We have our tickets!

I plan to terminate my contract at the end of March. Alistair will be done by then too. The beauty of being contractors!

We bought our planes tickets for Cape Town. Departure the 28th of May. That’s it! No way back.

I have confirmed the shipping for the bikes. I am shipping with Moto Freight. They come recommended by other travellers, and Roddy, my Moto Freight contact, has been really helpful, answering all my questions and more! So the bikes have to be delivered to him no later than 16th of April, preferably earlier.

I will arrange for the Carnet ( the bikes’ passport) to be delivered at that time, so I can give them to Roddy. He can then send those to the freight company dealing with the Port authorities and Customs, in Cape Town. Still some paper work to sort out but my time frame is fine.

We have about 2 months to get the bikes ready, including a bespoke frame built for the CRF.
Gabriel, from Zen Overland, will do the luggage frame and fit a 5 litres fuel canister on it. Fuel might be a problem is some lightly populated sections, so we will need to carry some extra.

I have not looked at vaccinations yet, but most stuff should be up to date from our previous trips. I don’t think we need anything other than Typhoid.

For the anti-malarial tablets, I am not sure what to get. Malarone is good, no side effect on us, can be used to treat malaria, but extremely expensive. Each tablet is about 3 pounds! One a day! Argh!

I am not keen on taking Lariam (also known as Mefloquine) , because of the potential side effects. It comes with long lasting risks of hallucinations, psychosis, depression etc… So bad that even the US FDA issued warnings. So this one is a big no.

The mix Atavaquone/ Proguanil, made me very ill for few weeks, when I used it for one trip.

Then there is Doxycycline. I have used that one before with no side effects. But a lot of tablets to carry.

I will book the travel clinic and discuss the options with the nurse. Also I am not sure I can get 4 months of prescription drugs at once.

Few weeks ago, I contacted Johan, one of my south African former colleague and friend. We both contracted on and off at the same company. We worked in few big projects together. He moved back to Cape Town with his family, soon after the birth of their first daughter. I was asking him recommendations for accommodation with secured parking for the bikes. His quick answer was “ no if, no but, you are staying with us”. With his growing family (a toddler and a baby) I was not angling for an invite. Honest. They have enough to deal with the kids and jobs. But the offer is gratefully accepted.

It will be great to open my paper maps and get some input from him and Jo-Ann, they know this region of the world very well.

There is no greater pleasure in life than opening a map flat on a table, gathering around ( with few cold beers!) and getting (or giving!) tips, write on the maps, highlight the best roads, mountains, jungles, deserts and settlements in the most unlikely locations… dreaming about and anticipating all those places with mysterious names. I love my maps. Paper maps. I am going to be controversial here, but I care very little about GPS. It is useful in town when looking for a hotel, I will grant you that! But more than once, the stupid thing has taken us too many time through donkey trails and rivers, while there was a perfectly nice tarmac road a mile away!

As for the many farms’ tracks and disused roads it took us through, in Russia and Siberia, to this day we have no clue where we were! I presume, in one way, it does not matter much. When travelling, we are rarely going anywhere precise, so we always end up somewhere!

I think my love of maps started at 12, reading The Hobbit and then the Lord of the Rings. I loved to look at the map in these books, the details, the kingdoms, the mountains, the Moria, Mordor… ah yes I am “One of Those”! Many books with maps followed: SciFi, Fantasy, Mystery, Adventure, Classics (Jule Vernes!) anything…. I was not fussy, world maps, Fantasy maps, any map.. so full of possibilities, so full of stories…

When I was a student, playing “Dungeons and Dragons” with my friends, I always volunteered to draw the maps!

Yes, I am “One of Those” too! From Nerd to Motorcycle traveller, it was not such a big step!

( this was the birthday card I got from Alistair! I love it! )

Blogging and other stuff

It has been a busy few days. First, a dreadful commuting week and attending  to my full time job, in town, has taken most of my time. I am a contractor, and I can tell you, I am counting the number Work Days to Freedom! As you probably guessed, I have a spreadsheet for that! I plan to quit around Easter, so I need to wait, before I give my notice.


In addition to work, we had friends over at home last weekend, so I spent a fair amount of time cooking. My beef Bourguignon was superb I must say, in all modesty!


Nevertheless, I still managed to sort few things out. 


First, the house and dog are sorted. The lovely couple (Ian and Brenda)  who lived in our house when we rode to Kyrgyzstan, in summer 2016, are free from the 26th of May. Their flat is rented until mid-September, so they will be happy  to stay in our house, and look after the dog, while we go travelling. 


For those who want to travel but worry about their pets and home, I can totally recommend this website: https://www.trustedhousesitters.com/

We found our current home sitters there. The only money exchanged is to join the website. Pet sitters sit for free, they get to live rent-free somewhere, while owners can go away knowing their pets are well looked after. Everybody wins. One of my friend has been using this site extensively for few years now, for his dogs, and never had a bad experience!


So Ian and Brenda will arrive the 26th of May, and we will fly out the 28th. It gives us a full day to fill them in and get the dog settled with them.


I have been investigating few countries, like Botswana and Namibia. It seems fuel range may be an issue.

My XT250 has a fuel capacity of 10l. My fuel range is 310km maximum (about 190 miles). I don’t want  a bigger fuel tank, as it would make it top heavy and the bike would be more difficult  to handle in challenging trails. I expect a lot of sand in some sections. 


Alistair’s previous travel bike, the TTR, had an Acerbis tank of 20l. His “new” (2015?) travel bike, a CRF250L, has a 6.6l fuel tank.  Alistair will need to change it for a bigger one.  They come as 10 to 12 litres.


Carrying extra fuel on motorbikes is never that easy (in addition to the big extra weight!). I have 2 fuel bladders (5 and 8 litres) but they are quite awkward to fix on bikes, when full. As we need to get the CRF fitted with a luggage rack, we will make sure it is built so that we can also fit one jerry can on the inside of the rack.


There is a lot to do with the bikes, especially the CRF, to make it travel ready. The XT was already sorted for our last trip across Russia, in summer 2016, so I just need few parts to be replaced and get the bike checked. Well, that’s actually Alistair’s job. My main problem is to find parts for my bike. It is a Japanese grey import. The XT250 was never sold in Europe and importing parts from the US, or Japan, costs a lot, especially the import duty is horrendous!



I keep getting emails from “developers” saying they want to help me increase my sales and give my website a higher profile. Hmmm… First, I have nothing to sell, and then, I really don’t care about raising my profile anywhere.


I have no idea how many people read this blog! Maybe 3? And 2 of those would be me, one from my office and the other from my iPad at home! So, to my lonely reader: I hope you enjoy my monologues! And no, Alistair does not read it!


So, here I must make a confession. Why do I blog? Why spend so much time, first blogging on the road, then rewriting the script, before loading my latest few rides reports into ADVRider? It is a lot of work indeed!


Well, before blogging, I used to keep holiday diaries in notepads, I still have them. A blog is so much more powerful. My reasons are purely selfish. First, sometime down the line, after a trip, when I am back to work, sitting in an open space office, the size a football pitch, surrounded by 100s of other workers ( I do feel like a factory chicken !), totally depressed, staring at my screens and various spread sheets and other crap, I can sneak into my blogs. I can reread and remember and see the pictures. It never fails to cheer me up. 


Many years down  the line, when I am old, and my mind and body are starting to give up,  I hope to impress the robot_nurses of future nursing homes, with my tales and show them (plug them?) into my ride reports. The diaries, ride reports and pictures, will be the only thing left! No one can take that away from me. 

And while the other inmates will contemplate the end of their lives with regret, having  spent so much of their life at work and not enough with their loved ones or achieving their early dreams,  I will be able to feel content because I have been fulfilling my childhood dreams. And way beyond! 


And then, after boring everyone to death in that nursing home (pun intended! ) about my motorcycle trips , when the Grim reaper finally comes to collect me, I will be able to tell him: “Come on My Friend, I am ready. I have explored this planet extensively,  I am ready for new Horizons, let’s cross the Final Frontier”. I will go without regrets, because, wow!  I had quite a Ride! 


Are you fulfilling your childhood dreams? Set free your inner child, you may be pleasantly surprised!

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