African diaries (or When we were young)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Thomas B., Aug 17, 2020.

  1. NoelJ

    NoelJ Long timer

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    For the curious. Not an improvement, I think.

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  2. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    Once in Nairobi I went from one airline office in town to the next and asked about possibility and prices for the bike transport and the cheapest one was Swissair and they would take me to Zurich which is 70 km from where my parents live. Perfect. A couple of days later I rode to the airport to get the bike crated. There were two local guys there waiting for me already with some old palettes, nails, hammer, and a saw. I drained the tank, disconnected the battery, and the guys got to work. An hour later they were done and the inspector came and gave his ok. I paid the guys and gave them my Gerry can with the rest of the fuel on top of it.

    in Kenia

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    Since I still had a couple of days until my flight home and still some money to spend I decided to do a game drive into a National Park close to Nairobi. It was a great experience as I had never seen these animals so close and in the wild.


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    Then the day came when it was time to board the plan home. People would look at me a little strange because I was in my completely filthy bike gear and in motocross boots. Arriving in Zurich I went to the cargo terminal because my bike should be there already and I wanted to ride it home. I got a permission and a helmet and started to walk a huge hall looking for my bike. It wasn´t there. I asked a forklift driver that sped by if he had seen my bike and he said it might be outside and that I should wait. 10 minutes later he came back with the crate. He put it down in a spot where I was not in the way and could put the bike together again. He even came back later and helped me get the bike on the center stand so I could put the front wheel in the fork again. And he said he would take care of the wood from the crate. Great guy. After getting some fuel in my remaining Gerry can from the nearby gas station I was ready to do the last kilometers home.

    Another Africa trip was in the books, but it shouldn´t be the last.




    And a map with the whole trip (zoom in for details)

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  3. beemer67

    beemer67 Really Old airhead

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    Hi Thomas,
    Great writeup and the pictures brought back many memories. I rode London to Nairobi in 1974, pretty similar route across the Sahara, then Nigeria, Camaroon, CAR, Zaire, Rwanda, Tanzania (Uganda border was closed at the time) to Kenya. I was riding my 1974 BMW R90/6, the first year for the 900cc. Mainly solo for that trip, no where near the number of bikes traveling then. Pre- adventure bikes days. But the R90 with a Trials Universal tire on the rear, and a knobby on the front got me through everything. Hope to read more of your travels.

    And I laughed when you commented on your large tankbag in the earlier trips.

    Chris
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  4. squadraquota

    squadraquota mostly harmless

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    Thank you Thomas for the great write up and photos. What a trip…

    it strikes me that back then travel was certainly more adventurous (none of today’s tech and comforts) yet often seems easier in terms of the freedom to go where one wanted to go.

    for now, I really hope Sandra finds and digitizes more of your old pictures so perhaps you may feel compelled to share new stories from the past :-)
  5. NoelJ

    NoelJ Long timer

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    Thanks for the report; fascinating. I still struggle to see how Africa as a whole is better post-Imperialism. And I mean for the people of Africa, not adventure bikers. Makes me think of the aftermath of the Arab Spring and consider the "readiness" of countries and people for change.
  6. simondippenhall

    simondippenhall Simondippenhall

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    Thomas

    Once again thank you for a fascinating report and those photos of the Congolese mud are superb (and made me shudder!).

    Good luck with your next adventures
  7. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    Hey Chris, that must have been some journey in the 70s with a "street bike". The bettter suspension (although not as good as today) probably made the ride a bit more comfortable.

    I see your tankbag. Similar to mine. Rediculous. Not good for track riding.
    Cheers Thomas

    Hang on, more coming.

    They do want change, but look at all the coutries that live in a "war zone" and it just doesn´t end. Not a good life either.

    Thanks and I hope they start soon.
  8. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    After four trips to Africa I thought the world is big – let´s go somewhere else for a change – so I took a look at South East Asia for a couple of years, but not with a bike, although I did rent bikes in several countries to get around. Then, sitting in a bus in Vietnam, this cute girl came in and asked if the seat beside me was taken. That was the beginning of a change in my life. We got talking and talked and talked, and spend days together. When I had to get my plane back home we agreed on meeting in Switzerland and Germany again, where we both lived. Well you can guess how that went. Long story short – we fell in love, moved together, and made plans for the future. Luckily the future did involve riding bikes. Turned out Sandra, the girl, had had a bike in the past and the license to ride small bikes in Switzerland. I told her about Africa and my trips to the black continent and she was thrilled. I want to go too – she said, so we got her a DR 650 and she got her license for the big bikes. I went to work on the bike – put a bigger tank on it, build racks, and did all the other preparations for a trip south. We had a big plan for the future, but needed a test run. We got ferry tickets to Tunisia with the plan to go to Libya. That didn´t work out, because Gadhafi’s son was in some trouble in Austria (I think) and they threw him out, so Gadhafi closed the borders for several countries. That happened right before our departure, but we decided to go anyway, try to get in anyway or, if not, just stay in Tunisia. In Tunisia we went to the Libyan embassy, but the ambassador just told us – I, as a German, could get a visa, but Sandra not. I should go without her – he said.

    village in Tunisia

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    roman ruins

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  9. XR Valdeez

    XR Valdeez Been here awhile Supporter

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    WOW! Absolutely amazing! I remember that story of how you and Sandra met. I'm subscribed and following along!

    I am SO ready to get back on the bike!

    Steve
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  10. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    Hey Steve, so good you found my report. Hang on there is more coming.
    Don´t you live in the southwest anymore and can ride a bike all year around? Or do you have Covid restrictions?

    Cheers Thomas
  11. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    And merry christmas to all of you out there.
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  12. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    Staying in Tunisia we went south to get off the pavement and get Sandra to practice her off road skills. I remember well getting to the first longer and deeper sand patch. I opened the throttle and plowed through and got off the bike thinking I had to go back to pick Sandra up. She was right behind me. I had told her before how to ride in sand, but didn´t think it would work right away. Ok – that was promising. We did quite some exploring on tracks and Sandra really did well. On the ferry back to Europe we decided that the trip went really well and we could plan for the bigger step.

    of course Sandra found the only soft spot to burry her bike

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  13. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv Super Supporter

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    Steve aka XRValdez and i live here in SoCal and winter riding is the best time in the desert, also away from the big city pandemic.

    yes, state-mandated restriction on businesses and residents. we're experiencing the highest spike on the state's record. government trying but really it's up to the people who could beat covid and i don't see it happening.

    Merry Christmas to you Thomas and Sandra, as well to everyone here.
  14. Johnnydarock

    Johnnydarock Been here awhile

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    Is that all you're going to post from the Tunisia trip with Sandra? Where did you go? I've been there a few times including crossing all of North Africa back in 1990 (but not on a bike). I got lucky with visas at the time but things change daily and as soon as I was through Algeria the border closed. I never could have gotten through there if it weren't for a group of Moroccans heading to Italy that befriended me. I don't speak a word of French but one of the Moroccans spoke some Spanish and that's how I survived. Good memories.
  15. XR Valdeez

    XR Valdeez Been here awhile Supporter

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    We are truly fortunate out here with year round riding! Looking forward to more African adventure! :thumbup
  16. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    I see the people, specially the young, getting tired of all the restrictions and not following them so closely anymore. Situation doesn´t look good over here eather, but we are still hoping.

    Johnny be patient there is a bit more coming. I cannot tell you where we exactly went, but quite a bit around as we had 4 weeks.

    I would love to be in California right now - out in the desert.
    There is more coming now. Bye Steve
  17. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    We were soooo young

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    We met some guys on the camp site and decaded to throw off our luggage and head into the sand for an afternoon to play.

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    Mrs. B coming

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    and me on the move

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    villages on the way north and some more ruins

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    and at the sea ready to go home

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  18. XR Valdeez

    XR Valdeez Been here awhile Supporter

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  19. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    hang in there my friend
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  20. NAVIGATOR

    NAVIGATOR Wanderer

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    I´ve been enjoying you nostalgic RR and it is incredible what you acomplished then (and now) congrats to you both.
    And hoping for a less turbulent 2021,