Monday, March 28, 2011

Greyton or MacGregor?

I don't want to say this, but winter is slowly but surely creeping in on us. The mornings are chilly and you could feel the days getting shorter with some notable changes in the atmosphere. Not to let this get me down, I decided this weekend to invite two friends for a round trip around the Riviersonderend Mountains via Greyton and McGregor. The idea was to do as much gravel (what's new?) on this 400 km trip and to be home at around 2pm, with obviously a breakfast thrown in at McGregor for good measure.

We left Kleinbaai near Blouberg at around 7:44 heading towards Franschoek where we were thinking of having our first cup of coffee. The problem with my bike trips nowadays is that I have to cover quite a distance on familiar roads before I can get to a point where the new undiscovered ones are waiting for me. So, my trip to Franschoek was just about "getting there", but along the way I made sure that I enjoyed the scenery and the nice weather. Well, at parts the temperature dropped to 10 degC but fortunately my wife suggested I take my new summer jacket's inner part with me. This definitely saved my me from frostbite and an ultimate slow death. In Franschoek we filled up with coffee as planned and here already I found myself checking out the freshly baked meat pies with droopy eyes. Hunger was not going to wait until McGregor but I was determined to stick it out until then.

Taking a break before Greyton
On the Franschhoek pass it was bends and curves as usual and just short of Villiersdorp we hit our first dirt road. I have done this route before, but that time I was on my way to Cape Agulhas and didn't stop the watch the daisies or to make new friends. At least we stopped every now and then to admire the scenery, but I think in the end all we wanted to do was ride the gravel until the sun sets...or for me until 2pm at least. That was of course until we entered Greyton and our stomachs demanded immediate attention. Besides, the last time I went through Greyton I didn't see many people, but on Saturday morning this place seemed to be more popular than Franschhoek. Capetonians love to come hang out here over weekends and with restaurants galore and a fresh produce market you can really find enough to keep yourself busy for a while. This is really a quaint little town where it seems time has stood still for the past 30 years. It was not a bad idea to "stand still" as well and do breakfast. We drove through the town like cowboys looking for the saloon and turned around to order our breakfasts at The Post House. And yes, I can surely recommend the Post House for breakfast.

Plenty for the eye in Greyton
Greyton's main street
After a very nice breakfast on the stoep while singing the praises of our wonderful and understanding wives who gave us the day off to go do our thing, we hit the gravel road further down to Riviersonderend. On my last trip I took the gravel just outside Greyton down to Gansbaai, so from here on I was on "new" undiscovered territory towards Riviersonderend. What I did re-discover though was that you cannot always trust a GPS. A GPS for one does not always know the difference between a public and a private road. At a farm gate with a less-than-friendly sign we turned around, but by this time (after 12.30 already) I knew that I was not going to make home at 2 and my fellow bikers already told me that their wives had given them the whole day for riding. It didn't take much to convince me and with a quick sms I extended my allowed riding time with a couple of hours. From now on high speeds would not be time driven but rather fun driven.

Filling up at McGregor's petrol station
When he got to the N2 we headed straight through Riviersonderend and about 25 kilometres past the mentioned town we turned off at Stormsvlei onto the R317. A couple of kilometres further entering the Klein Karoo and now behind the Riviersonderend Mountains we found our next gravel road leading towards McGregor. Here it was yet again racing on the gravel hoping to get that floating feeling one finds only on a gravel road at high speed. When we entered McGregor is was clear that all the activities of the morning was already completed and that most of the visitors have left the town and the residents have retreated back to their beautiful little houses. Very similar to Greyton this town could've provided us with breakfast as well, but we just needed a cooldrink and were ready to head on. Roodt filled up his bike, we made a short drive through town and then headed towards Robertson.

Another break before McGregor
Just before Robertson we turned back towards Villiersdorp in an effort to stay on gravel, but then Lubbe's visor fell off and he was exposed to insect missiles and dust. This forced us to take it slower but with sunglasses we managed to safely find our way back to Villiersdorp, Franschhoek and eventually home. The ride took us until 5 pm and over nearly 500 kilometres, with about 40% on gravel. I didn't take many pictures as I did not bring my proper camera with, but Roodt was making sure that I had plenty to show on my blog. I always say this after discovering new places and nice towns but never do, but I will definitely need to go back to Greyton for a proper visit. McGregor? Also nice, but I think I liked Greyton more.

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