by Inge Triegaardt
I was just out of school when the unexpected happened. I was getting ready to go to university and become a chic business woman, when I woke up one day and my adventurous father decided to spoil me with an old Yamaha 250XT scrambler.
Gone were the days of working so hard to get rid of my sporty, tomboyish style and wearing my high-heels (which I never managed to master anyway) were put on hold. I was all to happy to follow in the footsteps of my forefathers. Exploration and traveling was in my blood, I was born that way. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity and nothing could stop me. I was going to ride around the world with the wind in my hair and not a care in the world.
Dad started out with lessons in safety and responsibility (doing his parental duties), but he already had the first trip planned. He was rather cautious in telling me all the stories of him and mom riding his Yamaha 500XT back in the day. I was a lady after all and should not behave like a biker-chick. I soon became aware of the plan to visit Gamkaskloof (better known as The Hell), a place that we have visited before my motorcycle days.
The training was soon completed in record time and I was deemed fit and skillful enough to make the trip. I was certain to pack and carry my own luggage and dad was all to thankful when I offered. He had to “carry” mom after all. At this stage I was still roughing it. Dad had earned his full (very fancy looking to me) gear after all the year’s of riding and fixing bikes. Mom was precious cargo, so she too had sufficient padding and protection in all the right places. Me, on the other hand, had to earn my gear first, so I borrowed a very sweaty, two sizes too big, pair of pants from a friend of my dad who, at the time, was a hardcore KTM Enduro rider. Protection wasn’t left behind as I managed to get some kneepads and chest-protector as well.
So there I was, all geared-up on my Yamaha 250XT and mom and dad on his BMW 1200GS. Until this day, I still think my dad wished he had the Yamaha that looked all tough and ready for the job (everyone loves a Yamaha). I swung my leg over the red seat, kick-started it to life and with a push off a button on the GS, dad led the way, determining the cruising speed for them and the top speed for me.
We were off and I could not stop smiling in my helmet. I was soon riding like an old Dakar competitor, at least that is how it felt, dreaming of a night under the stars, just me and my bike (and the parents). What was supposed to be a nerve-wrecking trip that, at times, scared some experienced riders, turned out to be one of the most exciting rides I have ever had to date. I was having the time of my life. The passion of adventure riding was ignited and nothing else mattered. A trip that usually requires careful planning, was turned into an impromptu family-gathering.
Dad was stopping at regular intervals to have a smoke. In hindsight, I’m still not sure if it really were smoke-breaks or if they were concerned breaks to check if I am still okay. Of course I was okay, I have adrenaline running through my veins and I have been trained like a soldier. Nothing was going to stop me.
That night around the fire, after all the adrenaline has subsided, I realized what I have accomplished. It is sometimes good to not know what you are doing at the moment. My dad always does thorough research, but I was glad that he did not tell me everything about Gamkaskloof and what the conditions were like to get there. I went with an open mind and turned The Hell into Heaven.
That night, I fell asleep with peace in my heart and great excitement. I could share another part of motorsport with my dear dad, but a new door opened. Another world to explore. I was happy to eat dust for a few hours, if it meant that I would feel like I am on top of the world.
Below is the route we took from George via Montagu Pass, Paarde Poort to Oudtshoorn and on to Swartberg Pass and turning of to Gamkaskloof.
Be safe and enjoy the ride!
Read more about the classic motorcycle collection in Knysna at Full Throttle