Day one was set to be an easy entry into the Quest, with the intention that the team would have time to find their feet (seat?). The team had a comparatively ‘easy’ ride through the Richtersveld desert and a reasonably short section of the Namakwa Eco trail and its remote, sandy jeep trails next to the Orange River.
However, the trail took a challenging turn and immediately gave the team a taste of what was to come. Desert terrain, sand (so much sand!) and 40+ degree heat, all while seated on big, powerful adventure bikes.
Watch all the action of the first day here: https://bit.ly/2CYaBro
The Namaqua Eco Trail often features in the top 3 Desert Adventures for both 4x4s and Dual Sport bikes in South Africa. However, there are fewer bikes that take on the challenge simply because deep sand creates an extra layer of difficulty, with fewer bike enthusiasts even considering it on a big Litre Class Adventure machine like the Honda Africa Twin.
But, as Honda Quest is all about finding the ultimate Adventurer, sand skills are a must and where better to test them? And boy, was it a test…
It was just before midday on the second day that the first major obstacle appeared; several kilometres of dry riverbed that snaked its way up a canyon section. The starkly beautiful walls trapped and reflected the heat of the midday sun making it a doubly formidable trial. What followed was 60km of rocky climbs and sandy riverbeds all presented in the iconic vistas of the Orange River and Richtersveld Mountains – equal parts beautiful and treacherous.
As if the actual long, hard ride weren’t challenging enough, the team then had to paddle 7km to make it to their camp on the banks of the Orange River at Oewerbos.
Check out highlights from day 2 here: https://bit.ly/2yUsPFF
As is to be expected, day 3 wasn’t about to get any easier.
The route for day 3 today was one used for the Amageza Rally, a Dakar type motorcycle event.
It runs through rarely traversed sections of the Western side of the Richtersveld.
This day saw many opportunities for the team to test the sturdy Rumbux bashplates and engine guards. Many contestants, now over the adrenaline-fueled beginnings of the contest, were drawing on deep reserves for both them and their partners.
Thankfully, the final 80km was fast-flowing jeep track, only a small respite from the pace of the previous two days where the average overall speed was just over 20kph – a laborious pace for even the most seasoned.
In fact, Barend Fouche, Head of the Southern African Motorcycle Division, announced that (in his opinion) the 2018 Honda Quest was a lot more intense than previous years. With almost no shelter from the sweltering 40+degree heat, and the sun draining each of the more than capable contestants, it’s not so much ‘intense’ as it is relentless. Even once the sun sets, the contestants must set up camp, give presentations, and then pack-up the next morning before setting off again.
And sleep? That’s not so easy when you’re sleeping in the desert surrounded by scorpions.
See the highlights from day 3 here: http://bit.ly/2PTTjhB
By the fourth day the team seemed to be a little more comfortable (as comfortable as they could be in the circumstances) in their surroundings. The second of two terrific unseasonal storms blew into the overnight camp, just outside Springbok, leaving many with precious little sleep onec again.
The route started east down Spektakel Pass whilst thunder clouds and lightning threatened. Formidable as the Quest may be, the safety of all contestants is of paramount importance, so organisers had to improvise to ensure safe passage around the storm. A tricky but scenic route was set out, for which many private properties owned by local farmers graciously opened their gates.
It was apparent that the contestants were well and truly bonded with their Honda Twins, as there seemed to be little trouble cutting through tricky off-camber rock climbs or deep sand tracks.
With another long, intense day in the saddle and two evenings of sleep deprivation from stormy weather, the teams were given the night off from the planned presentations and tests to try (emphasis on ‘try’) get some rest.
Watch all the action of day 4 here: http://bit.ly/2Jf67fY