Author Topic: 2019 LOCSA Gathering – A Report  (Read 105 times)  Share 

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Offline Calvin_Bradley

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2019 LOCSA Gathering – A Report
« on: October 07, 2019, 02:36:24 pm »
“C’mon, out of the way!” I’m shouting at the driver of the TSI in front of me.
It was at that moment, 10 hours into the 780km return journey from Hogsback and just thirty minutes from home, that I began to smile at the sheer audacity of my plucky Lada Niva giving the pesky Polo a run for its money on the N2. My TBI had performed better than I expected on my maiden long-distance journey with it, and a brand new respect was learned for my Lada, which just drove stronger and better as the day wore on.

Our adventure had begun four days earlier on 20 September at 3:00am, leaving Westville in KZN and on-time to meet up with Mark and Martha at the Umgababa Shell Rest Stop alongside the N2 southbound – my wife in the passenger seat and good guy Gavin in the back seat with luggage stuffed around him.

I’d planned wisely; Gav is a fellow Lada owner and studying mechanics, and Mark has a Niva too and is a full-time mechanic. I also had a box of spares that I didn’t end up having to dig in, thankfully. So I felt ready for anything.

What I wasn’t ready for though was Mark’s insistence to never pass a truck unless offered a double-lane to do so, which meant some long stretches in low gears and slow progress. Later in the day I learned why Mark has adopted this policy, when I nearly saw a fellow Lada get taken out when it tried to pass a truck by a Ford Ranger driver that felt he could overtake the whole lot of us at once. This was after we’d met up with Brett and Ruby, and Tim and Tom, plus Ventz in Matatiele and the convoy of Nivas became five.

The other three Ladas got fed-up and sped-up and were gone while Mark and I trundled behind an impossibly slow truck through an entire mountain pass – my temperature gauge creeping towards the red zone right near the crest.
But the tortoise always wins the race and Mark and I ended-up in front of Brett and Ruby, who were leading the other pack that had taken a different route, just outside of Queenstown, and hit the dirt track after Cathcart to Hogsback in the lead. I tried valiantly to keep up with Mark on the dust and rocks but I didn’t see him again for another 50kms, just a distant dust cloud while we hammered about over some rough terrain at over 80km/h – faster than we’d gone on the tar. At first my wife was worried about the poor Niva until she learned that they were made for this stuff.
And then we were there, in Hogsback, settling into our accommodation for the next few days. The LOCSA National Gathering was only due to officially get underway the following day, but it was nice to meet some members a day early and check out some other Ladas that were arriving.

By afternoon the next day the Swallowtail Lodge campsite had become clogged-up with Nivas of red, blue, orange, green, white, camo and I couldn’t get enough. What a wonderful site to see so many in one place, and to see the smiles these vehicles elicited from onlookers when two or more would drive together through the town. For me, that’s one of the greatest things about these cars of ours, the fact that they make people smile.

On the first full day in Hogsback while we waited for the other members to arrive from other parts of the country, my wife and I went on a number of hikes exploring the indigenous forest surrounding the town. The weather was wonderful and we loved seeing some animals, birds and trees that we don’t get to experience back in Durban – like the local Samango monkeys, some intimidating baboons, the lovely Knysna Turaco, and unbelievably we got a photo of a Narina Trogan, a rare reclusive bird that’s one for the records.

On our way back from our second hike I received a text message. “Can all the LOCSA guys come to the edge of town and help out with a fire that is threatening Hogsback”. So the return walk became hasty and we joined a chain of water-bearers that were transporting water down a grassy path to the blaze. The locals were stoked to see some Lada owners lending a helping hand, and the Lada owners were happy to help out to ultimately extinguish the blaze. All over the Eastern Cape the effects of drought are evident, and even a tiny spark can cause serious problems if left uncontrolled. Thankfully the fire did not spread into the indigenous forest we were traversing earlier, and beers were well-earned that evening at the official opening of the 2019 LOCSA National Gathering in the Trekkers Lounge at Swallowtail Lodge.

Rain settled in the following day, washing away the dust that had accumulated on my Lada from the dirty drive in, and depositing it all inside my door and behind my rear wheel well. Popping the plugs off at the rear and opening my door had the pesky rainwater drain out though, thankfully. But the rain also limited the activities for the day, as members mucked-about enjoying long lunches at the local pubs and working on their Ladas. I watched the crew from Cape Town start their carb with a can of Axe deodorant, then Mogamat and his family do some welding using a car battery. I was impressed at the ingenuity and resourcefulness, and made a promise to myself to be just as resourceful one day.

The day also involved a number of sessions listening to Ventz give some technical talks about our vans, which proved to be hugely beneficial to a newbie like me. Riaan also shared some tips on off-road driving and recovery, which will probably be handy when I work up the courage to properly take my Lada off-road. It was a nice surprise as well to see the local Hogsback Niva, a classic 1600 in good shape body-wise but with a few carb troubles and a broken inner CV get towed into the campsite. The owner Richard was desperate to get it running again, and hoped the Lada guys would be able to assist. A number of members gathered around and after some tinkering discovered that their efforts were in vain and parts would need to be ordered. The owner also received more than three offers to buy his lovely Niva, but declined as he is still quite fond of it.

The final day involved a convoy to Ferndale 4x4, an off-road track nearby, and all Ladas gathered for a convoy out of town. I was one of the few cars to turn back halfway though, as I’d planned more hiking while the off-road enthusiasts chugged-on and enjoyed a scenic drive around the mountain passes of Ferndale, complete with mechanical breakdowns and lots of laughs. My wife and I meanwhile, ticked off the Madonna and Child Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Swallowtail Falls off our list of hiking spots to check out, and returned in time to greet all the other members returning from Ferndale with big smiles.

That evening was the closing function, which saw prizes being handed out courtesy of Ladapower to the value of over R15,000. I had my heart set on the LED Sidelights, but sadly – and deservedly – that prize went to Mr Bekker from Patensie, who not only drove the only Lada that did not give a single problem at Ferndale, but was also the first to help out his fellow drivers with any repairs or quick-fixes that were needed. Hats off to him.

And then it was time to pack-up and bid farewell to my new friends. I can say with all honesty that LOCSA members, every single one that gathered in Hogsback, are a different breed. No pretentiousness, absolute kindness, and a wicked sense of humor around the campsite. I thought to myself that if only we could extend the LOCSA Gathering to a lifetime, and I got to spend more time with my new Lada family, that would be a dream come true. But I’ll just have to look forward to the next one, enjoying the few days I get to spend with these legends each year.

The following morning we left at 5:00 and after ten hours on the road, the first hour over dirt road with my windscreen washer fluid freezing instantly to the windscreen when I sprayed it, we arrived at the beginning of this story – 30 minutes from home.

PS: I meant to include some photos with this post, but I'll have to follow-up with those. If you were there, please feel free to share your photos from the Gathering as well ;)
« Last Edit: October 08, 2019, 09:21:09 am by Calvin_Bradley »

Online Brett

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Re: 2019 LOCSA Gathering – A Report
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2019, 09:51:33 pm »
Lovely write up Calvin. What a wonderful trip. Just for the record we politely pulled over to wait for the others, that's when you guys must have come down the beautiful mountain pass through Cala and overtook us. But jokes aside it was such a cool trip with great people and cars. Keen for 2020!

Sent from my SM-G955F using Tapatalk


Online Ari bezuidenhout

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Re: 2019 LOCSA Gathering – A Report
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2019, 09:09:16 am »
Brilliant write up


My Lada runs on grace from God, and breaks due to my failings.

Offline kleynhap

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Re: 2019 LOCSA Gathering – A Report
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2019, 04:22:58 pm »
Great write-up Calvin, and some great pics too. I'm really glad you enjoyed it - this is exactly what makes people want to do it every year.

regards,
Peter

Offline Calvin_Bradley

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Re: 2019 LOCSA Gathering – A Report
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2019, 02:06:00 pm »
Some photos attached 👍

Offline Calvin_Bradley

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Re: 2019 LOCSA Gathering – A Report
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2019, 02:08:00 pm »
Few more 👌

Offline Calvin_Bradley

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Re: 2019 LOCSA Gathering – A Report
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2019, 02:09:38 pm »
Last batch I have 🙈