chefchaouen, Fes: Marakesh
Crossing the atlas
Ouazarate bikers home
Beach and fishing in Nouakchott
Segou, on the Niger rivehttp://www.advrider.com/forums/editpost.phpr
Trip to tombuktu
Nazinga wildlife reserve
(Good pics of fighting elephants)
Maddog hits 100,000 kms - two years, 35 countries
Racing in Lome and Toni Togo KTM
Q. Can it get worse than dog shitting on your tent, soiling yourself, and bats urinating on your face?
Two days transit, 'nuff said
Nigeria to Cameroon (two big posts)
2. follow up info and pics
covers birthday celebrations, singing to Nigerian border guards, thieves, and Maddog almost being killed is a terrible truck crash
Hey kids, I've lurked here for a while but haven't posted much if anything. My mate's blog is here, but I might just use a ride report instead. http://overlandtoafrica.blogspot.com/
London to Dover
Anyway, we left London on Thursday and headed to the port of Dover for the "easy" bit of the trip - travelling down through France and Spain to enter Africa through Morocco. Did I say easy? Ice, snow and some gremlins took care of that, and maybe that law written by some ***** named Murphy. We've arrived in Montpellier in good shape but there was the about seven our ordeal I call the 13 miles of pain. I'll get to that in good time.
Dover to Calias
Murphy and his stupid law had his first crack at us at Dover. Our 2.00pm sailing to Calais left an hour late. Didn't care we we're happy enough waiting as was just too exciting. Well, I did have a burger and onion rings, mmmmm. Murphy saw my onion ring happiness and retaliated with some high winds, so it took us four hours or so to get into the port.
We missed our spot at the dock and the high winds meant all the ferries had to use tug boats to dock and leave the port. Nice try Murphy, but we got to our budget travellers hotel checked in and went for a pint. In the meantime Murphy pushed the snow button. An interesting gambit, but we were ready with heated grips, doubled up gloves and a ton of warm gear... WE WIN
Calais to Bourges
Next morning there was a descent covering of snow in the car park. The roads are gritted so its all good. Except Murphy and his daft law cranked the temp right down, so my heated grips and double glove combo couldn't handle the jandal. We did 350 odd miles to Bourges stopping when the pain in my fingers got too bad. Drank lots of dodgy vending machine tea, and re-heated and dried my gloves with the hand driers in the bogs. Slow day, but not too bad. Well...
While my heated grips (KTM OEM) couldn't overcome the cold, Simon's Oxford grips set to max were a bit too hot. So while I wiggled my fingers to try keep circulation up, he wiggled his to stop them burning. It still makes me feel a bit sick. My goggles and visor kept fogging up too, so a lot of the time I had the cold air direct on my eyeballs, and the occasional dose of salt spray from the passing traffic. My eyeballs are as hard as nails... damn you Mr Murphy, damn you!!! No wonder we quickly learnt the French for cold at the services. Every person who saw us said it or tapped their head... thinking we're crazy.
Bourges to Montpellier?
Slow start to the day with a bit of tinkering with the bikes. My rubbish sw-motech stand snapped one of its two bolts, so I had to bodge that up with wire and hose clamps. We made much the same progress as the day before, stopping as the cold got too much and warming up.
It was the worst conditions of the the trip so far, but the best leg for me. I had sorted out the fogging and improved my gloves, by duck taping the air-vents closed (doh) and by taping the fingers together into a split mitten (joining two fingers into one). I travelled maybe 200 miles tapping my feet and wiggling my fingers and bobbing my head constantly while humming any old nonsense. Stopped me riding tensed up and kept me warmer too.
Maybe 100 miles from Montpellier we stopped at the services. We met some other crazy guys from New York in there 1969 beetle - they were in a rally heading to Cameroon. They were as cold as us as the heating didn't work, an they could see the road through the floor of the car. It was well ventilated.
About then we outraged Mr Murphy and his gremlins by planing to get a hotel. Was dark and cold, and thought we'd be cautious and take the easy option. We decided to go 13 miles to a small town and get a hotel.
13 miles of pain
Right, lets go! About a mile from the services, Simon stopped from as his front tire felt dodgy. We were perched on the inside corner of a motorway on-ramp looking like we needed to do our first puncture repair. We pumped up the tire and waited to see how quickly it was leaking... it was a very slow leak, so we decided to press on. Right lets hit the road! ahh but not like that...
Cold tired and short of leg on snow, Simon did the classic hop hop wobble splat getting on his loaded up bike. I ran back and we lifted the bike, fogged up our visors with the effort. Murphy giggled, he was just getting started.
Right lets go! We get a mile and Si can't see so we have to pull over on the hard shoulder (not good). Simon is cleaning his goggles when the screen pops out. Damn it. Cold fingers and several attempts later we get it seated and fixed.
Right lets go! The ktm goes chug chug click... the battery can't cope. Murphy pisses himself. I'd had the engine off, the key on with all electrics off apart from the blinkers. I would have let the bike idle, but in the cold, the oil thins but the engine doesn't heat properly until its under load, and so it was burning a lot of oil. I try kick start, but fail miserably.
I get 2m of 10 amp car electrical wire out of me tool tubes and start stripping it. Gunna jump start it of Simon's bike. His AT is idling along nicely and Simon's gives Murphy a tip, what if my battery dies too? Looking at his temp gauge Si thinks its getting a bit hot and hits the kill switch. I wander over and see the lights on, ohh switch those off... and the panic what about your heated grips!!! Si turns the grips off but the damage was done... only took a minute or so.
In the meantime I had been working on my bike, hiding behind the crash barrier and reaching over to the bike. Then there was an almighty twang resonating through the barrier. I look up and 150m past us a car has crashed. Si saw the whole thing.
A car drove past very slowly rubber necking at us. The next car came flying up behind him going way too fast (keep in mind the ice, snow and bitter cold). This guy swerves into the inside lane to pass and then tries to swerve back again, overcooks it and slams into the crash barrier - what an idiot! We were feeling pretty guilty for being the distraction that helped moron one and even bigger moron two crash. The drivers were ok I think.
Anyway, two trucks turn up with large accident warning signs to protect us and the cars down the road. We can work more safely now. I'm thinking two batteries with not quiet enough juice should start one bike ok. We're wiring the batteries together when Si gives the AT another go and it roars into life!!! We hook the ktm up to it and it to starts!!!! Then begins the very very long process of refitting the seats and loading the bikes. I can't believe how much longer this takes with frozen hands in the snow.
Right, lets go! The AT takes another tumble... lift bike, clean fogged up visors and try again. Remember we're only a few miles form the services we left a few hours before.
Right, lets go! Hmm, we're going!!! WE WIN HAAA HAAAA!!! It was all good trundling along at 20 miles an hour along the side of the road - good but slow. Then Murphy's law strikes again. My tomtom sends us off the motorway, I blindly follow it. Seems I'd picked limited speed routing... nooooo! We go far enough to realise my blunder and have to do a short loop back to the motorway. I can picture hooning down this road in the summer with a huge grin, instead we were wobbling down the road on thick ice at 10m/hr grimacing in pain at the cold in my hands. All good fun really though.
Back on the motorway for a slow trip to the town we'd picked out. There were a ton of motels on the tomtom, so we hit the first one with a 24 hour check in. All good except the gate didn't open. Dam it, had to unload on the road and squash through the pedestrian gate (arse!). Finally got into bed for dinner of boiled sweets at 2.45am. Lovely.
The next morning we both looked like tramps who'd been sleeping rough. Stinky and blood shot eyes, slow moving and clumsy. Breakfast and a blast of Slayer on the ipod sorted me out though. So when the reception staff had wandered off and the timer on the electronic key locked us out of the hotel I was well up for some house breaking. I grabbed a squashed coat hanger from my bike's tool tube and slipped the latch on the Hotel door. We beat the 13 miles of pain and we were ready to head off to Montpellier! funfun fun!
Millau to Montpellier
Cold but no more snow!!!