Step one...convincing the wife!
How does one go about trying to convince your better half that you "need" to go to Africa for three weeks to go ride giant dirt bikes for 5,000 km and to drink massive amounts of beer each night with people you have never met. How do you tell your kids that "daddy has to go away for three weeks to go play in the sand on another continent" with their college savings. And last , why the hell does it take 36 hours of travel to get from Phoenix to Cape Town!! Really... 5 stops and 4 layovers??!!
My wife was surprisingly easy to convince. She knew that I was stressed to the max with work, mortgages, kids, the frickin' world economy, etc. She too realized that I needed to take a break and recharge my batteries, or else I was going to shut down. She cared so much about my sanity that she insisted that I go have the time of my life. Who are we kidding... she wanted a trip of her own... a paid trip to South Beach with her girlfriends! DONE...and I was off to start planning my adventure!!!
I initially planned to go ride Morocco with John and Su with Motoaventures on a KTM 450. The trip was 5 days. In and out...no problem. Easy for the wife to digest, and easy for me to get the time off. I had heard great things about this company, and I was itching to go ride some dunes. When I got on their website, I was surprised to see a new tour being offered. It was a 5000 km, 16 day, 3 country ride through South Africa. I was intrigued. I saw that it was being led by none other than Charley Boorman. I was in! What an experience it would be to ride with Charley in Africa. I had seen Long Way Down, and he seemed like a cool guy. I was just hoping that he lived up to that reputation in person.
I really struggled with justifying the cost at first. It was 7000 Euros without the off road training in Wales with Simon Pavey. I have been riding off road for many years, and I didn't feel I needed the course...although it would have been incredible to do some advanced riding skills courses with Pavey himself, 9 time Dakar Rally finisher. At the time of the conversion, it was less than $10,000 USD. I had plenty of miles to use, so airfare was free. I looked into other tours of Africa and realized that the price was fair. My bike, a 1200 GSA, was included for 16 days with full insurance, all accommodations at gorgeous African lodges were included, breakfast and amazing 5 course dinners were included, and two support vehicles were thrown in.
I know that some of you are extreme adventure riders, and the thought of an organized ride makes you cringe in horror. Please spare me your negative feedback. I too have done some amazing solo rides in the states and to Mexico without any support other than what was on my bike, and I was perfectly content this time to have the safety of a support vehicle with a paramedic on board while we rode through remote African countries. We actually had a bad crash which required his services...but I will get to that later!
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A single adventure can change the course of a life...