Latest News! 1st November, 2018

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Climbing one of the last obstacles on the 3001m high Ben MacDhui Pass Climbing one of the last obstacles on the 3001m high Ben MacDhui Pass - Photo: Trygve Roberts

In the news this week

* The Cooper Story

* Montagu Explorer - bookings now open

* Ben 10 Eco Challenge Official Tour - bookings opening soon

* Podcast - Aristata & Ben 10 discussion

* Pass of the week - Pietersfontein Pass

* Three new passes to review

The extraordinary story of Colin and Bianca Cooper

This amazing father-daughter team have just successfully completed the Ben 10 Eco Challenge on bicycles. But not your normal high-tech 27 speed MTB's. They built their own bikes at home from scrap metal and designed them to have only one gear. Today you can read their incredible story (lower down..... )

Montagu Explorer Tour

Our newest tour coming up on the 18th November is the Montagu Explorer. It's a one day easy tour, packed with interesting features and a couple of surprises. The tour will include 7 gravel passes of which 5 you will unlikely even have heard of. Two lakes will be visited in the folds of the mountains as well as a drive up one of the highest peaks in the area with amazing views. We can take 4x2 vehicles with diff-lock or AWD vehicles with reasonable ground clearance. The 4x4 sections are not difficult and there is only one obstacle requiring careful attention.

This is a perfect outing for the whole family and covers a distance of 265 km and a total of 12 passes with enough variety to satisfy the most ardent pass enthusiast. It's affordable too at R790 per vehicle regardless of the number of passengers. It starts in Montagu and ends in Worcester. Our price includes the cost of the VHF 2 way radio rental.

Online bookings are open at the MPSA Shop

For further information, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ben 10 Eco Challenge Tour

As mentioned in our previous newsletter, we have received many request to run a guided tour over the Ben 10 challenge passes. The good news is that it will happening from the 21st to the 25th March, 2019. We have already received over 20 provisional bookings, but we can only take 10 vehicles. Bookings will officially open within the next 7 days at our online booking page

[More lower down]

As in all cases where demand exceeds supply, it will be a case of first come, first served. So, if you're keen to participate in this tour, please ensure that you book early. The first 5 places have already been provisionally booked, so there are only 5 more spots left.

The plan is that we will base ourselves at the Mountain Shadows Hotel, which has great food and perfect facilities to cope with a group of 24+ people. It also means we can travel light and don't have to do a complete pack-up each morning.  Each of the four days will be utilised to traverse two or three of the challenge passes, returning to base each evening to recount the day's adventures and indulge in some of the Cape's finest wines. The passes will be tackled doing the easier ones first to give everyone a chance to get used to the conditions and gain confidence, whilst finishing off with the more difficult passes like Bastervoetpad and the Ben McDhui towards the end of the tour.

All vehicles will be connected via VHF radios which are included in the tour cost and the convoy will be pinned on either end by the two MPSA guide vehicles to ensure everyone's safety. We have allowed sufficient time each day for stops so the tour will not be rushed, with enough time to enjoy the amazing scenery on offer. The days will be lead alternatively by Mike Leicester and Trygve Roberts to provide variety of knowledge and experienced guidance and advice over the difficult sections.

The window of opportunity to successfully complete the challenge passes is relatively small, so this tour is only likely to be repeated again in March 2020. Book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. Only 4x4 vehicles with low range and good ground clearance will be accepted. 4x2 vehicles with diff-lock and AWD vehicles will not be able to complete the route.

The Cooper Story

As promised here is the short story of Colin Cooper (64) and his daughter Bianca (33), who completed the Ben 10 Eco Challenge on home-made, single speed bicycles. Just think about that for a moment!

Colin & Bianca Cooper - Our super heroes of the week!

Colin Cooper tells the story:

"My daughter ( Bianca ) and I have just completed the Ben Ten Eco Challenge in a most unusual way. We rode bicycles that I made myself from some scrap steel that was lying around in my workshop, added to a load of second hand parts such as wheels cranks etc. I also made our own wheel hubs, bottom brackets ( crank axles ), handlebars and stems. Cost of steel for the bikes was R130 each. 

They are very simple bikes with no suspension, single speed and back-pedal rear brakes. Weight is around 20 kg each. In addition, to make life more difficult, we limited ourselves to a budget of R20 each per day for ALL food and drink. This means no energy drinks, bars or gels. No Coke-like drinks, no chocolates/sweets etc. We make our own drinks with water, a bit of sugar and a dash of lemon juice and salt. 

We also had no back-up during the rides up and down the passes so had to carry extra kit such as rain jackets, tools, first aid kit and sandwiches. The first pass completed was Joubert's on 13 October and the last was Otto du Plessis on 19 October.

We have been riding long adventures on steel single speed bikes for the last 6 years and have loads more fun than riding a R100 000 carbon/alloy special MTB. We ride in support of Qhubeka who give "A hand up, not a hand out" 

Editors note: Our heartfelt congratulations on this achievement. We stand in awe and it's a humbling lesson to us lesser mortals on just what can be achieved on a shoestring budget with the highest possible benefit to mental and physical health, whilst simultaneously supporting a charity. Just a few weeks ago the first cyclists completed the Ben 10 and we thought: "Will this ever be bettered?" And here we are with this remarkable father-daughter story just three weeks later. You two absolutely rock!

Listen to the podcast: This link will take you to the latest podcast which included a talk on the 2nd day of the Aristata Tour as well as a preview on our most ambitious tour yet - The Ben 10 Official Tour.

Featured pass of the week

Lying in the heart of the Cape fold mountains just north of the Keisie (Koo) Valley is the attractively sited Pietersfontein farm. This farm dates back to the 1700's and has a fascinating history. To get there you have to drive over the pass. This is one of the passes that will be included on our upcoming Montagu Explorer Tour in two weeks time. The valley boasts a sizable dam and the farm itself is in a lovely setting between orchards and vineyards. It's another fabulous gravel road that begs to be driven.


* * * * *   P I E T E R S F O N T E I N    P A S S    * * * * *


New passes added this week:

Olieboomspoort (R510) - A tarred poort near the Mokolo Dam in far north Limpopo.

Doornkloof Pass - A classic profile gravel pass which is an extension of the Pietersfontein Pass (W/Cape)

Patatsfontein Pass - A 4x4 pass that forms a circular loop with the Pietersfontein Pass (W/Cape)


Trygve Roberts

Thought for the day: "If you're a fence sitter, it's better to make a decision now than to wait till you fall off" ~ Anonymous.  

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