Story by Jacques Erasmus
Well, the weatherman was suggesting that we call this trip off, but the six bike strong brigade would have none of it! And so we left Amanzimtoti on the Saturday morning in the rain bound for Fouriesburg via any alternative route we could find. No tollgate skipping, thank you, officer!
Heading through Nottingham Road, the weather started to ease off a bit, and after a greasy breakfast in Mooi River, it was off to find the usual ginger beer stop near Bergville. This stuff makes you dodge potholes that don’t even exist…But trust me: You will need it considering the poor state they seem to have left the Olivier’s Hoek Pass in. It truly seems as if a road building contractor has abandoned ship. This road brings out the adventure in adventure bike.
Nonetheless, we were rewarded with the best the Golden Gate could conjure up. This part of the world lies close to my heart and I had my fellow adventurers stopping around every corner for another look and another photo session.
Heading into Clarens, we realized why accommodation bookings were tougher than a half cooked goat chop. This small town was celebrating a centenary and there were bikers, boere and tourists everywhere. Enough time for a quick look-around and we were off again. This time to the 7-11. No, not the convenience store, but one of the best kept secrets of biker heaven. The R711 between Clarens and Fouriesburg offers some of the best riding and scenery in the Free-State in my humble opinion. No potholes to dodge here…at least for a few kilometres.
Clarens, Fouriesburg and Ficksburg must surely share the title for Sandstone capital of South Africa, as here you can see some spectacular old cottages constructed mainly of the local, abundant and familiar yellow and redish sandstone.
Here we settled for a night of meat on the fire and good old fashioned fellowship. Not too late though, because the morning, following breakfast, we would make the return journey along mostly the same route.
In the rain, the road between Golden Gate and down to Bergville became really tricky and this was without any ginger beer. After a nerve wrecking hour, we were back on the all too familiar N3, with only the good memories of the past 24 hours to keep the smile on your face.
This is a very achievable, out and back trip even for a fairly novice rider. In good weather I might suggest. Go ahead and give it a go!