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Old 03-24-2009, 05:55 PM   #1
Douf OP
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4 Corners of South Africa - via the internet.

The interiors of the apartments/cells didn't look any better either. The bed clothes if they had ever been washed, undoubtedly hadn't experienced the intimate pleasure of tumbling uncontrollably in the lathered embrace of a front loader for quite some time and so, mindful of the constant nationwide publicity advocating condom use, I pulled out my sleeping bag, carefully unrolled it and, after a few clumsily uncertain moments spent fumbling for the light switch, slipped myself eagerly into its' warm confines; hoping to shield myself from the distinctly unsavory possibility of catching an unwanted disease.
(Excerpt from Day 12's entry)


Backstory.
I initially bumped into Gary (and his brother Joe) at a western Colorado gas station in 2003 while on a similar trip with my good friend Mike. Since then we've done an Arctic Circle ride together ('06), and so when Gary mentioned he had an interest in touring South Africa, I asked him to keep me posted. We're both working stiffs and married to very understanding wives, so unfortunately any potential route would need to be done in a pretty short time frame. Anyway, a couple of months later after he'd made a few posts on an African Adv website (wilddog.za.net), we got an invite to hookup with a bunch of Jo'burg natives who were planning a 4 corners attempt. Sounds straight forward enough The basic route was as follows, starting and ending in Jo'burg and traveling in an anti-clockwise direction. Total distance around 5000 miles.








Not saying I'm anal, but here's a shot the bags packed pre-trip.



Must give a word of thanks to my buddy Rex who hooked me up with a full compliment of Eagle Creek packing cubes/sacs for the trip. Rex reps luggage for a living, is also a fellow rider and was nice enough to put together over $200 of free samples. You rock buddy Actually this stuff really is awesome and makes me wonder how I managed before - Highly recommended.

Edit: The Sierra Club is the devil incarnate and Eagle Creek has an unfortunate habit of bankrolling them. Beware!

Pre-trip + Flight.
$800 worth of shots (medicinal ) a-piece and the 16 hour plane ride beckons (Gary's flight is actually a few hours longer as he flies from Boston to Atlanta, where I board the plane). Minor drama ensues at the airport, since my passport has just under the typical 30 day requirement left on it for me to be let out of the country, but the officials are nice enough to let it slide. Fortunately the plane's half empty and thankfully cramped coach sets are magically turned into 3 abreast cots of (relative) comfort
.







Douf screwed with this post 11-29-2012 at 06:04 AM
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Old 03-24-2009, 06:04 PM   #2
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This will be an awesome trip

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Old 03-24-2009, 07:32 PM   #3
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Arrival in Jo'Burg hmmmmm.

Landing in Jo'Burg on Thursday evening we're expecting to meet Paul and Cindy (two of the crew) at the airport, but after about an hour of screwing around trying to get in contact via phone, we can't get hold of anyone (it turns out the 'area code' is different depending on whether it's a cell phone or a land line). Finally they both appear and with great relief we're taken through rush hour Jo'Burg traffic to Paul's house. I thought Atlanta traffic was bad, but this is unreal. The security in the city is pretty intimidating too. Paul's house is in the Central Business District and all the homes there have high walls and gates surrounding them. We go to dinner at a restaurant in the area and the door is kept locked behind every diner that enters: it's because of 'the wind' we're told. Hmmmmm. On the other hand, our new friends are great and I'm overwhelmed that Paul would take two total strangers into his home and treat us like we're old friends. Great stuff.
We spend a few hours after dinner chatting with Paul and Cindy, picking their brains about SA life. At some stage during conversation one of us asks:
'Anywhere we need to avoid in Jo'burg?'
'Definitely stay out of Soweto'
'OK then!'




Paul, Cindy and yours truly - no problem with the language barrier
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Old 03-24-2009, 08:09 PM   #4
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I'll have to cath this RR when i get back...Flying out to Sa (Jo'Burg) tomorrow for 2 weeks
Keep it coming!
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Old 03-24-2009, 09:08 PM   #5
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Friday (Pre-trip)

The plan today is to pick up the rental bikes, get vaguely familiar with SA traffic and pack for an early start Saturday morning. First thing though, we go to breakfast with a bunch of fellow riders. Paul and Cindy are part of the Think Bike crowd in South Africa (www.thinkbike.co.za) and they meet every Friday before work for coffee. I was half expecting a bunch of safety weenies, but these guys are pretty cool and South Africans are appearing to be pretty laid back in general. How many of us in the states have a group of guys (and gals) who'll take the time to stop for breakfast before work every week?





Breakfast with the Think Bike (TB) crowd. BMWs are pretty well represented - majority of riders seem pretty serious - commuting is common (for reasons that later become obvious)


After Breakfast Cindy takes us down to MotoBerlin where we pick up the bikes. We'd both arranged to rent BMW's F800GS since we're both eager to compare performance with our current adventure bikes (Gary has a V-Strom, I've got a 950 Adventure, both of us have KLRs). We're a little concerned about the bikes though as there's been a little trouble getting e-mails answered in the past couple of weeks. But on arrival thankfully the bikes are both as promised (my steed is essentially new, with only 700kms on the clock ). Both bikes have top cases (not trunks - in SA, trunks only on elephants ) and come with flat kits, chain lube and chain adjustment tools, in addition to the standard toolkit. Quite a nice Motoberlin polo shirt is thrown in too.



Good guys to deal with: www.motoberlin.co.za

We mount our GPSs on the bikes and Cindy leads us into the Jo'burg traffic. We're on the wrong side of the road to start with, and seriously jet lagged too, but nothing on four wheels is moving that fast, so we make our way gingerly back to Paul's with Cindy leading the way in her Jeep.

Here we meet back up with Ian (who had originally invited us to come over to SA, but unfortunately is not able to come on the trip). Ian's offered to show us 'round Jo'burg for the day and this is where the fun begins. He lane splits through the grid locked Jo'burg traffic at a rate of knots that has to be seen to be believed. Lets see: Jet lagged, wrong side of the road, unfamiliar bike and flying up between lines of traffic with visions of Atlanta lane discipline.
Ian stops and asks us how we feel.
'Scared' I reply.
'I'm the careful one in the group', says Ian.
'Really!'

We make a pit stop across town at the very well appointed BMW dealership (cars and bikes under one roof) to pick up a tank bag for Gary's bike.
After riding 'round for another hour or two, Ian pulls over and takes his helmet off.
'Listen, you guys need to stay close, 'cause now we're going through Soweto'
Me: 'Soweto?'
Ian: 'Yeah, just watch out for the kids throwing rocks. Don't worry about the bullets though, 'cause you won't see those coming anyway'
Me/Gary:
Needless to see, Ian had a couple of 800GS's pretty much riding on his luggage rack over the next couple of miles. It was pretty intimidating being the only white face around, but the locals didn't appear to be particularly restless, although there was a certain vibrant claustrophobia reflected in the number of people milling around the streets. At one stage we spotted a police cruiser and happily tailgated it out of the district. No photo's though I'm afraid.
Ian later commented: 'That's something most white South Africans will never do'
'No shit'




Ian (dayglo bib) and Paul drinking coffee at the TB breakfast. Gary and I (in the foreground) in retrospect would've been better off with something stronger.

After barely surviving Ian's baptism by fire, we head back to Paul's for a take out dinner. Di, another member of the crew stops by and drops off the cell phone that she's arranged for us to use over there. We pack the bikes and prep for the next day.



Bikes packed and loaded: (Paul's R1100S, Cindy's 1200ST)



Jo'burg is rumored to have 85 murders/day. I'm thankful to have survived my first in one piece.

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Old 03-24-2009, 09:19 PM   #6
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Interesting report. Can't wait for the rest!
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Old 03-25-2009, 03:27 AM   #7
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Keep em coming Douf
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Old 03-25-2009, 04:17 AM   #8
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Great ride you have planned there. Please don't take JHB as the standard reference for any SA city! Come down here to mellow Cape Town, you'll find it a lot less stressful!

You have some AMAZING riding ahead of you. Good luck and enjoy every moment.
Take note of how the scenery and vegetation changes as you ride. You will be passing it all, temperate, sub-tropical, mediterranean etc, etc.

Keep left and pass right.

Bye for now
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Old 03-25-2009, 04:23 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nazgul
Great ride you have planned there. Please don't take JHB as the standard reference for any SA city! Come down here to mellow Cape Town, you'll find it a lot less stressful!

You have some AMAZING riding ahead of you. Good luck and enjoy every moment.
Take note of how the scenery and vegetation changes as you ride. You will be passing it all, temperate, sub-tropical, mediterranean etc, etc.

Keep left and pass right.

Bye for now
Oh thats all coming. This trip was done in Feb.
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Old 03-25-2009, 04:29 AM   #10
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Nothing like the fast-paced action packed city of Jo-burg.

Great looking report so far. Always keen to check out our country through the eyes of Visiting Adventurers.
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Old 03-25-2009, 06:37 AM   #11
Douf OP
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........And they're off.

Trip Day 1. Jo'burg-Augrabies





Jet lagged and dealing with a 7 hour time difference, I was expecting the scheduled 5am start to be a little optimistic for my old bones, but once again the anticipation of a day spent riding in unfamiliar territory trumps any physical lethargy and we all roll out of Paul's garage on time. (I don't actually remember sleeping that much, but it could have just been latent terror from the previous day's warm-up ride 'round Jo'burg.) The first stop is just around the corner where we meet the rest of the crew at a gas (petrol) station.




Ready to roll: Gary (800GS), Narissa & Koshik (Fireblade), Di & Mikie (1200GS ADV), Me (800GS), Paul (R1100s). In front: Cindy (R1200ST)

It's maybe worth mentioning at this point that as the trip departure date approached, a few extra riders had signed up, and in total we ended up with eight participants including two female pillions, one of whom is riding on the back of a Fireblade. Since a typical trip for me usually follows the ride.eat.sleep.repeat mantra, I was a bit concerned about how this was going to pan out. Gary's an Ironbutt veteran, who I assume was thinking along the same lines. Anyway everyone's ready and waiting in the early morning darkness, so we're off to a good start. All the participants are 'Thinkbike' members and in addition to those coming on the trip, a couple of other guys showed up to see us off and escort us out of town (thanks 'BMWfan' and 'Trumpet').
The 'escort' consists of the two outriders running up ahead (with Trumpet's piped Daytona typically bouncing off the rev limiter), stopping all traffic at each stoplight (which we'd eventually learn to start calling 'robots') and letting the rest of us cruise through like motorcycling royalty. I must admit it was a bit difficult to get used to and, being a Georgia resident I had a problem getting the mental image of being either (a) t-boned by a big 'ole pick-em-up or (b) shot at by some shotgun wielding good old boy, out of my head as we passed each intersection. The local cagers seemed cool with it though (and they also seemed quite happy to move over for any lane splitting maneuvers). 'Scuse me, we're with Thinkbike'. Not that it's particularly difficult to achieve, but the level of driving skill possessed by the typical South African cager is generally light years beyond what I'm used to in Georgia (and in fact the first time I got cut off on the trip was when some asshat on a cellphone almost took the front off my wife's car as we were coming back up 400 from the airport.)





Pitstop outside Jo'Burg after our 'royal escort'

After leaving our escorts, we start on the trip proper. The day's ride has been billed as 900+kms of fairly uneventful plains riding in order to get closer to the good stuff over on the west coast - mainly rolling down the N14. As the day progresses, it strikes me that the start of this ride's a bit like heading west from Atlanta - you pay yer dues across Kansas to get the payback in Colorado and beyond. Actually the landscape and scenery does appear somewhat similar to Kansas in the early going, although as we head further west, it starts looking more and more arid in a similar fashion to, say Nevada/Arizona.
In sharp contrast to the US though, we're not riding along (per Ironbutt regulations ) at a GPS indicated 75mph which makes things a bit more interesting. After riding a KLR for a number of years, it hadn't entered my head that an 800GS wouldn't be 'fast enough' for this trip. I'd pictured the entire group riding along in a pack at, say 80mph-ish. However, in what is to be the typical pecking order for anything resembling a straight road, Gary and I are bringing up the rear on the two smaller GSs, cruising at (a comfortable pace for the bike) between 90-100mph, Koshik/Narissa and Mikie/Di alternate between riding with us (slow) and running up ahead with Paul who's apparently (I never got close enough to actually get a visual on this) leading and Cindy a little way behind. Paul's Thinkbike handle is 'Splat' and he's also known as 'Rabbit'. Hmmmmmmmmm...
'You guys aren't worried about getting a ticket?'
Apparently not.




Stopped for Breakfast at a 'Wimpy' - the first of many. I thought maybe the locals were trying to play to my British heritage and assumed I actually 'liked' crap food Actually it's better than the gas station fare normally a staple of the '20 min max, Gary mandated gas stop'





Since it's Valentine's day, the girls get special treatment from the wait staff (what some people'll do for a tip, eh!). Both pillions seem to be having a great time, maybe this is gonna work after all.



Typical shot of the first day's riding - FLAT and STRAIGHT (and fast)



Crossed over into the Northern Cape just before midday.



You make your fun where you can get it 'Hotazel?' - 'Yes it was'. Flirting with 100F in some places (BMWs computer gives the temperature in deg C, but there's plenty of time to do the math on the dead straight roads F=(9/5*C)+32). Winds were pretty high too - did I mention it seemed a lot like Kansas?



Not 'everything's' bigger in Texas - birds nest SA style, with man-made Albatross below



'Hey guys, I think I've got the hang of this SA riding style'

At some point during the afternoon, we passed through a small town that had a bunch of burnt out tires all over the road and one or two burned out vehicles too. I'm not sure what all that was about and unsurprisingly no-one felt brave enough to stop for a photo





Interesting roadside machinery.



Mikie sizes up a new rear for the GS - actually something with a bit more grip might have been useful - stay tuned



The riverside in Uppington



Storm clouds loomed as we left Uppington, but the group managed to run between what looked like two seperate storms and barely got wet. However a few miles up the road after a gas stop miscalculation, all the bikes (besdies the big GS) were running on fumes. The Fireblade was the first to run dry, but no big deal. We transferred some fuel from the GS into the Honda (of course given our backgroud Gary and I are carrying just about everything 'cept the kitchen sink in the 'emergency' dept - so a syphoning device is ready to hand) There was some good natured ribbing going on of course and more than one BMW rider mentioned that the Honda seemed to run better with 'BMW gas' in it FWIW I finally figured out a use for a 1200ADV



First night's accommodation at Augrabies -$20 per head which, along with the cost of the food is looking like pretty good value to the Americans.



At the end of the day, we made it to Augrabies in time to take a quick look at the national park and waterfall. However, although arriving at the entrance a good 30 minutes before closing time, the place was already closed for the evening. Undeterred, we rode back to the Augrabies lodge and had a great dinner, which if I remember correctly, came to about $35 for all eight of us Afterwards, we grabbed a few beers and headed back to the digs for the rest of the evening. The group are all happy and everyone's getting along fine. The local's are treating Gary and I like they've known us for ages, and their laid back manner and friendship is quickly turning into one of the best parts of the trip.











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