Round Africa with a Surfboard

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by garnaro, Sep 25, 2013.

  1. garnaro

    garnaro MotoBlunderer

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2010
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Somewhere in Africa
    hey Lou - Coco finished the little school house that the ADV rider donations helped to build in the village of Kasetinty, nearby Kakonso village, where the well was built.

    In September the SL government cancelled the program that his teachers were attending, so he left to Spain for a bit. He's been back in SL helping with the Ebola crisis for months now.

    I've been in touch via facebook with some of the guys in Bureh Beach and while things have been hard there, no one in the village has gotten sick.
  2. sunset_ryder

    sunset_ryder aka "toots"

    Joined:
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    New Mexico
  3. garnaro

    garnaro MotoBlunderer

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2010
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Somewhere in Africa
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    With only a few countries in Europe still ahead, completion of the trip felt so close, but with the Alps still ahead and a road weary bike beneath us, the finish line began to recede from grasp.


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    I love riding through places with a weird or striking natural landscape and on this stretch of the journey it was the Karst topography of Slovenia that served up the goods. Karst terrains are formed when limestone goes into solution in water moving beneath the surface, creating subterranean caverns and the like.


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    The stalactites and stalagmites that we roamed between belonged to the Postojna caves. With a row of lights to guide us we walked through an absolutely gaping cavern 115 meters below the surface. The entire cave system is more than 20 km long and in the cold and damp air I found it hard not to think about the millions of tons of earth perched above our heads. I can see how the dwarves get into this scene.


    We left the caves, and zipped along on the motorway north. I pressed up over 80 mph a few times passing trucks along the way. And then Dyna Rae stumbled. When I pulled over to assess her condition, she wouldn’t idle. It was as though I’d pushed her too far, taken her steadfastness for granted and she finally spoke up about it. She’d been punished all the way across Africa (twice!), climbing goat trails, rattling down corrugated roads, and sucking diesel dust. She’d done all this with a minimum of fuss and I didn’t even get her some new shoes until the soles peeled right off the ones she was wearing back on the coast of Croatia. And now I wanted her to hurtle down to motorway keeping up with all the Audi A6’s and BMW M series. She wasn’t havin’ it.


    As the rain started to trickle down, we pulled off the motorway into a beautiful little town called Bled to sort out the problem. I could think of worse places in the world to be stuck camping in the rain.


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    Battling the wind and rain on the motorway and then battling Dyna Rae’s issues had worn me down. When we found the campsite, all I could do was hug a tree.


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    The inlet filter to the carb wasn’t clogged, so the inability to idle pointed clearly to the need to dig into the carb to clear the pilot jet of whatever crap had blown in there when I stirred things up blasting along the motorway. As it turned out, there was plenty of gunk in the bottom of the float bowl. And check out this little mystery nugget I found chilling in the fuel line.


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    Unfortunately I’d lost my little screwdriver ages ago and never managed to replace it. Jamie came to the rescue, with the perfect sized set of tweezers to remove a pilot jet.


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    The needle has seen better days. I found a severe notch on one side along with erosion of the plastic spacer on the other side. The way the bike runs is very sensitive to very small changes in these tiny little parts, and it’s a good bet that some of Dyna’s rough running of late can be attributed to what you see in the image below. The needle sits in the middle of a slide that moves up and down by the pressure gradient created in the carb when you open the throttle. With the needle and spacer in this state, the needle is probably sitting cocked sideways and messing up fuel delivery. While I have a spare needle, I don’t have a spare one of those little spacers. Oops.


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    Taking your bike apart at home is one thing, but on the road is another, especially if you’re a crappy mechanic like I am. When you mess up and break something or strip a bolt, replacement or extraction may not be so easy. I know that I know how to put everything back together, but even so, looking down at my pile of carb in a random sink in Slovenia still inspires just a little bit of anxiety.


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    With her bits cleaned up and reassembled, Dyna fired right up and idled like a champ. It was time to climb into the Alps and I was happy to have a running bike again. Austria seriously looked like the Sound of Music film the entire way across.


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    We rode through more than 20 miles of tunnels crossing the Alps and lucked out, only hitting a few showers along the way. We made for Munich, where I’d heard for years about a standing river wave with a crew of local surfers. I’d met German surfers in places like Dakar that had learned to surf only on this river wave.


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    There’s even a local surf shop, where I got a board and suit to use. Only problem was that I no longer had a board rack on the bike. But I had a plan. Sort of.


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    We were kind of a scene. I can’t really think of a better way to get pulled over by the police than riding all over downtown Munich like this. We weren’t in Africa any longer where 30 chicken cages loaded onto a 125cc is standard practice, and the Germans are rather fond of their rules. Against all odds, we made it to the Eisbach River wave in central Munich unmolested.


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    The locals were ripping it.


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    It looked so damn easy. Just jump on, stand there, and boogie around the thing. After all, I’m a surfer from California. I’ve spent my life surfing waves in the ocean. How hard could this be? Pretty sure I was going to rule it.


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    I may have been slightly overconfident. As I stepped off the ledge onto the board ready to slip down the wave face and felt every drop of the River Eisbach trying to push me up and over the crest and down the river. Before I knew it I was sucked under, rolled around on the rocky bottom and then floating downstream and swimming for the bank. Alright, I thought, had to get that one over with, now I think I’ve got it. My second wipeout was even more comedic than the first.


    You had to be really precise with your position on the wave to stay down in it and not have it suck the nose of the board under. Looking down at the mesmerizing of white swirls and eddies, it was difficult to judge position on the wave face. With every humbling trip down the Eisbach, I imagined an ironic narrative from the crowd of spectators gathered on the bridge above, “Those German surfers rip. The guy from California sure sucks.” After enough bounces on the riverbed, the local guys gave me some tips that helped immensely. Jamie managed to capture a few glorious seconds that actually made it look like I could actually ride the thing.


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    It was loads of fun when I wasn’t floating downstream cursing. We retired to our campsite and I licked the wounds to ego and flesh.


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    awwwwwuuhhh!


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    In Dachau, outside of Munich I finally managed to get our fork seals replaced at the local moto shop and the pre-load increased on the rear shock. We’ve had about no oil in the fork since Albania, which makes the bike ride like total garbage. Our girl’s legs now finally feel back in shape. In Dachau, we also got a chance to take in some history with a visit to the Dachau internment camp from the holocaust era.


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    The camp was complete with gas champers and crematoriums, a model upon which others were constructed throughout Europe in the Nazi regime's zeal to cleanse society of whomever they deemed unfit to belong. In 1930’s Germany, national socialism consolidated and radicalized a number of political positions – nationalism, imperialism, social Darwinism, and resentment of liberalism. The Nazi movement strove towards a racially pure body, wherein all elements that weakened it or didn’t fit in were eliminated. The Jews were painted as scapegoats for Germany’s economic woes following the First World War and were the focus of racial hatred preached by Hitler’s Nazi regime. As World War II wore on, treatment in the Dachau camp worsened: people starved, were experimented on, and executed on the whim of the brutal SS officers. The words printed on one of the buildings where people were forced to labor day after day reads ‘work brings freedom’ in a mockery of hope for the prisoners.


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    You certainly can’t accuse the Germans of forgetting their history. They’ve got it all on display and the stark images and words of Dachau leave a lasting impression. The day we were there, the place was filled with school groups come to learn about this terrible episode in history.


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    We rode north out of Munich and stopping at Nuremberg to camp for the night and paid a visit to the castle. The campsite was packed and no one bothered to ask us to pay, so we didn’t. The party didn’t stop for most of the night at the campsite and we didn’t really understand what the occasion was on a Thursday night until the next morning when a girl drove up to us on the bike, rolled her window down and asked, “You guys know which way to the AC/DC show?”. In that moment, The World War II era Germany couldn’t have seemed further away.


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    We’re just about to the end of our road in Europe now and enjoying every mile left.


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  4. Johnnydarock

    Johnnydarock Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 6, 2009
    Oddometer:
    535
    Location:
    Redondo Beach CA
    Been reading your RR from the beginning. Gotta ask...are you going to sell the bike or ship/fly it home?
  5. DustyRags

    DustyRags Idiot

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    Oddometer:
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    The Beast, California
    Woah, what a story!
  6. garnaro

    garnaro MotoBlunderer

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2010
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Somewhere in Africa
    not sure... but stay tuned to find out what's next ;-)
  7. keepshoveling

    keepshoveling DNF

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2014
    Oddometer:
    4,636
    Location:
    NYC
    Can you tell us a little more about what it's like/how you drop in to a standing wave like that? Is it like a skimboard or do you paddle in?

    Edit: also you should, obviously, marry Jamie.
  8. davidbrundage

    davidbrundage Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Oddometer:
    176
    Location:
    costa mesa, ca
    I'm so bummed this is coming to a close!!
  9. garnaro

    garnaro MotoBlunderer

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2010
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Somewhere in Africa
    You just jump! kind of like getting married I guess :wink:
  10. garnaro

    garnaro MotoBlunderer

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2010
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Somewhere in Africa
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    The journey's end lacked any sort of dramatic flourish that we might have imagined along the way.[​IMG] We simply rolled onto a quiet beach and had a look at the ocean. All the better, to help us remember that the moments in the middle, when things can get uncertain, uncomfortable, dangerous, or exciting, are important to appreciate while you’re in them.


    We rode north through Germany, once again feeling like a road full-on hazard traveling at mere mortal motorbike speed on the autobahns. We headed for the coast of Belgium, but first stopped in the charming city of Bruges. One of the best preserved cities of the Medieval times in Europe, we had a wander through cobbled streets gawking at cathedrals and the like alongside packs of Chinese and Japanese tourist groups.


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    We reunited once again with Steven and Sita for our time in Antwerp and they even scored us an empty apartment that belonged to their friend Wim. We camped out in the living room and were stoked to have a dry place to explode all of our stuff. Thanks Wim!


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    I even got the chance to meet up with Tony again, who I’d last seen in Sierra Leone, when he turned his van around and headed back towards Europe after nearly a month together dodging police in Guinea and Sierra Leone. I finally got to meet his Tenere.


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    On the coast I learned that if you’re keen enough for a surf, you can even find a wave to ride in Belgium.


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    I was pretty keen for a surf.


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    Though the waves were lacking. The Belgians have got the surf vibe nailed down, complete with a replica of the very statue that sits at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz, one of my home surf breaks. How’s that for coming full circle, eh?


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    A year and 8 months ago, the journey began crossing the English Channel to Calais, which sits just south of where we stood on the beach. Since then, it’s been 41,000 miles through 54 countries, riding waves in 24 of them. We got to see wonders of the earth and learned loads about the peoples and pasts of the lands we rode through. Lots of people shared the journey or helped make it happen – so I’ll finish with a few words of thanks.


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    This dude showed up on the other side of the planet to ride a motorcycle halfway across Africa. It wasn’t pretty, but he made it happen.


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    It was my trip, and then it was our trip. Now it’s hard to imagine being on the road without my girlfriend Jamie. I get to tell this story in my voice, but you don’t see anything that she hasn’t had a hand in creating. She’s literally been behind me at every turn. When I’m loosing the plot, she keeps it together, and in the low moments she finds a way to laugh right through them. I can’t say that I’ve ever met a girl like her. Thank you Jamie for being my partner in this mad adventure.


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    They shared their homes, their food, and their waves with us and were friends along the way. Some had very little to give, but shared it anyway. Others appeared out of the darkness to provide help in a jam when the light was fading fast. There are countless friendly faces, not pictured here, mostly local folks who welcomed us with open hearts. If you’ve been following along, you’ve met them too. For me, they’ve been as much a part of the journey as much as the riding, landscapes, and surfing.


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    Finally, thanks to you folks who came along with us for the ride. Some of you became part of the story when we met out here in the world or you contributed to the project in Sierra Leone. Your words of encouragement have helped spur us forward more than you might guess. As always, enjoy the ride and stay tuned for the next move…
  11. Bli55

    Bli55 -

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2012
    Oddometer:
    596
    Location:
    Russia, N56 E49.
    A touching ending to an EPIC trip! :clap:
  12. Lacedaemon

    Lacedaemon Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    634
    Location:
    Maryland
    Congrats, and thanks so much for taking us along!
  13. davidbrundage

    davidbrundage Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Oddometer:
    176
    Location:
    costa mesa, ca
    This was the perfect ride report. Thank YOU for all of the time and effort that went into it.

    :clap:clap:clap
  14. DustyRags

    DustyRags Idiot

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,451
    Location:
    The Beast, California
    Dude, I'm floored. That was amazing. Well done, congrats, and welcome back from Africa!

    ...although... welcome back? Maybe you're not back, maybe you just left Africa... I dunnot.

    Keep the stoke alive.
  15. keepshoveling

    keepshoveling DNF

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2014
    Oddometer:
    4,636
    Location:
    NYC
    What a good adventure. I hope it was as fun for you to go on as it was for us to read.
  16. fanatic291

    fanatic291 Desert Tortoise

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2013
    Oddometer:
    1,128
    Location:
    Mesa, by Usery
    What a finish. I have enjoyed every post. I hope you can get your story published. Your ride has been very inspiring.
  17. Doloe2

    Doloe2 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2004
    Oddometer:
    117
    Location:
    Bellingham
    I've enjoyed every moment of this RR. One of the best I've followed on this site. Thanks for keeping this great story going to the very end.:clap
  18. orsurf76

    orsurf76 engine braker

    Joined:
    May 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    308
    Location:
    Always Sunny Portland Oregon
    Great RR--glad to see someone match up riding and surfing on the same trip.

    Cheers! :super
  19. WHYNOWTHEN

    WHYNOWTHEN where are the pedals?

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    837
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    closer to Baja
    Thank you for all the time and effort that you put into sharing your amazing story.
  20. Scribe

    Scribe £Bob£

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
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    12,623
    Location:
    In my natural state
    Absolutely one of the best ride reports on this site. I've been following from the start and I'm kind of sad to see it end. But thanks for your words and your spirit. You're an inspiration on how to travel. :clap