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Africa 100 – Thanks Jim.

Blog, Photos — By on December 18, 2012 10:02 pm

By the time I re-joined the team for the second leg of my Africa 100 adventure the first leg already seemed to be a fading memory. It was Rob’s “Reflections of Africa” which brought it back to life for me and so has inspired me to write a few notes of my own for leg 2.

For me, Africa 100 began with Jim’s 12th Birthday celebrations in October (for clarification Jim has been behaving like a young boy in a sweet shop most of the time he’s been in Africa) Over the two weeks that followed we rode North SA, most of Mozambique and a good slice of Zimbabwe. Together we endured deep sand, blistering sun, fine wine, some extraordinarily cool lodges and the occasional public lashing from the DOTD and HTFU judges.

When I left the team in Harare the tall fella (AKA Bus pass) was still in one piece and the rest of the lads were full of confidence that nothing could be more challenging than the Sani Pass – how wrong they would prove to be!

Gregg struggling with a deceptively ‘flat’ peace of desert!!

I caught up with the team in central Namibia in early December and was a little jealous to see how dirty and hard worn the riders gear had become. If I was to fit into this tough looking rabble I would first have to scuff up my brand new gear a little, so I set about rolling around in the dirt. Had I known how many times I was to fall off over the next two weeks, I would not have worried!

The first day in the saddle quickly reminded me of scale of the task that lay ahead. Daily distances would be measured in the 100’s of kilometres, temperatures would reach in excess of 35 degrees and we would encounter seemingly endless and bottomless sand.

Namibia was as I had romantically imagined the whole of Africa to be but which it is not. Vast, hot, mysteriously uninhabited and breathtakingly beautiful. We rode Rocky Mountain passes which I honestly would not have attempted had I had the slightest notion they were approaching. We rode for whole days without seeing another human being, let alone a vehicle. We drove across desert plains of 100’s of square kilometres without seeing a single manmade object. Not a telegraph pole, not a fence line, not a mud hut, nothing but vast open space with the occasional mountain range rising in the distance.

As the readers of Jim’s daily blog (and the statistics show there are hundreds of you) will have noted, every day in Africa is eventful, but our arrival in the sand dune camp of Serra Cafema was an afternoon to remember.

Having ridden well over 200ks completely off road, we were within 20km of the camp and what promised to be the most refreshing G and T of the tour (for some reason G and T just tastes better in the desert) when we encountered the driest, deepest, softest sand so far. To make things worse we were now in a conservation zone, so riding off the road was strictly prohibited, meaning that we had to negotiate cavernous ruts in this already impossible sand. After a few hours of struggle, frustration and seriously cardiovascular work we thought we had cracked it only to be faced with the decent of a 200 meter, treacherously steep sand dune. Gregg nobly went first and made it look easy so the rest of us cartwheeled down behind him. At the bottom his trusty 650 gave up the ghost and had to be abandoned in the sand. The final kilometre to the camp seemed to go on forever. Now completely shattered I clocked up five ‘offs’ in 50 meters. It was a truly adventurous days motorcycling.

Doughnutting on Quad bikes in the dunes, 10k evening runs, singing the now famous Africa 100 theme song, sun downers across the river in ****** (the country to the North which can’t be named as we didn’t have visas) and socialising with local Himba tribes all made our stay at the northernmost tip of Namibia one of the most memorable.

Having turned South West and after days of riding through deserts on white dusty roads, and a mercifully brief encounter with a Rhino family, we arrived at the Atlantic coast.

Recognising the scene as a possible venue for the perfect photo for the downstairs loo, we gingerly made our way across the vast dune and onto the deserted beach below. Huge Atlantic breakers rolled in, crystal blue sky above and a warm sea breeze made it the perfect venue for a ‘hero shot’.

 

After removing our helmets and jackets (something that had not been done in the 85 preceding days of Africa 100) the riding that followed was the sort from which dreams are made. Crashing through the shore break, powering up the dunes and general dicking around was had by all. Most memorable was the feeling of pulling off a perfect power slide, gas full on, back wheel spinning madly, bike leaning into a tight corner……magic!

There are very few rules in Africa but here are the ones I remember:

  • Tarmac is for girls
  • Never use first gear in deep sand
  • Birding is fun
  • Gregg makes the toast
  • 60 is not old
  • If in doubt, give it gas
  • Don’t reveal the identity of the Stigma
  • Milk should be white…….hot!
  • Run 10km before dinner, especially if you have a broken foot
  • Remember the chorus to Africa 100
  • Skin tight trousers to be worn at all times (Rob AKA Officer Poncherello, AKA The Bush Sommelier, AKA Stelios only).

And lastly….

  • Don’t run from a charging Rhino. Seriously, don’t run, just throw a few pebbles!

Namibia from the air

As I sat on my homeward bound aeroplane climbing out of Walvis Bay I reflected on incredible size of the landscape I had just ridden through. Perspective in the desert is lost in the same way it is at sea. Such is the scale that at 35,000 feet the topography still looks much the same as it did from the saddle and the photos just don’t do it justice – it has to be seen to be believed.

Thanks Jim for yet another incredible and unforgettable experience. And thanks too to Gregg for all his good cheer and Sam his bionic strength.

The rest of you……well you know what you are!!!

Imelda.

 

1 Comment

  1. Caroline Hughes says:

    This is excellent Imelda – and I hope we get some live commentary (with bad language) on the Africa100 DVD too. Thank you so much!