pgjonker.co.za

Posts tagged with “Tierkloof”

4×4 Course for beginners

Thursday, 8 July, 2010

[Also in Afrikaans @ http://pgjonker.co.za/?p=134]

[Published in Leisure Wheels, July 2010]

After visiting Epupa Falls with my Venture some years ago I decided that maybe I should get myself a four wheel drive vehicle, just to make up for my lack of skills and confidence when the roads get less than civilised.

I subsequently managed to find myself an ex car rental Mazda Magnum double cab with the 3.4-liter petrol engine.  OK, have 4×4, will drive, just not quite sure how to go about doing so. I realised that I still lacked the confidence to attempt anything more challenging that a sidewalk.  Shortly thereafter my friend Frikkie invited me to join him on a beginners’ 4×4 course at Tierkloof, outside Rawsonville.  This is my story.

Twelve wannabee 4×4 fundi’s depart from Worcester under leadership of Phil, who will be our instructor for the day.  At Tierkloof we make ourselves comfortable underneath a lapa and listen to Phil, who explains the basic theory of off-road driving. 

One of Phil’s comments that I found recordable was his opinion that you do not get bad 4×4 vehicles.  Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, to which the driver should adapt.  Horses for courses.  I liked this, given the perception of some drivers that things always go right with only their brand of vehicles.  Apart from my Mazda and one Colt bakkie there were only Toyotas on this course. 

After the talk Phil instructs us to let down our tyres.  Phil favours the theory that flat tyres work best also on rocky terrain, as the tyres then respond like a balloon to indents, rather than to be damaged by sharp rocks.  Frikkie and I form the rearguard.  I prefer to watch and learn from other people’s mistakes.

The route is rather rocky.  It is set in a beautiful environment, with a fantastic view over the Brandvlei dam.  My passenger, Christo, will take pictures with my camera, given that I will be driving. 

Early on the route we encounter our first difficult stretch, which entails a rocky and uneven ascent in the form of an “S”.  Eish, it is just dust, stones and rubber!  Only on my third attempt, after being advised by Phil to engage my diff lock, could I manage.  Rather amazing the difference that the rear diff-lock made. 

 

Brandvlei dam

Additional to the absence of a centre diff on my bakkie, it then requires three wheels to spin at the same time before you will stall to a halt.  Or that’s more or less how I understand it.

In the meantime Christo has taken some splendid pictures with my camera, only for me to remember that the film for the camera (a pre-digital era Ricoh) is still in the camera bag.  Oeps!  I insert the film.  The pictures should come out a lot better now. 

 

The route renders a variety of driving conditions, giving good exposure to different techniques.  When we reach the top, we stop and relax, with sponsored drinks being shared.  There is a marked absence of any alcoholic refreshments, which I thought was rather fitting for the occasion. 

We proceed again.  Shortly thereafter we come to a split in the road.  The board says: “Experienced Drivers” with an arrow pointing to the right.  I want to aim for the sissy route to the left, but realise that I will be causing virgin tracks on that piece of road.   So I turn right.  Off to the gallows you go, boet.  This brings us to Diepkloof.

In winter this would be a river, but now it is a dry ravine, with very steep banks.  From this side the descent is hard sand.  Phil positions himself to indicate to drivers which line to take.  Because of some axle twisters, the vehicles invariably end up with a front wheel in a hole, with the rear of the vehicles protruding upwards at peculiar …

Beginners 4×4 kursus

Thursday, 8 July, 2010

 [Also in English @ http://pgjonker.co.za/?p=134]

 

[Gepubliseer in Leisure Wheels, Julie 2010]

Twaalf 4×4 voertuie met wanna-bee 4×4 fundi’s vertrek vanaf Worcester, na die Tierkloof 4×4 roete. Daar gekom maak ons ons tuis onder ‘n lapa en luister na Phil, die instrukteur, wie die basiese beginsels van 4×4 verduidelik. Een van die (verskeie) aspekte van die uurlange praatjie wat rekordering waardig is, is die opmerking dat “daar is nie ‘n slegte 4×4 nie”. Elkeen het sy sterk en swak punte waarvoor jy as bestuurder aanpassings maak, ja, maar ‘n slegte 4×4 is daar nie. Gedog ek sit maar net hierdie gedeelte in ter wille van die meewarige bestuurders van ‘n seker fabrikaat wat beweer dat alles altyd reg loop met daardie fabrikaat. Buiten vir my Mazda is daar ‘n Colt – verder is alles Toyota dubbel- of enkelkajuite, Prado’s en Land Cruisers. O ja, en ‘n Condor.

Ná die praatjie word bande afgeblaas soos per die instrukteur se instruksie en vertrek die konvooi op die roete.  Ek en Frikkie dek die agterhoede.

Die roete is klipperig. Dis ‘n mooi omgewing met ‘n uitkyk oor die Brandvlei dam. My passasier, Christo, neem foto’s met my kamera aangesien ek nie daarby sal uitkom met die ryery nie.

Sommer vroeg op die roete kry ons ons eerste moeilike trajek wat behels om ‘n steilte met klipperige terrein en gate in ‘n “S” uit te ry. Stof, klippe, stukkies rubber spat maar. Eers met die derde probeerslag, en met die ewenaargrendel gekoppel, kom ek bo uit.

Brandvlei dam

Christo het intussen al ‘n paar wen-foto’s met my kamera geneem toe ek onthou dat die film nog in die kamera-sak is. Ek sit die film in. Die foto’s behoort nou beter te kom.   

So driekwart deur die roete kom ek by ‘n vurk in die pad wat sê regs vir “ervare bestuurders”. Ek wil links mik vir die sissie-roete, maar dis duidelik dat al die spore voor my regs gegaan het. Soos ‘n lam ter slagting is ek maar gedweë agterna op die roete vir “ervare bestuurders”. Dit bring ons by Diepkloof.

Dis ‘n rivierloop met steil walle. Van hierdie kant af ondertoe is dit sand, soos in ‘n harderige sandduin, maar met diep gate dat die voertuie soms op hul onderstelle daar afsleep.  Ek arriveer net toe dit die Condor voor my se beurt is. Die Condor vat sy lyn effens verkeerd. Sy linkervoorwiel gly in ‘n gat in wat sy maag laat skuur, en dan die regteragterwiel sowat ‘n meter in die lug laat.   Dit lyk indrukwekkend. Jy weet, amper soos ‘n Great Dane-reun-teen-die-boom tipe van houding.

Aan die anderkant van die rivierloop moet jy weer dieselfde tipe steilte bult-op ry. Die voertuie voor my is anderkant uit met tollende bande en rasende enjins. Die Condor se lyn is verkeerd. Met die uitgaanslag bo spring die regtervoorwiel in die lug op en die voertuig gly na links amper in ‘n boom vas. Die instrukteur pak ‘n klip as merker om die daaropvolgende voertuie op ‘n veiliger lyn te sit. Hou links van die klip.

Toe dit my beurt raak klim ek in die bakkie. Ek ref die enjin net dat die ouens kan hoor hier kom krag. Ek spoeg by die venster uit en druk my camel agter my oor in. Dan draai ek die ruit af en spoeg weer, die keer deur die oop venster. Ek haal die camel agter my oor uit en druk hom dood. Sit hom nou weer terug agter die ander oor waar dit nog nie gebrand het nie. Dan knyp ek die bakkie onder my regter-arm vas terwyl ek nonchalant met my linkerhand op die rathefboom sit. Ek stuur met my knieë. Bult af, bult op wat maak dit saak. Geen probleem nie, ek ry rustig die bult anderkant uit. Hou stil. Klim uit. Spoeg op die grond en steek weer my camel aan …..   Nee, sorrie, …