Into The World - 2Up around Africa, 2 bikes along the Silk Road

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by mrwwwhite, Jul 27, 2011.

  1. mrwwwhite

    mrwwwhite Been here awhile

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    Indomie is like national treasure in Nigeria man, there's no household pantry without, even if the corner where the food is stashed could hardly be called a pantry. So much, that in Cameroon and the two Congos plus the Eastern countries (like Kenya & Tanzania) you may be fooled into thinking that Indomie is a Nigerian brand. It's simply ubiquitous :D And BTW, so is Maggie brand, in the form of soup cubes and some sort of seasoning sauce (used as ketchup, on top of anything, in sandwiches etc).
    Glad you enjoyed our report. We sure had a fantastic time travelling and writing about it.
  2. mrwwwhite

    mrwwwhite Been here awhile

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    Hey dude! The event took place in the first weekend of October and it was a short one. Normally the Transcarpatic Rally it's a week long event with more than 1500km of stages, it crosses the mountains from west to east and finishes on the Black Sea coast. It's ~1000$ but this year's short version was only ~100$.
    Let me know if you want more infos for next year.

    Cheers,
  3. bob66

    bob66 Been here awhile

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    Cool to have news from you guys ! :clap

    Bob
  4. SS in Vzla.

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

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  5. elron

    elron Still Standing Supporter

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    Kewl vid and great rebuild/fix-up.

    Glad to see this thread moving again.
  6. mrwwwhite

    mrwwwhite Been here awhile

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    Howdy inmates! It’s been a while... Time to end the dry spell on our thread with a few short updates of our two-wheeled human-powered adventures, before moving on to more recent motorbike stuff.

    So as after riding 2up around Africa, and then on 2 motorbikes from Romania to Mongolia via the Stans, and back via Russia, we parked our KTM690 Enduro (with a two time welded frame, mind you) and the Suzuki DRZ 400. Next, we flew to China, where we bought two second hand bicycles for 80 bucks each. A bargain way to travel 3,000 kms overland, at the slowest pace possible, across the fastest developing nation in the world. No other fancy equipment was needed, except some Brooks saddles and the same Enduristan soft bags we had used on the motorbike along the Silk Road.

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    China felt huge, and rewarding. While wild bivouacs were a little hard to find, the landscapes were breathtaking and the people incredibly hard working and so diverse.

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    Food was cheap, and always superb. Nothing like the slimy, MSG-saturated fare we knew from European restaurants.

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    We focused on the provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan, home of over 36 different ethnic minorities, including Tibetans. We rode across 5K mountain passes, ate in local markets, and slept with not another soul in sight. It was a lovely experience. In the deep countryside, the old Middle Kingdom seemed alive and kicking.

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    We ended out journey in Yuanyang, a place where the Hani people have turned farming into the millenia-old art of the rice.

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    From there, we pushed south, into an exhilarating alpine micro-adventure, followed by a week spent with Vietnam’ese fishermen.


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    In the Mekong Delta we caught our breath for a moment in an (almost) secret spot.

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  7. mrwwwhite

    mrwwwhite Been here awhile

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    After spending the winter in Cambodia and Thailand, we flew with the spring in the direction of Europe. En route, we stopped in the Arabian Peninsula, for an MTB stint which took us to our riding, mental and physical limits. Sometimes we don’t pick our battles wisely. In Oman we fought our most difficult yet.

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    The following winter, it was minus 15 in Bucharest, yet we were burning with Mal d'Afrique. So we packed our Chinese bicycles again, and what little else was needed for 6 weeks of pedalling from Lake Victoria, in Uganda, to the Indian Ocean, in always sunny Zanzibar. We had persuaded an old friend to come along. He had never been to Africa before, never camped, or traveled overland either. He had it a bit rough, lost about 5 kilos and a layer of skin off his calf. Despite that, at the end of the trip he said he wanted some more!

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    Last summer we tried something different. As neither our tour of Africa by motorbike, nor our cycling trip in Uganda + Tanzania had afforded even a glimpse of the famous national parks where the wild things are, we embarked on our own 4 wheeled drive safari. We spent 5 weeks in the southern part of our favourite continent, in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. We bushcamped in remote places, visited fascinating tribes and enjoyed memorable wildlife encounters. We even saw lions making love! Of course that all these would have been more awesome if we had traveled there by moto.

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    2 out of the 5 weeks spent on safari we welcomed our first guests on a "tour" organised by yours truly. It went so well, that this past February we organised a second safari into Namibia. This time it was the rainy season, which made things more difficult, so a little bit more adventurous. An ephemeral river woke up after a dry spell of over 4 years. More floods prevented us from reaching Bushmanland, but at least we walked among lions. Happy days!

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    So all these behind us, let's get back to our bread and butter here: motorbikes. I'm going to have to dial back to the dreaded fall of 2014.
    Remember the shit-my-pants moment when my Trellis frame had fractured in the heart of Siberia? Well, believe it or not, as I had bought the bike second hand, and as the previous owner did not help in restoring the complete and honest history of the bike, I had to rule out a free frame replacement from the manufacturer. After a lot of back and forth, I managed to buy a new frame. It had been over a year since the unfortunate event. Replacing the frame required taking the 690 apart, and rebuilding it from the ground up.

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    As I gawked into the guts of the beast I suddenly started thinking: 'I can confidently bring it back to life, but why stop there? I can Frankenstein this 690 into the Adventure bike I have been always dreamed of!' I shared and will continue to share the more geeky technical aspects of that re-build here. You are welcome to check it out. Once I was done, I decided to test my 'newborn' in a rally. For my first, it went reasonably well.

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    The next year I raced again, in a 5-day 1,200 kms rally. This time I was riding the v 2.0 of my own 690 Adventure.

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    Up to the end of last summer we traveled very little, but we worked very hard. Besides dreaming of future adventures, I raced 2 more Baja 500 events, and a couple more rallies in Romania and Bulgaria. I won them all on the KTM.

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    The last days of the riding season were spent, how else, riding. One of the most well known Romanian traveler (who btw is riding a sidecar to Mongolia, together with his entire family) organises each year a friendly, hardcore and absolutely hilarious event, which was baptised Petrila Trophy. The idea of this thing is to get your bike, no matter what kind, and try to ride it into Romania wilderness as hard and as recklessly as you can. The ride started rather civil. As days passed, it degenerated into wrestling mud, logs and many bottles of beer. The 'trophy' (which can be repurposed flowerpots, gas tanks and other useful stuff lol) was of course awarded to the rider who performed the most devastating stunt. I assure you it was bloody good fun! (some of the pics are taken by me, some by Mihai Barbu, some by Teodor Pana. Too inebriated at the time to remember which is which)

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    Petrila Trophy was the warm-up for an enduro stint into the Transylvanian wilderness with Jussi aka The Rolling Hobo. It was damn cold!

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  8. rtwpaul

    rtwpaul out riding... Supporter

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    good to see you posting again Jon
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  9. juno

    juno Long timer

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    Wow! Incredible journeys the last few tears. What is next?
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  10. Saso

    Saso Happily sporting the DRD4 gene Supporter

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    Fantastic!! Next? We're ready to host you here in the PNW! I owe you... :deal :freaky
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  11. bob66

    bob66 Been here awhile

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    oh yeah, keep it coming :clap

    Regards,
    Bob
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  12. BELSTAFF

    BELSTAFF ADV NOMAD

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    Good to see that you two are still "Wild at Heart" Had missed your exploits & is my wish for you that you never lose you quest for adventure.
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  13. mrwwwhite

    mrwwwhite Been here awhile

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    Yup, a lot of stuff has been piling up in the bag, it was about time to unload :p

    A couple more 'episodes' to go and we will be up to date, then... who knows? Maybe a new plan is needed...

    Let's hope we shall have that beer soon!

    Our wish is the same. When we all makes plans and dreams of adventure, we never consider how devastating is to return, or stop from that said adventure. Our last few years have been like that, as we did not travel continuously from Europe to Africa and then to Asia and so on, but took stops between legs. In a way it's a more difficult way to do a RTW, then to just stay in the marathon and keep grinding. The city (even small like Sihanoukville in Cambodia, where we stayed for a few months during one of these pitstops) tends to dent the senses sharpened during the adventure. We work as hard as we can to keep the flame alive, and yes, we keep making plans and dream of something to do next. There are still many places left on the map for us, and boy, do we have a few where we are burning to return!

    All the best to all, and thanks for staying in the loop.
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  14. mrwwwhite

    mrwwwhite Been here awhile

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    Last December we got very very itchy feet. We decided on a whim to book some cheap low cost flights to Dubai, from where we would take a bus into Oman, and then rejoin our route from a couple of years back. The general idea was to cycle along the Arabian Sea, in a quest to reconnect to our former vagabond selves. To camp, eat from street joints, live simply, and be free.

    Two days before departure, with bicycles prepped and packed, I emailed inmate @milzispete who lives in Muscat, the Omani capital, to let him know that we would be passing through at some point. I told him that we would be keen to have a coffee together. And just like that, everything changed. Pete happened to be at a life's crossroad himself. He had quit his dayjob to follow his passion, and was about to launch Oman's first motorcycling adventure tour company. He was not only eager to meet, but also ready to host us and to borrow one of his motorbikes, a KTM 1190 Adventure R. Deal!

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    Suddenly the scope of our trip became so much wider. While cycling allows for more inner exploration, an engine-powered vehicle is a tool for conquering the world.

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    For the next couple of weeks we tried to stay off the grid and on a 3,500 kms loop into some of Oman’s wildest and most stunning places, always ready to do whatever it took to get to the perfect bivouac.

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    From the arid Masirah Island we returned to the mainland, where we paid in sand, sweat and tears for access to a secluded paradise - the last refuge of world’s population of green turtles.

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    To bivouac on this wild shore is to befriend the howling wind and the many foxes that hunt throughout the night.
    At dawn we abandoned our tent and the bike and hiked about 7 kms to a place where white sugary dunes rise against the Arabian Sea. There is a trail that leads to the foot of the white desert, but it is only suitable for 4x4s. Oman is such a peaceful place, that we were confident that even if a wondering soul would have stumbled upon our bivouac while we were gone, they would not touch a thing. Later in the day we returned to pack our stuff and went in search for more fun.

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    After days along the sea, we were longing for mountains. Oman has some impressive ridges in the West Hajar. Some, like Jebel Shams, were familiar sights.

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    It was quite interesting to reflect again on the differences between motorbikes and bicycles as tools for exploration. The first time we climbed it, the very steep and winding road to Jebel Shams felt enormous and exhausting. Cycling was satisfying, and hard. Now, with a twist of the throttle and a camelback of water only, we were back on the summit before noon, with energy to spend. So we befriended a grup of locals and hiked together for another 5 hours to an almost magical place hidded inside the canyon, where we shared dates and tea.

    Then it was on to East Hajar. From rocky trails so steep that your heart skips a beat, we pushed to hairpins covered in the powdery dust called fesh-fesh that even Dakar riders dread.

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    After hard and exhilarating days in the saddle, we cooled off in wadis filled with turquoise water. Some of these wadis are real life Ali Baba’s Cave of Wonders, requiring a mix of bouldering, rope climbing, diving and such to complete the journey upstream.

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    We had by now re-settled into the moto-vagabond rhythm, scooping an ever more amazing bivouac on each night. From the bottom of a windswept canyon...

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    ... to mountain faces where we could hear birds fly.

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    As hot and arid this land may be, morning fog can travel deep into the mainland and condensate into a weird drizzle. Check out our footprint after packing up!

    As on our previous visit to Oman, we relished the incredible food cooked with passion and handfulls of spices by the Indian, Pakistani, Yemeni and Bangladeshi migrants.


    One of the best things about motorcycle travel, is that we can stop pretending we give a damn about chairs or plates. For us, food tastes better when cooked and eaten with bare hands.

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    The weeks were packed with action, dramatic hikes and unforgettable rides, but also with the heartwarming Omani smiles.

    Oman is a land that brings out the best of people. We are stoked to now call Pete, the man who facilitated our trip, a true friend. Thank you!

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    Actually Pete is the man to know if you want to ride in one of the world’s last secret enduro wonderlands. He is now rocking a fleet of CCM 450s, plus beefier bikes like this 1190 and even a 690 Enduro. A word of warning though. If you go, buckle up for one of the best rides ever. From a simple rideout, Oman may become an obsession. Look, it's been months since our trip, and we are still haunted by the idea to return.

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  15. vtwin

    vtwin Air cooled runnin' mon

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    Nice to hear from you guys again!:clap
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  16. thirsty 1

    thirsty 1 Rider Supporter

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    :clap :lurk
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  17. bob66

    bob66 Been here awhile

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    Wow, now I know that Oman is on my list.

    Cheers
    Bob
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  18. steved57

    steved57 Been here awhile Supporter

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    Ok WOW is all I can say !! As already said many times before absolutely incredible pics and wonderful writing !! You guys have had some fabulous encounters of people, scenery and food and you really know how to express it so thanks for taking the time and effort and sharing. I have read from page 1 to page 32 over the last two weeks neglecting my work and my wife :)

    I'm all excited as I am getting ready to head out on a 10 day trip thru New Mexico & Colorado and after reading your adventures it makes me feel like not much of a trip

    Looking forward to more from you too and as also mentioned before Anna is a real trooper
  19. FreeHugger

    FreeHugger Been here awhile

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    I love following Jon and Ana travels. We interviewed them for DirtOrcas and thought some of you following them here might like to check it out. http://dirtorcas.com/ana-jon-world/
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  20. ADVRadu

    ADVRadu Adventurer

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    I might be coming a little bit late with this news, but as idle hands are the devil's workshop...I checked their webpage and Instagram yesterday and I noticed that Ionut and Ana are at it again: back to Africa on a KTM1190 (so much for the light bikes, huh?!?). Seems they started some time in December 2017 and already have some good mileage behind them.

    I wish them both best of luck and lots of fun on this adventure!
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