Newsletter

  • 66th Edition, December 2007

    "We finally found the real Africa. The journey from Wadi Halfa to Dongola, our favorite, through some of the toughest riding we had done, 420km of washboard gravel roads to sand and more sand. The scenery makes up for all the exhausting hours of standing up and trying not to crash in the sand. Every so often one gets a glimpse of the Nile. Each village unique, the Sudanese people very welcoming and all smiles. Camping under the stars by the Nile, having the local farmer come for a visit with his wife and child in the middle of the night, is something that we will never forget ."


    Ruby and Mike, Canada, in Sudan

  • 65th Edition, November 2007

    "We hadn't planned to cross the border that evening, and indeed at one point we pulled over hoping to bush camp for the night, but as everywhere was either fields of crops or near to villages, we were a bit dubious. So we pressed on, assuming that we could find somewhere to sleep at the border town of Gallabat. No such luck. Not that it mattered! The border was still open, even at 5:30pm. So, with some help from a fixer whose assistance we didn't need or want, we got through the Sudanese customs, crossed a bridge (no barriers, sign posts or anything), and arrived in Ethiopia! It was the least difficult border crossing I've ever experienced. The customs official sat outside on his plastic chair, waved various papers about at his minions, who ran about sorting them out, while we drank cold pepsi and made small talk with him about our bikes. It couldn't have been further from our experiences elsewhere in Sudan, and set a nice tone for our departure."


    Cathy and Glyn Riley, UK, Bristol to Cape Town, in Sudan

  • 64th Edition, September 2007

    "Vwaza has a big elephant population, but the rangers at the gate were happy for us to ride the 1km to the campsite, so because they were relaxed, so were we and we rode into the camp and chose our spot next to some bushes. Still sitting on the bikes, a little boy crept over to us and whispered 'be careful', then shot back to hide behind his Dad's 4x4. Following his wide eyed gaze we saw a herd of elephants munching on the bushes about 2 metres away from us! Paul got off his bike and backed away behind a tree, but I just sat there staring. It wasn't until he said in a low, stern voice 'Zoe, get off your bike you idiot', that I followed suit! When a bull came out of nowhere from behind us, I chose to sit on a picnic bench for protection, while Stanford, the campsite manager, crawled underneath trying to hide and this time Paul just hauled me out of the way!"


    Paul and Zoe Jenkins, South Africa, in Malawi

  • 63nd Edition, July 2007

    "Motoring into the darkness, I also realise that my rear suspension is too hard. Set up for a load or two people, my weight doesn't load the spring enough and I bounce over every bump while I lose traction every time I accelerate. The constant vibration passes through to my kidneys feeling a lot like a 'stitch' when you exercise harder than your body can handle. After 10 minutes the pain subsides and I start to climb, sliding and bouncing over the washboard of the gravel switchbacks torn up by previous trucks. I climb, I climb, and I climb further. The oncoming trucks are ruthless, blinding me with their high-beam and forcing me to the edge of an invisible precipice. The buses are worse, not even slowing. Every time I meet another vehicle, dust blinds me and I must hold my breath and look for any opportunity to pass..."


    Josh Forde, New Zealand, in Bolivia

  • 62nd Edition, March 2007

    "Route finding was proving problematic; there were few road signs, and what had survived had mostly been shot to bits. Late one dark, rainy afternoon, I was riding along what had once been a tarmac road, and came upon an unexpected fork in the route. The left fork showed the broken remains of the tarmac leading off into a forest; the right fork appeared to be a bumpy, potholed dirt track, but was currently under a foot of fast-flowing water. I paused and deliberated, unsure which option to choose. There was no-one around to ask, but I could see tyre tracks coming out from the river. On the other hand the remains of the tarmac suggested the route of the old road, and this fork was also marked with official-looking red and white painted concrete posts. This looked the most promising, so I set off hopefully, bumping over the smashed-up blacktop. But after a few hundred yards, I don't know why, but I just had a hunch I had chosen the wrong way. I decided to turn round and go back to the junction and think again. I swung a wide U-turn through the trees and around one of the concrete posts. Out of the corner of my eye I saw there was some faded writing on the post, and more ominously, a skull and cross bones. I stopped to take a closer look. I gulped as I read the words, DANGER! MINES. My hunch had been right - I had just ridden into a minefield..."

    Lois Pryce, UK, in Angola

  • 61st Edition, January 2007

    "At one point we go to overtake two trucks and get pushed off the road into the soft sand, the bike is out of control (tank slapping), all I can think is 'this is going to hurt'. Skill powers on and somehow we remain upright. His remarkably cool comment is, 'I don't think I'll do that again'. There was only one section near Nushki where we thought things were a bit dodgy with the kids throwing rocks and a couple of cars swerving towards us to frighten us, and people screaming at us. We also passed a motorcycle, where the pillion was carrying a shotgun. Around the next corner we come across three army trucks and about 100 soldiers who seemed to be scouring the area, guns at the ready. It was at this point I was really looking forward to getting to Quetta. We have since learned that most other travellers had an armed escort through this area."

    John and Alanna Skillington, UK, in Pakistan

  • 60th Edition, December 2006

    "I am so proud of my dad. This trip is certainly not for the faint of heart. His friends think he's crazy. He's absolutely killing it. I have seen him maneuver his bike up and down steep grades of washboard gravel and sand and even through washed out river crossings. I've seen him weave in and around potholes the size of craters on the moon. I've watched him negotiate heavy crosswinds and rain while cornering sharp turns. Part Ricky Carmichael and part Valentino Rossi. I always have a watchful eye on him through my little side mirrors and he's always right there every step of the way with that headlight brightly beaming, right on my ass. I admire his spirit of adventure and hope that I will carry that through when I'm in my 60's and beyond."

    Ryan Martin, Canada, in Mexico

  • 59th Edition, October 2006

    "...Leh to Manali is 500km, it took us 3 days to do this - the road is THAT bad, the bike battled everything from flash flooded rivers to desert roads to very hairy and narrow mountain roads with not much room to move when passing suicide mission trucks and coaches. Its a long way down with no barriers to protect you. They call it a road, but its really just big rocks and stones punctuated with the occasional bit of tarmac..."

    Brian Coles and Anne-Sofie Hennings, UK, in the Himalayas

  • 58th Edition, August 2006

    "...The sand is tough, tough, tough when you and your machine weigh over 400kg... did I mention that? Most of the drops are harmless and don't hurt - I don't think we got the bikes over 45km/h today - 3rd gear? maybe once or twice. Off course just when I do get a flat run, the ground leaves me - literally a cleft about 50cm across and the same down, concentration lapse and I hit it - hard. I'm thrown over and clear, but I land on my fist against my chest and I know I've hurt myself (a few days later in Novosibirsk I have it x-rayed - fractured ribs). I'm sore but more concerned about the bike... Literally not a mark, I was worried about damaging the forks, but she's fine.Also my boots have saved my legs twice today as they got caught under the panniers when I fall, panniers are suffering, bit lopsided but replaceable - legs aren't!"

    Kevin Maher, Ireland, in Mongolia

  • 57th Edition, June 2006

    "...Hame and I managed to roll gently off Bertha as we hit a bit of soft sand leaving the campsite and as we rode up to the ferry... Hame turned to me and said, "Erm, do you think this is such a good idea?" I'm usually the cautious one but with a bit of bravado I didn't really feel I said "Nah, no worries mate, she'll be right" (or something like that). And so off we went, and yes, the sand was soft. Hame managed to get half a tonne of big red machine onto the ferry while I watched. It's hard enough to walk on sand, let alone ride a heavy bike so we spent the ten minute ferry ride wondering what we were letting ourselves in for - Fraser Island is the biggest sand island in the world!"

    Hamish Oag and Emma Myatt, UK, in Australia



Newsletter feedback...

"Thanks for the latest newsletter, received in its full glory and excellent as always!" Keith, UK

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"Another fine issue of the e-zine! I think I was one of the 170 subscribers to that first issue and I've loved every single one since. Thanks for the wonderful inspiration, ever since that BMW MOA National Rally in Missoula in 1998 Audrey and I have been absolutely captivated. Life changing? For sure!" Ekke, Canada

 

 

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