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Old 05-09-2011, 07:52 PM   #1
DesertSweeper OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Oddometer: 377
Africa Revisited - Return to the scene of the crime!

My story starts 6 years ago when I rode a dirt bike in the desert in Dubai, United Arab Emirates) for the first time. I was a committed road-biker at the time and was just having some fun with mates on a weekend. That was in February 2005. I was bitten by the bug hard. I bought a used 2001 Yamaha YZ250 stroker. A month later I decided to do the Desert Challenge that same year in November. People laughed - and rightly so...I fell off the bike more than stayed on it.

I realised i needed help and so coerced my gnarly mate Pete into joining my attempt by buying and building two Honda450X Rally bikes. Remember that was in 2005 when the X had just been launched and so Rally Kit was thin on the ground. The bikes were very basic and rather nasty - but I am proud to say I finished the race somewhere around 35th, despite falling off many times each day.

And now I was really bitten hard by the off-road bike bug. I wanted to find a way to spend more time on my bike and less time in the office – as you do!

And so the idea for the Africa-trip was born. “Let’s take the rally bikes down through Africa” I said to my mates. They all laughed as one should. So I set about rebuilding the bikes with larger tanks – by then available from Acerbis and fitting a basic luggage rack:

My thinking was that I would leave my BMW GS at home – where it was most comfortable. I wanted to ride rough and light – go anywhere and just idle along the odd black-top. I wanted to go where a GS can only go when ridden by the Gods of biking. But I, a mere mortal, could do it on my nimble Rally bike….

It was decided that three of us would ride part way from Nairobi to Cape Town and just two of us the full distance. I shipped the bikes to Nairobi and on day one we headed up north to reach the Equator – our official starting point.

We rode up through the rift-valley heading to our first night’s camp-site at Lake Naivasha:

I then committed the cardinal sin of riding at night in Africa. We had arrived at the camp site and I decided to shoot up to the local village for “supplies”. Anyways to cut to the title-chase of this story – I hit a drunk cyclist on the path returning to the camp-site, breaking my jaw severely and cracking my wrist and breaking his leg in two:

The Victim:

An email sent to friends and family at the time:

“Dear All
As most of you know by now I had a motorcycle accident at the end of day-one of our Sub-Saharan Africa run. I am still not sure what happened as I was well concussed for a few days.
Thank you all for your words of encouragement, love and support that poured in during the nightmare of the last week. It is truly emotional to realise how many people out there actually care.
I am feeling so much better today and things are finally looking up again. It seems I may be discharged tomorrow and will spend a few days convalescing here in Nairobi before deciding whether to try and ride on. For those who are interested to read the story so far you can browse a little later in the day or possibly tomorrow when the others get here to the hospital so I can update the saga with their news – I have not seen them for four days as they have been sorting out the admin side of the accident.
Once again, much love and profound thanks to all”

Technically it should have been the end of the journey but in reality I was rescued by mates and family and had the incredible fortune to meet a certain Dr Unguti in the Nairobi Hospital. That is another story told elsewhere but I spent a week recovering and then, with high-tech titanium plates securing my shattered jaw and a makeshift removable splint securing my wrist – set off for the remainder of that 8,500 kilometer journey to cape Town where I finished at cape Point:

And now we fast-forward to the present…a week before my flight takes off and I go back to visit that spot that has haunted me for 5 years….with the same old bike rebuilt many times. This is my new story….Nairobi to Cape Town…again...
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Old 05-09-2011, 08:33 PM   #2
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Planning (sortof)

It’s 2011. The world’s economies have collapsed, beer is scarce in these parts and it has been a year since my last decent adventure ride on a 30 year-old Russian “Minsk” stroker through Vietnam and Laos…what to do…go adventure riding naturally!

I have had this lingering feeling tugging away at my riding-tails ever sine my first Africa trip. What actually happened on that fateful day? It’s a grey foggy mist that needs to be lifted and the only way to do that is to go back to the scene of the crime. Redo that trip without the bad start. Africa revisited. Work is scarce and time is plenty…lets go riding!

What bike do I do it on and who comes with? I like to travel with people but I could not find anyone willing to take a couple of months off to go playing on toys so the first thing I figured is that I would do the whole trip, and various other people would do the trip in relays on my second bike. That made it easier to find a travel companion as each leg was only a couple of weeks.

As for bikes, well my four Honda 450 X’s were all pretty much scrap after numerous Desert Challenges and many trips so it seemed a couple of new bikes were the way forward. But hey that would be just too easy (and damn expensive)…nah I want to take two of the original girls – let them too relive a memory or two. But that is a lot of work and so we strip all four down and start putting together two decent toys out of all the chaos. Newly opened local Dubai bike shop “Sebsports” comes to the table and proves their mettle with superb service. And as I write this – with just a week to go – they are shaping up. Much to be done and not enough time. As always it will be a last-minute-dot-com episode but that appears to be the way my life runs. So be it.

The route. This time a little different – not going through Botswana and want to go more off-road – made difficult last time due to broken clutch-wrist and shattered jaw. So this is a rough idea – when I travel I like to keep the actual day-to-day route and journey fairly open. It’s great to stop at a place and ask the locals where a good destination is down the road – makes travel spontaneous and stories interesting. But I will start in Nairobi and end in cape Town and I WILL visit my accident site and victim on day one… so here is the basic route plan:

Each colour represents a different rider with the last leg being covered by my brother who has yet to do his bike license....

You may also notice a small detour to the island of Zanzibar - hey why not!
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Old 05-09-2011, 08:40 PM   #3
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The bikes and the kit

Well I have been up all night - mostly trying to figure out how this forum works as this is my first real adventure post...gotta get to the Airline to re-book a bad flight and then head over to the workshop to get bikes sorted. Will post prep-pics and kit scenario tonight...when travelling on a 450 rally bike luggage and kit must be kept to an absolute minimum...

My bike in the 2007 Desert Challenge - pretty much how it will be on this trip only with a luggage rack fitted and a 5liter POD tank:

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Old 05-10-2011, 04:23 AM   #4
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Wow, thats a story, broken jaw and all.

Bring on the next adventure
Some men like the fish'n,
Some men like the foul'n,
Some men like to hear........
to hear the cannonball a roar'n!
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Old 05-10-2011, 04:59 AM   #5
DesertSweeper OP
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The bikes....

Just back from the workshop...grim is the only way to put it. The bikes have to be re-assembled, registered, carne'd and then broken down and packed into small-as-possible wooden crates to keep costs down....all within 4 working days tops...

and this is what they look like:

The genius that is Lorin of Sebsports...caught fingering a crankcase...tsk tsk doth a god-mechanic have no shame....

DesertSweeper screwed with this post 05-10-2011 at 05:04 AM
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Old 05-10-2011, 05:26 AM   #6
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Waynster gooooooooo all the way mate. , addicted to yuor thread already :)
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Old 05-10-2011, 06:35 AM   #7
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What an adventure in more ways that one! Thanks for sharing it...
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Old 05-10-2011, 08:26 AM   #8
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Looks like you guys are going to really RIDE Africa

Look forward to more
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Old 05-10-2011, 10:03 AM   #9
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Joined: Feb 2011
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Definitely in.

Sweet adventure! Looks like you are traveling light.
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Old 05-10-2011, 11:23 AM   #10
DesertSweeper OP
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Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
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The Motley Crew

Thanks for the encouragement gents!

So what about the fellow adventurers joining me on my mission to Africa?

Actually speaking of African missions…when I had the accident back in 2005 it seems that I suffered complete amnesia for a few days and kept asking my mates where I was and what happened – the old stuck record every-five-minutes routine. Through sheer boredom they began to invent wilder and wilder stories to keep themselves amused and allegedly one they concocted was to tell me that I had found God and become a missionary in Africa. They claimed I was travelling through Africa on Horseback converting heathens when I had fallen off my horse…And apparently as incredulous as it sounded I had to accept it as gospel…for five minutes anyways until the next story became my reality….

But I digress, so we have Warren, Brian, Jo and my brother Bowen doing relay on the 4 legs indicated in different colours on my route map. Warren is uber-energetic and rather excitable and from time to time he needs to be reigned-in and re-programmed. His energy is matched only by his ability to drink extraordinary quantities of cheap whiskey and walk away with a straightish face. The first leg is going to be interesting…Brian or Mr Blian as they called him on our trip through Vietnam and Laos was nicknamed Mr Naughty (along with yours truly). For example Brian incurred some beautiful roasties doing a graceful impression of a swan on his 125cc Minsk through the streets of World Heritage city Luang Prabang:

And then there is my mate Jo. Seasoned veteran of the first trip and a full-on clutch-plate. The boy is indestructible. I once ended up towing him down the road behind my car when we were trying to tow-start my ratty bike. He cheerily waved at me doing cartwheels left and right and then shouted at me to keep the now-running bike going while he put his shoes back on.

And then the last leg will be with my brother who is currently doing his bike license to conform with the local plod. Bowen is the world’s ultimate adventurer. He and I back-packed up through Russia recently to the Arctic Circle (now that’s another story all together!). All four excellent company and all four vastly different beasts – makes for an interesting journey indeed!
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Old 05-10-2011, 01:54 PM   #11
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Roaming Rally 2015

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Old 05-10-2011, 10:41 PM   #12
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Once again I adventure vicariously.
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Old 05-11-2011, 02:39 PM   #13
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Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
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The Rabble

Well its 1.30am on the 12th

We have just completed the first gathering and official meeting of the Africa Revisited team. All parties except brother Bowen were initially present and accounted for. During the lengthy meeting at least one team member wondered off and had to be retrieved from nearby fields. Much beverage was consumed. All is now official. The route is decided. We are off. The bikes are not. Two working days to go...

Who will run in the bikes?

Indeed....can the bikes run?

Two days...
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Old 05-11-2011, 03:00 PM   #14
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This will be good! Curious how you will set up the 450X to carry everything.
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Old 05-11-2011, 04:39 PM   #15
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PDL the philosophy as always is that what cannot be carried comfortably on the back goes in the single rear luggage bag. If it does't fit in either of those two you leave it behind...often less is more. I have done so many trips where at the end you assemble all the items you never used, never touched...a big pile... make a plan at the time, if you need something you do not have...enlist local resources - open an episode!
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