Beach bumming Mozambique

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Xpat, Mar 26, 2019.

  1. Xpat

    Xpat Been here awhile Supporter

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    Day 10 - Pomene to Vilankulos


    This was the last day of the ride up the coast - the last 138 km before Vilankulos. The temperatures over the past few days were getting quite extreme, so I started very early to make it to Vilankulos before the afternoon heat.


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    Again, the tracks were of the same variety as earlier, just more and more remote. Thanks to the early start I hit the golden hour and the colors were even more vibrant than usually:


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    #61
  2. Xpat

    Xpat Been here awhile Supporter

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    There were still settlements here and there, but the area was much less populated than further down south. And the tracks were also more sparse and less used:


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    Slash and burn is still the preferred local operating procedure for dealing with the indigenous vegetation:


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    #62
  3. Xpat

    Xpat Been here awhile Supporter

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    At one point I came across a river/swamp and took a bit of walking around before I found a way across:


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    I was walking around thinking I'm alone and then I turned and these kids who were not there just a second ago were standing few meters from me. Clever African kids, they have hidden in the reeds when they saw the white devil walking around their laundry room, but their mother I have noticed only now indicated to them that it is OK to show themselves, so they did, giving me a fright:


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    I eventually found the way across and pushed on towards Vilankulos not far away by this point:


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    Finally, I came to the outskirts of Vilankulos at about noon and rode leisuredly through the town admiring the turquoise ocean with split mind. On the one hand I was glad I have made it, on the other hand I was a bit bummed that it was over.


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    I didn't dwell on that for too long, rode right across the town towards my favourite joint in Vilankulos - Smuggler's, where I have spent noicy New Years celebrations 3 years ago. And seems to be way too often the case with my favourite places in Moz - Smuggler's was closed and slowly falling apart. How the f@#$ do these places go out of business when they are usually the favourite hangouts with quite a bit of customer traffic?

    So I turned back and headed for another place I spent night of two previously in - a bit more upmarket, but completely emty and therefore surprisingly well priced this time. I have found about another place nearby with what old man like me can just guess is considered cool name - Zombie Cucumber and something - that became the new favourite backpackers hangout in town, and to my surprise their shittier challets were noticeable more expensive than the lodge I was staying in. But that staff acted way more cool and ironic and stuff - I eat there few times as my place didn't have restaurant.

    I settled into my airconditioned chalet just as the midday heat hit, and fell promptly asleep. That kept me busy for the rest of the day - apart for a evening dash to Zombie Cucumber for some animal protein and fermented gluten.


    Me casa:


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    #63
  4. Xpat

    Xpat Been here awhile Supporter

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    I didn't do any videos on this trip, but last time I made one roughly covering these tracks. On 690 I cut off first half or the tracks and made it on tar further to Massinga, but from there I connected to pretty much the same tracks I have ridden now. So the video gives reasonably good idea about the type of riding one can expect visiting Pomene national reseve.


    #64
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  5. Xpat

    Xpat Been here awhile Supporter

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    Here is another video of my prior ride in that area between Pomene and Vilankulos. Not the same tracks - I have again chickened out on tar way too eary last time, but still gives good idea about the type of tracks in the area:


    #65
  6. Xpat

    Xpat Been here awhile Supporter

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    Day 11 & 12 - Vilankulos


    The next days I spent mostly chilling in my little airconditioned chalet, apart from an early morning dips in the ocean and dinners at Zombie Cucumber. I was feeling a bit sickly so to prevent any nasty surprise I used up the malaria treatment pills I got in Tofo and just be be sure got some more in local farmacy for back-up. The main attraction in Vilankulos is visit to the highly acclaimed Bazaruto islands nearby, but I have been there before and feeling under weather I gave them a miss this time.

    I had also a little fright when I noticed that outside of the 500 engine was all covered in oil, with quite a bit of it dripping on the ground. Upon closer inspection I couldn't find any leak and the oil level in the engine was fine, so I assumed that I just overfilled the oil during oil change in Tofo. I still had about 1500 km return leg ahead, and I kept close eye on the oil, which seemed going down a bit, but very slowly without getting below the minimum level. Once back home Runner checked the things and confirmed that the oil was actually leaking around the front sprocket seal, but I'm pretty sure that the initial leak was because of the overfill (though I have no idea where the overflow for oil is on 500).

    Here few postcard-ish images of Vilankulos and surrounds:


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    #66
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  7. Xpat

    Xpat Been here awhile Supporter

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    Day 13 - Vilankulos to Chokwe


    After two days of chilling it was time to move on. Last two days I have contemplated pushing west towards Pafuri and there turn south and follow the Kruger park (or whatever it is called in Moz) eastern boundary down to Komatipoort. But it was a long ride through very remote area with unkown petrol availability (there aren't any major settlement on that route), the daily temperatures were insane, and - most importantly - by now I was after almost 2 weeks of beaches ready for the change of scenery. I was keen to not waste anymore time and get back to Joburg to get ready for the next trip in Lesotho (part of which has been documented here: http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=232705.0).

    So I decided to take the shortest route back to Komatipoort, which was taking an almost straight dirt track running along a pipeline through the bush towards Chokwe (treck I got from Runner) and then onwards on dirt roads towards Moamba and onto Komatipoort about 660 km away. Keen to get as far as possible I have decided in an uncharacteristic bout of ambition to try to get over the border in Komatipport on the same day - i.e. a very long day on 500 indeed. To do that I set-off very early at about 5:00am. As we will see shortly, it didn't work-out and I ended up sleeping over in Chokwe two thirds of the way to Komatipoort, like so:


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    First 30 km were on the tar connecting to EN1 and then taking about 20 km south before turning west onto a dirt road and following that for a dozen or so km until I reached the dirt track heading south west more or less straight through the bush following regular milestones indicating position of the underground pipeline.

    Short stop along the way to sort out some little technical glitch I don't remember anymore:


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    And the pipeline track that will take me down to Chokwe. This track runs over 300 km more or less straight through the bush and doesn't cross a single settlement in those 300 km except one or two little dirty empty camps of maintenance crew.


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    About 50 km into the track I came across stranded bakkie with flat tyre. They flagged me down and one of the people in pidgin portuglish asked for a wheel spanner, which of course I didn't have. But eventually I gathered that he is asking me to take one of the little jeep tracks branching into away into the bush west where after according to him km or max 2 I was to find some kind of camp where they will have a wheel spanner, that I was to bring back. I wasn't thrilled as I was keen to make as much distance as quickly as possible while the temperatures were still bearable and I was little worried about my fuel situation, but hey - the code is not to leave a fellow human stranded in these remote places, so I turned onto the track and gunned it as fast as possible through the weaving bush track. I made it at least 5 km deep into the bush when I started seriously doubt wisdom of this endeavour as I was burning fuel and I couldn't see any camp so far.

    Annoyed I hesitantly decided to persevere few km more until I came upon a clearing with a little hut and home utensils strewn all over the clearing. I called out, but there was nobody around, so I had to resort to going through the shack and other storages I could see looking for the spanner, which was nowhere to be seen. However I found other interesting stuff such as stereo and amplifies hooked up to a solar panel, home made crude rifle and bullets, as well as few steel traps. Clearly a poachers camp, as there was quite frankly nothing else to do or eat in this back and beyond.

    Just as I was about to turn back I have registered loud and long 'Pfffffft' and I replied straight away with some particularly colorful obscenity. The rear wheel was flat - just like that, no riding or anything, just standing there for about 10 minutes, and it decided to call it a day. I hoped for a thorn or something that could be plugged quickly, but quick check if the Tubeliss inner pressure confirmed that the plug is not going to fix the problem.

    At least it happened in probably the best possible place for the 100 km each side, as there were stumps and stick laying around that I could use to support the bike to remove the wheel as my sidestand was broken, and I couldn't use my normal procedure to support the bike. I took the wheel and tyre off and indeed, the valve on the Tubeliss inner ripped partially out of the liner. The same failure I have seen with JustBendIt in Kaokoland on his bike. It seems these inners have finite lifespan - especially in extreme heat I was riding in with low pressures in sand - and one needs to carry spare inner for this kind of long distance riding.


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    That thatched roofed boma or whatever it is called is where they kept their guns, ammo and steel traps for everybody to see. They clearly don't have a problem with crime here:

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    By that point the locals - a guy with his brother, wife and kid - returned and watched the procedure from the shadow of little shack, probably hoping to learn something as they had a bike with flat tyre parked there as well. In typical african fashion which doesn't recognize private property much, they didn't mind me mingling around their property (is there such a thing in Moz?) unattended and using their utensils for props, even with guns and ammo laying about in clear sight. But no - they did not have car wheel spanner.


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    I have taken the tubeliss hard liner out and packed it for emergency (it has rimlock and should I run out of tube as well I could put it in to hold the tyre on the rim while I will try to get to civilization), put the spare tube in and assmbled the wheel back together. By now I have lost at least an hour and it was properly hot. So I didn't linger packet up my belongings and hit the jeep track heading back to the pipeline road.
    #67
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  8. beltipox

    beltipox Adventurer

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    Better than a Movie...
    #68
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  9. Didado

    Didado Long timer

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    great stuff!
    #69
  10. Xpat

    Xpat Been here awhile Supporter

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    Back on the pipeline road I pushed on hard to make up for the lost time:


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    Just as I approached first village at the end of the pipeline after more than 300 km of bush, I felt the familiar mushy feeling at the back again. By now it was afternoon and stupidly hot. I parked under the first tree that provided some semblance of shadow and took my tools out. There was no stump or rock to support the bike without sidestand and my brain wasn't working right in the heat, and I ended up throwing the bike on the ground and taking the wheel off the bike on its side. That went dandy, but in my haste I didn't think through any viable plan to put the wheel back on. I had other more pressing issue to attend to first - and that is patching the tube. Now I wasn't good at that in the best of circumstances (I have practiced since at home and figured out where I used to go wrong - too much glue) let alone overheating in the baking temperatures with the water disapearing fast from my camel bag. I didn't have anymore an option of spare tube - apart from the front 21 inches one, that I was keeping as the last resort, should all other options fail. Well actually the last option was red tubeliss liner with rim lock that would hopefully keep the flat tyre on rim long enough to ride out the next settlement about 10 km away.


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    I patched that bloody tube probably 4 - 5 times and the patch came off every time, when I tested it after 10 - 20 minutes waiting for it to set. Eventually - after few hours uner that tree it seemed to hold well enough, and I could turn my attention to the real problem - trying to fit the rear wheel on the laying bike. By that stage I was out of water, badly overheating and in properly foul mood. Trying unsuccessfully to put rear naked choke on the lying 500 from a rear mount for about half an hour didn' help one bit to elevate my spirits, until I had a brief moment of clarity - just enough to get a brainfart: I remembered I have long strap somewhere and decided to try to hang the rear of the bike off the tree to alow me install the rear wheel back on. It worked like a charm, but not before few failed attempts at positioning the hanging bike just right, one of which resulted in bike's front end flipping over onto the supporting tree exactly in the right angle to take part of the tree off with the GPS screen - which naturally destroyed the screen. Now my mood really improved...

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    At least I was mobile again which couldn't come to soon as I was properly thirsty. I packed up in a haste jumped on the bike and gunned it towards the first settlement. The patch lasted about 2 km before I started to twerk my ass around again, but I didn't care anymore. I wobbled the remaining 8 or so km on the sand to the village, where I crashed straight into the first shebeen I spotted. I inhaled a Coke or 4, and broke the ice with few lingering locals by checking if they didn't have by any chance a spare tube on them (nope). Once my brain function was somewhat restored I decided to push on tar that started in the village another 30 km to Chokwe, much bigger place where I should hopefully be able to get a tube. By now it was dark and the tar proved to be mixed blessing, as there was quite a lot of traffic running up and down the road - some with lights some without - which added a thrilling element to me twerking 500 at about 30 kmh through the dark Moz landscape.

    Well I made it in complete darkness. Chokwe after dark turned out to be quite bustling and hustling place - it even had one set of robots on probably the only main crossing in town - and it was working! At the garage I checked for tube, but no luck so that would have to be dealt with next day. Googlemaps found me a hotel in one of the side streets and I wobbled over there for a dinner feast and beverages overload.

    I have done a lot of travelling and know intinatelly the first rule that shit always happens in three instances following each other in quick succession, so wasn't entirely surprised by how the day went after the Tubeliss failure, but I still didn't particularly enjoy the trials and tribulations. As usually I did figure out a solution once in a pinch, but I may be getting a bit old for this shit...
    #70
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  11. Xpat

    Xpat Been here awhile Supporter

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    Day 14 - Chokwe


    The first order of the day was to go source tube. I got lucky quickly and just to be sure bought three. Then I took my bike to the tyre repair shop to take care of fixing my rear wheel and I went for a hunt for engine oil that most resembled the W10-60 I had in. While there was still enough oil in the engine, it was getting closer to the minimum level so I decided to get more oil and take it with me should I need to fill up on the way. Getting good enough oil proved to be tough so I eventually bought some W20-50 oil that should get me home in the worst case scenario (or at least to Nelspruit where I could get oil changed for proper one).

    With that sorted I returned to the tyre shop where they were finishing the bike - I have to admit they did a good job they even stuffed the old tyre in as an extra layer - a trick used here often but I didn't expect guys in the Moz stick to know about that:


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    By the time I was done it was almost 10:00 am and again very hot. After prior day's ordeal I thought - screw it - and decided to rest in Chokwe as hotel was OKish and start again early next morning when temperatures will be more bearable.

    I spend most of the day chilling under aircon in my room and went out only in the evening once the temperatures got bearable again. Chokwe turned out to be pretty lively place with lots of people milling around and just enjoying evening vibe. Once think that struck me through were number of big bikes I have seen parked or riding around. There were two local guys on big GSA1200 riding aimlessly around (i.e. showing off), I have seen a Tracer 900 parked in front of one shebeen and also one KLR with SA licence disk still on. So if you are missing bike like that, Chokwe may be place to go and have a look...
    #71
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  12. Xpat

    Xpat Been here awhile Supporter

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    Day 15 & 16 - Chokwe to Dullstrom to Midrand


    Keen to get going early I packed up most of the stuff night before and set-off early at about 5:00am. I took the dirt roads towards Moamba. The roads were very quiet and I was making good progress:


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    In Moamba I turned onto little dirt roads heading west to Komatipoort and took those almost all the way, jumping on the highway only for the last 5 or so km. I have arrived at the border crossing still relatively early in the morning. There was quite a bit of a traffic and local touts immediately zoomed on me. As I was leaving the country and therefore not caring about any potential weird custom nonsence they may have tried to invent I brushed them off and after waiting a bit in the immigration que, I cleared the border without too much hassle and was back in good old SA. From the border I took the N4 road to Nelspruit. But turned off the N4 at Matsulu as the plan was to ride up along Kruger fence following track I had from Losper and sleep over somewhere around Graskop or thereabouts.

    Here the state of my jacket after 2 weeks of heat in Moz:


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    I managed to get lost the the Matsulu township (at least that is what I think it is called), but after flapping around I have eventually found my way onto the dirt road running between railway tracks and Kruger national park fence. The road was actually quite enjoyable and pretty soon I have seen herd of elephants in the distance:


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    So it was a bummer when mere 10 - 15 km into the ride 500's ass started shaking again. WTF - this was new tube that lasted less than 300 km!

    Well there was nothing to it, but to find suitable tree to hang the 500 off. Which took another almost 5 km to my surprise - there were plenty of trees along the road, but most of them were surrounded by very thorny bushes, or were badly accessible. Finally I found a tree that I could get close enough to without having to crush through a thorny branches, but it was on a slope. I tried first to hang up the rear wheel with front wheel up slope like so:


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    That didn't work out as the bike was sliding backwards and I couldn't get the rear wheel up in the air, so I turned the bike around and this time got it right:


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    I set-up my workshop on the road and started to change the tube. I got interupted once or twice by the Kruger guards patrolling the fence in bakkie. They were friendly and stopped to ask if they can help with I declined and told me to watch out for lions. Smirking I pointed at the massive electric fence about 2 meters behind me noting that I'm pretty safe, but they explained that animals regularly make it over the fence and that indeed there were lions on the loose in that area.

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    There wasn't much I could do about that, so I just reasoned that it is so hot that the cats are sleeping anyway and just continued with the repair. Once finished I assembled the rear wheel, packed up and contemplated where to from here. Normally I would just push up the Kruger fence, but the issue was that I was again out of spare rear tubes and at the rate I was going through them I will need new one in the next 50 km, which wasn't going to happen. The annoying bit was that I started in the morning from Chokwe with 2 spare tubes, but once I made it to SA I have thrown one of them away earlier, as it was in a bag with the oil which spilled and I was too lazy to clean it up and pack it away. So like a dumbass I threw away perfectly good tube. So annoyed again I hesitantly decided to error on the side of caution, and turn back to N4. At least the elephant heard has over an hour to move and they got much closer to the fence for at least a bit of wildlife experience.


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    By the time I made it back to N4 it was quite late. The logical solution would have been to sleepover in Nelspruit - chopperpilot kindly offered to host me, but by now I had enough of the mishaps and wanted to rather push on towards Joburg and sleep along the way. I was still not keen to do that on tar so I headed towards Dullstrom where I haven't been before hoping to find some nice accomoddation there. Next day I would just take dirt roads from there along Loskop back to Gauteng.

    It was getting late and I was gunning it on tar as fast as I could, but eventually I came upon massive storm few dozen km before Dullstrom. In a blind panic I just turned into the first trout farm I came upon and luckily they had guest room into which I settled just as the deluge started. So finally some good luck.

    Next day I rode to Dullstrom which is one of those artso fartso places like Clarens or some such with themed resaurants and stuff. It is quite pretty, but one thing they don't have there, are tubes. So there was nothing to it but to head west on the dirt roads towards Loskop and then onto towards Pretoria.

    Sure enough, somewhere after Loskop the rear started dancing again. The tubes just seemed to disintegrated in the heat - none of the punctures was caused by puncture or snake bite - the tubes basically fell apart at the seams. The problem was I was on a highveld dirt road and there were no suitable trees along the road. I found a ditch and tried to see if I can somehow stabilize the bike enough in it to take the wheel off, but no luck.

    Eventually I found good looking tree, but it was behind the fence on a private farm. Nearby there was a wired up gate they used to move cattle around, so I just opened it up and headed up about 100 meters to the tree. where I performed another one of my hanging performances. By now I was pretty smooth with it and almost chuffed with myself. What I wasn't chuffed with was that I didn't have spare tube, so my only chance was to patch the tube. Which I tried to do for the next 3 hours in hot sun, but sure enough all the patches came off.


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    Eventualy I had enough, squeezed in the spare 21 inches front tube, packed up and pushed on. I have made it without without further drama to Bronkhorstspruit just before 5 and even managed to still buy spare tube in local bike shop just before they closed up. Happy that I had a solution should I get stranded again in the last 100 or so km to Midrand I pushed on through the more and more dense commuter traffic. There was a massive storm brewing ahead over Joburg and I was pushing hard trying to outrun it, lanesplitting quite recklessly, even riding shoulder to get around long queues at robots. I have made it back home literally as the first drops started falling and low and behold - at turn to my street i felt the by now very familiar mushy twerk from the back. But I was on the home stretch, hobble the remaining 100 or so meters home.


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    Overal, great trip where I have ridden all that I wanted and on which I have learned how to change tube on a bike without sidestand.

    Thanks for following, I will attach the GPS tracks to the first post for reference.
    #72
  13. Xpat

    Xpat Been here awhile Supporter

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    That is it, thanks for following :thumb
    #73
  14. SlowMovinDream

    SlowMovinDream Not All Who Wander Are Lost

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    Very nicely done. You are lucky to have such riding so close to home. Thank you for the report and good luck with your rear tire in the future.
    #74
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  15. SlowMovinDream

    SlowMovinDream Not All Who Wander Are Lost

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    Is that the reckless 80 set up ? I’ve been considering purchasing one soon for my duel sport . Do you ever feel that it gets in the way when standing on the pegs and navigating difficult terrain like tricky downhill sections where you have to hang your arse off the back ?
    #75
  16. Xpat

    Xpat Been here awhile Supporter

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    It's Rekless 40 - that size is fully sufficient for me even on multi week rides. For riding like the one show here in Moz - i.e. open space riding, it is not limiting at all.

    It can get limiting in more technical terrain like mountains of Lesotho, especially on overgrown offcamber riding like this:


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    So for that I started using Giant Loop Mojavi, which is smaller, which makes it easier. And yes the biggest hindrance in this kind of terrain is really the rollie bag on top, so I try to minimize it or if possible (e.g. 1 - 2 day ride only) eliminate it, so it doesn't get in the way as one usually has to hang quite far back in this kind or places.

    But as said - for open space riding like this ride or most of other rides I do, Rekless 40 is no worries at all and I like it quite a bit (except for it being extremely expensive and difficult to import to South Africa)

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    #76
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  17. Arnhold

    Arnhold Adventurer

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    that’s a gritty trip bru..lekker......one of these days I am gonna surf that coast and will use your notes..working on a new surf rack for an r9t..Moz to Namibia..
    #77
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  18. Saso

    Saso Happily sporting the DRD4 gene Supporter

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    Fantastic RR. A whole new definition of beach bumming... :jkam
    #78
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  19. Brick Top

    Brick Top Been here awhile

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    165
    Location:
    Close to the Arctics
    Perfect or nearly perfect just needed pictures of 2M, rum and cranberry juice. I think the tourist seasons are pretty short in Moz and all depending the holiday seasons in South Africa. Some the places we have been did not even have food or beer in the start of the holiday season and used our accommodation payment to go and get some supplies. I am not sure if Moz is for the new middle and upper class South African holidaymakers. It is an amazing place Moz and further you go North the better it gets in my opinion.
    #79
    Xpat likes this.
  20. climberevan

    climberevan planning the next journey

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    591
    Location:
    Carson Valley, NV
    Wow, what a fantastic trip. It's the same kind of riding I love to do in the western US and Baja...

    My girlfriend lived in Africa for almost 15 years (mostly Nairobi), and raves about most of it. Your TR and others have me thinking about following her back there....

    Thanks so much for going to the trouble of putting this together.
    #80
    Xpat likes this.