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Honda Quest 2021

11353 Views 57 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Africamike

I was looking for some info on wheels and came across your forum. I thought you might like to stay a little more up to date on the competition that will start 1st November.

Currently, the regionals have already been held and I am part of the crew on Day 2 of 3 of the Semi-finalists Bootcamp to select from 28 the 14 lucky adventurers that will take a brand new DCT 2021 Africa Twin through the seriously rugged and remote world of the Northern and Western Capes of South Africa. I was a finalist in 2017 and have been on the 2 subsequent ones. This will be my 4th Quest.

It’s a testament to the power of Honda Quest that in a world of restrictions to our freedoms as a result of Covid and the challenges of shrinking economies, that 28 adventurous souls have been invited to try out for the 14 seats to an adventure of a lifetime.

Not just any adventure, but a 10 day massive life changing ride aboard the latest version of the iconic Africa Twin through arguably the best riding in Southern Africa; the trails of the Northern and Western Cape.

This now is the 4th edition of Honda Quest, but first, there’s the little matter of Bootcamp; A formal testing of attitudes and general skills needed for such an event. Given that this year’s edition will be run through the Richtersveld in November, traditionally when the deserts become their most impressive yet challenging, only the best will do.

This year, the format was given a little additional boost with regional qualifiers. Quite a large percentage of those here had been at those 3 events.

This morning at 9 sharp, the gates to Kaleo Farm opened to welcome the semi-finalists. Riaan Fourie, Honda Motor Southern Africa welcomed all and officially opened Bootcamp. He spoke passionately of his own experience last year riding Quest and recognised that this year will be very challenging, adding “But most of all, I invite you really step into this adventure and have fun aboard our flagship adventure bike, The CRF 1100 Honda Africa Twin!”

Some have come from afar as Limpopo and Pietermaritzburg with a good number representing the Western & Eastern Cape. All have high degrees of anticipation, “I’ve not been sleeping well, and my wife is finally happy I am out of the house! I’ve been packing and re-packing for a week!”

This morning the bikes and livery to be used on Quest was revealed; All the bikes will be DCT, Honda’s outstanding Dual Clutch Transmission that has proven its worth on previous Quests. The livery is a nod to the Repsol Honda Motorsport colours.

Just a few have had any experience with the DCT, the rest will not only have to navigate the technical courses that have been laid out, but they will be doing it aboard an unfamiliar technology.

Hardy de Kock and his team from Specialised Adventures’ are once again the hosts of this magnificent event.

Fire questions if you have.

Will update more as we go along...

28 hopefuls
Cloud Bicycle Bicycles--Equipment and supplies Land vehicle Sky

The bikes will be 2021 CRF Honda Africa Twins all DCT's kitted with crash protection and rally tires.

Tire Wheel Motorcycle Helmet Automotive tire
Tire Wheel Fuel tank Automotive fuel system Vehicle
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It looks like lots of fun! Too bad the videos are very short :( . It feels a little like the Dakar-Rally last year. 2-3 minute videos of motorcycle related content, and that's it. I hope longer videos are being published for the next couple of days. I just don't have the guts nor time nor money nor strength to do the quest myself, otherwise I wouldn't be typing this ;) .
Thanks for your comment - I think we would all love longer videos, no argument there. The challenge is the Northern Cape of South Africa is very sparsely inhabited with intermittent digital coverage at best. As a consequence getting these short videos out is highly problematic, and sometimes simply impossible - so we accept what we can get in the meantime.....

Keep your eyes on the Honda Quest youtube channel - like and subscribe - then you'll never miss an episode. ;)
Thanks for your comment - I think we would all love longer videos, no argument there. The challenge is the Northern Cape of South Africa is very sparsely inhabited with intermittent digital coverage at best. As a consequence getting these short videos out is highly problematic, and sometimes simply impossible - so we accept what we can get in the meantime.....

Keep your eyes on the Honda Quest youtube channel - like and subscribe - then you'll never miss an episode. ;)
Thanks for replying, I'm sorry if my comment came out wrong.
Ah, I understand. It's just so... unfortunate for people like me because I enjoy the content very much! But I understand the struggle. I am subscribed to the channel, so all new videos will pop-up on my feed, after which a like is almost 100% certain :) .
Again, thanks for responding and keep it up :) .
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I didn't realize Honda Quest existed. Awesome stuff. Subscribed to the YouTube channel.
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Honda Quest Day 3

Wow! What a day!

After an early night, it was a very keen and rejuvenated group who took on their next task. As mentioned on Day 1, navigation was going to be old school, maps and compass. Today, the pairs had some core decisions to make;

“There are two routes. Only one map per pair. Only one member per route. The better sand rider is highly suggested to take the right-hand route. Here’s the map. We set off at 8am sharp.” That was it!

Now all the competitors are above average to excellent riders. (The barrier to entry for Honda Quest is high just to guarantee that we can more safely travel to these places). For some, it was a more obvious a choice. But for others who are reasonably matched, it took a fair degree of burying the ego for the sake of the team to relinquish the seemingly more fun and challenging route.

Everything since the start had been focused on uniting the teams, now they had to, for the sake of the team, complete an individual task. But, also be brutally honest and realistic about each other to achieve it.

Many had assumed that one route was harder than the other, when in fact both routes were tough for their own reasons; one had a LOT of sand, the other very steep, loose technical climbs. Solving the lack of maps puzzle also required some strategic bargaining with other teams. The teams split up not 7km from the start and wouldn’t see each other again till much later.

The Hammerkop route has 30km of seldom travelled riverbed and jeep tracks wedged tight in-between the mountains of the Nababieb Nature Reserve. The entrance to this piece of riding heaven though, is guarded by a near impassable silty fesh-fesh section that took an hour to dig out the logistics landcruiser. Fesh-fesh - a fine talcum powder consistency sand that is almost impossible to look elegant in. No-one likes riding in it, even the pro’s hate it. If you fall in it, it’s going to get EVERYWHERE.

Hellskloof’s Little Brother, on the other hand starts off as an innocent looking side track to the main gravel road to Eksteenfontein. It soon became a hardcore scramble up what could better be described as a 4km rough path up a series of waterfalls.

Reuniting with their partners much later in the afternoon, there were many laughs and stories of the sweat and fun. Not everyone escaped unscathed however, there were some who made it back to camp walking stiffly, hopefully the morning brings some recovery. Back at the camp for the second night alongside the river, Hein Kumm hauled out a canoe to use as prop for his presentation on the Orange river. His partner Hugo Minnaar took us on a fact filled journey about the African Rift valley.

Tomorrow, we turn south and away from river and the Hellskloof World heritage site. There’s still some of the Richtersveld to explore.
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Honda Quest Day 4

Honda Quests first casualty, Team #1’s Murray Campbell had injured his ankle. He and Andrew de Bruin have been offered the choice of either;
-For him to ride in a vehicle for one day’s grace, join for the rest and accept whatever points Andrew earns for the team for the day as their average.
-Or, try ride the day and risk, in his weakened state, taking them both out of the competition – if Murray goes out, Andrew has to join him.
They chose to rest Murray.

Soon after setting off from Oewerbos heading South through the Richtersveld mountains, in a beautiful spot, there is an unusual place the rough gravel road passes, called Stone Piles. Over the years, many thousands of piles of balancing stones have been raised by travellers who had memories to honour or troubles to shed. The group were asked to think about this ritual and in a collective fashion build their own. Not so unexpectedly, it was deeply moving. Tom Stewart when asked summed it up best, “I am not an emotional person, but I really felt it there. For the next 2 hours of riding, It was good to have my head in a helmet to process that experience.”

Just 30km later, through sandy and stony jeep tracks amongst a pallet of colourful desert shades, lies the Red Staircase. The CRF1100L Africa Twin is deceptively capable, however there is no getting away from the fact that it is a big bike and in steep climbs where the going is loose, it takes some skill and commitment to clear. In previous Quests, this climb has proven to be something of test for the riders. This year, despite 3 tumbles and some near misses, the teams all made it up within the time limits. They were not only doing great as teams but the group in general were drawing closer.

The spirit of the true adventurer was emerging.

The last few days has been reasonably technical, coming down off the Richtersveld into the Concordia Conservancy, the back roads to Springbok, were an opportunity to open up a little. The flowing tracks have a mix of hardpack that suddenly switches to deep 2 track sand to catch the unwary. A great opportunity to stop and swap tales, was that we’ve been plagued by numerous punctures. The Africa Twin encourages spirited riding and on Honda Quest is riding where few will ever venture and as such, they are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. It’s part of the adventure and mostly 15 minutes is all that’s needed before we’re off again.
The evenings camp is in Modderfontein and it was very crisp considering we’re supposed to be in summer.

Jaco Swiegelaar’s presentation was on the land we were traveling through – Namakwaland.

Elio Striglia had Thomas Bain, the unbelievably productive roads and passes engineer who’s efforts litter our more iconic spaces.

Today was an emotional day. Tomorrow, the toughest climb of them all. Honda Quest is working its magic.

Brown Insect Landscape Sand Pest

Tire Wheel Helmet Vehicle Motorcycle

Tire Wheel Motorcycle Helmet Motocross

Land vehicle Tire Helmet Motocross Vehicle

Vehicle Landscape Motor vehicle Slope Grass

Sky Mountain Mountainous landforms Bedrock Landscape
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Giving credit to Kamanya for all the effort of bringing the Quest updates to us......s'pose there are worse places to set up office

Thanks Andrew!

Plant Laptop Plant community Computer Tree
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Let the pictures talk........some more random pic's from day 2

Sky Atmosphere World Nature Natural landscape

Atmosphere Sky Nature Black World

Sky Helmet Mountain Bedrock Slope

Tire Helmet Wheel Motocross Enduro

Bedrock Plant Grass Landscape Outcrop

Tire Helmet Wheel Plant community Vehicle

Sky Plant Natural landscape Tree Grass

Tire Wheel Vehicle Automotive tire Enduro
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Superb night shot of our galaxy.
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Honda Quest Day 5

Those following Murray will be pleased to know he joined his partner this morning. He’s a little worse for wear, but isn’t worried.

The Richtersveld with all its delights have bid us Adieu. As with most visits to these places, we’ve heard many making plans to return with families and friends. Ahead are the evocative sounding Bushmanland, Tankwa Karoo and Cedarberg.

Not much had been made of the harder parts of Quest other than to say the Day 5 climb is a monster. More suited to an enduro bike, few would consider this on an adventure bike. Today, it’s literally the first thing on the menu – not 20km from the chilly evenings camp. It’s a long, very steep, rutted, slippery test of ones courage and skill.

Hardy de Kock, Owner of Specialised Adventures who are hosting this event, raised his concerns about Devils Run. The recent rains had cut deep into the trail making it even more threatening than ever. His 3 instructors though, have final say on riding decisions and leaving this up to them, Jaco du Plessis the lead instructor who is a man of few words said, “Yes, there is much to lose here, but “Dream no small dreams, for they stir not the hearts of men””. It just so happens to be a favourite quote of Hardy’s 😉

Hardy was left to work on his stress levels whilst the teams got on with it.
2 riders had a clean run. The others had varying degrees of success. This hill counts! Despite the many falls, the rugged design of the bikes showed no sign of the ordeal. Everyone was praising the DCT for being able to accomplish the task; Less controls to operate, constant torque and never in the wrong gear.

The Northern Cape, if you are willing to go in search of them is laced with wonderful riding. As if to reward the sweating and swearing, the rest of the day was the very best type of adventure riding; weaving ones way through small trails that meander South.

Unfortunately, in an open, easy, though dusty riverbed, Hein Kumm Team #3 a gentle giant of a man and one of the only 2 to ace Devils Run, smashed a hidden boulder with his foot. He made it through to camp in Kamieskroon in good spirits, but, he shall have to wait for the morning to assess his condition that may affect him and his teams fate.

Camp has an icy wind this evening. Summer seems to be eluding us so far!?
After presentations by;
Tom Steward – a fascinating discussion on the Quiver Tree
Pieter Siegling – spoke on the Cedarberg, complete with a piping hot cup of Rooibos Tea.

A long tough day of 191km’s wasn’t finished yet. The group departed on a 60km night ride. Many have never done any off-road riding at night. It should be some very tired riders who make it to bed this evening. They have yet to return as of the writing of this at 9:30pm.....

What has day 6 in store?
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Honda Quest Day 6

As with Murray, a strong dose of Voltarins, some rest and heaps of Vasbyt, Hein Kumm was, much to his partner Hugo Minnaar’s relief, back on the bike.

9:45pm was when they returned last night. 12 hours on the bike for the day! It’s a testament to the all-round ability of the big Twin that, the morning was hard-core off-road. Afternoon was flowing, quick twin track and the evening, gravel backroads around the mountains of Kamieskroon under the stars. A major reason why it’s rare that people will travel on a bike after dark off-road is because lighting is the issue. There are no such concerns at all for the Africa Twin. Its lights were a revelation for even the seasoned riders. It’s massively reassuring to ride into a wide tunnel of clear light thrown far down the road.

There was a biting wind that accompanied them too. Quite unexpectedly, the support crew met them for a very appreciated Hot Coffee and confectionaries. The juxtaposition of dusty, hardcore men, ready for anything to be thrown at them with a smile, stopping on the edge of a starlit escarpment for some of the sweeter things in life to appreciate the beauty of the land, isn’t a bad metaphor for the Honda Africa Twin. It does many things outrageously well.

By design, after yesterday’s marathon day, today was shorter but with tricky navigation. There are stunning hardly used backroad tracks that connect little used communities such as Twee-Riviere, Kheis, Karas and the Lankloof valley. Whilst we travelled through them, its apparent the rest of the world seems to pass them by. However, one stop next to an immaculately kept graveyard, spoke volumes about the people in that humble village.
Honda Quest’s focus is on the journey, the dream, the true Adventurer. It’s far bigger than the individual. Inspired by this small-town journey, a challenge for the contestants is to suggest a humanitarian project they want to implement in their homeplaces. The winner, voted by all crew and contestants will receive funding from the group as a whole. They will have their helmet time on tomorrows ride to put that together.

Tonight, we sleep in one of these miniscule communities called Uitspan. Just outside the few houses that make up the place is a field with small junior school. It’s just a tiny hall with a small stage and out houses. Perfect!

Dave Gouws took the stage to present on the Inca’s
Heindri Visser followed him with the Kruger National Park
Later in the evening, the contestants also watched all their videos up until Day 5. None of them had seen any of them yet. Being in Honda Quest is a huge undertaking, seeing and hearing themselves too, many were moved to tears.

Tomorrow is the longest day of Honda Quest.
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Honda Quest Day 7

The longest run homeward bound, 397km almost entirely off-road. After the long, tough days, no-one is fresh. Everyone is carrying some form of wear and tear, some more than others. However, the teams have acquired skills, forged friendships and settled into a rhythm.

On the bike front, the Africa Twins have not given a moments mechanical worry. We have had numerous front punctures though. It’s a function of the tough routes and standard tubes. The tubes can cope with every day running, but to be fair, they’ve been asked a little more than just “everyday running”!

From Uitspan’s little school house, we stopped off at a giant Quiver Tree Forest, the first of many we saw today. But here are some particularly fine specimens.

For large sections where the navigation was easy the pace was quicker. Over the Knersvlakte with its massive skies and Boesmanlands’ wide-open roads, the group made great time. Watching them ride side by side for company on the gravel tracks, it’s clear they’ve become so very attuned to each other.

There were few breaks to stretch the legs, a stroll around the interesting Fred Turner Windmill Museum, a cooldrink at the Ganaga Lodge with its magnificent views over the Ganaga Mountains and Pass.

That is how most of the marathon day went, navigating and reeling off the kilometres. At the stops, within the normal banter and laughing, there’s a sense of wistfulness that that can be felt too. This marathon stretch southwards towards home is another step towards an ending of sorts. The finish line is approaching in a few days, as it inevitably must. Once absolute strangers, now bonded brothers, will have to step off their Honda dream enablers and return to their worlds, forever changed. It’s the purpose of Adventuring; when done well, it helps us make sense of ourselves and our worlds. It’s no sin to wish it never to end though.

Unfortunately, there were two tumbles towards the end of the day, Shaun Engelbrecht suffered a puncture at speed on a gravel corner and if it had not been for his armoured pressure suit and skills acquired during Quest, he’d probably be in hospital. He escaped with not a scratch. His bike too, showed no signs of the accident.

Peter Loubser, the one instructor, hit a deep rut in thick dust, instantly bringing him down. Though he still made it to camp, he was much the worse for wear – a serious sprain but luckily nothing suspected broken.
It seems just yesterday we were in the deserts of the Richtersveld. Tonight, we’re in Perdekloof in the Tankwa Karoo under stars. The finish line beckons.
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