Part 1: Namibia Bike Trip - Vioolsdrift
VIOOLSDRIFT TO AUS The Orange River Basin is known for a number of things. Abundant greenery sure isn't one of them. Still, the remarkable barrenness of the landscape holds an intriguing fascination. This area's beauty surely is in the sheer vastness of it.
Even though we knew the river was there somewhere, it almost came as a surprise to stumble across it amongst such aridness. It gently winds through the valley with some greenness desperately trailing it. The road closely hugged the hillside and at times the water came deliciously near. When we could not resist its invitation any longer we stopped and splashed in for a brilliant cool down. Life was good..
The river forked away from the road and disappeared into the distance. I was sad to see it go as I knew it would be a long time before we would have the pleasure of a swim again. Too soon we stumbled upon the exit of the Fish River Canyon National Park where some laid back park rangers made us sign a visitors book.
The road eventually reaches a T-junction which offers no real choice - go right towards Rosh Pinah (with left you would reach Sendelingsdrift in less than 10 km's). It was Friday around noon and we knew we still had to get some supplies for that evening. With only 20km's to the next shop, I started dreaming of a cold beer.
Immediately the road turned into a royal pain. Huge banks of sand disguised (middelmannetjies) with narrow, heavily corrugated tracks made our obese bike wallow like a drunken hippo. I had no choice but to stand up on the pegs and keep the speed up - trying my hardest to control the exaggerated squirming of the back.
Lisa has never been comfortable standing up on the pegs with me. It might have something to do with lack of experience and understanding the movement of a heavy bike in the loose but she also has a bit of a problem knee and as the peg to knee distance on the Tiger is rather short it makes it hard to get up quickly and be comfortable standing.
To be honest, it's perfectly fine by me if she just sits back and lets me do the monkey dance upfront. Problem is that she's suddenly faced with the fear of sliding forward on the seat - thus intensifying her death grip on the panic handles. Death grip equals stiff body equals bad for my efforts.
Apart from that, my big butt is the only thing she can now see - all the while with the back end of the bike squirming around. Combine all these things and you might just end up with a roller-coaster ride from hell. Blindfolded.
I was thus not greatly surprised when the call came for me to stop - NOW. The surface was so loose that I had to take a while slowing down before ploughing onto the side of the road for a much-needed breather. Some breathing exercises and we were on our way again. The tar coming into Rosh Pinah was heavenly and we rushed through the OK Groceries to stop outside the town for a deserving lager. Aah..
Had I not known that the 170km's from Rosh Pinah to Aus was tarred we definitely would NOT have come this way. On more than one occasion have I heard about the horrid condition of this road and also of the many bikers that met his match with their steeds heavily loaded. I could hardly imagine covering that distance under such conditions. Later on, these thoughts would come back to haunt me.
On the straight road towards Aus, we caught a refreshing thunderstorm which made things a bit more interesting and delightfully cooler. Aus itself was a bit of a letdown. Not much there. At the only shop, we bought some over-priced ice creams ("because this is Aus"?) and got directions to Klein Aus-Vista.
What a nice campsite! Apart from the fact that every site has a big tree, it was nice and quiet. We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging around - at some point mustering up the energy to climb a nearby hill. A storm was brewing in the distance and the dusky light painted magic around us. When big, fat drops started falling in between the booming sounds of thunder, some anxious-looking rooftop-tent travelling tourists clambered nervously into their 4x4's. Perplexed by the sight of me fixing dinner in the rain under a beach umbrella.
Distance for the day: 350km