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Old 09-26-2007, 08:50 AM   #66
metaljockey OP
Dodgy SOB
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Joined: Jun 2005
Location: Eastern Cape, South Africa
Oddometer: 279
Yesterday was such a lovely day of excesses and decadence. Today will be the day we pay for those. And I'm not talking money here. I'm talking 'sweat of your brow' kind of shit. Today we tackle the 'landmine track' referred to before.

Less than a km and I get dumped on my face.
You deserved that you lazy bastard.
Pay attention. Today wer'e gonna ride.

We do a riverbed and an extreme river rock section within the first 5km which wakes us up nicely and gets the beer converted into sweat in no-time. Sorry, no pics, everybody was a bit shell shocked.

As we turn away from the river we quickly realise that the word "track" is a bit optimistic. (me)

It's rocks, rocks, rocks, rocks and some more rocks. The bikes are handling like crap. I referred before to the 30 litres of petrol each was carrying in addition to his full tank. Let me put that in perspective for you:

That's the fuel only.

The packing priorities was clear to everyone. First fuel. Then water. Then tools. Then the optional stuff such as bedding, mattress, tent, clothing and all the stuff one would normally pack.

The massive weight of the fuel and water makes your bike a stranger. I was riding a pogo stick front connected to a drunk hippopotamus at the rear. Not lekker at all.

And still it is rocks, rocks, rocks. First gear, second gear stuff. We take so many forced rest breaks I doubt we will ever make it to Foz do Cunene.

The 950 comes into it's own however. The weight of the bike allows it to track straight and ignore all but the ugliest rocks. (Nardus)

Because the rocks determine your line, the thorn bushes are just plain having their way with you. My gloves gets ripped to shreds.

I'm pretty impressed with the new pants I'm trying out. No tearing even though the thorns are drawing blood.

And still more rocks. (Nardus)

Sometimes it just gets plain silly.

What is worse is that you cannot afford to go down. If you are going to try and save the bike you will break something. If you abandon the bike, it will get damaged.

We are not in a place where you can depend on help.
Best case scenario - someone rides out to get help. That's one day if all goes well.
To get to a place where an evacuation vehicle can be sourced, another day.
For a vehicle to get to where wer'e at, three days minimum.
To get back to the border, two days.
That's 6-7 days before you get to Ruacana and then you still need to get airlifted to the hospital of your choice in South Africa.

It's risky riding and it takes everything you have. All of your skill and all of your concentration.

And did I mention rocks? (Hennie)

Let's talk about Fred for a moment. This is him.

I have done many trips with Hennie, Nardus and Michnus. This is my first full trip with Fred. It will be Fred's first serious trip. His dual sport experience is limited to the 3000km he has put on his new Dakar. Ordinarily we would not take someone like that on a trip such as this.

But Fred is not ordinary. He is by far the fittest of the group. He's like a Sportsmans Illustrated poster boy. He ran the Comrades marathon (5 times). He rowed the Duzi Canoe Marathon. One week before this trip he completed a 230km day/night mountain bike race. This is what clinched it for me. If he is a mountain bike racer, how difficult can the transition to a motorcycle be?
Fred was the unfortunate donner who was going to find out.

We ride out of sight of each other due to the dust. The second last oke stops periodically and check that the last oke is still coming. Fred comes out of a drift and loses it, going down heavily. His body twists around but not his right leg, this is trapped under the bike. He lies in the sun with fuel dripping on his leg. After lying there in pain for a while he realises that the next oke isn't coming.

The next oke is supposed to be me. As fate would have it I get a rock that punches through my tyre (specially bought Michelin Desert) and through the bottom and top of my tube, just as Fred goes down. So I am a km or two down the road fixing a flat in the same sun that Fred is lying in. Blissfully unaware.

It takes Fred the better part of 15 minutes to extricate himself. The bike is heavily loaded with all that extra fuel. Have a look at the marks where he thrashed about the dust.

I was confounded by the helmet under the bike until he explained that he would lift the bike and wedge the helmet, rest, then do it again until he got out.

He had an opportunity to do a lie down every day so far but this is the first one that hurt. His ankle and knee got twisted and his chest also took a knock.

But, we have to ride and so on to more ...... rocks.

Fred starts taking pictures of rocks?

And stil more...

Ok, I have a hundred more of these but I'm sure you get my point. There were a lot of rocks.

And of course there is also riverbeds just to test the spread of skills.

Michnus fails the test spectacularly. That dust cloud out front is him connecting a large rock.

Another rest stop.

We see some strange plant life.

As the sun sets we pull into a riverbed to make camp.

And there we find something to put our easy, priviledged lives back into perspective.

This morning a donkey threw this boy off and stepped on his arm causing it to fracture and the bone to stick out the bottom of his arm.

They are on their way to Namibia for medical help. To walk to the nearest Angolan town would take weeks. They have been walking all day. They have a further 3 day's walk to get to Namibia. We set the arm and give them some pain pills.

I suddenly think a little differently about the idyllic lives these free nomads lead.

As we lie in the riverbed we take stock of the situation. Everybody started with 5 litres of water this morning. No-one has more than 500 ml left. We are nowhere near Foz do Cunene. If tomorrow is going to be like today we are going to have a serious problem. We pin our hopes on Iona. The National Park takes it's name and we know there is a Police post so it should at least have a shop. Hopefully we can also stock up on some tins of food.

Everybody is hurting after the day's riding but I notice that Fred is very quiet. His knee isn't giving him any joy.

We have a look at the GPS stats and I almost laugh out loud. Moving average for the day: 26 km/h. That's at the top of first gear for fuck's sake. I sure as hell hope that tomorrow isn't more of the same.

continued here

metaljockey screwed with this post 10-17-2007 at 11:41 PM
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