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Messages - Hinksding

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It wasn't long before the rain started to fall. It also wasn't long before I was drenched aswell. Ag but nevermind, I was having a good time and the best riding day of my life. The last challenging part was Rooidrom pass, but with the XR it was way easier than last time on the AT. Being on the last stretch I noticed that the day was long on the bike and that I would hurt a stretcher by the end of the day. During Quest we started Epupa for the

Arriving at House on the Hill, to my surprise, I only found the Dutchmen there.
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Down in the Marienfluss the grass started to grow. As it was still small, it was beautiful. (Wish I could see it now). The worst part of riding for the day was over. I twisted the XR's ear in the wet sand and made my way to Rooidrom.

Arriving at Rooidrom I saw the clouds was thick and dark towards Orupembe. Hardy borrowed me his jacket, incase it rained, but at the top of VZP I left it at the trap for them as I thought they might need it, as the last time I saw them there was someone sitting on the back on the Cruiser.
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After appreciating life for about 20 minutes I decided that it was time to move again. Apart from the fixed rocks, VZP is washed away. Good luck to all the Quest entrants (if you are doing the same route again). May there be mercy on your souls.
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The next to pics gives you an indication what a powerful impact rain have on the Kaokoland.
The first one was September last year and the last one was 6 months later.
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This was the last big crossing for the day. We proceeded towards Van Zyls Campsite. After we passed through a Himba village, Marco van Gestel rode slower??? Unusual as this was, it suited me as Flight XR650's Captain could do with "a bit slower" by now.

His KTM decided that this was enough for the day.  Gert-jan fiddled with it but couldn't get it to start. We were about 7kms away form VZ campsite. Casper tried to call Hardy, but the Satphone didn't have reception. We decided that the rest would carry on and I stayed with Marco.

Almost 1h30min later Hardy arrived and we loaded the 450. Hardy told me to carry on as they were behind me. Now I was alone and could ride at a more humane pace. I didn't have a GPwhatever, but decided that the Dutchmen's tracks would be my Tracks4africa for the rest of the day.

The weather was still cool and a bit overcasted....perfect. The road conditions was HECTIC! All the sand amongst the rock sections washed away, which made it even more challenging than Quest.

I arrived at the Uitkykpunt at VZP. Life was great! Quiet, nobody around me, with a breathtaking view. The Marienfluss was green! What the hell?! Pure Awesomeness.
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Just a funny story in the story: We came across another watercrossing where a coulpe of 4x4s were busy crossing the water. On the other side was 2 Cruisers an on this side 3 rentals. The one Cruiser on the other end was tied with a kinetic rope to a rental on this end, "pulling" it through the water. At the back of the rental was a brand new yello ski rope, attached to the it's rear bumper. An Oom held onto the other end of the skirope as the rental crossed through the riverbed. So, curious as I am, I asked the Oom what the heck they were busy with. He explained that when the rental crossed the water they undo the skirope and the kinetic rope from the rental and tie it to each other and pull the kinetic rope back through the water, so they dont have to walk through to bring the kinetic rope back. They must have thought we are crazy.

Anyhow. When I arrived at this "watercrossing 4x4 school", Sjors and Marco was already busy pushing the first bike through. We proceeded with the rest. Kitting on the other side of the river, I recognized the Ompaarsokkie Tour operator. Friendly farmboy that I am, I went to the Oom to greet him. To my surprise he kukked me out for jumping the Q. What Q Oom? We just overtook you in the water. Btw, Hel Oom, as jy weet hoe moeg ek is, gaan jy nie eens bother om my beef te gee nie! Hierdie Kaaskoppe het nie tyd saamgebring vir jou spinnerak speletjies met n geel tou nie. 😂 . To crown it all: Hardy caught up and all the Specialised bakkies drove through the water as if it was another day at work. 😋😂😍Anyway, sorry Oom!
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I've deboned an AB4 lambrib, so sorry, I've godda hit a big PAUSE button on this one!
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This crossing wasn't that hectic, but it was the first one with no concrete bridge, which made it "tufferer" to push the bikes through.

Chasing the Dutchmen, I soon realised that they are here 90% for the ride, or how they refer to it "race" and 10% for sightseeing. This unfortunately didn't allow me to take pics as the ride progresses...or stopping to get my breath back fot that matter. In my mind I could recall how Quest contestants on this exact same stretch was lying under the shade of the trees while fellow contestants fixed flat wheels.....I just chuckled in my helmet.
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Pretty soon we arrived at Okonghwati. I knew that the fun and games was over....or about to start, 🙄🙄,  as we stepped off the gravel highway onto the 2spoor. Sjors got a manner to correct his navigation errors with the twist of his right wrist and a powerslide in the right direction.  As it seems he pays more attention to the road and Marco van Geel on his heels, than his navigation, we ended up between the trees. Dit was chaos. Hoog in die takke. Lying with our chins on the handlebars we managed to find the 2 spoor again.

The Dutchmen had an appetite for these 2spoorpaadjies and I had my hands full to keep up. I figured out that I was no longer a rider, but rather a pilot of Flightnr. XR650 as I was flying!! A combo of unfitness and a lack of Uber Dakar skill made it hard to keep up. As the road is full of short twisties and no straights Peter was bloody hard to keep up with, while I couldn't get rid of Casper in my mirrors. I thought by myself during Quest if we only could go a bit faster, as the pace was very relaxing, very little did I knew that six months later I was kinda hoping for the opposite 🙄, but this was way more fun, so I was just hoping that I was not running out of talent at some stage.

Roit. Another watercrossing. For today, this was the norm. Arriving at the river, I was pooped! My hair was soaking wet and I sweated like it was the newest Kaokoland fasion. On the other hand these guys looked like they were just starting to warm up. Apart from me no one was sweating, not even the big guy, Marcel.
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So, the heat was on! Im stuck in the Wolfpack! Luckily the road's surface was klam so there wasn't any dust. The pace was fine....at least for now. The XR's power was fine to keep up with the Austrians. There was however a lack of suspension as they were able to cross ditches faster than me, but on the straights I caught up easily.

Our fun didn't last long. The second watercrossing was upon us. When I stopped, Sjors was already in the water, testing the current. Him, Marco and Casper pushed his bike through. Halfway through, the water started to wash his bike away. In the Himba-onlookers's eyes this was carnage! They yelled like if someone's getting slaughtered. Four of us rushed through the water and helped the others to save the bike from going downstream.
We were stuck. We waited for almost 2 hours for the current to calm down before we could cross. In the meanwhile the Iveco,  the DC and the Bas truck took another route to get to Orupembe, as it was impossible for the BAS truck to go down Van Zyls. Little did we knew that watercrossings was on the menu for the rest of the day.
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11
We rode for about 10km where we came across a big watercrossing. The water was about 40m wide, and running at a quite rapid pace. Ockie, who caught up with us by now told us that the Dutchmen wasn't far behind us.

Hardy and I pushed our bikes through and waited for the rest. When the Dutchmen arrived we pushed all of their bikes through aswell. When all the bikes and bakkies crossed the river, Hardy's XR didn't want to start. He decided not to fiddle with it as we had long day ahead and we didnt want to waist time, so we loaded his XR onto the Cruiser.

So, where was this going to leave me? Hardy suggested that I follow the Dutch Wolfpack, as the backup vehicles and the medic was following the bikes on the same route, so I'm in the middle, and can carry on at my own pace. Casper declined the idea and suggested that I should ride infront of him, behind Peter vd Bosch. They've got devices on 3 of their bikes, called a "hond". Its basically a tracking device so the 3 bikes can see each other. One at the front, middle and back, and ofcourse in Ockie's bakkie.

That way they can "see" each other and Sjors at the front can control the length of the ridingpack. They can also buzz each other if nesseccery.
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12
I'll leave the bike's carnet with the bike. Its the bike's passport. If you loose ot in the UK you tender for trouble.
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The previous night, before going to bed, I saw the thunder and lightning was quite active towards the NorthEast....right the direction we were heading for the next morning. Hardy and I rode the two XR650s he brought along. We left early, before the sun was up we were out of town. The C43's surface was klam due to the previous night's rain, the air was cool and the fresh air was overwelming my nostrils, while the thumpers was doing their thing. Man, till now life was good, but now life was great!

I rode behind Hardy, there were no dust at all, everything was green, a scene which was totally different from 6 months ago during Quest. We stopped for a break. Everything was quiet and pieceful. But little did I know how my day was about to take a dramatic turn.


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Day 1 Opuwo to Orupembe

Sunday moring 0600. It was hot and humid as hell. As I walked in the dark towards the Iveco to pack my stuff, I saw this moerse security guard, dressed in black next to our vehicles. It was weird, as I haven't noticed him before...oh shit! It was Hardy in his bike gear. I've never seen him before in gear and it was an unfamiliar sight. I just gave him one look and he said: F*k dis te warm. 2 minutes later and he returned in his Khaki-ATGATT. Everything back to normal.
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15
Saturday morning, the Dutchmen arrived. We parked their bikes infront of the Lodge to give them a warm welcome. Willie and Janco picked them up from the airstrip. We were supposed to start the tour, but due to flooding at Epupa, we stayed over for the day. However the Dutchmen went for a short discovery around Opuwo on their bikes.

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The cab of the truck's equipped with a rollcage, part of Dakar regulations
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 Later during the day, Appie and Will arrived with the BAS truck. They offloaded the truck and assembled the bikes. Here's some pics of the truck, equipped to the bone!

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WHK to Opuwo

The next morning, (by now I already forgot which day it was and I was still 800kms away from the Kaokoland. 😁btw it was Friday....the 13th. 😬😬), we all saddled up to do another 800kms North to Opuwo. The route we follwed was: Okahandja, Otjiwarongu, Outjo, Otjikondo, Kamanjab Opuwo. Everywhere it was green, the vegetation was beautiful. The day was slightly overcasted with the most beautiful clouds hanging above us. When we passed on the western side of Etosha we managed to see giraffes and some Zebras.

The road was long and my two passengers felt the strain of the last few days of traveling....they were off to dreamland.

Before Opuwo the trailer got a flat wheel. While we fixed it the rain came down on us. Willie, tried his best to make me look cool. There were just too many wrongs in this pic. A boer from the driest part of SA, was sitting next to the road fixing a PAPWIEL on a TAR road in the RAIN!!! I told you, it was Friday the 13th. 😂

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As the BAS team was riding in the Richtersveld for a few days, their truck had to go back to Cape Town, before it could depart for Whk. They were running a bit behind schedule, but the evening at 20:50 the BAS truck pulled in at the Lodge. Ockie, from Expedition Medics, escorted them. He pulled a trailer with 2 bikes as it could not fit into the truck.

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At the border all the paperwork was in order and we drove to GrunaŁ, where we stopped for the night. Even the South of Nam is beautiful. The fields are covered with the yellow flowers of the beesduwweltjies. Next moring we drove to Whk. North of MariŽntal we drove into thundershowes. The fields along the road are green as they had rain before. Arriving in Whk we stayed at the Arebbusch Lodge. Nice, clean facility, closely situated to the supply stores, where the girls bought the proviant for the trip from.
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