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Old 01-14-2014, 03:51 AM   #181
garnaro OP
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Originally Posted by MeinMotorrad View Post
Yeah, was stoked to se that - going to try to find those guys in a couple of days..
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two wheeled wave hunting dispatches

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Old 01-14-2014, 07:16 AM   #182
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major fail. spent the swell stuck in the Guinea jungle..
But how many times in your life can you actually say this?

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Old 01-15-2014, 08:28 AM   #183
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Escape from Dakar



Itís a strange feeling when a foreign capital like Dakar begins to offer the comfort of familiarity. Iíve run up and down the Cape Vert peninsula so many times looking for various embassies that I no longer need my GPS anymore to navigate. After two and a half weeks here, I have my regular coffee shop, market, bakery and I know the gas station with the cheapest beers. The fisherman who watches my bike while I surf brings me a fish to eat hot off the grill as soon as Iím out of the water. The girls at the coffee shop laugh at my pronunciation of French words that they try to teach me. I know where to turn off to avoid traffic jams and when I can ride up on the sidewalk to pass cars without encountering a massive drop-off or hole. Iíve developed jedi-like powers for anticipating particularly dangerous moves from a taxi driver. Every day I ride less than 2 miles and every day I see at least two traffic accidents. Today I saw three. If I happen to forget my sunglasses I constantly have little bits of diesel debris flying into my eyes. The little tree-lined corner of a parking lot where my tent sits feels like my little sanctuary from the chaos of the city, even if the tent floor was copiously littered with the corpses of giant ants that I do battle with nightly. Iíve ridden lots waves and I have the visas I need, so its time to wedge myself out of this comfortable corner of the city. I got the bike ready and did some surgery on turn signals that had fallen victim to the Sahara dust.





Before I was to leave Dakar, there was another swell on there was another swell to ride. While about the same size as the one that rolled in when Iíd arrived, this one had a bit more northerly direction to it, making the right-hand breaking part of the reef the better wave to ride. For two days I surfed through the low tide and finally found the exits from some proper tubes. Getting yourself into and out of small tubes is much easier on your forehand (right breaking waves for me since I surf regular foot) than on your backhand. The first day I surfed with a crowd of locals and a few French grommet rippers, but the second day I had two 3 hour sessions all to myself. At dead low tide, I watched dry rocks exhumed just shoreward of where the lip of the wave landed as I slotted in for a little barrel and I could just about feel my fins dragging on the urchin laden reef below me. In waves like this, the safest alternative is always to stay where the most water is, which is on the wave. The worst thing to do is not to make the wave and have to straighten out or get pitched over with the lip. That lands you right where the least water is. I made a few errors that a in more powerful surf would have had me doing a very ugly and painful reef dance, but on these days was give a pass and always seemed to be allowed to squeak off the reef and back to the channel.





I left Dakar much heavier than I arrived. Jonah, the young German traveler who had helped push me out of the mud on the way to Dakar had briefly returned to home to Europe and needed a lift down to Banjul in The Gambia after returning to Dakar. In addition to the strapping lad I added to the bike, I also added at least 6o pounds of wonderful German cheese, salami, and sausage that Jonah had packed in to sustain himself and his uncle Chris in style as they motored southward in their Toyota. The bike seemed to give up most of the rear travel as soon as Jonah sat down with his backpack. This was going to be an interesting trip.





Dyna Rae turned from a lithe gazelle into a drunken pig. Everything happened in slow motion now Ė acceleration, braking, and steering all turned to oatmeal. Every hit the bike took from a rock or pothole was exaggerated and felt like an undeserved beating was being served on my poor beloved machine. It put me a in a bit of a bad mood. We weaved back and forth across the tarmac finding the lines through the minefield of square edged craters. Eventually the tarmac had deteriorated to the point that I thought weíd be better off in the dirt, where at least the edges of holes are less square. As if to call my bluff, the tarmac went away and there were were were, two up and loaded in the dirt.


I like riding my bike in the dirt. But this was not my bike. This was some uncoordinated, gelatinous grontor donut-devouring version of my bike. To add to the fun, my rear brake had packed up, so I only had the front to use. It wasnít fast or pretty, but we made into The Gambia and to the ferry port to cross the river to across the river to the capital city of Banjul. We were the last passengers squeezed onto the last ferry of the day, with my rear wheel nearly hanging off the rear of the slowest ferry boat in Africa.





We arrived in The Gambia to find that our young German friend who Iíd first met in Dakhla was finally out of jail after a few weeks of less than ideal accommodation and Jonah's uncle, Chris, camped out at a compound on the beach south of Banjul. Chris had spent weeks trying to help him straighten out the inevitable mess that happens when you cross an international border in a vehicle where lots of joint rolling had happened and very little cleaning had happened. With plenty of stony dipshit detritus laying about the car, getting out of jail had become rather time consuming and expensive.





The surf was windblown and abysmal looking, so Chris and I laid around on the beach on the beach like indulgent tourists while Jonah rigged up the kite to show us how it was done.





We camped with some folks Chris had befriended named Freeman and Osman who were starting to build a beach bungalow and restaurant. For now it was just a clearing of the jungle on the beach, but it suited us just fine and I pitched my tent right on the sand.





To build their place, they make all of the bricks by hand using sand straight from the beach mixed with less that 10% cement. These guys have a dream of what this place could be and are making it happen, literally brick by brick. We were honored to be their first guests. As they had nothing to offer other than space on the sand, rather than charging us to camp the Germans and I bought dinner and beers in return for their welcoming hospitality. Since Freemanís and Osmanís palm trees were still only about 3 feet high we didnít have much shade on the beach, so I was feeling pretty crispy after three days and decided to motor south.





Through the south of The Gambia, even riding on the tarmac road just feels like adventure with the jungle crowding in on either side along with people, animals, and villages strewn out along entire length of the roads. The smells of the jungle are overpowering. The air feels absolutely fantastic. The world was meant to be traversed by motorbike. A simple thing, like taking away the frame to look out of seems to have made all the difference in the seeing of it.


Approaching the southern border of Gambia I had my biggest scare yet while on the moto. As I was dreamily floating along through the jungle scene at about 50 mph, while a kid I would guess about 10 years old pedaled his bicycle furiously on the shoulder ahead of me. At the instant before I passed, without even a sidelong glance (which may have given me some warning), he darted left across the road and right into my path. I barely had time to pull the brake an heard the front tire skid for a fraction of a second and he was safely past me. Were we to collide, I would have basically hit him broadside at full speed. He could easily have been killed and I probably would have fared better, but not very well either. I must have missed him by 2 feet. I stay about 45 mph now and try to anticipate even the most nonsensical acts that defy self preservation.
Aside from near catastrophes on the road, The Gambia has been a great reprieve since English is generally the second language spoken rather than French, and Gambians have an incredibly welcoming spirit to tourists of all sorts. You commonly see a European couple or group with a young Gambian guy who serves as a guide or host of some sort. The place is absolutely filled with English tourists. I happened to find one of the tourist enclaves on the beach with cool tree houses to put my tent next to. Which also provided me the opportunity to repair my rear brake not a moment too soon.





She is a little crusty around the edges, but I love her just the same. She earned those scars.





I went out and had a surf in the most meager of conditions with the waves standing up so softly that I could barely catch one and get to my feet before they would outrun me breaking down the line. Although not so fun, conditions like this are actually quite good for your surfing. Slow reactions and inefficiencies of motion are magnified because the power that the waves provide is so little, there is no extra, no slop to cover your own shortcomings. The ability to feel and respond to even the most subtle of changes in curvature of the wave is needed to suck the most energy out of the wave possible to keep you moving smoothly. This is how nice it is on the beach in Gambia Ė Iíve managed to find the bright side of a mortifying surf session hopping around in 2 ft closeouts.
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Old 01-16-2014, 11:24 AM   #184
afewsketchymoments
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Nice one friend!
enjoying your ride almost as much as mine.
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Old 01-17-2014, 09:11 AM   #185
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A huge thanks to Todd34, his wife, and crew here in Dakar for the best meal I've had in 3 months on the road! Serious ADVrider holiday hospitality!

Acquired some support from Todd34's local riding crews back in the US:



Subscribed!

Cat Hearders and a SMIB sticker

Now you're one of the kool kats............
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Old 01-21-2014, 07:22 AM   #186
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Nice one friend!
enjoying your ride almost as much as mine.

afewsketchymoments instagram feed is pure dirtbag adventure daydream fuel!
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Old 01-21-2014, 01:10 PM   #187
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What a great RR, keep it coming.
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Old 01-22-2014, 11:09 AM   #188
Chico
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Great Stuff

Love your RR and photos. I lived in Santa Cruz for a bunch of years and hope to get back there soon.
Thanks for posting
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Old 01-22-2014, 12:50 PM   #189
MeinMotorrad
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Heads up about Angola

You probably know this already but to quote a BBC report:

"Luanda, the capital of Angola, is currently the most expensive city in the world. Along the seafront, recently revamped at a cost of $350 million, Africa's most expensive one-bedroom apartment was snapped up for $9million, and a hamburger will set you back $30."

You can listen to a radio report here. Sounds like it should be cheaper outside the capital, but still,

You may want to tie your bike to your surfboard and float down the coast instead of ride.
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Old 01-22-2014, 01:06 PM   #190
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Awesome ride report! Keep it up.
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Old 01-22-2014, 06:45 PM   #191
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Subscribed!
Keep it coming!
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Old 01-23-2014, 08:01 AM   #192
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Guinea Two Times



Riding across the Guineas served up a bit more than I had anticipated. It started uneventfully enough leaving The Gambia to re-enter Senegal for a couple of days on the road and a brief stay at Cape Skirring. I rode ride some mediocre beachbreak for two days and explored the inlets and peninsulas that occupy the craggy southern coastline of the country.





The guys at the Guinea-Bissau border were incredibly laid back and welcoming, and I found this warm attitude prevalent throughout the country.





At the first customs stop in Ginnea-Bissau I heard someone sitting at the nearby shop give a shout: "Hey, itís the guy with the surfboard on his motorbike!" This was Niels, an expat from Germany living in Santo Domingos who had heard about me from another traveler that Iíd met in Morocco. After sharing a couple of beers at the shop he invited me to stay at his place for the night where I got a taste of village life in Guinea-Bissau. All of the houses were constructed nearly identically, with handmade blocks and corrugated tin roofs and are only accessible by footpaths. No one has electricity or running water. I watched one woman carry water from the well (about 200 meters away) to her home all day long. At night, we walked into the center of town to eat from the street vendors who operate in nearly total darkness, with no ambient light source from anywhere in the town. Niels does what he can to help the local villagers by bringing things down from Europe, making improvements in the compound of homes where he lives, and coaching the local soccer team. A group of soccer players turned up in the evening and sorted through used soccer cleats that Niels had brought down on his last drive, looking for a pair in their size. Among them was the goalie for the Guinea-Bissau national team.


I bush camped across most of Guinea-Bissau enjoying some epic jungle meadow sunrises.





As I rode I would periodically emerge from thick vegetation to a river valley where women were usually doing laundry on the volcanic rocks that the rushing water cut through.





Finding place to bush camp had actually become rather difficult to due to the ubiquitous presence of people. Time after time I would head off down a dirt track off of the main road and run in to the a group of huts or after stopping for a while someone would eventually wander out and find me. Basically any place that you may think would be a great camp site near some shade trees or a water source is sure to have someone living there. After spending the entire day interacting with people and communicating with some difficulty I usually just wanted some solitude, so I would motor on, looking for my place to hide in the jungle.





About 50 km from the border between Guinea-Bissau and Guinea (Conakry), the tarmac ended and the road turned to a rutted out mess that alternated from two track to single track. I donít see how you would traverse it in a truck, and during the wet season, it looked as though this stretch may be difficult to pass even on a motorbike.







Moto fans mugged for the camera.





This is what the international border crossing between Guinea-Bissau and Guinea looks like:





After crossing the border, the same road conditions persisted. I couldnít believe what I was riding through, given that I had simple taken what looked to be the most direct route between Bissau and Conakry. Stream crossings of varying depths continued, and finally the road dead-ended at a river that even the mighty Dyna Rae balked at.






The guys by the side of the river were hand building canoes for crossings and joked that I would need to wait until they were finished before I could cross. After a couple of hours, a guy came across on a cable driven barge to carry me to the other side.





Rather, to carry me almost to the other side.





As the sun sank low, the road became graded, my speed increased, and the grassy plains turned red before me.





At the town of Boke, the tarmac unexpectedly resumed after more than 150 km of dirt tracks. I had resolved that getting to Conakry was going to take days longer than I anticipated. It seems that nothing is wasted here. The villagers use the tarmac as a surface to dry their harvested grain.





It was smooth riding all the way to Conakry, other than a stop by a shabbily dressed policeman who demanded my passport and proceeded to disappear into the adjacent busy marketplace. Of course he wanted some money for its return, but I had run out of the local currency, Guinea Franks, so he settled for a few Central African Franks that I still had from Senegal. In Conakry, by pure chance I met Tony, the Belgian in the van, on the street near the Sierra Leone Embassy. We hadn't seen each other since Dakhla. Conakry was a hot, sticky, loud, stinky mess and it was nice to find a familiar face. The only place we could find to stay was the parking lot of the Total gas station, which also happened to be next to the local dump/open sewer. The highlight of the day was when a cute gaggle of piglets would waddle in to root around for their lunch.





At night it smelled as thought I had my head inside the gas tank, headlights periodically blazed straight into my tent, the club across the street blared music until 3 AM, and the military guy holding the semi-automatic weapon tasked with protecting the gas station milled about 10 ft. away from my tent joking with his friends. I lay there sweating through my sleep mat. This is the adventure part of the surf adventure. We got on the road an hour before dawn.


The crossing into Sierra Leone proved to be our next trial of endurance. Having come across a rural border crossing I had no entry stamp on my vehicle document, the Carnet de Passage, for Guinea, which was sure to cause some kind of problem and ultimately cost some money. There were a mind boggling 5 customs stops before leaving Guinea, each of which checked the exact same thing. By pure luck, I miraculously managed not to show my Carnet to anyone at any of these stops. After each one I breathed a sigh of relief and couldnít believe it when another one appeared 200 meters ahead on the road. At the final checkpoint, we found large man in a bad mood, He had an air if self-importance and seemed to enjoy scolding some local folks trying to clear customs. I thought, ĎThis is it, Iím sunkí. Again, I just chatted to the police guys about my bike while Tony got his documents stamped and in the end realized that the big man in the bad mood didnít realize that we had two vehicles. Due to poor coordination between him and the guy who held the gate I was allowed to pass undeterred.


On the Sierra Leone side, the red tape continued, although in more organized fashion than in Guinea. Again and again, we thought that we were home free only to come upon another stop to sweat through in the mid-afternoon heat. The final stop was the kicker. We were being asked to pay 50 Euros for liability insurance that Tony and I had both already purchased. The folks selling the insurance indicated ours was not valid because it was a different color than the one they were selling even though it said the exact same thing on it. The army guys running the checkpoint were in cahoots with the insurance guys and they wouldnít let us pass without a receipt. After 1.5 hours and much frustration on our part trying in vain to get someone to even respond to any sort of logical statement, we talked them down to a 15 Euro Ďhandling feeí.


We had finally made it. We were free to explore the fabled beaches of Sierra Leone! We sped along the tarmac, busting to find an ocean to jump into to wash the dirt and frustration away. Then Tonyís van broke.





A bushing on his shifter had disintegrated and the van would no longer stay in gear. We found a mechanic who jumped on the back of my bike as we sped back 10 km north to find a part that could be used to bodge it together for the time being. A few hours later we were back on the road and almost immediately found an ideal camp spot next to a gorgeous river. Its what we had been dreaming about since Conakry and it seemed that after our series of trials in the preceding two days, the universe had ultimately provided.





I jumped in and had my first proper wash and shave since two weeks time.


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Old 01-23-2014, 08:03 AM   #193
garnaro OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeinMotorrad View Post
You probably know this already but to quote a BBC report:

"Luanda, the capital of Angola, is currently the most expensive city in the world. Along the seafront, recently revamped at a cost of $350 million, Africa's most expensive one-bedroom apartment was snapped up for $9million, and a hamburger will set you back $30."

You can listen to a radio report here. Sounds like it should be cheaper outside the capital, but still,

You may want to tie your bike to your surfboard and float down the coast instead of ride.
holy crap! thanks for the heads up, didn't know it was that bad!
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Old 01-23-2014, 10:17 AM   #194
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Wow, man. I've read a lot of ride reports, and I will happily admit this is one of the best I've ridden. The culmination of your very clear voice, well-composed photos, and AFRICA(!) makes this hands down one of my favorites.

I know it's difficult to keep these things going while you're on the road, I've tried a few times and never get past the first couple entires, then just delete it out of embarrassment, but know that the time and effort you put into this on your end is appreciated by orders of magnitude on our end.

Goodspeed, man!
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Old 01-24-2014, 09:11 AM   #195
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Great photos!

I'm planning an Africa-trip in a couple of years, and this is the perfect inspiration. Thanks a lot for bringing us along.
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