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Thread: A meeting with Thomas and Andrew Bain

  1. #1
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    A meeting with Thomas and Andrew Bain

    Some years ago I planned a ride which due to circumstances never realized. This morning I decided it’s time to make it so. It was initially supposed to be a solo ride but when I posted some thoughts and queries on Wilddog Adventure Riders forum it quickly turned into something much bigger. Given my current location, I thought I’d present the plan here to gauge the appetite of UKGSer’s interested in an epic tour of the South African Western Cape mountain passes. Before getting into the detail, some points to consider.

    1. This ride is not for beginners, while a large percentage will be on paved surfaces, some of the passes listed present very challenging conditions.
    2. The ride alone will span 10 days so you’ll need to have at least two weeks vacation time, preferably more.
    3. Cost of flights, accomodation and bike rental should be considered. For the most part very affordable at the current exchange rate but bike rental isn’t cheap.
    4. I’m not a tour guide and this is not for profit. Depending on the interest from UKGSers I may consider setting it up in the format of a formal tour (I know a guy) with backup vehicles, medics etc.
    5. Best time for this ride will be April/May meaning it will happen in 2019

    The ride
    A tour through the scenic Western Cape aimed at traversing all or most of the passes built by Andrew and Thomas Bain.

    I discovered many of my favorite passes were originally built by one of the Bain’s and found it most interesting that they built all their passes before the first car arrived in South Africa. Bain Jr even had time to father 13 children.

    The route plan
    This was compiled in 2014 and may require some update but the outline is still valid.

    Day 1 - Cape Town to Karoo 1
    Distance: 231km
    Fuel Stop: Somerset West/Botrivier/Worcester
    Breakfast: TBD
    Lunch: TBD
    Dinner: Karoo One hosted braai
    Accomodation: Karoo One

    On the first day our route takes us over Sir Lowry’s Pass onto Houwhoek Pass via the N2. As a special treat we will be riding the 10km of the disused Old Houwhoek Pass while all the riders are still fresh and alert. This will be a great test for the loaded bikes while still close to home. Upon reaching Botriver we turn North onto Van der Stel Pass crossing Threewaterskloof Dam heading to the N1 via Villiersdorp. Having reached the N1, we cross the Hex River Pass and finally arrive at Karoo One Hotel.

    Upon arrival we will check in and offload the bikes before taking a short trail ride into the kloof for a sundowner served by the Karoo One staff. Our first evening together will be spent enjoying a private brandy tasting followed by a hosted braai.

    Bain Passes:
    Houwhoek Pass (including the Old Houwhoek Pass)

    Other Passes:
    Sir Lowries Pass
    Van der Stels Pass
    Hex River Pass

    Day 2 - Karoo 1 to Koedoeskloof
    Distance: 355km
    Fuel Stop: Montagu/ Barrydale/Riversdale
    Breakfast: Picnic at the old English fort on Kogmanskloof Pass
    Lunch: Barrydale
    Dinner: Koedoeskloof
    Accomodation: Koedoeskloof Camping or Guest rooms

    Day two starts off with the steep curves and hairpins of Burgers Pass and Rooihoogte pass before reaching Montagu. A quick excursion across Kogmanskloof pass to Ashton and back to the old fort for a rest/refreshment stop. We refuel in Montagu and head off to Barrydale for lunch before crossing Garcia’s pass enroute to Koedoeskloof Country Lodge.

    Bain Passes:
    Burger Pass
    Kogmanskloof Pass
    Tradouw Pass
    Garcia's Pass

    Other Passes:
    Rooihoogte Pass
    Gysmanshoek Pass
    Moodies Pass
    Plattekloof Pass

    Day 3 - Koedoeskloof to De Rust
    Distance: 325km
    Fuel Stop: Ladysmith/Vanwyksdorp/De Rust
    Breakfast: Koedoeskloof
    Lunch: TBD
    Dinner: Pizza @ Kaalgat Kudu, De Rust
    Accomodation: TBD

    Leaving Koedoeskloof we explore a few local dirt roads before heading for Vanwyksdorp and Groenfontein towards Swartberg Pass. Time allowing we will attempt a quick foray into The Hel for lunch. This is followed by Meiringspoort where we will stop at the waterfall before heading to De Rust. Regardless of where we stay, the intent is to enjoy some homemade wood fire pizzas at The Kaalgat (Naked) Kudu.

    Bain Passes:
    Swartberg Pass
    Meiringspoort

    Other Passes
    Huisrivier Pass
    * Optional Gamkaskloof (Die Hel)
    Kareedouwberg Pass (Consider riding the old Kredouw Pass if possible)

    Day 4 - De Rust to Baviaans (Doringkloof)
    Distance: 284km
    Fuel Stop: Uniondale
    Breakfast: TBD
    Lunch: TBD
    Dinner: Braai (BBQ)
    Accomodation: Doringkloof Camping or Cottages

    Day 4 is the first of two consecutive days on which we travel exactly 284km. Again we explore a few scenic dirt roads before taking Prince Afred’s pass and heading into the Baviaanskloof.

    Bain Passes:
    Prince Alfred’s Pass
    Nuwekloof Pass
    Studtis Poort

    Other Passes:
    Wapadsnek Pass
    Uniondale Poort
    Ghwarrie Poort
    Buys Poort

    Day 5 - Baviaans to Stormsriver Mouth
    Distance: 284km
    Fuel Stop: Patensie, Kareedouw
    Breakfast: TBD
    Lunch: TBD
    Dinner: Braai
    Accomodation: Stormsriver Mouth (Camping and Chalets)

    We start by traversing the most beautiful part of the Baviaanskloof before brunch at padlangs just outside Patensie. A quick fuel stop and some more dirt see us past Kareedouw and finally Stormsriver Mouth.

    Bain Passes:
    Holgat Pass
    Combrink's Pass
    Grootrivier Poort
    Stormsrivier Pass

    Other Passes:
    Grasnek Pass
    Kareedouw Pass

    Day 6 – Stormsriver Mouth to Bonniedale Farm
    Distance: 365km
    Fuel Stop: Plettenberg Bay/George/Oudshoorn
    Breakfast: Pettenberg Bay TBD
    Lunch: George TBD
    Dinner: Braai (BBQ)
    Accomodation: Bonniedale Farm (Camping and Permanent tents)

    We ride the now unused Bloukrans Pass before breakfast in Plettenberg Bay. This is followed by Grootrivier Pass, Kom se Pad and the Seven Passes road followed by lunch in George. From here we explore Montagu pass towards our last fuels stop in Oudshoorn and on to Bonniedale farm via Robinson pass.

    Bain Passes:
    Bloukrans Pass
    Grootrivier Pass
    Seven Passes road:
    Swartrivier Pass
    Kaaimansgat
    Silver River
    Touw Rivier
    Hoogekraal Pass
    Homtini Pass
    Phantom Pass
    Robinson Pass

    Other Passes:
    Kom se pad (maybe not a pass but noteworthy and scenic)
    Montagu Pass
    Paarde Poort

    Day 7 - Bonniedale to Matjiesfontein
    Distance: 337km
    Fuel Stop: Vanwyksdorp/Calitzdorp/Laingsburg
    Breakfast: The Barking Frog, Vanwyksdorp
    Lunch: Bosh Luys Kloof Lodge
    Dinner: Restaurant @ Lord Milner
    Accomodation: Lord Milner

    Leaving Bonniedale farm we experience the beautiful Attakwaskloof (Apparently not an official pass but it should be) before heading for Rooiberg Pass and Seweweekspoort. From here we explore Bosluiskloof Pass towards Gamkapoort Dam, enjoy a quick lunch and then on to Matjiesfontein for an evening filled with history at the Lord Milner Hotel.

    Bain Passes:
    Seweweekspoort

    Other Passes:
    Attakwas Kloof
    Rooiberg Pass
    Huisrivier Pass
    Bosluiskloof Pass
    Rouxpos
    Koueveld Pass
    Rooinek Pass

    Day 8 - Matjiesfontein to Stonehenge
    Distance: 238km
    Fuel Stop: Sutherland
    Breakfast: Lord Milner
    Lunch: Sutherland
    Dinner: Braai
    Accomodation: Tankwa Tented Camp (Home to Africa Burn and also near the location where Carnage was filmed)

    From Matjiesfontein to Sutherland and then the epic Ouberg Pass, Oudebaaskraal Dam on to Tankwa Tented Camp. A bucket list ride for many, this day will be remembered!

    Bain Passes:
    Verlatenkloof Pass
    Rooikloof Pass

    Other Passes:
    Ouberg Pass

    Day 9 - Stonehenge to Gouda
    Distance: 384km
    Fuel Stop: Stonehenge/Clanwilliam
    Breakfast: Tankwa Tented Camp
    Lunch: Piekenierskloof Lodge
    Dinner: Braai @ Die Workshop
    Accomodation: Die Workshop

    Our second last and longest day filled with dirt tracks, river crossings and beautiful scenery. From Stonehenge through the Biedouw Valley past Clanwilliam and past the dam to Piekenierskloof for lunch. Then back into the Cederberg to Gydo and Michells Pass on the way to Die Workshop for our last night together at a venue operated by a fellow adventure rider.

    Bain Passes:
    Pakhuis Pass
    Piekenierskloof Pass
    Gydo Pass
    Michells Pass
    Bainskloof Pass
    Tulbach Kloof

    Other Passes:
    Biedouwvallei Pass
    Hoek se berg pass
    Klipfonteinrant Pass

    Day 10 - Gouda to Cape Town
    Distance: 104km
    Fuel Stop: Gouda
    Breakfast: The Vaalbaas Special
    Lunch: The Goatshed Restaurant @ Fairview Estate

    On our final day we head towards Bainskloof, the most apt example of a Bain’s pass before a quick ride on Paarl rock and finally lunch at the renowned Goatshed Restaurant.

    Bain Passes:
    Bainskloof Pass

    Other Passes:
    Jan Phillips Drive
    Paarl Rock

    So who was Thomas Bain?

    Thomas Bain was born in 1830 at Graaff Reinet, at that stage a frontier town in the Cape Colony in Southern Africa. His father, Andrew Geddes Bain, was born in Scotland and settled in the Cape Colony in 1816 at the age of 19.

    Thomas Bain and his six brothers and six sisters were educated largely at home like most settlers' children of that period. The children's education was interrupted by the outbreak of the War of the Axe in 1846, one of several frontier wars that raged during that era. Thomas served as a volunteer in the war and helped to guard women and children who sheltered in the church of the frontier town of Fort Beaufort.

    He married Johanna Hermina de Smidt in 1854. They had 13 children and enjoyed a long and happy marriage. Johanna was the ninth child of Willem de Smidt, the Secretary of the Central Road Board. Georgina Bain (16 November 1860 Knysna - 6 December 1954), one of his daughters, married the Conservator of Forests, Joseph Storr Lister (1 October 1852 Cape Town - 27 February 1927, and wrote "Reminiscences of Georgina Lister".

    Career: In order to ford the coastal mountain ranges of the former Cape Colony, Charles Michell (Surveyor-General, Civil Engineer and Superintendent of Works) and John Montagu (British Colonial Secretary for the Cape Colony) introduced an ambitious road building program. Their goal was achieved by the father and son combination of Andrew and Thomas Bain whose civil engineering prowess effected a quantum leap in the quality and range of the road network of the 19th century Cape Colony.

    Thomas served his apprenticeship from 1848 to 1854 as his father's assistant in the capacity of Assistant inspector of roads. In this capacity he was involved in the construction of Michell's Pass near Ceres and Bainskloof pass near Wellington. After passing first in the Government examinations in 1854, he was promoted to Road inspector for the Western Province. Thomas and his father's careers as road builders continued to be intertwined until Andrew's death in 1864.

    Thomas Bain built 24 major mountain roads and passes in the second half of the 1800s. His father built eight during the first half of the same century. One of the few passes in South Africa not built by a Bain during that period was Montagu Pass from George to Oudtshoorn, which was built in 1843-47 by Henry Fancourt White, a road engineer from Australia. Thomas Bain's first road construction project as newly promoted Roads inspector was Grey's Pass (renamed Piekenierskloof pass after it was reconstructed in 1958), completed in 1858, that opened up the Olifantsriver valley to the Swartland and the Cape Town market.

    One of Bain's major achievements was the construction of the road on the coastal plain between George and the forestry town of Knysna. The project was started in 1867 and took 15 years to complete. This road linked Knysna to the more developed areas towards Cape Town and replaced the dreaded river crossing at Kaaimansgat which early travelers described with loathing. This project was followed by a series of passes across the Langeberg and Outeniqua mountain ranges. These passes include the Robinson, Tradouw, Garcia and Burgers passes as well as the Kogmanskloof road. Then followed the 185 km Tsitsikama road, linking the western and eastern portions of the Cape Colony through the indigenous forests of the coastal plain. This road involved the crossing of major ravines, including the Grootriver, Bobbejaansriver, Bloukransriver and Stormsriver gorges.

    In March 1873 Thomas Bain was appointed as District Engineer in the Railway Department. Due to a lack of a suitable candidate to fill the position in the Road Department that he vacated, he rejoined the Road Department after 18 months. In 1877 he became an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

    Thomas Bain's crowning achievement was the Swartberg pass that connects Oudtshoorn, the largest town in the Little Karoo, with Prince Albert beyond the Swartberg mountains in the open plains of the Great Karoo. Construction on the scenic 24 km long Swartberg pass started in 1884 and was completed in 1887. Bain was assisted by another road engineer, John Tassie, who built the last 6 km of the road leading out of the mountain pass into Prince Albert. At the same time, Bain was also in charge of the construction of the Schoemanspoort pass that connects the Swartberg pass with Oudtshoorn. Thomas Bain's last road building project was the construction of Victoria road in 1887 that connects the city bowl of Cape Town with Kampsbay across the neck between Table Mountain and Signal Hill.

    In 1888 Thomas Bain resigned from the Road Department and accepted the position of Irrigation and Geological Surveyor of the (Cape) Colony. His prolific career with the Road Department resulted in a remarkable heritage of some of the most scenic and impressive mountain passes in South Africa. He continued his prolific work tempo in his new capacity until his death. During his tenure he designed and completed a large reservoir, the Verkeerdevlei reservoir, amongst other projects.

    Source: Wikipedia (It’s worth also reading up on Andrew Bain)
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  2. #2
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    Date has been confirmed, first two weeks of April 2019.

    Let the planning begin!
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  3. #3
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    Some of the passes included in the tour.
    Videos courtesy of Trygve Roberts, https://www.mountainpassessouthafrica.co.za/

    Old Houwhoek Pass (Railway Pass)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4ZSJ3CqhTs

    Sir Lowries Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7FumRECY4I

    Van der Stels Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29Dh45LlzlA

    Hex River Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXr-aWDRz4o

    Burger Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSbQ9dr6BVw

    Kogmanskloof Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGL7tzrbUa0

    Tradouw Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWHk-kE0s7k
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUYXTR4Nh6g

    Garcia's Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gra7yC8xfo4

    Rooihoogte Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nU1AdmHz_Q4

    Gysmanshoek Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_Keu5GKpF4

    Moodies Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zmrcFy_wPQ

    Swartberg Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZVxbOC8EOA

    Die Hel
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzYv8S0_ZHM

    Meiringspoort
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muNmp_lIr7k
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbQmsPIM3gA

    Huisrivier Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiCh1WWpzpk
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPpwnF7SZ6o

    Kareedouwberg Pass (Consider riding the old Kredouw Pass if possible)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPEY1PppjQw

    Prince Alfred’s Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPONBGofDxA
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91XiLmsjVZo

    Nuwekloof Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbxa5WznXhE
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLEHGiIvbbo

    Studtis Poort
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wW2sCPIZuZQ

    Wapadsnek Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NreliPsMAUc
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ury4feF7OZo

    Uniondale Poort
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O91xjL0WQd0

    Ghwarrie Poort
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1wWMkbzEQs

    Buys Poort
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1re1vh8-xc

    Holgat Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIS9HcRWP8o
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_58wmVIVrL8

    Combrink's Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtjBwIizB74
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0mpXNtOyqo

    Grootrivier Poort
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_yDVwojkyc
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBZSv_I7kO8

    Stormsrivier Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wk52u8PS-oQ
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFXm6CbX3nk

    Grasnek Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbvE94A0sSQ
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Abw0s5vKMzM
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dcnT5PNTa0

    Kareedouw Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4m6vFfj0b8

    Bloukrans Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxmYDzFqYGc

    Grootrivier Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LdNp88GskU

    Seven Passes road:
    Swartrivier Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsSwI-Eua1M

    Kaaimansgat
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VApMG_utB0s

    Silver River
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiwSZhs-3c8

    Hoogekraal Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzgp25c8lx8

    Homtini Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXzb0AtEF2g

    Phantom Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rc8R2a_aTf4

    Robinson Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZ-KmLbGK7I
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gq8sIfkSo4M

    Seweweekspoort
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QXm7Q8gp5c

    Rooiberg Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDM1GgAOkVA
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LC2vThUESuY

    Huisrivier Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiCh1WWpzpk
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPpwnF7SZ6o

    Bosluiskloof Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Egxx1V22QnM

    Koueveld Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUF2oDGXipk

    Rooinek Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVyue0QMGuM

    Montagu Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNB1G932OpU
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1WJ_uoGmgY
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moSjXYOF4MU

    Verlatenkloof Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZFEAUTE-3w

    Rooikloof Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Avh3cfiy9C8

    Ouberg Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-W06fZVe34
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIzyaqhVbFQ

    Pakhuis Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYvmemF7D9E
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuiMJj4ks94

    Piekenierskloof Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjD3oXV4hkM

    Gydo Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9izchNIh58

    Michells Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4Wgao_Hnv4

    Bainskloof Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfn0oVFQCag
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FscVZX6mcuM
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LczBKcK2p_k

    Biedouwvallei Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lk1ieaWkDmk

    Hoek se berg pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_zTbIAmy0w

    Klipfonteinrant Pass
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A31SHba4Jq0



    Other Highlights
    Baviaanskloof Smitskraal
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFEemzGDt4I

    Kom se pad
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ba-AS8O1KLs
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66siHXFi8sc
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  4. #4
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    That looks like a great trip

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