhilarating, that was largely because this section of road is invitingly curvy and twisty, one couldn’t have asked for a better final stretch of road to our bike trip, this was like a closest feeling you would get from doing a victory lap around a racetrack on a superbike, the only difference is that we were taking it home on Honda adventure bikes.
To our pleasure our trip end with a huge success an hour or two before sundown, for dinner that evening we enjoyed a much deserved braai and a drink in celebration of what was a victorious day of travel, it had been a very long and demanding road trip both physically and mentally, the two Honda Africa Twin bikes and the Isuzu Mu-X SUV support vehicle had been put through the test, they all proved to be reliable long distance travel partners.
For more about East London, click here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_London,_Eastern_Cape
For top 12 things to do in East London, click here: https://www.planetware.com/tourist-attractions-/east-london-saf-ec-el.htm
|God first, village boy originally from KwaZulu Natal, a senior road designer/engineer by craft, Chairman of South Africa Road Federation Northern Region (SARF), director at Bikers Social Responsibility Foundation NPO, biker for over 25 years, bike enthusiast, and contributor at Bike Talk SA.|