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What is Africa 100?

OK, so who’s bright idea was it to ride a motorbike from Cape Town to Cape Town via Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia? Digits have been pointed.  However, as is often the case with good ideas, almost everyone involved is laying claim.

In mid-2010, the germ of the idea for the journey probably planted itself, almost by accident, in the brain of Buspass. Bok, Butch, Etna and The Kid possibly had some involvement, but age is a funny thing and the memories fade.

Buspass is rapidly approaching a decade change and he was keen to mark that passing with another memorable adventure. He has already walked to the North and South Poles (accompanied by Imelda, Hot Lips, Butch & The Kid amongst others), climbed various mountains, heli-skied, alpine skied, cross country skied, run a few marathons, water skied, windsurfed, kite surfed (it’s OK, his mother does know), driven racing cars and speedboats, sailed big yachts, cycled road bikes and mountain bikes far and fast……..

He was clearly ripe for another challenge. For Buspass, life without a challenge is not worth living and if he can persuade some of his family and mates to get involved then so much the better.

Anyone of Shrek, Imelda, Stelios or Sleazy Rider could have suggested doing the journey on motorbikes, as they are all tinged with a streak of madness. Butch & The Kid were very quick converts to the motor biking idea, as they are blessed with the foolhardiness of youth. Quite why a medical man like Hot Lips is so keen on motor biking is a worrying aspect. DD and Etna are both keen lady bikers. For them, an open road and sunshine are clear requisites for their involvement. Initially, they were thrilled by the “romance” of the journey, imagining the whole trip to be one big sunbathing holiday, but as the details unfolded their enthusiasm dwindled slightly. They are going to participate by sharing a BMW F650GS and by driving on some of the legs in South Africa, Mozambique and Namibia.

What is definite is that neither Gobby nor Biggles suggested motorbikes, as they had never ridden one. They were initially hoping to do the journey in the relative comfort of a 4×4, like most sensible people. Worryingly, their respective families have embraced their involvement and have ramped up the life assurance accordingly! Anyway, Buspass loves motorbikes and exploring Africa, so once the germ was planted there was no going back……….

The preparation for the journey has been long and meticulous. To start with, Biggles, DD, Etna, Gobby, Imelda, Shrek, Butch & The Kid had to pass various bike tests to enable them to undertake the journey. In particular, Gobby struggled. He found that motorbike instructors and examiners didn’t take kindly to advice from a beginner. Eventually, even he managed to pass all the exams just in time to participate in a very memorable Harley extravaganza across the Canadian Rockies with Buspass, Shrek, DD, Etna, Butch & The Kid in the summer of 2011.

There have been trips to Wales for offroading with Gwyn at the BMW Centre, Iceland for sand practice with Einar, Devon (Wheeldon’s Farm with Jim & Andy) for green laning/off road practice (this is where Biggles learnt to fly), The Auvergne for off road practice with Albert the “mad monk” (where Gobby was momentarily silenced), France & Switzerland for mountain pass practice………..bends galore!! In addition, everyone is the proud possessor of a BMW bike and has been riding them assiduously. “Miles on the bike” being the motto.

Stelios & Sleazy Rider are hardened Harley owners with many bike trips under their belts. However, even Stelios was surprised on his first foray offroad on his new BMW. Happily, his collar bone has now mended. Shrek has caught the bug very badly and is now the proud possessor of a Triumph road bike, which he is happy to talk about to anyone who will listen. He and Butch have even been participating in track days at Brands Hatch. Biggles has been seen flying around the New Forest on his BMW, while the good burghers of Kingston have had to avoid DD and Gobby on many occasions. Hot Lips is reliving his youth and can be found visiting his patients all over the UK on his bike. Imelda roars around Monaco and Provence, happily frightening the natives, while Buspass, Butch, Etna and The Kid have enough motorbikes between them to start their own Swiss chapter.

Bok (the South African guide) has driven the route in a 4×4 and has lectured the team at length on what they can expect on the journey. Of course, tarmac is being avoided whenever possible, as it mustn’t be too easy. We will be accompanied for the whole journey by a 4×4 pulling a trailer that can carry 3 bikes. There will be other guides joining us at various stages throughout the journey to drive the 4×4 so that Bok can ride a motorbike as well. In addition, there will also be various extra adventures undertaken to wet the appetite. Climbing the highest mountain in South Africa, shark watching, driving safaris, walking safaris, canoeing safaris, white water rafting and staying with the bushmen of the Kalahari will feature at various intervals.

Hot Lips has advised on all things medical, the words “pin cushion” spring to mind!! Butch is our resident mechanic with Gobby, Shrek and Biggles full of “helpful”advice on how he should be operating. Interestingly, Buspass doesn’t like getting his hands dirty and there are suspicions that The Kid may have inherited the same gene……..it’s called management! DD and Etna are mainly concerned with their fingernails and which colour they are painted.

Finally, there’s what to wear. Happily, we have Imelda as our fashion guru and whenever the gang has got together there has been much discussion. Suffice to say, that Imelda has invested widely and anyone wanting advice on the best biking kit should look no further. However, despite all the consultation, everyone has kitted themselves out differently…..everything from Belstaff through BMW, Dianese, Held, Klim, Rukka, Spada, Sidi, Shoei, Arai to pure Enduro clothing features. The blokes concern themselves with safety, protection, durability, ventilation, insulation……..the ladies worry about colour and does it fit tightly!

So really it doesn’t matter who’s idea it was……..we are all going and the anticipation is now tangible. Wills are being written, insurance advice sort, vaccinations administered, shipping companies briefed, airline tickets bought……
the expedition is underway……….

Africa and 10,000 Km in 100 days.