Sunday, November 28, 2010

2K5 Africa Charity Motorcycle Ride

Thursday 07/04/05 Blangy, France
We woke relatively early on Thursday morning, as we knew we were in for a serious day’s riding. We have chosen a route to the west of Paris as we know we are in need of a bit more saddle time before we hit Africa and the real hard riding starts. As such we will travel to a town called Rouen and then head south through some of the mountains to the Mediterranean coast in the region of Marseille, Cannes, Nice and Monaco before heading to Genoa. This route will make it a little longer and harder, but should also provide some great scenery. The weather got progressively worse and I was surprised at how flat the terrain was. It didn’t look anything like we were expecting from France, but then I suppose we had yet to hit the mountains. We have discovered that the “Paege” (Toll Roads) routes are fantastic to drive on and the traffic moves along quite steadily. It does of course mean we have to pay to travel on the roads, but that is why the roads are in such good condition. The only problem has been that as it is raining so much, we need to stop for coffee quite often to warm up, and we are loath to get the cookers out to make a brew in the rain and as such have to buy coffee at the services, which are ridiculously overpriced. We pushed on for a long day’s riding to a small town called Agueperse, which showed a campsite on the map. It was getting on for 19:00 when we arrived in the town and started looking for the campsite and it was still raining heavily. We were very disappointed to find that when we did eventually track down the campsite down a little dirt road, that it had been closed down and we would have to go back into town to find a hotel. Of course, as luck would have it, there were no hotels in Agueperse and we had to head on to a small town called Riom just north of Clermont Ferrand to find a cheap hotel. We shared a room with a single bed, which I very quickly claimed, and a double bed that Doug and Jason shared which meant that very little sleep was had by them.

Week 2
Friday 08/04/05 Riom, France

It was still raining when we woke up in Riom, but our spirits were high as we left for the coast and we were really hoping that the weather would improve as we travelled through the mountains to the coastline. We had thought that the sunshine coast of the Cote d’Azur and towns like Cannes, Nice and Monaco would definitely bring some sunshine to the trip. As we left central France for the coast, the weather did improve a bit and we travelled through some spectacular mountain passes which did mean that it got a little chilly higher up, in fact in places there was snow about. I had a bit of a scary call on the way down a great pass towards Montelimer, when my back brakes decided to give up the ghost. Not such a pleasant experience when the bike is extremely heavy and overloaded. By the time we made it to the bottom, very tentatively I might add, the brakes seemed to come back. A very strange experience. As we rejoined the highway, the heavens opened again and on the approach to Cannes, the rain was torrential with visibility dropping to about 10 meters. We were drained and completely knackered by the time we reached Nice and were in no state to try to find a campsite. As such, Doug and I walked straight into the Radisson Hotel on the Nice promenade and I told the hotel manager about our trip and asked if their hotel would sponsor us a room for the night. I had thought that this was a complete waste of time, but much to our surprise, he was quite amenable to the idea and once I had explained that I could add their hotel to our sponsors page in just a few minutes, he agreed. So free accommodation on one of the most expensive strips in Europe. Styling!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

2K5 Africa Charity Motorcycle Ride 05/04/05

Tuesday 05/04/05 London, England

Departure Day! We wanted to leave at about 09:30 from my house, but ended up getting away at about 11:30 to go to Honda Chiswick to collect the part for Doug’s bike that we had ordered on Friday. We then popped in to the Hole in the Wall for a quick photo shoot and to say good-bye to Lucy who has been fantastic to us all through our stay at their pub’s garage. Thanks also to Jason and the rest of the crew at the Hole in the Wall who have put up with us for the last few months. After the photo’s it was one final stop to get some spare keys cut and then it was straight to Dover along the M20. Our first stop also saw our first casualty at the Maidstone Services. Jason and I went to get some food while Doug was watching the bikes and by the time we had got back with coffee and burgers, Doug had dropped his bike breaking the windscreen in 2 and only just managing to catch my AT which was knocked over by his bike, but he also managed to drop not just his helmet, but my brand spanking new 1 day old helmet. Luckily it wasn’t too serious and both helmets only received a few scratches and neither should be too seriously damaged. We will have to think twice about allowing Doug too much responsibility like looking after the bikes! (Just kidding). Then it was back on the road for Dover where we spent a very pleasant evening camping in a site just outside of Dover in a village called Martin Mill.

Wednesday 06/04/05 Dover, England

We woke early very excited to be leaving England and catching the ferry over to Calais. We got bumped around on the ferries as the Sea France guys were striking or something and had to be moved to a P&O ferry which meant a slight delay but actually turned out to be quite a big delay, about 1,5 hours. Nothing in the big picture really, especially as we were already a few days behind schedule. Loads of people came up to ask asking us about the trip as the bikes look fantastic and they generate loads of interest wherever we seem to go. Once we arrived in France, it was our intention to get as far from Calais as was possible to start the journey and generally get away from the port. We made it about 2 hours south to a small town called Blangy where we set up our first night’s camp. Pretty good really, and super cheap, but the weather was starting to turn and we could tell we were in for a spot of rain.

Friday, November 19, 2010

An exciting development: Overland Live Webcast

Hot off the press:  Overland Live presents live webcasts:

Following a well established tradition of bringing exclusive content to our members, Expedition Portal and The Africa Overland Network are proud to announce our latest project - Overland Live.

We have teamed together to bring you a new and exciting way to learn about and interact with everything related to Overland travel and travelers.

Situated between a Webinar and a video presentation, Overland Live will allow you to hear and see the presenters - live! 
You will have the opportunity to send your questions in advance and get answers during the session. 

The presentation will also be recorded so those who can't make the live broadcast may view it later.

For our very first session, we are excited to announce as our presenters:

Frederik and Josephine (, the overlanders who recently traveled across Congo (DRC) while journeying around the world for 2 years.
They will share details about their challenges and accomplishments, as well as answer your questions. 
The presentation will be held on Sunday Dec 5th at 11:00 am Pacific Standard Time.

The number of guests is limited (200) so reserve in advance to secure your spot - it is free!

Also please note that this requires a high speed connection and a laptop/computer with adequate processing capacity. The session will have a live chat and video stream.

More details on the technical functioning of the session will be provided next week. 

Get your questions ready - we must receive them by Dec 1st!

Thank you, 

The Expo and The Africa Overand Network team!

Monday, November 15, 2010

2K5 Africa Charity Motorcycle Ride Continued

Saturday 02/04/05 London, England

None of us slept a wink on Friday night, as we were all so keen to get the bikes and were far too excited to see what Ernie had done for all the money that we had paid him. We were up at the crack of dawn and were out the door in Doug’s van to collect his bike and ride the two AT’s back to the Hole in the Wall pub, the venue for our launch party. Ernie had advised that we could only collect them after 10:00 and we were due to be at the launch party for 12:00 so it would be fine as Ernie is based in Sheerness, at least a 90 min ride. Still, we shot down to him as fast as we could and he didn’t disappoint. The bikes were fantastic and it was amazing to see what he had done. We collected the bikes and settled the bill and were back in Chiswick for 13:00 to find that a load of bikers and overland travellers had turned up to see us off. Unfortunately we couldn’t depart as we were still waiting for Doug’s part, and instead a great party was had by all.

Sunday 03/04/05 London, England

Sunday was spent finalizing the packing of the bikes and making sure that the weight was evenly distributed on the bikes. They are all unbelievably heavy and we have totally over packed them, but we would rather have too much and be in a position to ditch equipment, than not have something and want to use it. The bikes are all running smoothly and we have made the decision not to replace the seal on the XL600 until it actually goes, as it seems not to be leaking any oil.

Monday 04/04/05 London, England

Monday was a day to finish off the remaining few things that always seam to pop up at the last minute. None of us could sleep at all and the excitement levels had completely shot off the scale. We ended the day by packing the bikes with absolutely everything we could think off that might be needed and listing all the contents of our panniers on the insides of the pannier lids. This should help us to identify what is in each pannier and ultimately identify what we will throw away from each pannier as we travel on and start to get rid of extra weight.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Photo Africa - Gerry van der Walt

The first article (actually tweet) I read this morning was from the photographer Gerry van der Walt.  His photo, below, highlights a massive storm brewing over Madikwe.  Absolutely love the moment!
Makikwe Storm - Gerry van der Walt
The website Photo Africa is hosted by Gerry and offers a fantastic insight into wildlife photography, along with offering various training and photography safaris. 

Be sure to follow Gerry on Twitter:
Additional photos from his Twitter feed may be viewed via TwitPic

Original Tweet:
Massive storm brewing over the Madikwe Game Reserve. #madikwe #weather #photog