Now here is a motorbike route, the most significant 160km of road in South Africa i.e. Main Reef Road!Too long for one post so this is part one from Randfontein to China Mart and China Mall. To understand South Africa is to ride Main Reef Road, receptive to its story and the lives of people who worked this area and built the thriving world class city of Johannesburg
This is the route that sprung up 130 years ago following the discovery of the richest single gold reef in the world. Today the route remains the same as it was then; the link between various gold mines along its length, most of which are closed today with the investment in other mining areas further from Johannesburg.
By name ‘Main Reef Road’ runs from Randfontein in the West to Evander in the East made up of two roads i.e. the R41 in the West and the R29 from Johannesburgto Evander in the East.
By starting beyond Randfontein one can still get in some fast open road riding because the remainder of the route is semi built up 80kph zone with fewer robots than you may expect!
Any explosion of development always has long term causalities and so the route is littered with “abandonment” both in the mining and commercial sector.
Some of the mines are still open. Others have been the scene of bloody encounters between security companies and illegal miners still working the gold bearing rock faces deep underground.
Where it all began, the claim of George Harrison on Main Reef Road, his reward for making the find on the farm Langlaagte.
The industrial backbone of Johannesburg runs along Main Reef road so it is busy during the week; this is definitely a Sunday morning ride. Along this road people actually make things, unlike the north of Johannesburg where they shuffle papers around, move figures from one column to another and claim to be creating wealth on behalf of us all.
The following 7 pics are taken at Rand Leases in the vicinity of S26 11.372 E27 53.816
The now derelict mine workings are in the middle of suburbia. They create their own controversy including issues of land usage and polluted ground water as a result of 6 seasons of heavy rain.
Main reef road runs along this swathe of open ground above the reef itself. Suburbia is less than 1 km away but this open ground remains untouched and undeveloped
Johannesburg’s mine dumps. One in Johannesburg CBD (Top Star drive inn) was protected under the government’s cultural protection act because of its age and historical significance. It contained too much gold however was removed by the mining company involved despite a court order to leave it alone. People were going ‘to appear in court’ but nothing happened.
These areas above the reef are for the moment ‘open’ to alternative uses like off road bikers, rifle clubs and those seeking spiritual enlightenment (see below)
So this is what the Pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow has come to? The massive importation of Eastern goods to satisfy our unquenchable need for our next retail therapy high.
Riding tip: Dehydration is a big problem when biking in hot gear in SA. The best way to avoid this is to drink a lot the night before. Note that alcohol, fizzy drinks with lots of sugar and caffeine cause the body to expel water (or use water). If you start the ride hydrated your drinking pattern during the ride is ‘maintenance’ and not ‘catch up’ – (not possible on a hot day)
This route is long and very full of interesting stuff. This is part one. Part two and three will following in the coming weeks.
Part One shown below is 100km
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