CrazyNomad Joburg to Cape Town Day 5

So we survived the night at the Mimosa municipal camping ground. Time for a quick coffee and pack up and then to find a bicycle shop to repair Tony’s wobbly wheel, service his bike and buy some spare tyres. Finally around 1pm we hit the road towards Kroonstad roughly 100 km away. The way our trip was going with the endless breakdowns, this seemed like a long way away. I remember thinking to myself that if there was going to be a breakdown, I hope it would be me rater than Tony once again. As they say, be careful what you wish for. We were making great progress and the bikes were going really well. Then, suddenly out of nowhere my bike engine just cut. I knew it could not be petrol because we had only just filled up a few km back, this was something else. As I stopped I told Tony that I think that there is no spark. Fortunately we had spare spark plugs, put a new one in and the bike fired right up. We packed away all the tools and we were off again, or maybe not. My bike was not engaging the motor, be careful what you wish for! The driveshaft key to drive the sprocket had snapped. This was my fault for sure. Two days before leaving, I was servicing my bike and the driveshaft key fell out and I couldn’t find it. The following day I made two new ones but I never hardened the steel. Things got worse, I had lost the spare that I had made. We were 30 km from Kroonstad and in a bit of a pickle. It was 5pm and we were on the side of the road once again. For some reason, in his crazy wisdom, Tony decided to bring some fencing wire along on this trip, who takes fencing wire on a motorized bicycle tour? Anyway I asked Tony for the wire, checked the width and it was a perfect fit. In the meantime, we were sitting just outside a farmer’s gate, Hannes van der Merwe, who asked if we were ok, which at that time we thought we were. Tony being Tony however said no we are not. We might run short of fuel and if he could maybe assist with a liter or two. Hannes immediately jumped in his van and came back with some fuel for us. In the meantime Tony cut the wire to length, shaped it, and in it went, what a pleasure. So problem solved, not!!!! Working on the side of the road and in the grass, I dropped an important little bolt that holds a butterfly nut in place straight into this long grass, brilliant. Next Hannes’s father Flip van der Merwe arrives and asks us if we are ok. Well we needed help again and asked if he by any chance would have a bolt that I needed. He jumped in his van and a few moments later he was back with a box of nuts and bolts. Finally I found the correct size but it was too long. No problem for Flip van der Merwe, jumped in his van again, cut the bolt to length and was back in a flash. Problem solved and my bike up and running again.

Now we were faced with the possibility of having to ride at night on a road with almost no shoulder with high volumes of trucks and cars, not ideal at all. I decided to ask Flip if we could pitch our tents on his property and immediately his said yes. We were experiencing real kindness of a South African Nation from all walks of life.

As we were setting up our tents, a young lady approached us, it was Hannes’s wife. Inanca was so intrigued by what we were doing, she invited us for dinner at their home. After the time that Tony and I had been having on the road, we agreed that having a home cooked meal by a farmers wife was just what we needed and we accepted the invitation. Inanca had spent a few years in Italy and cooked us a lovely gnocchi chicken and tomato dish. We were in heaven. After dinner this amazing couple offered a donation to Little Fighters Cancer Trust. Flip, Hannes and Inanca van der Merwe, we will remember you for the rest of our lives, you are very special people and once again it is people like this that make our country great!!!!!! We retired to our tents and with a full belly, I slept right through until the sunrise.

CrazyNomad Motorized bicycle tour Joburg to Cape Town

Day 4

Once again we had to call on re-inforcements for Tony’s bike. Desmond Soekoe from Soekoe Bicycle Company came out to bring spares and assist in fixing the problems. Desmond has got many years experience in building these bikes and custom built this bike for Tony specifically to do this tour. After assessing the bike, it was clear that the wrong tyres were chosen for this bike. Firstly, the tyres were too wide and that is why they were catching the chain and the frame. Secondly the tensioner had to be bent to keep the chain from rubbing against the frame. Fortunately it had not cut through the frame yet. Once these adjustments had been made, it was time to hit the road. Tony had a new (smaller tyre) on the back and a new tyre on the front, but still the large size. Once more we were on the road.

Disaster was only around the corner once more. We rode 4km when suddenly Tony started to swerve wildly. Initially I was cursing him for riding like a lunatic and then he went down and went down hard! He fell to the right and into the road, I was behind him and events unfolded in front of my eyes. I was sure that a big tragedy was about to happen. A Minibus Taxi was forced to react extremely quickly as it only just missed Tony’s head lying in the middle of the road!!

Tony’s front tyre had burst and he lost control. Our bikes were heavily loaded and at that speed, he stood no chance.

Tony really struggled to get up as he had gone down quite hard. I rushed to assist and get him and his bike off the road. At that stage he did not realize how badly he had been hurt. His leg, foot, shoulder and arm had taken the brunt of the impact. The front wheel lying on the ground above was so buckled that it could not fit in the frame. Once again, we were in big trouble as the Kragron Miners Ghosts clearly did not want us to leave, just look at that vehicle disappearing in the photo below! At this point, I was certain that Tony was done and he would call someone to come and fetch him.

Tony however was not done, not by a long shot.We worked on the spokes until the wheel was good enough to fit back between the forks and this CRAZY man Tony, got on his bike and started to ride again.

Once again we were riding and we really wanted to make Parys, this was not going to be easy. Tony started to feel the pain and to make things worse, we were about to hit another dirt road and big rains had just come to make this journey just a little more of a challenge. We were facing not just an ordinary muddy dirt road, it was wet clay on the Wolwehoek road!

We were sliding all over the place. Tony clearly still in shock, decided to call his wife to discuss his previous ordeal while riding in these conditions. With only one had to steer, suddenly I saw him swerving across the road once again. As can be seen above, he went off the road, somehow managing to stay on the bike, stopped the bike and nonchalantly continued to talk to his wife. I am now convinced that Tony is totally crazy! Are we ever going to reach Cape Town?????

Now it was my turn to start struggling. So far, besides one puncture, thanks to the ghosts of Kragbron, I had an easy ride without any problems. The bike was perfect and I was in good shape. My tyre choices were very different to the tyres on Tony’s bike. On the rear I had a commuter tyre, and on the front, a full slick road tyre. Well lets just say that on wet clay this just doesn’t work! I went down twice. Sorry folks no photos.

Finally we got onto a dryer dirt road and we got to Parys as the sun was going down. How we made that 60km journey, I am not sure. One thing is for sure though, we will never forget Kragbron and 19 December 2018.

As we got to Parys, we decided that we were going to have a proper meal and we ended up having huge T-Bone steaks! Before that though we met two great young lads on their way back to Pretoria. With our bikes, clothes and shoes full of mud they had to know our story. Guys we really appreciate the donation for Little Fighter’s Cancer Trust.

After our incredible meal it was time to start thinking about finding a place to sleep. Well this is Parys, it should be easy right, NOT. The restaurant manager explained that he tried every camping site around Parys and they were all fully booked. Once again, we were in a predicament. I was 10pm so we decided to go to the police station and ask if we could camp on their grounds. Well that wasn’t going to happen. They directed us to the municipal camping grounds, Mimosa. We were concerned as the restaurant manager said everything was fully booked. We asked the station commander if the place was safe and clean and if there would be space for us to camp. He assured us and we were on our way. As we arrived at the campsite gates, the place looked deserted and the gates were wide open and the offices locked. We decided to enter and we immediately noticed that there was not one pitched tent in the entire camp. Why would this be, we wondered. It was really late so we pitched our tents next to the river. It really looked dodgy so we put our bikes in our tents and went to sleep. What a day to remember!!!!!

Day 2 & 3 CrazyNomad Joburg to Cape Town

Day 2 - Vaal Dam to Heilbron, breakfast time, cabanossi and beer
Vaal Dam to Heilbron

We got a fairly early start considering we had a great time at the Historic Bike Museum in Deneysville. The road very soon became dirt due to the roadworks. Conditions were wet, slippery and very bumpy. The bikes were taking a beating and we quickly realized that this trip was not going to be easy.

When we got to Heilbron we had done roughly 70km for the day and a total of 250km for the trip so far. Things seemed to be going very well. We only had one small problem, the pedals on Tony’s bike had broken. These pedals were definitely not suitable for a trip like this. So we went in search of new pedals. This proved to be a major problem because the thread was imperial and not metric. We landed up repairing the pedals as best we could until we could get to the next town. During our search for pedals, we were swarmed by the locals who had obviously never seen motorized bicycles like these before. Initially it was quite annoying and then the most incredible thing happened. One of the locals, Benjamin van Wyk asked how he could help or contribute to our cause, Little Fighters Cancer Trust. This man, unemployed, right on the bottom of the poverty scale, scratched around in his pockets and donated R10.00 to our Charity. Tony & I were totally taken back by this and we really felt that this trip was going to become very special indeed. We went for lunch and after lunch got another two donations, one of the donations coming from a young lady that had just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

This day just couldn’t get better! Then disaster struck. As we were heading out, Tony was hearing a noise on his bike and his clutch was playing up. Initially I thought the clutch just had to be set, but that was not going to be the case. When we opened the clutch, there were bearings lying everywhere. His clutch bearing had failed and although we were sponsored spares by Ecotrax, we had no spare flywheel. I had never come across this problem before, so it never crossed my mind that something like this would happen.

We had no choice but to call re-inforcements and quickly come up with a new plan. Fortunately, Tony’s wife Lesley was still at the Vaal Dam, only 70km away. She came to our rescue and brought a trailer along to load the bikes and go back to the Vaal Dam. While waiting for the rescue vehicle, a great lad by the name of Chris sent over two ice cold beers. Thanks Chris, these beers were really appreciated. Soon the bikes were loaded and we were on our way back to the Vaal Dam.

We decided to load Tony’s bike and drive back to Johannesburg and get a flywheel from another bike that I had built a few days before leaving. That night I replaced the flywheel and early morning we were on our way back to the Vaal Dam to start our journey once again. It was Tony’s 50th Birthday, what a legend. Happy Birthday bud and here’s to the next 50!

At that point we decided that there was no way we were going to ride that trecherous road to Heilbron again, so we decided to head for Parys, Free State.

All was going very well again and we were pleased with the progress we had made. We arrived in a very strange little place called Kragbron. On 21 Jan 1960, 435 miners were buried alive when a coal mine collapsed. This place was very strange to us and it was like a ghost town.

We filled up with fuel and decided to grab a quick beer. As we were about to get going, I noticed that had a flat wheel. Tony then noticed that something was not right with his back wheel. The wheel had been rubbing up against the chain and had worn down the tyre side wall. Then he noticed the chain was also catching on the frame and once again, we were in trouble. The ghosts of Kragbron had come to haunt us. It was getting very late and it was clear that we would be staying there for the night. We needed food and a place to pitch our tents. While Tony finished putting his bike together, I went off in search of food and shelter. There was a strange housing compound within an estate and I was informed that the only shop was in there. When I arrived at the shop, I asked the lady working there if she knew of any place we could stay for the night after I had explained our dire situation. Immediately she offered us a place to stay at her home, WOW! We landed up pitching our Tents in Hannelie’s back yard as we insisted we wanted to camp. Hannelie is the most kind and generous person, she looked after us like we were her children, thank you and we will never forget you.

First ever ride from Johannesburg to Cape Town On Motorized Bicycles

The start of our Epic Adventure

Day 1
15 December 2018 was the start of an epic adventure and into unexplored territory. Since this had never been done before, we had no reference or experience to call on. This was just going to be one of those crazy ideas that we were determined to make a reality.
We were seen off by family and friends from Melrose Arch, Johannesburg and this dream adventure suddenly became a reality. We were riding off into the unknown, no fixed route, no schedule and no accommodation booked, who does that? The CrazyNomads, Jason Doyle and Tony Visser, thats who!!!!
Our initial destination was to reach the Historic Bike Museum, where another welcoming party awaited us. It was so great to see people that we had only met along the road a few weeks before come out and support us.
A big thanks to John & Charmaine, owners at the Museum & the Lake Avenue Guest Lodge, you guys are truly amazing people. Charmaine offered raffle tickets for a two night stay for two including breakfast. Before we left they had already collected a good amount of money for Little Fighters Cancer Trust.
We were then off to Oranjeville on the Vaal dam to complete our first day.