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2009 Recap!

2009 was a funny year for me on the motorbike, good in some and then not so good in others. Lets Recap!

After a year involved with the BMW Motorbike Club, I was selected to feature on the Rides Committee as well as the position of Treasurer of the club in 2009. I am honored to have been elected for these positions, and I served on them for two years, with lots of ups and downs in the club.

From this Clickable Interactive Map you can see where I went during 2009. The purple is by motorbike and cyan was done in a car (you will soon read why in a car!)

[map style=”width: auto; height:400px; margin:20px 0px 20px 0px; border: 1px solid black;” kml=”http://etiennexplore.com/wp-content/uploads/EtienneXplore_2009.kml” elevation=”no” download=”no”]



As a member of the rides committee I had planned a trip down to Sani Pass for the club, very much the same route as I did on my original Sani Pass trip in December 2007. But tragedy struck two days before the trip when I was hit by a car in Kempton Park while commuting on the bike between Johannesburg and Pretoria. I broke my right collarbone and also damaged my right knee and ankle. I did however manage to ride the bike back to Pretoria, where I was eventually taken to hospital by friends. This left me with a major dilemma, the trip was two days away and I was supposed to be leading this trip! Luckily for me, my good friend Pieter was also going on the trip and he had lead many a trip (he was also Captain of the GS Ride committee, and Chairman of the BMW Club). I emailed him the GPS Track and he would lead the trip, I was not going to miss out, so I bummed a ride in the back-up vehicle!

If you recall, I mentioned in my Sani Pass post that the condition of the Pass can vary greatly from time to time. When I did it in 2007, it was a fairly easy and straight forward ride, and with me not yet a very experienced tour leader, I assured all the riders that Sani Pass is no major issue, and that everyone should be able to conquer it without any hassles……….This came back to bite me!!

The ride down to Nottingham Road was supposed to be a pretty easy day’s ride, but the notorious Bezuidenhoudt’s Pass through a spanner in the works as some riders were having a real tough time on the pass. Bezuidenhoudt’s Pass is also one of those passes that can be a walk in the park, or a real handful!


[captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-M4XJMtr/0/M/i-M4XJMtr-M.jpg” captiontext=”Quick breather at Sterkfontein Dam”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-zRnfM6C/0/M/i-zRnfM6C-M.jpg” captiontext=”Marius heading to the start of Bezuidenhoudt’s Pass”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-zZPpBDn/0/M/i-zZPpBDn-M.jpg” captiontext=”Bruno starting the decent”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-kLHstsT/0/M/i-kLHstsT-M.jpg” captiontext=”The Toyota Fortuner working its way down slowly”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-r4chmFW/0/M/i-r4chmFW-M.jpg” captiontext=”What is a ride without a little bit of mud?”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-xbcz8qC/0/M/i-xbcz8qC-M.jpg” captiontext=”Some parts were pretty loose and rocky”]


We spent a spirited evening in the famous Nottingham Road Hotel, and were up early to do the run up and down Sani Pass.

[captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-7Hmm45K/0/M/i-7Hmm45K-M.jpg” captiontext=”I always stop at this spot on the Lotheni Road between Nottingham Road and Himeville”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-JhpPRcc/0/M/i-JhpPRcc-M.jpg” captiontext=”Marnus, loving life on the 1200!”]


But, this time Sani was in a foul mood and she threw up a nasty track up the mountain. It was tough! Bikes were falling every which way, people got tired and they were sweating and some waited at the bottom, it was a mess really. I felt so bad sitting in the car with my broken collarbone, knowing that I am putting these people through this. All I could say to reassure them is that “The road will get better, just hang in there”. But around every corner the road got worse! I felt so horrible, I did not even take any photos of the way up!

In the end only 4 riders made it to the top, Pieter on an 1150GSA, Marnus and Bruno on 1200GS’s and Drix on an 800GS. Our crazy one legged friend Shangali made it up all the way to where the really steep switchbacks started. Huge respect to him with only one leg on a big 1200GS!

[captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-2D28TFr/0/M/i-2D28TFr-M.jpg” captiontext=”The lads that made it to the top, Bruno, Pieter, Drix, Marnus”]


After I took some good spirited flack from the guys at the bar, we descended down the pass again and I managed to get some pictures.

[captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-GpXcddg/0/M/i-GpXcddg-M.jpg” captiontext=”Bruno struggling on the way down, but as always, in good spirit! “] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-pwXMtHn/0/M/i-pwXMtHn-M.jpg” captiontext=”A Helping hand is never far away”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-KsGCbLz/0/M/i-KsGCbLz-M.jpg” captiontext=”Getting there, easy does it…”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-XNdJ7mb/0/M/i-XNdJ7mb-M.jpg” captiontext=”Bruno was a champ going down Sani, it is not easy to pull yourself together on a steep rocky decent when your confidence is shot! Well done Bonotto!”]


We took much longer than planned on Sani, so we got back quite late to the hotel in Nottingham Road. We slept like the dead that night!


On our way back to Pretoria we had one more overnight stop in the town of Newcastle in the Battlefields area of Natal. We hooked up with Sephton again and did some of the awesome tracks we last did on our Escarpment Passes trip in my 2008 Recap post.

[captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-zP4j4rV/0/M/i-zP4j4rV-M.jpg” captiontext=”Our KLR leader for the day, Sephton”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-fHs97ww/0/M/i-fHs97ww-M.jpg” captiontext=”Shangali really enjoyed the ride through the old railway tunnel, I bet he had flashbacks of the Alps!”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-QcPCHT4/0/M/i-QcPCHT4-M.jpg” captiontext=”The dirt roads were in fantastic condition, and Pieter had the chance to chill at the back while Sephton was leading the pack”]


The night in Hilldrop Tavern was a very rough night, with loads and loads of Rum and Coke consumed….. The next day was tough on everyone!

The ride up Normandien Pass was spectacular as always, with some posing for pictures and a power nap at the top!

[captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-bS5HzhP/0/M/i-bS5HzhP-M.jpg” captiontext=”Shangali always smiling with his trademark yellow!”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-9H7nvL4/0/M/i-9H7nvL4-M.jpg” captiontext=”Some a bit worse for wear after a very heavy night!”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-JtdBSSS/0/M/i-JtdBSSS-M.jpg” captiontext=”Drix’s pride and joy, the 800GS”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-s8SH5Vb/0/M/i-s8SH5Vb-M.jpg” captiontext=”Group photo at the top of Normandien Pass”]

This was a great trip, even though I was not on a bike, I still regard it as one of my great trips with the best friends!



This is not the only thing that happened in 2009. With me getting more involved in Enduro, I attended a few races as a spectator and also helped out in a fun event thrown together by some friends, I could not ride in this event as my collarbone was still giving me problems.

EWXC - 2009 1 - Heidelberg 062

EWXC - 2009 1 - Heidelberg 081

[captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-bPhBbQp/0/M/i-bPhBbQp-M.jpg” captiontext=”Braam getting the G450X through the tight forest section”]

EWXC - 2009 1 - Heidelberg 232

EWXC - 2009 1 - Heidelberg 256


This drop had a couple of guys a worried, it was very steep and pretty far down!

EWXC - 2009 1 - Heidelberg 241

EWXC - 2009 1 - Heidelberg 253

[captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-t55SFV4/0/M/i-t55SFV4-M.jpg” captiontext=”Many decided to walk their bikes down”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-PZKmz7g/0/M/i-PZKmz7g-M.jpg” captiontext=”My friend Lindsay decided to ride down, he just touched the front brake ever so slightly and did a spectacular endo, he was fine though!”]


The fun event was just that, great fun!

[captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-8D5Dwmq/0/M/i-8D5Dwmq-M.jpg” captiontext=”Leon getting ready to drop in”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-fKCPtvc/0/M/i-fKCPtvc-M.jpg” captiontext=”Eugene dropping in”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-rLvXmXk/0/M/i-rLvXmXk-M.jpg” captiontext=”Jeff getting some airtime over a drainage ditch”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-CJVKfGQ/0/M/i-CJVKfGQ-M.jpg” captiontext=”Pieter flying the WR250F”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-zT4h3sk/0/M/i-zT4h3sk-M.jpg” captiontext=”Stefan on the CRF”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-pGqnd7s/0/M/i-pGqnd7s-M.jpg” captiontext=”Nice slide into the corner!”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-nCB9xX8/0/M/i-nCB9xX8-M.jpg” captiontext=”Jeff deciding to just jump the drop off”]



During 2009 I also decided that I needed a more off road oriented bike as my trusty F650GS was getting a bit long in the tooth with all the commuting between Johannesburg and Pretoria. My riding was getting better, faster and more aggressive, so I decided to get myself a BMW G650X-Challenge!

[captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-mMRG8dT/0/M/i-mMRG8dT-M.jpg” captiontext=”Her first taste of some dirt”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-cgQTHRk/0/M/i-cgQTHRk-M.jpg” captiontext=”What a sexy bike! I eventually removed that monstrosity cattle cage on the back and also got rid of the huge screen! “]

This is why I was beginning to need a more off-road type of bike, this is not really F650GS territory…

[captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-Wpr6ZDC/0/M/i-Wpr6ZDC-M.jpg” captiontext=”My daily commuter was starting to take strain on trails like this”]


As in 2008, we did a bunch of rides with the BMW Club, and one longer ride down to Sodwana Bay on the North East Coast of South Africa, where there was the promise of more sand!!

[captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-6QfdWgS/0/M/i-6QfdWgS-M.jpg” captiontext=”A nice chilled ride out to Loskop Dam with Jamie (R.I.P)”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-LcZWj54/0/M/i-LcZWj54-M.jpg” captiontext=”Bruno loving the mud at Rhino Park”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-4hZWBN6/0/M/i-4hZWBN6-M.jpg” captiontext=”Buggering around on an old abandoned skills track “] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-PmW7Szg/0/M/i-PmW7Szg-M.jpg” captiontext=”Making a splash on the way to Cullinan”]


Tacking an old abandoned Skills Track with my friend Johan Gray

[captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-MK93zgt/0/M/i-MK93zgt-M.jpg” captiontext=”He was sooo much faster than me!”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-WbRzhwH/0/M/i-WbRzhwH-M.jpg” captiontext=”1200GS not a big fan of mud on the Brits Canal Roads in the rainy season!”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-3XjfpJK/0/M/i-3XjfpJK-M.jpg” captiontext=”Quick run up to the top of the Rock at Jericho”]


August finally arrived and it was time for some SAND!! I did the trip down to Sodwana Bay on my new X-Challenge, as I was very excited to give my sand riding skills a go on the lighter bike. It made such a difference, and I fell in love with this bike in the rough bits!


[captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-Pq4D3t6/0/M/i-Pq4D3t6-M.jpg” captiontext=”Ready to get on with it!”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-Rvfxhgt/0/M/i-Rvfxhgt-M.jpg” captiontext=”Pauli, owner of gps4africa, ready to rock and roll”] – gps4africa


[captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-9pKGJG2/0/M/i-9pKGJG2-M.jpg” captiontext=”This little croc gave us so much laughter, and quite a number of shots from the tot-packs in his mouth!”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-x2q3jTR/0/M/i-x2q3jTR-M.jpg” captiontext=”Some stunning riding in this area!”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-jPPHWq8/0/M/i-jPPHWq8-M.jpg” captiontext=”Loving the X-Challenge in sand!”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-FpKr59p/0/M/i-FpKr59p-M.jpg” captiontext=”Lending a hand to fallen comrade”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-9rqSv5Q/0/M/i-9rqSv5Q-M.jpg” captiontext=”Many hands to help lift the bike of said fallen comrade”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-MGH5jzM/0/M/i-MGH5jzM-M.jpg” captiontext=”Spent quite a bit if time on the beach as well”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-WpV8mxJ/0/O/i-WpV8mxJ.jpg” captiontext=”Where the jokes continued!”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-xpXk9hL/0/M/i-xpXk9hL-M.jpg” captiontext=”Deon (R.I.P) always with his pipe and his Q-Bond!”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-9j2W847/0/O/i-9j2W847.jpg” captiontext=”Lots of silliness in the local bar while watching rugby “] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-SHWL4wM/0/M/i-SHWL4wM-M.jpg” captiontext=”A whole new type of Jenga was being played”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-hpbNBz7/0/M/i-hpbNBz7-M.jpg” captiontext=”And of course, what would an evening be without a proper fire!”]


We got to this hill and gave it a go, I had a go on the 1150GSA, two failed attempts, and I got up to the top on the third go! This was huge fun!

[captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-7LxJTJd/0/M/i-7LxJTJd-M.jpg” captiontext=”It does not look that bad on a photo, but it was very loose and quite long!”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-F5QQ7xQ/0/M/i-F5QQ7xQ-M.jpg” captiontext=”Dani, Corlia and Joy watching from the stands”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-SFvjMPF/0/M/i-SFvjMPF-M.jpg” captiontext=”Bruno giving it stick!”] [captionpix imgsrc=”https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-JGXmFP9/0/M/i-JGXmFP9-M.jpg” captiontext=”Me having a go on the 1150GSA, I eventually made it up!”]


And that ladies and gentlemen was my 2009 in a nutshell! Like I mentioned, 2009 was full of ups and downs, broken bones and a new bike. Two long trips, one in the car and one on a bike and a bunch of day rides, so all in all a good year, but not the best one overall. The best was yet to come!!

Stay tuned for 2010!!

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  1. Daleen Dudley

    Awesome Etienne. I still remember that Sodwana trip. My first sand! 🙂

  2. Shangali Eberhart

    Wau, some awesome memories waking up in my head and heart …. Great Times

  3. Thanks Daleen and Shangali, yes, those were two very memorable trips! It felt good writing about them and bringing back all those memories!

  4. Ahhhhh! What an excellent trip down memory lane! Etienne, you certainly have a gift of turning a trip into an adventure!

  5. Thanks Marnus, stay tuned, there are some very cool reports on the way that will bring back some great memories!

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