Tour d'Afrique - and then some

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Asianrider, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. X Banana Boy

    X Banana Boy stuck in the office

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    St. Louis
    Awesome report. You have me subscribed. When you get to South Africa, I am sure there will be lots of people to hook up with.
    #21
  2. kktos

    kktos on a bright side of life

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    Location:
    in front of Mare Nostrum
    hooked too !
    on va te suivre de près ;)

    also, about the 800, check from time to time the upper fixation of the rear shock. the bolt is known to be a bit weak.

    /thierry
    #22
  3. Northstar Beemer

    Northstar Beemer Been here awhile

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    325
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    Frozen Prairies USA
    I really appreciate your posting this - epic! I'm hooked! :clap :clap :clap :clap
    #23
  4. Laurus

    Laurus Greenhorn on a Vespa

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    Sliedrecht, Holland
    Awesome trip! I am hooked!
    #24
  5. doring

    doring Aventuros

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    Jul 21, 2010
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    Bucuresti, Romania
    Fantastic ride, i'm very excited to follow you. The pictures are great.:clap
    #25
  6. quicktoys2

    quicktoys2 ADVrider junkie :)

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    Patras, Greece
    Fantastic write up and pictures ...... waiting patiently for more.
    #26
  7. Leafshutter

    Leafshutter Adventurer

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    Dark forrests of south Sweden
    Fantastic! :clap

    Subscribed and waiting for more ........:lurk
    #27
  8. Ruud109

    Ruud109 ADV rookie

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    Nov 22, 2009
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    Location:
    Barcelona, Spain
    I'm in, looks like a fantastic ride. How long are you planning to be on the road??

    Ruud

    ps..subscribed!
    #28
  9. Redbull Addict

    Redbull Addict I need another one...

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2006
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    Location:
    San Jose / Truckee
    Just another happy customer! :D

    Love the pictures and write up! A big thumbs up on the equipment testing! :lol3
    #29
  10. Travis Lutter

    Travis Lutter MMA

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    Dec 24, 2009
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    Fort Worth TX
    Great Report
    #30
  11. tcskibike2008

    tcskibike2008 SnowHawker

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    Oct 2, 2008
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    Location:
    Stowe VT
    If only I had the time to do something like this. I will live through you and subscribe.. Thanks!
    #31
  12. stephenaki

    stephenaki Old Rider

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
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    Location:
    Stuttgart, Germany
    In Georgian it means 'many thanks' and indeed, many thanks for your report.:clap

    The church you visited at Kazbegi was the Tsminda Sameba church, I was there in 2006 and spent about 2 1/2 months in the Republic of Georgia primarily in Tbilisi but I did make it to Kazbegi as well as Stalins home town of Gori.

    Great pictures, made me miss my time there with my Georgian friends. Loved the Katchapuri and the Chacha kicked my ass! :eek1 That is some mean stuff! Did you get to try some of their real wine from the Saperavi grape? Pretty good actually.

    Looking forward to the rest of your report, safe travels.
    #32
  13. Asianrider

    Asianrider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Oddometer:
    120
    I'm getting a bit ahead of myself with this post, because I haven't caught up with the last part of my trip. I'm sitting here at Starbucks in Muscat, Oman (free Wifi). So much for the adventure.. but on a trip like this, the breaks in the capitals are a must, to sort out the visas.

    Until now it's been pretty easy, the only visa I had to plan in advance was the Iranian, and it was a breeze. All the other countries needed no visa or I could get one at the border. Even if Oman had just hiked the price of their visa from 7 to 20 rials (40 €), mere days before I crossed the border. Damn.

    But for Yemen it's a different story. They've stopped issuing visas to tourists without support from a travel agency (even though I had a report of somebody getting one in Djibouti without questions asked). You need to hjave somebody sort out the authorization from the foreign affairs and interior ministries in Sanaa, then send the papers to the embassy where you pick up your visa. I got in touch with this travel agent who assured me I can't ride on my own and they need to send a pick-up to the border to load my bike and bring it to the capital (3 days away). That was disappointing enough, but then to add insult to injury he wanted more than 1000$ for this. That was just insane.

    Meanwhile I tried the other solution, the transit visa through Saudi, then the ferry from Jeddah to Port Sudan (so I would have to secure a visa for Sudan too). Reports on the internet shows that it is very unlikely to get one from the Saudis. I managed to find a contact in Saudi who could write me a letter of invitation, so with a glimpse of hope I headed for the consulate in Dubai, a huge complex in the diplomatic district.

    I ran into the most obnoxious and unfriendly people I've ever met in an embassy (and that's saying a lot). They wouldn't even talk to me; in fact they had outsourced the whole process to a private company who would gather the necessary papers and forward them to the consulate. But that company had instructions only to deal with UAE residents, so they flatly turned me down. Maybe I should have tried the proper embassy in Abu Dhabi (the capital), but I was running out of time, I had to leave for Oman for a holiday with my girl-friend (more about this later). I would try my luck in Muscat.

    Then I got lucky: after some more research I went across this post by Margus on HU who was doing the same route and after much work had found one agent in Yemen who would do the paperwork without requiring to hire an escort. Now we're talking business. I contacted Mohamed and he said "no problem, just send me 300$ and I'll do the work". Ouch again, but less ouch. This was clearly my best option so far, and I felt I could trust the guy since Margus posted that he had just entered Yemen and was riding to Sanaa. So I sent the 300$ (a long story itself, Wester Union wouldn't do it since I'm not an Omani resident; Money Xpress did it but the money arrived 20$ short..). Note that Margus paid 200$, so the inflation is pretty bad in Yemen..

    Now 2 weeks later, after another visit to the embassy, I'm told that the papers would finally arrive tomorrow and that I would be able to pick up the visa right away. I haven't been drinking coffee all this time, even though it's the preferred drink of Omanis, I had a great time around the country (stay tuned), but now I really need to move on.

    [​IMG]

    Muscat is a pretty expensive place to stay (20€ minimum for a hotel room). Plus, there's the big Eid holiday starting on the 15th, and the country's 40th anniversary on the 18th. Everything will close down during this time so I have 2 days left to sort it out.

    I will then have a quick (!) 1000km ride on the highway crossing the desert to Salalah, which all Omanis rave about, and which sits close to the Yemeni border.

    If AQAP and the Yanks don't turn this country into their new playground, that is. Inch Allah.
    #33
  14. Asianrider

    Asianrider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Oddometer:
    120
    I've now clocked 23'000 km on the bike, and about 19'000 km on this trip, in 4 months. I'm happy to report that the bike has been running great until now, in fact just 3000 km back in Dubai I would have reported almost a perfect score, but I had to deal with a few problems recently.

    I had the 10'000 km (8'500 km) service done in Istanbul, nothing to report there (except a hefty bill, but I need to keep the warranty running..). I also dumped the street tires and put TKC 80s on.

    I had a minor crash when I tipped the bike trying to get back to the road on a very steep shoulder. That's where I bent the right-hand side pannier rack (Caribou cases). The thing is, one of the attach points on the right hand side, under the frame is through a 15cm long bolt. It's ok to hold a downward force, but when the whole weight of the bike acts laterally on it it can only bend. I haven't fixed it because it still holds and I'm afraid of making it worse by undoing it, and it's not easy to find a nice big long high quality bolt over here. I just had a welding on another point that was cracked. Oh, and the pannier latch bent as well, but I had a spare.

    [​IMG]

    Then in the middle of Iran, on a gravel track in the middle on nowhere, the bike started to stutter and then stopped, as if running out of gas. I was thinking about my options and remembered the problems about the fuel pump controller. But when I opened the tank it made a suction noise: the breather hose wasn't doing its job. What a relief, I was back on the road in 2 minutes. I haven't researched the fault since it hasn't happened again since then.

    Also in Iran (about 16'000 km) I noticed a slight leak on the left-hand side cylinder, at the valve cover gasket. Not too bad, just some sweat but still, for a 6-month old bike, that's pretty bad quality control if you're asking me.

    In Dubai I went to BMW again for the 20'000 km service. I had the valve clearance checked and the brake fluid changed (I bought it with a dark fluid int he read break, as often reported, now it's back to normal). I asked them to change the gasket under warranty, but they had to order it and that would take 2 weeks. I didn't want to stay that long in Dubai so I gave up, I can live with it. I also discussed what looked like splashes of coolant on the cylinder, I noticed it in Iran but it hadn't happen again and the coolant level didn't move. They hadn't a clue.

    I think those guys don't see a lot of bikes (there aren't a lot to begin with in UAE), and lack experience. Is it a coincidence that problems started to happen right after I left the workshop ? probably.

    The brake pads were 2/3 gone so I bought some spares to change later on. I changed the tires again (the rear TKC was gone after 12'000 km), putting Karoo T instead.

    [​IMG]

    The front rim has a nice dent, I had heard of the weak stock rims, so I0m not surprised but it's no problem so far. I haven't tried to bang it back in, I would probably make a mess of it.

    So a pretty good picture really. Then in Oman, maybe 1000 km later, in a pretty tricky mountain road that I was doing in 1st gear, I noticed the bike overheating. It had never happened before, even in Albania where I rode in 1st and 2nd for long stretched and it was warmer than here. I had to stop a few times to cool it down. But as long as I kept the bike running at a fair speed, it wouldn't overheat. So I kept going for a few 100s km until I got back to Muscat. It was fine on the highway except for a somewhat higher fuel usage.

    The radiator never got hot, even when the fan was kicking in, and the fan didn't help the overheating (read light on the computer). Note that the temperature gauge is a joke, it always shows about 2/3 whatever the real temperature, until it flashes when it overheats. So obviously the water wasn't circulating in the radiator. I hadn't read about a weakness in the water pump, but I was prepared to head back to Dubai (450 km away) for a chat with the BMW mechanic, but I first looked up the forums, where I found the instructions to bleed the coolant (thanks PackMule!).

    Hello BMW, if that's something that happens all the time, why not put the instructions in the manual ? Anyway, I bought some coolant and it did the trick: now the radiator it's doing its job and the fan is blowing hot air on my pants.

    Finally, almost simultaneously I had a blown headlamp and the 2 rear turn indicators stopped working (LEDs, so no blown lamps). I didn't mind the blown bulb, in fact there is no way to turn off the headlight and that's quite annoying as everybody is flashing their light at you because in these countries it is considered very wrong to drive with your lights on during daylight. But the indicators are more annoying, it adds to the safety while driving in the traffic. I had planned on those being the first parts to break after a crash, so it's not such a big deal, indeed I got rid of them altogether on my Tenere. That's probably the harness since both went off at the same time. Heck, with this central computer, I'm not sure I want to try and figure out what's wrong..

    That's about it. No problem with the battery so far, and the chain and sprockets are running strong, no adjustment yet.

    [​IMG]

    Oh, one last thing about the Touratech tank: it's doing its job fine, the only problem so far is the lid: it's leaking when the bike is tipped, and at the same time it has given me some trouble opening the lock. Lock ? why do you need a lock when there are quick release on the fuel lines sticking out from it.. in fact it's those quick releases that worry me most, but so fat they're doing fine. The tank also acts as a protection for the radiator when I drop it, which has happened a few times already.

    [​IMG]

    I just hope I will be able to say as much when I reach Capetown! (next BMW dealer)

    Laurent
    #34
  15. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
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    3,702
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    Phoenix, Arizona
    Very nice, so far. Thanks for sharing.:thumb
    #35
  16. Seba1

    Seba1 Been here awhile

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    Apr 5, 2007
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    165
    Location:
    Ljubljana,Slovenia
    Congratulate Laurent :thumb
    #36
  17. Bluebull2007

    Bluebull2007 Adventurer

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    Feb 1, 2008
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    Location:
    Oviedo, España
    Yep the cylinder head gasket is problematic on many 800's, but its not a major worry, just keep an eye on your oil level, nothing more to it, until you get the chance to replace it. Its quite big job, but not too hard.
    #37
  18. drmracni

    drmracni Montenegro

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    332
    Location:
    Niksic - Montenegro
    uh... i'm in...

    :lurk
    #38
  19. Suqsuda

    Suqsuda Secret Sharer

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2009
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    168
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    In.
    :thumbup:thumbup
    #39
  20. Asianrider

    Asianrider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Oddometer:
    120
    Ok, so this guy preparing my visa still couldn't send out the papers to the embassy in Muscat, and I didn't want to face spending the week-end in town. So I left fro Wadi Sahtan and Yasib, and camped out in a great place at the foot of the Jebel Shams.

    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/16792007?portrait=0" width="601" height="338" frameborder="0"></iframe>

    The dirt road that climbs the face of Jebel Shams to reach Yasib is pretty steep indeed, I measures 500m in 2km, that's 25% average.. not for the faint of the heart for sure, but great fun.

    [​IMG]

    Back in Muscat on Saturday, I was told that there was no electricity in the foreign ministry and they couldn't send the papers. Right. Maybe some of my 300$ could buy them a UPS ? finally, the next morning I got the visa in 1/2 hours and I left for a pretty boring 1000km ride across the desert down to Salalah.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, the routing is quite unnecessary.. you just need to stay awake and on the right side of the road, a pretty nice blacktop almost all the way.

    [​IMG]

    And splurge at the few restaurants on the way.

    [​IMG]

    I left a bit late due the the visa issue, and didn't push it to 160 km/h like all Omanis, so I camped mid-way in the sand next to an oil pump station, or something like this.

    Suddenly you leave the desert, and you find.. grass!

    [​IMG]

    A bit burnt out, the monsoon rain have long finished, but enough grass to feed thousands of camels and.. cows, happily mixing together. Quite a change from the rest of Oman.

    [​IMG]

    I visited a shrine with a nice cemetery.

    [​IMG]

    Watched the Omanis walking their camels..

    [​IMG]

    .. or killing them in front of their porch, because that's what you're supposed to for Eid. But do they need to leave the guts on the side of the street ?

    [​IMG]

    I found yet another dream beach to pitch my tent, 80 km or so before the Yemeni border, to make it there early enough.

    [​IMG]

    The rest of the pictures are on the album.

    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/17253652?portrait=0" width="601" height="338" frameborder="0"></iframe>
    #40