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Old 09-29-2011, 01:58 PM   #151
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Location: Europe-Croatia-Zagreb
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Ups missed post 148
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Old 09-29-2011, 03:41 PM   #152
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One of the best ever ride reports.
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Old 10-02-2011, 11:46 AM   #153
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Enjoy this ... we will!
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Old 10-08-2011, 05:59 AM   #154
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Gosh, I've been totally off the grid for a while. Since I arrived in France for a bot of R&R (..), I've been in a different world. It's been great here, meeting with friends and family, and spending some good time with my girl-friend. And the end of the summer has been super-nice in Europe - although now the cold weather has come in.

The reason for this break is simple: the weather. I'm not tired of riding at all, Africa has been fantastic so far and I've been enjoying every minute of it. I've managed to arrive until Douala, Cameroon in dry weather and I've had some great rides in the amazingly thick equatorial forrest. But I probably wouldn't have liked it so much if the track had been muddy.

Because just as arrived in Douala and parked the bike, the rains came in in full force: every night it starts to rain until mid-day - and when I say raining, I mean pouring down, the kind of rain the releases tons of water every day, and turns the non-surfaced roads in a muddy mess. So it's not so much getting wet that bothers me, it's that it would force me to stay on the tar.

Cameroon is a big country, I've been only in the south coming from Gabon, but the north looks very special and remote, just the kind of thing that attracts me. But it's pretty much cut off the rest of the country during the rains, except for big trucks who can take weeks to cross the country. The alternative is to keep going on the main roads (only that there's this infamous stretch between Mamfé and Ekok that's still not tarred), and miss all the good parts.

Also, up north in the Sahel it would be in the 40's and totally humid, also not the best experience. I'm looking forward very much in touring Mali and Burkina, so when I'm back on the road, it'll be winter time and the best time for these hot countries.

Next, there are a few things that I'd like to fix on the bike - nothing big but it's always a PITA - and a waste of money - to have parts sent over in those countries.

First off are the fork seals. One of them started to leak in DRC. I've lost some oil in the process but it's still OK and I try not to tax it too much. It's been 50'000 km so it's not really a surprise, but I really should have replaced them in Namibia when I had a supply of parts at hand. My fault. I'll bring fork oil as well, not so sure about what you can get locally.

Next, logically, the brake pads need to be changed where the fork oil has been leaking.

I'll bring a new rear tyre as well, because they're so hard to source in Africa. The current one is still OK for a while, but won't make it back to Europe.

Finally, some minor parts have broken and could be replaced - either locally with an African job - or with OEM or better parts. The chain guard is one, and the boot protection for the exhaust is another.

The exhaust, muffler and skid plate all show some nice dents, but not worth fixing really.

I'm still hesitating to bring a windshield extender. Useless where I am, but could be nice when I'll have to do a few 1000 ks of tar in Mauritania and Europe. I sure would have enjoyed it in South Africa. Same for the front sprocket, the replacement for a smaller one has been the right choice for the tough roads around here, but when I need to get to speed - above 100 km/h - then the original 16-teeth sprocket does save some fuel.

Overall the bike is still going strong, no biggie. But the bike itself isn't the only issue, I'll have to fix the MSR petrol stove - I've tried to clean it half a dozen time and it's still no good. I've had little luck with the local dealers here, so the solution to this is still open. The tent has some bad zippers. I've tries what I can to fix it myself, but they're really just worn out. Friction takes a hit on those, and at some point there's not a lot you can do except to change them. For which I've been quoted a extortionate amount, so that's not going to happen.

Also I haven't been too happy about the panniers lately. Not the panniers themselves, they're rock-solid. It's the rack that's holding them. Since I'd been run down in Maputo, they haven't been the same. I'm thinking going soft panniers, which I've been very fond of in my last trip. And leave a lot of stuff back here and make it much lighter, that would be great. Same for the tank bag, it's crap and now is giving up.

Now that I look at it, it seems like I'm setting up for a new trip, and that's part of the excitement too. Choosing the right gear, improving on past experience, etc.. all this is good fun.

I'll talk next about the paperwork and visas, another chore of the overlander.
2006-2007 Mongolia - Pamir - India - Nepal
2010-2012 Caucasus - Middle-East - Africa
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Old 10-08-2011, 11:46 AM   #155
Joined: Jul 2008
Location: San Jose, Ca.
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Keep up the excellent ride report!! Definitely helps to expand my view on different cultures.
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Old 10-08-2011, 02:22 PM   #156
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Laurant: Please get back to Africa soon. ADV is hurting for some truely adventurous reports right now...and we need you back on the bike.
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Old 11-17-2011, 02:36 AM   #157
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Back on business

Here we go, I'm ready to take the plane back to resume the trip. It's been an awesome 3 months here in southern France with my girl-friend, but now it's getting wet and cold here, while in Cameroun the rains should be mostly over. I'm definitely not over with Africa, I'm loving it too much.

I'm bringing with me a rear tyre, some spare parts, fork oil and lots of presents for my friends in Douala, who are housing me and my bike. Together that's about 35 kg of baggage.. although I've tried to trim down the weight of the books.

The bottom part is where I've already been, the middle part is where I'm heading now. More interesting news later as I get the bike back on the road and fix the fork. Thanks for the nice words.
2006-2007 Mongolia - Pamir - India - Nepal
2010-2012 Caucasus - Middle-East - Africa
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Old 11-17-2011, 03:22 AM   #158
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Eh? ...carrying on, on the less travelled roads....

Best of luck - please keep us posted - and be safe!!!
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Old 11-17-2011, 06:05 AM   #159
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Location: On a RTW ride - currently SE Asia on the way to OZ
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Fantastic ride report and pictures, thanks for sharing!

Haven't seen many people do a round trip like yours, that certainly gives you a great impression of everything Africa has to offer.

How much time will the whole thing take, excluding your "vacation" in France?

Would you take a different bike next time, and if so, what?
Currently going RTW on a KTM 690 Rally, trip blog:

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Old 11-17-2011, 02:28 PM   #160
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Awesome adventure, really enjoying the pics and the stories. Be safe.
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Old 11-17-2011, 09:31 PM   #161
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Great stuff. I loved the stuff you wrote on the DRC best of all. It is a country that we almost never get to see and what you showed wasn't at all what I had expected it to look like. The story and pictures were fantastic.

I once rode across Cameroun in the seventies and it ended up being rainy season. I put the motorcycle on the train in N'gaoundere where the asphalt ended and arrived by rail in Yaounde. Looking back it was fascinating riding the train but I feel like I copped out compared to all the dirt you have ridden.

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Old 11-18-2011, 02:05 AM   #162
Ride on !
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Location: Toulouse / Montpellier - France
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Great RR Laurent !
Take care for the way back to home
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Old 11-18-2011, 07:57 AM   #163
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En route, Laurent, en route.

It's great, your back on road. I wish you the best for your trip back home through West Africa and hope you will find everywhere a solution like you did in the difficult RDC. All the best for the "little rest" of the Tour d'Afrique.
I am curious what you are telling us about.

Bonne route
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Old 11-19-2011, 02:32 AM   #164
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Location: Eastern Cape, South Africa
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Good to see that you are getting back to the 'real life'.

Another couple of weeks and I'm of to Guatemala for a trip too, things are looking good.

I'm going to be hanging in France in June/July next year. If you are back by then, maybe we can get together for a beer.
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Old 11-19-2011, 09:02 AM   #165
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A nonstop read makes me pining for a trip like that, awesome and most enjoyable indeed.
A down to earth question, if you don't mind, what's the budget for a trip like yours?
I wish I had bought a GSA a long time ago
and now I drink Orange Crush as well, thrice up now, two 990 Adv and a 950 SER
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