Analogue Africa - Top to bottom just before the Internet

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by richeyroo, Jan 12, 2017.

  1. richeyroo

    richeyroo XR650L, CRF450X,

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    In 1995, I left the Royal Navy and didn't have a clue what to do next. In the Navy since the age of 18, I'd spent 8 years being told what to do and when to do it, and what clothes to wear whilst doing it.

    So at the age of 26, having thoroughly loved travelling the world at The Queen's expense, I decided it was time to set off on my own. And this was the map I used to spark my imagination

    [​IMG]
    #1
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  2. #1Fan

    #1Fan Been here awhile

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    Traveling before GPS?? I didn't know there was such thing! :imaposer:imaposer:imaposer
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  3. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    :lurk
    #3
  4. richeyroo

    richeyroo XR650L, CRF450X,

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    This was 1995 and although people with an interest in technology may have been aware of the Internet, for me and my then girlfriend, this was still the world of maps, paper diaries, compasses and hearing magical stories about one or two brave individuals who been to Africa by motorbike.

    We kept a diary

    [​IMG]

    and we kept awesome financial records

    [​IMG]



    occasionally we dreamed of giving it up, going home and doing the trip by Land Rover so we made plans accordingly

    [​IMG]
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  5. richeyroo

    richeyroo XR650L, CRF450X,

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    I did the trip with my then girlfriend Tracy

    [​IMG]

    and we used a mighty XTZ750. 2 up. With hard plastic Givi cases :woohoo:

    [​IMG]


    Look, don't blame me, we didn't have the Internet back then to ask a billion questions before we set off. I'd seen the Paris-Dakar on the TV, saw a bike in the showroom that looked a bit like the ones on the telly, so bought it
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  6. richeyroo

    richeyroo XR650L, CRF450X,

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    This isn't really a Ride Report with a huge number of awesome photos because we didn't have a Digital camera, just a simple film camera. Although I went on to spend some time as a professional sports photographer much later in life, at the time it never occurred to us to snap away every 5 minutes as we do nowadays. We took aa few snaps every now and then but didn't get a single frame developed until we got back home

    So it might be a bit light on pictures and heavy on words, but I thought I ought to put our little story up on the Internet somewhere as so many other people have made a great effort to upload their stories. And it is a great effort to post so it does make me appreciate the reports other folks have made
    #6
  7. twowings

    twowings Comfortably Numb... Supporter

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    REAL reality!! What a concept!

    Looking forward to it eagerly...:beer
    #7
  8. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Thanks for making the effort to show us what it was like to ride before GPS and the internet! :thumb
    #8
  9. richeyroo

    richeyroo XR650L, CRF450X,

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    As a 48 year man, it's hard not to fall into the trap of being a miserable old b@stard who thinks the old days were better, but I'm very glad we had the opportunity to do this trip when we did. I think Chris Scott had published a hand stapled, photocopied version of his motorcycling handbook in 1995 but I don't recall reading a motorbike specific guide on any sort of overland travel. Of course hundreds had done the trip before us and ours was nothing special but there was a huge feeling of the unknown.
    There was a nice chap called Richard Dorrell (I think) in Stourport who had had ridden into Algeria on an R80GS a year previously. The bike had a gazillion litre tank on it and when we went to his house for a chat, we were so nervous, and felt like we were in the presence of motorcycling royalty.
    Our first stab at planning was to contact the Algerian Embassy and they wanted to know our date of arrival and departure, and which hotels we were planning to be staying at. Errrrrmmmmm, nope no idea..... and so we literally and 100% stopped planning at that point.
    We explained the Poste Restante system to various parents and friends, bought a compass that could point south and I remember fixing a 10 litre water container into the inside of the Givi pannier. But our preparations didn't mount up to much more than that.
    I remember being terrified as we headed down the M5 thinking that the back wheel would collapse with the weight but we had a ferry ticket from Plymouth to Santander and not much else by way of plans. We had around 4500 quid with us in cash (!!) and Travellers Cheques, a tool kit that weighed about 15kg, a heavy tent and some heavy sleeping bags. We didn't even have a bloody cooker.
    We were terrified and naive in equal amounts and it's difficult looking back to try and understand our emotions and not superimpose our feelings of today with all that we now know.
    Certainly I think stepping off on a journey in the way we did was phenomenally exciting but perhaps no more or less so than it would be for a similarly idiotic 26 year old nowadays. But people seem to ask so many questions before they set off and have so many plans. Maybe that's better, they see more, they do more and they can meet like minded people and make the most of what time and money they have.
    But we really didn't have a clue
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  10. richeyroo

    richeyroo XR650L, CRF450X,

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    So with Algeria proving all a bit too complicated and thinking that Egypt would be far too beauratic, we opted for Morocco as our entry point to Africa. A 24 hour ferry trip to Santander was uneventful except for one significant event. We took part in the Ships quiz in some dreadful bar onboard and we would have won the champagne but we lost by 1 point. Had we known the names of all 5 members of Take That we would have come first. Aargh it still rankles. We forgot about Howard Donald. Doh. But our bike got a name. Howard. Welcome aboard Howard.

    We referred to him as Howard throughout the entire trip and quite often people thought there were three of us making the trip. Heaven knows where they thought Howard sat.

    Looking back I think the delirious maddening physcotic effects of the Larium we were taking in large weekly doses was starting to have an effect quite early on in the trip
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  11. richeyroo

    richeyroo XR650L, CRF450X,

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    Of course this could be a whole lot quicker is I just posted pages from the diary


    [​IMG]
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  12. goodcat

    goodcat Changing latitudes, altitudes and attitudes

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    Too cool :chace
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  13. richeyroo

    richeyroo XR650L, CRF450X,

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    I don't think we took any photos at all in Spain. I do remember that Spain was lovely and easy and we thought that Morocco was extremely foreign and different and scary. Our diary records 5 days of p*ssing around and very slowly making our way south, camping eventually somewhere near Torremolinos where we tried to get into some sort of cool travellers routine so we wouldn't look like complete knobs when we got to Africa. I'm not sure we ever achieved it.
    But we were definately wimping out of biting the bullet and getting the ferry across the Straits of Gibraltar.

    I'm not sure why, because my girlfriend was a Nurse and I was a former Royal Navy Officer but somehow, perhaps because of the new found freedom we were discovering, we decided that "runners" would make financing a long road trip significantly easier.

    I'm sure there are Officers of the law reading and I can only apologise and say we were young, it was a long time ago and we blame the Larium
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  14. richeyroo

    richeyroo XR650L, CRF450X,

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    [​IMG]
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  15. richeyroo

    richeyroo XR650L, CRF450X,

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    So having done a runner from the campsite we had no choice but to flee the country and head south. And stop when we got to Cape Town
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  16. juno

    juno Long timer

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    Ha! Awesome start! Hmmm, runners, I assume you mean running out on the bill, not guns or drugs??
    #16
  17. richeyroo

    richeyroo XR650L, CRF450X,

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    Yep, we were young and stupid but not that stupid. Just running away without paying. It's not big and it's not clever and I'd be furious if my children did it nowadays. I think we eventually stopped when we did one in Zambia after staying in a Catholic Mission and we got a rear wheel puncture 100 metres from the exit gate. We reasoned that God was trying to tell us something and so stopped before he got really annoyed
    #17
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  18. bsheet2

    bsheet2 Been here awhile

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    Excellent story! Keep it coming.
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  19. flei

    flei cycletherapist

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    love this thread! :clap Although it was 1995, it looks like it could have been 1895. kinda scary how far technology has come in 20 years and how much most of us, myself included, rely on it. sometimes i now travel without it just to remember how free it felt back then.
    #19
  20. agplant

    agplant Ride Fast Travel Slo

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    Thanks for the time to pulling all the memories together from 20 years back. :lurk I'll ride along
    #20