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Old 03-03-2012, 11:55 AM   #1246
Adv Grifter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammin View Post
I'm actually looking for a rear brake caliper holder, the part that slides. I have excessive movement in mine and think it contributes to uneven brake pad wear. Mechanic friend here said he can weld a tab to stop the jiggling, but don't like that idea.
I don't think the looseness/wear of the caliper holder T slot on the male swing arm T shaped rail is the problem. They are ALL quite loose ... and for a reason. Everything moves there.

My guess (without seeing the parts) is that:

1. Either the caliper pins (they hold brake pads in place) are corroded, preventing pads from moving in and out on the pins.

2. Or the main caliper slider pins that connect the caliper to the brake caliper holder have corrosion. These two pins have rubber seals and should move freely, rubber seals should be in good condition. All should be greased lightly and maintained every year or so. These need to move left and right just a bit.

Uneven or just weird Pad wear happens when something is hanging up and the caliper can't move on it's attachment pins to the brake caliper holder. Or caliper piston is corroded and can't move freely. *

3. * The most likely problem is the caliper piston itself has corrosion is not sliding freely IN and OUT. Should be nice and shiny and polished. The pics below are of a DR650 rear caliper I serviced. Your rubber seals should be OK, not leaking brake fluid.

Also ... make sure all the spring clips are in place. There are THREE:
One is on the Brake caliper holder, another is permanently below the caliper pins and the last and most to get damaged or lost, sits on the pad holding pins and holds your brake pads in place, do not bend or tweak or lose. See pics.


Here are parts separated. Note the lose spring clip, needs to be fitted when pads are installed. Also note the Anti-Squeak stainless
inserts. Many riders toss these away.


This pic shows most everything discussed above.


The normally lose fitting T rail


Adv Grifter screwed with this post 03-16-2012 at 09:55 AM
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Old 03-03-2012, 02:26 PM   #1247
BergDonk
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammin View Post
I have a possible issue with the rear hub. I need to know how serious to take it. My last rear wheel bearing failure happened just after Ushuaia and I had access to an acetylene torch at a local mechanics and used that to remove the old bearing. I think that expanded the hub too much and I remember that the new bearing just slid in very easily. After 11,000 miles, I noticed excessive movement in my rear wheel and the bearings were shot, so I replaced all 3 rear wheel bearings. Mechanic friend here said that my hub was too loose (rotor side) and needs to grab the bearing better and scored the hub so that the bearing would fit tight. Is that good enough? Or should I try and replace the rear hub? Complicated logistics, expensive, but doable...
Great write up as ever Jay.

If the bearing is now tight in the hub after scoring I'd say its OK. And I reckon 11,000 miles is not unusual for wheel and cush bearings for a DR650. Its about as many as I can get, although others get more for sure. Its also possible to glue the bearing in. There are some Loctite products specifically for this, or you can remove the scoring and shim the bearing with something like an aluminium drink can which is about 0.1 mm thick and about the right curvature.

Steve
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Old 03-05-2012, 08:36 AM   #1248
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Sudan, Part 4: Dongola, Karima and The Pyramids at Begrawiya
June 14 - 17, 2011

After being filled with wonderful impressions of the Sudanese people from my stay in Quikkah, it was time to cover some miles and cut across northern Sudan. The roads were all paved and the landscape was flat through this part of the Sahara. The intense heat dictated my riding schedule and kept me on the go.

I passed through the towns of Dongola, Karima and then paid a visit to the Pyramids of Meroe at Begrawiya, before heading into Khartoum.



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South of Quikkah, heading to the regional capital of Dongola, 215 kms (136 mi) away. This brand new road was laid down by the Chinese and I'm wondering what the solid yellow line on the edge of the road means... It's nice to have some color in the desert, but my road rules tell me it should be white.


I rolled into Dongola, the first sizeable town heading south into Sudan, and got there by 11 am. Just like the locals, I quickly found shelter to hide away for the hottest part of the day. Everything shuts down from around noon till 5 pm.


For 10 Sudanese Pounds ($4.50), I got a shared room at the Lord Hotel and indoor parking for sanDRina. There was a ceiling fan that made the inside slightly cooler than the oven outside. My roommates were a few older gentlemen who looked like long-term residents, just hanging out and sleeping.


I enjoyed multiple cold showers and the ice-cold drinking water from the clay urns. I think that chair is there for the elders and I sat there while brushing my teeth.


While the Sudanese people are extremely friendly to foreigners, the government on the other hand doesn't trust us and requires foreigners to register with the police in every town that we stay in. We're actually not allowed to even check-in to a hotel until we register as hotel managers can only allow foreigners to stay after they've registered with the police. Luckily for me I arrived just as the police shut down for the afternoon and could go in the evening to do my registering. The manager got me an auto-rickshaw (tuk-tuk) to take care of business.


It had been a long time since I'd been in an auto rickshaw and I enjoyed the ride through town. The police were friendly and asked to see my passport and travel permit before issuing my registration receipt that I had to give to the hotel manager. Got to keep on top of all the bureaucracy in these countries. A foreigner's presence spreads fast in these towns and I was told that if I avoided getting registered, the police would come for me.


Once all that paperwork was taken care of, I strolled through town and came across the market, which was just reopening for the second part of their day. Here, a date seller had many different kinds with varying prices. The dates in Sudan were different than the ones in Egypt as they're drier but have more of a caramel taste.


In the evening, I found a road-side restaurant and had this tasty fish fry for dinner, SP 6 ($2.75). I people-watched and observed the evening life of Dongola, which goes on past midnight, to make up for the shut down during the day.


The next morning, I had an early start and was rolling by 7:30 am, heading for Karima, 220 kms (136 mi) southeast of Dongola. This is where I departed from the Nile as this route cut across a bend in the river and headed straight through the desert.


The bleak landscape was dotted with a few shrubs and I was surprised how the ride reminded me of my time in the Argentine Patagonia. The mornings in the desert here and the deserts of Patagonia were both still and tranquil. An ambient trance track by Chicane came up on my playlist and I was feeling rich in awareness as sanDRina glided through the landscape.


That moment ended as the Sun rose ever higher. By 9 am, the heat was becoming intolerable and I felt my feet burning inside my thick plastic motocross boots. Safety first. Depending on your perspective, that landscape is either bleak or vast. I like vast spaces. It makes me feel small and insignificant on this massive planet that we inhabit.


Ridges in the sand of northern Sudan. I had my water bladder from Klim feeding into my helmet now and was constantly sipping water through the ride. A few seconds without water would leave my mouth completely dry and I was thankful to have the capability to constantly hydrate. My riding suit is full Kevlar mesh, which makes it comfortable when I'm moving as air flows all over my body. But this flowing hot air, as it keeps my dermis cool, takes away a lot of my water.


As the temperature picked up, so did the winds. It was a marked change from the calm of the early morning to the near gale-force, sand-laden winds of the mid-morning. Just like Patagonia, minus the sand and the mercury.


Around the town of Karima, back on the Nile, lies various ruins that make up the Jebel Barkal site. These steep-sided pyramids, in various states of decay make up the royal cemetery of the Napatan civilization that existed here around 1,000 BC. Across the river is the geological landmark of the Jebel Barkal mountain, which marked the southern boundary of Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III's empire. Unlike tourist sites in Egypt, the ones in Sudan were void of crowds and touts.


After registering with the police, I got myself checked-in to Al-Nassr Hotel in Karima.


sanDRina enjoyed some shade from this tree and mingled with the local crowd...


...while I tried to stay cool by guzzling lots of water. A bed inside a room here went for SP 10 and if I had opted to sleep outside, it would've been only SP 7.


Back on the road, early the next morning and I enjoyed riding towards the green band of vegetation along the Nile. But it didn't last long.


Camels in the Sahara. I don't think they were wild, as someone probably owns these desert cruisers.


The route from Karima to Atbara again cut across the desert, instead of following a bend in the Nile and I did that 300 km (186 mi) section with no breaks, a record for me. I was just in a zone, constantly sipping water and listening to an audio book that kept my attention rapt. It was one of Arthur C Clarke's stories, Richter 10. When the ride becomes mind-numbing, I use audio books to keep fatigue at bay.


From Atbara southwards, the ride lost its desert solitude as this part of the highway forms the main commercial artery for Sudan. It links the capital of Khartoum with Port Sudan on the Red Sea, through which almost everything flows into and out of the country. The two-lane road was packed with trucks and that too most with double trailers, which made over-taking even more fun.


I finally got some elevation change, but it was short-lived. I enjoyed looking briefly at what the geology is like, under the skin here.


At just past noon, I arrived at my destination for the day, the Pyramids of Meroe at Begrawiya. There was a small tourist office and some shelter from the Sun, but nothing else around. I got sanDRina as close as possible without digging her into the sand and got set to hang out until it got cooler to visit the pyramids.


A donkey for tourists. The official name for the site is the Royal Cemeteries of Meroe, which house the remains of the rulers of the last Kingdom of Kush. There were three Kushite kingdoms, one at Kerma (2600 - 1520 BC), another at Napata (near Karima) from 1000 - 300 BC and the last one here at Meroe (300 BC - 300 AD).


This was the lady who was in charge of the ticket office and after quickly charging me the entrance fee of SP 20, she decided to call it a day and head home. She's walking to the highway with her water cooler. Like most other remote tourist sites, if I had arrived after office hours, it'd be free. She said about one or two tourists show up everyday and there are many days where no one shows up.


But the security guard hung around for a few more hours. I put out my tent and tried to keep cool by not moving much and constantly hydrating. If a breeze was detected, I got up to cool the sweat on my back. The guard brought out this five-stringed instrument and knew how to pass the time.


Playing a traditional Sudanese string instrument as I waited for the Sun to cool down at the Begrawiya Pyramids. The guard said this instrument was used in folk music, but it was slowly fading away. I don't play the guitar but I imagined myself strumming like Rodrigo y Gabriela.


At 6:30 pm it was finally cool enough to visit the pyramids and plus, the light was much better now. These pyramids serve the same purpose of the grander variety in Egypt, that of marking the tombs of royals. The design is different here, with smaller bricks used and the sides steeper.


They've survived about 2,000 years, but some of them have fared worse and have given in to erosion.


Sadly, these are not ancient carvings, but defacing of ancient monuments by tourists. Who knows, some of the defacing might be as old as the pyramids...


A reconstructed pyramid. The antiquities department has taken it upon themselves to rebuild some of the ruined pyramids. I'm not sure if I agree with that but it is nice to see how they once stood.


Relief in the stone-work.


A rebuilt gateway to a temple. This last Kushite Kingdom was pushed south due to continuing warfare with Egypt.


Entrances to the Nubians Pyramids of Meroe at Begrawiya.


Detailed relief in the stone-work. The Kingdom of Kush adopted the use of hieroglyphs from the Egyptians, but adapted them with local Nubian symbols.


These Nubian pyramids were built very close to each other, indicating that either space was scarce back then or these were prized locations to have your tomb.


An imposing wall of the Nubian pyramids at Begrawiya. The Kushite Kingdom at Meroe was known for its iron smelting and was involved in international trade with India and China, 20 centuries ago, much like what's happening in the present day in Sudan.


Another beautiful sunset in the deserts of northern Sudan.


I had an excellent night, camping out next to these pyramids and woke up before sunrise to enjoy them in a different light.


The shifting sands of the mighty Sahara.


Just as the new day's Sun rose up above the horizon, I captured this shot of the Pyramids of Meroe at Begrawiya. May they stand here for eons to come and help us reflect on how great our past is.


The monuments weren't defaced as badly as the sign telling visitors not to deface them.


I got rolling before the Sun got too hot and had to make a tricky u-turn in deep sand. It involved heavy throttle and fine steering balance. Something was lacking and sanDRina laid down for a nap. She's a beast to lift up and I can do it myself, but it would take about two hours. So, I just waited for about 15 minutes and the lady who sold me the entry ticket came to work and helped me heave sanDRina back up. Now you see why I have some sponsor (Happy Trails) stickers on the bottom of my panniers.


Back on the highway to Khartoum, which was about 200 kms (125 mi) away. All though the landscape was bland, the winds were fierce and the buffeting from passing trucks made it an exciting ride.


I was surprised to see standing water by the road side, after seeing nothing but sand. Don't know if it rained or the Nile flooded over...


I had covered the top half of northern Sudan and enjoyed seeing the life in the small towns along the Nile. They've been around for centuries and will probably be around as long as the Nile keeps flowing. There's a lot of history in the sands of Sudan, but due to a lack of development and the thorny stance of its president, this country will probably stay off the tourist trail for years to come. While that's too bad for the local population, who yearn for more income opportunities, it's great for the adventure traveler to come across grand pyramids in the desert with not another soul around.
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Old 03-05-2012, 01:03 PM   #1249
c-ya
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Hi Jay.. Long time lurker here.. I have read your current ride report (and the previous ones as well) since it began. Always look forward to the great pictures and the excellent commentary of your once in a lifetime ride. Thanks for letting all of us who wish we had the time and means to do something like this ride along with you.

I was wondering.. Does sanDRina ever overheat in that desert riding? I would imagine as long as you keep moving it is probably ok but wouldn't take much for it to happen.

Best of luck to you and I look forward to the rest of your report!!
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Old 03-05-2012, 07:37 PM   #1250
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Jay

Sorry I missed your BD!! Glad to hear you had a good one!

Two years?? Where has it gone?

A buddy had a similar issue with his hub on a DRZ. He ended up with a very clever fix thanks to an engineering co rider who has a very high spec tool shop. In short he enlarged the already too large bearing seat but then inserted a steel collar that accepted the correct size bearing. Clearly you need the right machine tools and ability to make an exact collar.

Good luck.
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Old 03-06-2012, 01:46 PM   #1251
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Thanks for the latest update. i wanted to ask you how is your solar panel holding up and are you able to use any energy for charging your electronics.

Later
John
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Old 03-06-2012, 02:15 PM   #1252
bonzodg
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Hi,
brill reporting,thanks!
Rear hub - wise I guess there's not much in the way of machine shops available to you,
a good temp solution is to insert shim steel between the bearing and the seating.
It's available in different thicknesses - stainless is best.
Place the shim in and press the bearing in firmly!
Keep checking for wheel rock until you can get the hub shimmed...
Good luck!
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Old 03-07-2012, 01:56 AM   #1253
Eagletalon
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Thanks for the latest update! I wanted to ask you how is your solar system holding up and are you being able to charge any of your electronics with it?

Later
John
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Old 03-09-2012, 10:13 AM   #1254
Jammin OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adv Grifter View Post
I don't think the looseness/wear of the caliper holder T slot on the male swing arm T shaped rail is the problem. They are ALL quite loose ... and for a reason. Everything moves there.
My guess (without seeing the parts) is that:
1. Either the caliper pins (they hold brake pads in place) are corroded, preventing pads from moving in and out on the pins.
Thanks for the excellent info, Grifter Yup, think it's a caliper issue. Last 2 or 3 rear brake sets had uneven wear. I don't think this caliper's been rebuilt since 1998 Need to order this stuff for my next care package (number 12 of this trip).
Quote:
Originally Posted by LXIV-Dragon View Post
Jay
Sorry I missed your BD!! Glad to hear you had a good one!
Two years?? Where has it gone?
A buddy had a similar issue with his hub on a DRZ. He ended up with a very clever fix thanks to an engineering co rider who has a very high spec tool shop. In short he enlarged the already too large bearing seat but then inserted a steel collar that accepted the correct size bearing. Clearly you need the right machine tools and ability to make an exact collar.
Good luck.
I know right, two years already... and it's all been captured in this ride report. Here's to two more
Ok, yeah, this Indian-Kenyan mechanic friend (Milan) also suggested putting a collar in, but to me, the remaining material on the hub looks pretty thin already. You think it's a good long-term fix or just a temporary solution? I'm all about the long-term reliability
Quote:
Originally Posted by BergDonk View Post
Great write up as ever Jay.
If the bearing is now tight in the hub after scoring I'd say its OK. And I reckon 11,000 miles is not unusual for wheel and cush bearings for a DR650. Its about as many as I can get, although others get more for sure. Its also possible to glue the bearing in. There are some Loctite products specifically for this, or you can remove the scoring and shim the bearing with something like an aluminium drink can which is about 0.1 mm thick and about the right curvature.
Steve
Hey Steve, thanks for that info, ok, I'm not too worried then. I'm carrying spare bearings. These guys who did the scoring did apply a glue (forget what kind), but wheel is solid now. I like the al can tip - much thinner than a collar can be machined.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bonzodg View Post
Hi,
brill reporting,thanks!
Rear hub - wise I guess there's not much in the way of machine shops available to you,
a good temp solution is to insert shim steel between the bearing and the seating.
It's available in different thicknesses - stainless is best.
Place the shim in and press the bearing in firmly!
Keep checking for wheel rock until you can get the hub shimmed...
Good luck!
I think there's one or two reliable machine shops here (nairobi). These guys do rallies up in Turkana, so there's gotta be someone machining stuff for them. SS shim sounds good.

_______________

Question for you guys: I wrote to RAD mfg and they want to send me a hub and set of spokes. If I get it, should I replace my current hub with the RAD or stick with it and shim it? I can keep the RAD as a spare in Kenya, ready to be shipped.
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J A Y on a 98 Suzuki DR650SE (sanDRina)

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Current Ride Report: Global South | Past Trips: CDR '09, Alaska '08, Mexico '07 | YouTube Videos

Jammin screwed with this post 03-09-2012 at 03:24 PM
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Old 03-09-2012, 03:21 PM   #1255
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Quote:
Originally Posted by c-ya View Post
Hi Jay.. Long time lurker here.. I have read your current ride report (and the previous ones as well) since it began. Always look forward to the great pictures and the excellent commentary of your once in a lifetime ride. Thanks for letting all of us who wish we had the time and means to do something like this ride along with you.
I was wondering.. Does sanDRina ever overheat in that desert riding? I would imagine as long as you keep moving it is probably ok but wouldn't take much for it to happen.
Best of luck to you and I look forward to the rest of your report!!
Hello, thanks for being there since the beginning :cheers Yeah, sanDRina does get hot, but not in this desert riding, never on asphalt. In off-road, if I'm struggling and stuck in 1st and 2nd gear (mud, deep sand), yeah she'll get hot. I have the VaporTech that has a temperature guage on the oil line and I just monitor that. I shut her down if it gets to 350F and give her a 5-10 minute break. Maybe it's not needed, but I care for her. Have only had to do that in 4 places so far - shutting her down for over heating: mud in Yungas (Bolivia), deep sand Lagunas Route (Bolivia), mud to Axum (Ethiopia), sand around Lake Turkana (Kenya).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eagletalon View Post
Thanks for the latest update. i wanted to ask you how is your solar panel holding up and are you able to use any energy for charging your electronics.
Later
John
Hey John, I'm really impressed by this tempered glass on my ebay-bought solar panel, but actually the wire from the panel has been cut (in my top box due to chaffing) since Egypt and I've never gotten around to fixing it, lazy. Could've used it in the desert, especially in Quikkah, but it was just too hot to work on the bike. I'll fix it before leaving Kenya, but there's actually not been much need for it. I've been able to charge all my electronics at least once every 2 or 3 days. I used the panel in Panama and thru the TransAmazonica to charge my ipod while riding. If I had to do it again, I'd still install this panel, because otherwise that top box is just asking for something to be installed on that huge space
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Old 03-09-2012, 03:26 PM   #1256
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Sudan, Part 5: Khartoum and The Sufis of Omdurman
June 17 - 21, 2011

I had toured all through northern Sudan and as all roads in this desert state lead to Khartoum, it was time to see the capital billed as the hottest major city in the world. Khartoum sits at the confluence of the Blue and White Nile and is relatively modern compared to the rest of the country.

My main task here was to do some bike maintenance and get my Ethiopian visa. I met up with local biker Omer and another traveler, Tom, and we explored some of the cultural sights of the city.



______________



After spending the last few days out on the open desert highway, I had to switch into urban-riding mode about 40 kms (25 mi) from Khartoum. The road split into dual-carriages and I welcomed the concrete median, which meant no more crazy on-coming traffic.


Khartoum doesn't have that many affordable lodging options, so I opted for the overlanding junction of the Blue Nile Sailing Club. It's an old establishment that's been friendly to overlanders, allowing us to camp for the moderate fee of SP 25 ($11.30) per night.


I was lucky to show up on a Friday as that's when all the local club members meet for a brunch and the Sudanese being such welcoming people invited me to join them. There was the staple fuul (mashed fava beans) with bread, salad and fresh fruits.


In the afternoon, another traveler showed up. This is Tom Richardson and he's been riding this Suzuki V-Strom from South Africa and he's heading for Europe. Crazy man, he started riding motorcycles at the age of 62 and soon after toured around South America and now at 70, he's riding through Africa. It just goes to show, you're never too old to welcome the joy of motorcycling into your life.


On Fridays in Khartoum, there's a special weekly cultural event and Tom and I are asking for directions on how to get to the site in Omdurman. The greater Khartoum area is made up of three cities that are demarcated by the confluence of the Nile. The White Nile flows from the south and the Blue Nile flow from the east with Khartoum proper below this intersection, Khartoum North on the north side of the Blue Nile and Omdurman on the west bank of the White Nile.


We arrived at the Hamad al-Neel cemetry for the start of a weekly Sufi zikir, a ritual involving dancing and chanting.


Members of the Sufi Order of al-Qadiriya gathering next to the mosque that houses the tomb of the order's founder, Sheikh Hamad al-Neel.


Like Sufis elsewhere, dancing and getting into a trance is a way for devotees to get to a higher spiritual state and connect with their god. There were about 500 members there, mostly dressed in white gelabiyas (long robes) and they formed a large circle with higher order members in the middle drumming up the chants and getting the crowd revved up.


The weekly event is open to all and I got into it, as well. The dancing motion involves slightly crouching forward and pumping your arms back and forth. The rhythms from the tambours (drums) and the zikir (chanting) were so intoxicating that my body had to join in.


As the crowd was getting worked up into a frenzy, this man with the staff was parading inside the circle with an entourage in tow. I presume the color of their robes were significant with many men sporting green gelabiyas with black and red ascents.


A Sufi elder walking through the crowd and blessing the devotees with incense.


The event was highly entertaining and I enjoyed seeing the smiles on everyone around me. And what I especially liked was seeing women and men together, dancing and being free. Sufi rituals are actually looked down upon by conservative Muslims for many reasons, one of them being that women are allowed to partake in the rituals alongside men. I'm all for gender equality.


A short video of the buildup of the chanting from a slow, walking pace to a frenzied sprint. Do the motion when you watch it.


Older women, younger women, children, men, all together enjoying a meditative state of mind. Sufism is very popular in Sudan with many different orders present and they say mainstream Islam was brought to the region after Sufism made it way over in the 16th century. But still, other Muslims don't appreciate these kind of events taking place and just outside the cemetery were soap-box imams trying to encourage devotees not to participate and instead to follow mainstream Muslim practices such as praying at a mosque.


Three Muslim girls with different-colored head scarves looking on just as the ritual reached its climax at sundown. After reaching spiritual ecstasy, the devotees spend time in prayer.


I met up with Omer, who's a local biker and meets all the bike travelers passing through his city. He took Tom and I to the Sufi event and showed us around the city. He studied as a veterinarian in South Africa and while his focus was on tropical animals, he's now with the government and working on improving livestock (cattle, goats and chickens).


On a night tour of Khartoum and coming across the iconic Corinthia Hotel, dubbed as "Gaddafi's Egg," because it was funded by Libya.


I spent a few days in the city, taking care of trip business and getting to know more of the local members of the Blue Nile Sailing Club. It was run by Osama (blue-striped shirt) and he invited me again to join them for a Saturday lunch of mutton. I placed my tent under that tree back there and enjoyed the tranquility of the place. It was extremely hot during the days, reaching 50 C (122 F) in the afternoons and maybe dipping below 25 C (77 F) at night. As soon as I woke up, I had to down a liter of water before I could move.


A tasty, spicy mutton stew brewing on the grounds of the Blue Nile Sailing Club.


Communal eating is the preferred way food is consumed in Sudan and as soon as the food was placed on the tables, it was a free for all. Osama told me to put down the camera and get some grub before it disappeared but I had to capture the moment. Any efforts to spread the tenets of the Slow Food Movement would be futile here.


A delicious spread of mutton, a salad of tomatoes and onions with a yoghurt sauce, some greens and fresh bread. The mutton was still steaming hot but it was devoured in a few minutes.


Omer would stop by after work and we chatted on the shores of the Blue Nile in Khartoum. He's riding a Suzuki GS500 now (one of the first bikes I had) but has dreams of getting some bigger to tour around Africa and thus had many questions for me on bike maintenance and necessary gear for traveling.


The al-Mac Nimir Bridge connecting Khartoum with Khartoum North across the Blue Nile, which wasn't actually blue due to lots of sediments that flow down from the Ethiopian highlands.


On one of the evenings, Omer took me to meet some of his friends who gather at this spot on the banks of the Blue Nile over some tea and shisha.


They were all very friendly and I felt very much like I was back in India. Actually a couple of them thought I was Sudanese and I told them in return that they could all pass for Indians. And many of them actually did their university studies in India. There's been a long-term bond between our two countries, which dates back to our common British overlords. The Brits actually brought over many Indians at the end of 19th century to help in infrastructure projects and they even dismantled a bridge in India and rebuilt it across the Blue Nile. I enjoyed the conversation and felt at home among my brown peoples.


I secured my visa for Ethiopia and after doing an oil change and air filter cleaning on the bike, I made a quick tour to capture the feel of this modern city at the confluence of the Nile.


Taking photographs in public is not encouraged in Khartoum as the regime suspects that all foreigners are spies. So, I reverted to my FotoMotion technique of clicking away with my left hand while riding. A pretty good shot of Gaddafi's Egg, which stands out in the Khartoum skyline.


The confluence of the White Nile as it meets the Blue Nile coming in from the right. There isn't really a good place to capture this hydrological event, so I took this in motion from a bridge. They had security guards at either end of the bridge, so it wasn't possible to stop for even a second. I was told by my father, who visited Khartoum about ten years ago, that it was possible to see the two tributaries actually mixing, but I think I was here in the wrong season and they were both quite muddy. The White Nile flows more slowly from Uganda and through South Sudan, while the Blue Nile comes from Ethiopia and is responsible for the rich sediments that Egypt used to depend on, before the Nile got dammed.


The staple food of Sudan and Egypt, a bowl of fuul served with a liberal dose of olive oil and grated cheese. A hearty helping like this cost SP 2 ($0.90).


The grounds of the Blue Nile Sailing Club, who still welcome overlanders to camp, relax and get to know a bit of life in Khartoum.

After four days here, I felt I got a quick overview of this developed, modern city, which stands at congruence with the rest of the country. There might be strict economic sanctions placed on Sudan, but life still goes on and the conversations I had with Omer's friends told me that the younger generation is eager for a chance to be welcomed on the world stage. With the independence of South Sudan just a few days away and with the promise that sanctions might be lifted, their hopes seem attainable.
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Old 03-09-2012, 03:29 PM   #1257
dyingjohnnie
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Man Alive!

You sir... are a bad motherfucker! An inspiration to ALL! Keep it up!
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Old 03-12-2012, 12:31 PM   #1258
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Hi Jay,

I would think it best to replace it - esp if it is free! Repair the old and keep that as a spare to have shipped to you in an emergency.

I think that way you will have more faith in it and one less thing on your mind
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Old 03-16-2012, 06:11 AM   #1259
Jammin OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dyingjohnnie View Post
You sir... are a bad motherfucker! An inspiration to ALL! Keep it up!
Thanks for the vote of confidence
Quote:
Originally Posted by LXIV-Dragon View Post
Hi Jay,
I would think it best to replace it - esp if it is free! Repair the old and keep that as a spare to have shipped to you in an emergency.
I think that way you will have more faith in it and one less thing on your mind
That's what I'm thinking, Peter
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Old 03-16-2012, 06:12 AM   #1260
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Sudan, Part 6: Across the Sahel and to the Border
June 21, 2011

Sudan was super hot and while I enjoyed the friendly populace of this desert state, I was ready to escape from the heat to the cool mountains of Ethiopia.

Khartoum marks the southern edge of the Sahara and I rode through the transitional region of the Sahel before seeing green as I neared the border with Ethiopia.



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The start of a long day on the road, heading southeast out of Khartoum, along the Blue Nile. I thought I would get close to the border and spend the night somewhere, but I ended up riding straight into Ethiopia by the end of day; a good 580 kms (360 mi) away.


Taking refuge at a petrol station as the day warmed up in the town of Wad Medani. An interesting facet of overland travel is learning all the different names for petrol. Here in Sudan, they refer to it as Benzine, which I think comes from the German's. In English, it's technically not the correct use of the word as benzine refers to petroleum ether, which is a different product than petroleum, but once ingrained in a culture, proper nouns are hard to change. The flipside is that diesel is referred to as 'diesel' in most countries (except Portuguese-speaking areas, where it's confusingly called 'gasoleo' - not to be confused with gasoline). That's because diesel fuel is named after a particular person, Rudolf Diesel, unlike petroleum, which is named after a process. This helps me in situations where the pump attendant thinks my massive-looking bike probably runs on diesel, like a truck, and I have to insist that no, it's runs on petrol (using the local word for it).


I turned east from Wad Medani, moving away from the Blue Nile and heading to the junction town of al-Qadarif (Gedaref). After seeing flatland for the past few weeks, I was thrilled at these small hills and the sight of trees. It whet my appetite for the massive mountains of Ethiopia coming up.


North of Khartoum, there weren't any settlements outside the major towns, or at least what I could see from the road. So, I was happy to see this typically-looking African village with cone-shaped roofs on round huts. This also signaled to me that I was finally entering the region known as Sub-Saharan Africa, which is everything below the Sahara Desert. While the countries in the Sahara are definitely part of the continent of Africa, for me, that image of 'Africa' relates specifically to Sub-Saharan Africa. I think this is partly because a big chunk of my childhood was spent in Southern Africa (Zambia).


Taking a break under the little shade of these acacia trees; the first sighting of many more to come in the dry areas of Sub-Saharan Africa.


I wore this blue cooling vest all through my ride through Egypt and Sudan and it's an excellent piece of gear for keeping my body temperature a few degrees cooler than riding without it. It's work on the principle of evaporative cooling. The vest is quilted and after soaking it in water, I wear it under my jacket and as I'm riding, the flow of hot air evaporates the wetness of my core, removing heat from my skin. It focuses on keeping the core cool so that as your blood circulates, slightly cooler blood is taken to your extremities. The vest stays wet for about two hours of riding, depending on the humidity. In northern Sudan, it lasted only an hour but that one hour of respite was much welcomed.


The northern edge of Sub-Saharan Africa is defined by the region knows as the Sahel, which is a transition zone from the deserts to the savannahs and forests. The Sahel wasn't that pronounced on this ride in southeastern Sudan, due to the abrupt rising of the Ethiopian highlands just a hundred kilometers or so south of here, but I expect to be riding through a lot more of it in Western Africa.


I got to the busy town of al-Qadarif by mid-afternoon and after a futile search for affordable accommodation, I decided to just head straight to the border town of al-Qallabat, about 160 kms (100 mi) away. While there, I had a refreshing snack of tasty mangoes that were brought up from the fertile regions south of here. They say the southern parts of Sudan and most of South Sudan have extremely fertile soils and have the capacity to produce enough food for this whole region of Eastern Africa, but sadly, due to on-going instability, these areas are heavily dependent on food aid.


Passing another old-school Bedford truck, temporarily broken down by the side of road on the way to the Ethiopian border. Being an automotive enthusiast, it's a real pleasure for me to be passing through countries where vehicles that would be in a museum in the developed world are still toiling away in the 'field,' a couple decades past their retirement. Having a mechanical engineering background, I really appreciate the fact that back in the day, products were designed to last. This is in contrast to our current global disposable culture, where a modern product is only designed to last through its warranty period, if that.


Greenery! I was so excited to see grass and green leaves after being inundated by the browns and yellows of the desert sands. I could smell it in the air and had a big smile on my face.


Noticing a big insect that got caught in my boot buckle; another sign that I was heading into an area of more vegetation and wildlife.


A hard, green flower of this plant that grows in the boundary between the desert and the highlands of Ethiopia. I've seen them before in India and they were fun to pop as a kid, but I've learnt now to live and let live.


Camel crossing. These desert beasts are so adaptable that I wasn't surprised to find them here as the elevation rose. I was now at 720 m (2,360 ft) as I neared the border and welcomed the slight chill in the air that comes with rising altitudes.


A truck loaded with fresh timber from the highlands of Ethiopia. I had made it to the border and thought I would spend the night in al-Qallabat, the town on the Sudanese side. But not finding safe-enough accommodation and being pressured by border hustlers, I decided to rush through the border crossing and spend the night on the Ethiopian side, in the town of Metema. I got processed through the Sudanese side, which took longer than expected due to the extra bureaucracy that Sudan loves, and ended up clearing Ethiopian immigration just before the office closed, but I didn't make it through Ethiopian customs. So, I spent the night in the Ethiopian customs compound, which was an interesting experience.


I traveled only two weeks in Sudan, which was much shorter than I had originally planned, but the heat was a driving factor. It was a short time for such a massive country but I felt satisfied with my time here, especially due to my memorable stay with the fisherman of Quikkah. I was able to concur with all other traveler's opinion of the friendliness of the Sudanese people and wished I had passed through here at a better time of the year (winter) when the temperatures wouldn’t be so stifling.

Sudan was one of only two countries (the other being Argentina), where I felt completely relaxed about bike and personal safety. There were many times where I would leave my helmet and gloves on the bike as I took a juice break and while keeping an eye on the bike, I noticed many locals walking past and not one of them was interested in swiping my gear left in the open. I couldn't imagine doing this in Egypt or many other countries (even developed ones). My theory on why this is the case in these countries is that they both had a golden age a couple decades back, which I believe bred a sense of nobility and respect in the culture. And even though the economies might be struggling now, that aspect of their culture (respecting personal property) hasn't been lost. Being sparsely populated (outside metro areas) also might have something to do with it. I have a feeling that it's a similar situation in Iran.
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Jammin screwed with this post 03-16-2012 at 10:50 AM
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