August 03, 2007 GMT
Overwhelmed Again

Everyone here in SA is so friendly and helpful.

I've had dozens of offers of meets and beds from bikers all over the place, and the dealer here in Port Elizabeth (Continental Cars) was brilliant.

(Remember pix are here.)

They instantly gave me a lift in the workshop so I could work on the bike. They supplied help where needed, drivers to take me around, a loan bike (on which, most embarrassingly, I managed to drain the battery), found a lovely old boy who did a splendid job of repairing an alternator rotor and BOTH stators for the princely sum of about 70 quid, and a total clean of She. And then refused to charge me despite my waving of plastic under their noses.

Nigel took me to Addo Elephant Park on Wednesday, where we saw heffalumps, kudu, warthogs, and zebras, then I was whisked off to the Syndicate Bike Club meet in the evening to drink lots of beer and kick tyres.

So I have a repaired alternator, and have resealed the right-hand cylinder base and fitted new pushrod tube seals. If that doesn't stop the leak I'm stumped. There's nowhere else the oil can be coming from except the breather (there was a modicum of oil in the airbox). So I may just have to put up with it. Es la vida, as they say.

There's a couple of fronts coming in (I can see one out of the window) so my ride down the Garden Route is likely to be a bit wet. In a couple of days I'll be in Cape Town and the start of the Cape-to-Cairo leg.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at 07:34 AM GMT
August 23, 2007 GMT
Not Quite the End of the Road

It was all rather silly, really.

I stopped for a photo, and did what almost every motorcyclist has done at least once.

It was gravel. Having stopped, I put my feet down, and my left one slipped and I and the bike fell over. It's just that I caught my wrist awkwardly.

A couple of chaps in a bakkie (pick-up) stopped and helped me pick up the bike. I just thought I'd sprained the wrist. Had a ciggie, then got back on the bike and carried on. It hurt a lot, but at least one can do clutchless changes easily. Stopping meant gauging the moment and simply stalling at the appropriate moment. Starting meant using my right hand to put my fingers around the clutch lever then pulling the right-hand bar back with my left arm rigid, and screwing up my eyes as I let the clutch out.

It was 200 miles up the road that I saw the first red H sign at the turn-off for Springbok, and that for Annie's B+B which instructed me to follow the H, so that was easy. I managed to time myself at the robot (traffic light) so I didn't have to stop, and ground to a halt in the B+B car park. I got off the bike and more or less collapsed in a heap. The owner is Pet, who has been magic. She gave me a big mug of coffee, then sent me round to the hospital. They strapped me up and told me to come back in the morning for an X-ray.

There were no rooms available so I slept at Pet's flat. Thursday morning I went back to the hospital and was filmed.

"It's a Colles fracture. We see a lot of these in older women."
"Are you calling me an older woman?"
"Er, well, anyway, report back to the operating theatre at noon so we can reduce it, and don't eat or drink anything."

So I did, and didn't.

After being sedated, manipulated and plastered, they had one of the security guards walk me back safely round the corner, where Pet revived me with a large G+T.

The shippers have been great, and Pet found a local guy who's taken the bike to Cape Town to the agent there, from where it will be on a ship to arrive in (probably) Felixstowe in a couple of weeks or so.

Getting me to the Cape is a little more difficult - no air taxi, and I don't fancy the overnight chicken bus or a crowded minibus taxi in my state. But Pet's found a lady driving to Stellenbosch tomorrow morning who'll take me, and I can get a private taxi from there. I'll need to find a hospital and get a fibreglass cast - this plaster weighs a ton and is extremely uncomfortable.

The hospital seemed unable to charge me for anything but the X-rays, so I'm making a donation if I can catch Matron in her office. Cecilia the theatre nurse (a motorcyclist) came to see me at Annie's and is arranging that for me.

Reg and Mo are in Poland until the end of next week, so I'll fly back then and stay until I can get back into my house in November. And Des and Marina in Velddrif have said that when I come back to do the Cape-to-Cairo leg I must start from their house. Marina's an artist, and I've asked her to paint me and The Old Dear.

It will happen - just not at the moment, I'm afraid. I'm just pissed off that I haven't been able to do the whole circumnavigation in one hit, as was the intention. But at least I've managed to visit all seven continents, which in itself is an achievement. And 39 countries, 12 pairs of tyres, 8,000 litres of petrol, three GPSs, 74,000 miles, three years, six broken bones, a language, the ability to swear and say thank-you in around a dozen others, and made loads of new friends in many countries and most continents (all of them if you count the penguins).

But I couldn't have done any of it without the help and encouragement of you lot. It's been a privilege. Thanks is not enough.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at 11:33 AM GMT

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