Jammin thru the Global South

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Jammin, Mar 4, 2010.

  1. Jammin

    Jammin Living on a DR

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    Still waiting in Kibondo, Tanzania, for these bike parts to get in. They're on their way to Nairobi and then there's a few days bus parcel journey to me. A bit anxious since I've registered to take the last exams of my distance masters in Johannesburg; starting on Oct 9th. Once the parts get here and if they work, I'll have about 14 days to cover 5,000 kms (3,100 mi) and about one third of that is off-road. It's going to be a mad dash thru Mozambique; sad, because I was really looking forward to going slow thru there. Oh well, that's what I get for trying to do a masters while traveling thru Africa on a bike ;)

    In the meantime, working on Plan B and Plan C, getting some good studying done on land and forest degradation, eating lots of fresh veggies and fruits, which are really cheap and tasty, and staring at sanDRina out my window, wishing for the future when we're moving again... :ricky
  2. Jammin

    Jammin Living on a DR

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    Rwanda: Lake Kivu Off-roading and Remembering 1994
    September 1 - 4, 2012

    South of Uganda and sandwiched between DR Congo and Tanzania is one of the smallest countries in Africa. Rwanda, a hilly country blessed with fertile land, is currently stable and growing and exudes more development than its neighbors. But sadly, it can't shake off its turbulent history. In 1994 Rwanda plunged into its deepest and darkest moment in its history as an ethnic feud between Hutus and Tutsis, boiling and rumbling for 40 years, culminated in a genocide where the Hutu majority sought to eliminate the Tutsis. Peace has returned, but extremists on both sides haven't forgotten who the enemy is. The Tutsi-led government has sought to remove the labels of Hutus and Tutsis that were imposed on them by Belgian colonialists and is trying to create pride in a Rwandan identity.

    I only spent a few days in this tiny country, but enjoyed a lovely off-road ride along the shores of Lake Kivu, one of the great African Rift Valley Lakes and then spent some time in the capital, Kigali, paying my respects to the victims of the genocide and getting a first-hand account from my CouchSurfing host.

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    At the Cyanika border with Uganda and sanDRina posing with gorillas. This was as close as I was going to get to Rwanda's star attraction, the mountain gorillas on the Virunga volcano chain.

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    Rwandan Francs showing the country's main foreign exchange earner, gorilla tourism and coffee. Rwanda had close ties with France after independence and it shows in the name of its currency, the use of French in business and government circles and the practice of driving on the right, compared to most of its neighbors who drive on the left (following British influence). USD $1 = RWF 605, so that RWF 5000 note equals about $8.25.

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    One big difference that's evident as soon as entering the country from Uganda is how crowded it is. Rwanda has one of the highest population densities in Africa, with about 12 million people crammed into an area the size of Maryland. And with the capital, Kigali, having only about a million residents, the rest are scattered throughout the country and there was hardly a stretch of road with no Rwandans on it. As soon as I stopped for a water break, an audience gathered around, reminding me of Ethiopia.

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    I found some tranquility in this crowded country on the gravel road that follows the coast of Lake Kivu in the west.

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    A wide view of a terraced tea estate along the route by Lake Kivu. Although it was sad to me that this once-forested land has been cleared for agriculture, the endless greenery was soothing and rejuvenating.
    Click here to see the high resolution version.

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    I could only stop for photos on the flat surfaces but the route was very hilly and most of it was covered in exposed rocks with sanDRina bouncing along under my throttling.

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    These kids ran up the hillside as soon as they heard my engine stop and just watched me from a distance. That GAP sweatshirt that you donated to the Salvation Army, it's here in Rwanda.

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    Getting a glimpse of Lake Kivu in the distance with DR Congo on the other side.

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    I arrived in the lovely lakeside town of Kibuye and got right up close to the lake that I'd been following all afternoon.

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    My corner room at Home St Jean, a hotel attached to a mission, with a panoramic view of Lake Kivu and its mountainous shoreline.
    Click here to see the high resolution version.

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    Food was expensive at the hotel and I had an onion to finish, so I made a meal of pasta and fish flavored with some dehydrated miso soup and the onion. I'm such a pack rat; that bag of pasta has been with me since Bolivia! That's about two years ago. And that can of fish has been with me since Chile. I was saving it for some reason and finally used it up.

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    A cloudy sunrise over Lake Kivu, one of the deepest lakes in the world at 480 m (1,575 ft). It's basically a flooded rift valley with the crust slowly pulling apart at its base and releasing toxic chemicals into the water. Below a depth of 300 m (984 ft) is trapped methane and carbon dioxide gas, just waiting to be released to the surface in what is known as a lake overturn, an explosion of gas from deep underneath. After the sudden carbon dioxide release by Lake Nyos in Cameroon, awareness of these deadly lakes has grown. But until the next unpredictable explosion, the government is trying to mine the methane gas for electricity generation and maybe even export it to its neighbors.

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    On my way to Kigali with Rwandans all over the road. It was surprising to see so many well-dressed people walking very far from towns. I'm not sure if the buses are too expensive or are infrequent or whether Rwandans just love to walk.

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    A panorama of the endless hills of Rwanda and most of them terraced for farming.
    Click here to see the high resolution version.

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    At the Genocide Memorial Center in Kigali. It was a heavy experience to read and hear about how the situation built up and lead to this horrific event. However, it was encouraging to see how the reconciliation process took place with the use of a participatory justice system known as gacaca courts. Convicted genocidairies were given reduced sentences if they admitted their guilt in public, usually in the towns and villages that they killed people from.

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    The memorial is built on a site where 250,000 victims are buried in a series of mass graves. That's about one quarter of the total number of people that lost their lives in this dark moment in humanity's history.

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    Having dinner with my CouchSurfing host, Jean Paul. He's an HIV/AIDs medical researcher and in fact is the lead person in Rwanda for all things related to HIV/AIDS. He was flying out in a few weeks to Chennai, my home city, for a Commonwealth medical conference. Yeah, Rwanda is a Francophone country that's also part of the Commonwealth. JP recounted the events in his life during the genocide and the confusion that arose about whether his family was safe and who he could trust to get him from his mission school to his parent's hometown when the violence broke out.

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    Riding the rolling hills of eastern Rwanda as I headed for the border with Tanzania.
    Click here to see the high resolution version.

    I spent only a few days in this small country but got a taste for its beautiful countryside and learned a bit more about the tragic events that have shaped this country's history.
  3. BushCaptain

    BushCaptain Unbounded World

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    Awesome! Thanks alot for the well written and explaining report. I hope your ride has taken you where you wanted to go ;) This gives me alot of inspiration, keep it up! :clap
  4. SS in Vzla.

    SS in Vzla. Totally Normal? I'm not!

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    As always Jay, those have been very great and detailed updates.
    Are you planning to visit some more of those countries on your way back north? Or your "vagabonding" time is running short?
    Good luck on those exams
  5. Jammin

    Jammin Living on a DR

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    Time for Plan B. My bad luck continues :( I received the spare CDI and ignition coil and they don't solve the issue. This CDI came from a used bike and the senders didn't know if it was a good unit or not. I took the chance and sadly, this CDI is bad too. It has a fault and is sending too much power to the coil, causing the bike to shut down after a minute :/

    Time is running out for my exams in two weeks, so I'm bussing it back to Nairobi, leaving poor sanDRina behind :cry The hotel staff said they'll take care of her and are letting me stash my gear in a store room. Im going to try and switch my exams to Nairobi. If not, I have to fly to Johannesburg. In the meantime, going to have another good CDI shipped to me in Nairobi.

    So bummed. This is the first time I'll be ditching sanDRina. Sorry girl, but I'll be back! and this journey shall continue :ricky
  6. capeklr

    capeklr Been here awhile

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    Try this man, he run a bike repair shop here in Cape Town and has DR 650's.
    info@lecap.co.za
    He might be able to help you. His name is J├╝rgen.
    Your description of the CDI giving to much power to the coil sounds very odd. I'm a cage mechanic btw. Do you still have spark when the bike shuts down?
    Does your coil or CDI get very hot?
  7. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    didn't Procycle question if he thought it was the CDI?
    he was talking about a part inside the engine cover...was that the ignition coil.

    seems the chance of 2 CDI being bad (when so few are reported to go bad on a DR) is becoming less the issue, when you start doing the process of elimination.

    at this point you need to find another running DR and swap parts 1 by 1 and see what happens.

  8. Jammin

    Jammin Living on a DR

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    Thanks, I'm already in touch with Jurgen over on Wilddog :beer

    Some progress this evening. A mechanic friend from Nairobi called and told me to unplug the generator (3 yellow wires) and start the bike. It started fine and ran great for 5 minutes, no issues. He suspected that something's either wrong with the Rectifier or the generator coils. I plugged the generator back in and bike continued to run fine for another 5 mins at idle. I checked continuity across the pickup and power source coils and both are within range - tested after engine was hot. I checked voltage across battery terminal while running and was holding steady at 13.35 at idle and dipping down to 12.2, 12.4 at high rpms and then quickly back to above 13.0. So it sounds like rectifier is fine. I checked AC voltage coming from generator at idle and was getting readings around 30 volts.

    He said if bike is running at all then it's not a CDI issue because if CDI is faulty then bike wont even run. Is that true?

    So the bike ran great for 10 mins and then I shut it off. Im going to go for a test ride tomorrow. But not sure the problem is fixed. I think something's up with the electrical power coming from engine to CDI that's spiking and causing CDI to shut off the bike.

    What can I test further to root-cause this issue?

    I have a spare rectifier that I'm going to mount tomorrow.
  9. Jammin

    Jammin Living on a DR

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    Yup, I think CDI is not the issue. Procycle says the stator is gone bad and my mechanic friend in Nairobi also thinks so. Im looking into getting a stator and charging coil shipped to me there. Problem is the bolts on the stator are really tough to remove. Oh well, will deal with that when the time comes.

    Anyone know how I can find a stator and charging coil for the DR?
  10. cwc

    cwc .

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    I don't know if you have checked this, but when the system is NOT working you can measure the high voltage to the CDI (Black wire and white wire) which should be a BIG signal at cranking speed like 80-200 VAC depending on what you use to measure it.

    Similarly the pickup coil (blue wire and green wire) should be a very small signal, but should show up on low range of a VOM as a little blip each time the magnet passes the coil.

    Either of those could fail such that they work cold, but not hot.

    If you have signal both places then you could re-measure when the bike IS running to see if there is a difference.
  11. Jammin

    Jammin Living on a DR

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    [​IMG]
    Crossing the Mara River at sunset in Northwestern Tanzania.

    I made it back to Nairobi after 24 hrs sitting and bouncing in buses. Nice journey; covered in dust as I rode out of the bush and then a ferry across a gulf on Lake Victoria. I smiled when I got on the first bus as they were playing Bob Marley videos. My anthem was on: Jammin' and of course, at full volume :trp Took this bus to the border and my first land crossing without a vehicle, very quick and caught the last night bus on the Kenyan side into Nairobi by early morning.

    Busy day today and I managed to change my exams to Nairobi. Then rode with my boda boda friend, Daniel to Gikomba second-hand market and I bought some jeans and shoes to fit in with my city friends for the next few weeks :wink: Thanks to Davide for letting me crash at his place. Wow, WiFi and hot showers... the good life :D

    I'm thinking of getting ProCycle's 250W Stator. Anyone have some experience with this upgraded part?
  12. vintagespeed

    vintagespeed fNg

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    loving the report Jay, i've got some catching up to do.

    on the power problem, it sounds like a relay heating up & disconnecting power. then cooling off & reconnecting again.

    also try some WD40 in your ignition switch and cycle it a few times, mine caused an intermittent misfire on my recent trip.
  13. Ganjora

    Ganjora class A bollockser

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    sorry the parts didn't work Jay.
    looking forward to meeting you in SA.
  14. Jammin

    Jammin Living on a DR

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    [​IMG]
    I'm back on two wheels :) Check out my temporary ride for my extra break in Nairobi: it's a beautiful 1986 Honda XR250L. Ash, a local rider, has been following my trip for a while and let me borrow his bike for the few weeks that I'll be in Nairobi. So kind of him. Thanks, buddy!! My exams start tomorrow and preparation has gone well. Then another one on Friday and I'm all done. For sanDRina, new stator has shipped from the US and waiting on new CDI and wiring harness from my parts stash in India.
  15. linksIT

    linksIT nOObie

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    awesome stuff as always thank you!!
  16. Jammin

    Jammin Living on a DR

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    Yay!! I'm all thru with my exams and that means I'm done with my Masters of Science in Sustainable Development degree from SOAS :D I started it in 2010, when I began this motorcycle journey and studied while moving across the Global South. I did my research in the fields of rural Kenya and completed a thesis on gender and water management. Now when the results and certificate are released in December, I'll be all set to take the next step... to where exactly I don't know yet, but it'll come :norton

    I think I need a loooong vacation. Dreaming of some beach time in Mozambique... :D

    New stator for sanDRina has arrived in Nairobi and parts from India have shipped :clap Now to re-apply for visas that have expired and then it's on to rescuing sanDRina. My mechanic buddy in Kibondo has been texting me and says sanDRina's doing fine, just waiting for some new parts.

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  17. MrBob

    MrBob Knee-jerk liberal

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    Following your thread has me quite curious about Africa. I see so many interesting faces in your photos; I'd love to have a conversation with these people and learn more about their lives.
    Adding your academic credentials to your extensive and diverse travel experiences makes you a genuinely educated person, IMHO.
    It's the incidences like mechanical breakdown that take us from the realm of tourist into adventurer but I'm glad your bike will soon be healthy again.
  18. WeazyBuddha

    WeazyBuddha Carbon-Based Humanoid

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    Congratulations on the degree!!! :clap

    I've been following you for some time now. Have you considered just going ahead and going for the doctorate while you're still used to school work. I think you should, combined with your experiences it will open a lot of doors and you'll probably be able to make a more pronounced difference in whatever pursuits you choose.

    :thumb
  19. far

    far ADVreader

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    Congratulations Jay on your Masters of Science and riding sanDRine thru the Global South :thumb
  20. AdventureAnimal

    AdventureAnimal n00b

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    Awesome stuff! Do you have any idea when you'll be hitting South Africa? Would be great to meet up and go for a ride. PM me.