On arriving in the city centre, many of the roads had been blocked off by traffic officials as there was some fun-run or walking event taking place. I followed my GPS which led me up Buitengracht, then left into Buitensingel, down the hill past Long Street and the first road left showed up as Grey's Pass.
A row of orange cones blocked the access, backed up by a traffic vehicle with the usual blue lights flashing. So, the shortest pass looked like it was not going to be the easiest to film! I parked nearby and walked over to the traffic officer and introduced myself and told him about the Mountain Passes South Africa project (he was blank) and asked if I could film the pass.
"No problem sir" came the answer.
And that's why our video looks like we arranged a police escort to film the pass! Funny how things turn out when one has a positive mindset. It took less than a minute to film the so called pass. It's just 97m long, has no corners and ends where the road bends through 90 degrees in front of the planetarium and becomes Queen Victoria Street and the name changes. The loss in altitude is a miniscule 1 metre. If it's official on the 1:50,000 topographical maps, it gets indexed at MPSA regardless of whether we think it's a pass or not.
In all our videos we produce a vertical profile animated graph so viewers can gauge the steepness of the pass, but in the case of Grey's Pass it was more or less a flat line that looked like the final graph of a cardiac arrest victim. So we had to leave that part of the animation out when we produced the video.
Being a record breaking (in mediocrity) pass we've decided to leave it open to all for this week, together with our featured pass. Take the link here to access Grey's Pass and enjoy one of the shortest videos in our considerable collection.
Old Postal Route (Cederberg)
This Sunday (27th) the Cape Town unit are filming the long, bumpy but beautiful Old Postal Route through the Cederberg. The weather forecast is looking like a 50/50 call. We have opened this filming trip to include guests to allow an insight to how we go about producing our videos. The new videos should be produced within the next fortnight. Photos will be added to our FaceBook page to show what conditions are like. This route includes two steep gravel passes and a bridgeless river crossing. This concept of guests tagging along on filming trips will soon be expanded into the Johannesburg region as well.
Of Bikes, Bends, and Bananas
Our much bigger featured pass this week lies some 2000 km further north-east in the lowveld, where much of South Africa's commercial timber (and subtropical fruit) is grown. Lying close to Sabie is one of the finest roads for sheer driving pleasure (with apologies to BMW). For those of you unfamiliar with motorcycles, we take you into their unique world in an effort to close the gap between motorists and bikers (no pun intended).
At MPSA we decided a long time ago to be "biker aware" and the response we get from the bikers is universally positive, with either a nod of the helmet or a friendly wave of acknowledgement - just for noticing them and giving them that extra margin of safety. These are fathers, husbands, brothers, artisans, professionals and businessmen. Falling off a bike is often fatal. In all groups there are those that are law abiding and those that aren't. This applies to both motorists and bikers. Understanding each other goes a long way towards being more tolerant. Try it.
This is a huge and growing community of educated people who find an enormous amount of pleasure in riding their machines on weekends or on longer adventure type trips. Accidents are numerous and the biking community have their own language and code of ethics that normal drivers know little about. It's a tight community of brotherhood (and sisterhood) that stretches right across the nation - and the world. We explore some of that today.
Close to Sabie on the scenic R536 is a majestic road built with the most perfectly banked and radiused corners. In biker parlance it's known as "The Infamous 22" as it is close as damnit to 22 km in length. It's an acknowledged biker run which is ridden at various speeds, depending on skill level and bike type. In our featured pass today we unpack the story behind the Infamous 22 and explore the pass that makes up the bulk of the run.
Credit to Mike Leicester (our man on the spot in the north) for the diligent research.
Put on your helmet, gloves and leathers and start that machine....
* * * * * B E R G V L I E T P A S S * * * * *
New passes added this week:
Grey's Pass (Cape Town) - The shortest pass in SA at just 97m !!!
Hendriksdal Pass (R37) - A fairly easy, but magically scenic pass through the lowveld forests near Sabie.
Upgraded passes added this week:
Veraaiersnek (R36) - A fairly big tarred pass on the pothole peppered R36 between Orighstad and Lydenburg
Endumeni Pass (R68) - A scenic tarred pass in the heart of the Battlefields Route near Dundee in KZN
Thought for the day: "The best time to start, is now"