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Author Topic: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola  (Read 51370 times)

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Offline zacapa

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #40 on: September 09, 2013, 08:59:01 pm »
Great RR so far! On the point of being wrong I just have to post this in here. Who knows, I may be right.
Are these two guys one and the same guy? Second pic was taken in about 2002 when I took my new GS650 Dakar to Molumong in Lesotho
and came across two young guys doing the riding thing there. We had a blast that weekend.
 

Offline MechanicalCamel

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #41 on: September 09, 2013, 10:35:39 pm »
I don't think so. I've told Max he should never, never drink petrol straight from a bike.

We were taught ALWAYS to use a glass
 

Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #42 on: September 10, 2013, 10:03:26 am »
Are these two guys one and the same guy?

No that is not me! Isn't it Kimi Raikkonen?

Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #43 on: September 10, 2013, 10:21:27 am »
As with much of this trip, this ride report is deeply disorganised. More fun that way, no? Get some popcorn and take the comfy chair... we're just getting into our stride. Efforts will be made to coordinate pictures and (tall) stories, but some back tracking may be necessary. Gonna keep it snappy.



You know something is deeply wrong when out of four guys taking a long-planned-and-fantasised-about-trip three and a half of them are wondering up to the morning they start whether they can afford the time off. The more I thought about it, the more wrong it seemed.

I'd woken up at 4am to pack and pick up Thomas at 4.45. Of course he hadn't started packing, so by 5.30 we'd hit the road and were furiously calling in to try track our comrades. "Luftwaffe to base. Over. Where the hell are you???" Naturally, The Midget hadn't even arrived at Camel's house, and they were a long way from locked and loaded, let along on the road. So what you gonna do?



I know you all think Wimpy make good road coffee, but for bikessake how can a cup of coffee be decent when the attendants ask if you want cream or foam??!! [Foreign readers I know you don't have a clue what I'm talking about right now.]

So something like three hours later, arriveth The Midget and The Camel. Without said papers.



The look says it all. Four hour round trip back to collect papers pending. We left Midget asleep in Camel's car and and hot-tailed it back to Cape Town. Well until we hit the N1 morning traffic that was. Less said the better. Luckily the little detour resulted in The Camel realising Outsurance don't cover Angola and you need to take out Out-in-Africa insurance. Which proved to be a Very Good Idea.

We got back to find the little fella awake and spending his time taking love snaps of his machine. Remember when you were 16 (21? 12? 9?) and had your first kiss?



True love.



So we set off with lots of this:


Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #44 on: September 10, 2013, 10:22:37 am »
Does anyone know why Wilddogs only show small versions of photos embedded from Flickr, even when I embed them at 1024px wide? I got some pix comin up ya wanna see in all their glory.

Online Pistol

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #45 on: September 10, 2013, 10:29:35 am »
Gonna be good this :thumleft:
 

Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #46 on: September 10, 2013, 10:38:01 am »
Now what my lovely brother forgot to mention, was the detail of why we spent 17 1/2 hours travelling 550km. OK, there was that 4 hour CPT detour, but my math still doesn't make 17, and I know I have at least 11 fingers.

Audi Waterfront are a bunch of unspeakable tossers, that's why. When you send your car for a service the day before a long trip (when else, naturally) you don't expect to have to stop at the lovely Piketberg Dunlop shop after two hours to redo wheel balancing because the car is shaking around like a popcorn maker at 120 km/h.



And you'd be even less excited to find that one of your wheel nuts had been stripped to hell and back by the idiot mechanics at Audi, wouldn't you? Yes, you useless bunch of half baked, over priced rip-offs. I swear every time I've been there it's been a disaster. OK, vitriol done.



So off we went again, with four wheel nuts instead of five... and an hour later were making ANOTHER detour to Vredenberg Volkswagen - who, I may add are the nicest folk on the planet, and recut my wheel nut thread and gave me a new wheel nut all on the house. Vredeberg Volkswagen - WE LOVE YOU!

If you've got something like 3 days of straight driving to do to start a trip I can heartily recommend taking off 3 hours on the first afternoon - say 400 km from your start - to sit around on the side of the road, act silly, take gratuitous photographs, and wait for the sun to set.









Or fire stones (since we never brought a Clint Eastwood-size handgun) at road signs.



My advance apologies to the fine women who belong on these pages, but this seems to be the kind of stupid shit that our loving ladies at home don't understand in the slightest.







I'm proud of this photo. The night before none of the trailer lights were working, and we knew this kind of scene was about to happen. So I rigged up two metres of LED strip lights left over from Afrika Burn. God, how I love LED strip lights!


Offline Mark Hardy

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #47 on: September 10, 2013, 11:21:11 am »
Big time sub  :thumleft:

This is going to be epic
 

Offline MechanicalCamel

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #48 on: September 10, 2013, 06:23:04 pm »


The fun continues….

On the way back down at the end of the trip we had the genius idea of putting the seats flat in the back of the cars (we had 2 station wagons). We used all our sleeping mats and sleeping bags and basically all the soft stuff we could find to make a pretty comfortable bed. This is how to travel like a boss. You either take the wheel, listening to podcasts about the origins of the English tax system (it used to be about land, but quickly become about funding wars) or you hop in the back and have yourself a lovely nap. We were too excited on the way up to engage our brains in anything remotely this lateral so we just sat, marvelled at the landscape and drove.



And drive we did. A lot. Namibia is a rather large country it turns out. A lot bigger than it looks on a map let me tell you. Through the border at Vioolsdrif (obviously without them asking for the registration papers we’d done a 4 hour detour for) and then north up, up, up through that interminably slowly changing scenery. It’s like being in slow motion – they must smoke a lot of weed up there.

We pushed on into the night to make up for lost time, breaking the golden rule about not driving after dark (it turned this was good practice for later on in the trip). We made it to Otjiwarongo, this time too tired for teambuilding. Good thing too cause I was still on the lookout for the evil bats.

The next morning, assuming we were fairly close to Opuwo, which was to be the destination for cars and trailers, we took a fairly lackadaisical approach to mobilising. This assumption of a short day was based more on the fact that we’d had a monster drive the day before than by referring to a map (we found one at breakfast but lost it by the time we had left the hotel). We used this time wisely, buying a 40 gallon drum to bolt onto Tom’s bike for fuel (he hadn’t got around to buying fuel bags) and 2 pumps, which nicely complemented the 3 we already had.

It’s not entirely clear why we were aiming for Opuwo. The astute amongst you may observe that if you’re heading for the Ruacana border post, a good place to leave the cars might be… hmmm…. lets see… the town of Ruacana? Cookies to that man! This direct approach was far too mainstream for us, so we pulled off a 100km detour and headed instead for Opuwo. Now, apologies to anyone who has a close affinity to this place, but Opuwo is a shithole. (Sorry mods, I know I shouldn’t use naughty words but the Queen’s English doesn’t capture the hollow essence of the place quite like that word. In fact, let me have a go to prove my point… It’s not just that it’s dirty and smelly and run down. That would make it like many other poor African towns, plenty of which are charming in their own special way. This place feels empty and devoid of spark like everyone is just clocking up hours for the Big Interview. It really gave me the creeps. It turns out that the place has a fairly dark military history; it was used as a Koevoet base during the war. Now I’m a peace-loving, bearded hippie so the war thing freaks me right out. Bad juju. I wasn’t scanning the property market.

What I was scanning for was a beer and a steak. Why is it that travelling through Namibia one is forced to eat at that most vile and despicable establishment that has a spineless, unadventurous coward as its namesake? Wimpy. What the hell were they thinking naming a food shop “Wimpy”?
“OK, thanks for coming Marketing Wizards, what names have you got for us? I want something that says bold, outgoing, fulfilling”
“How about ‘Beefy Burger Express’?”
“Too obvious”
“Fast n Tasty?”
“Too cheap”
“Padkos Panache?”
“Too wanky”
“Wanky?”
“Wimpy? Wimpy! Brilliant, I love it. Well done. Cheque’s in the post”

I digress, we were looking for beer and steak. And find it we did at almost certainly the only place in the town worth stopping at, The Opuwo Country Lodge. This spot was Epic Lovliness, complete with rim-flow pool, ice cold frosties and a cracking view. Bingo.

We only got there at mid afternoon so we needed to get moving fairly quickly to make it out before dark. So we kicked back and settled in for a few cold ones to congratulate ourselves on a monster commute well executed.









By the time we got round to unpacking bikes and cars, the chances of us sleeping in the bush that night were starting to dwindle, along with the sunlight. Tom would hear nothing of it though, and was probably hoping it would be dark before we set out; “adds to the adventure don’t you think?”. As ludicrous as the man’s ideas are, his infectious enthusiasm trumps it tenfold. Spend time hanging with this man and you’ll find yourself doing the most improbable things. He’s like a Vortex of Adventure Oddity that’s very hard to resist. We resigned ourselves to a bizarre start to the trip.







Within about 6 minutes of starting the unpack it looked like a UN cargo plane had flown overhead and deposited food and clothes to a refugee camp of 6000 Sudanese. This was the first time we really got to see what the others had brought and it quickly descended into chaos. And then panic. Clearly everyone had brought what they needed, plus ‘just a little extra’ for someone else to carry. If Chuck Norris himself had been there with a 1200 as a pack mule we still wouldn’t have taken all that stuff.

Things got a little tense as we started making rash decisions in tern interests of getting the hell out of there.
“I can’t fit this fuel bag in, I’m sure we’ll find petrol in the desert”
“There’s no room for food, peanuts and raisins are fine for lunch for a week” (turns out that was right)
“Torx keys? We don’t need those, we’ve got Allen keys. ” (3 KTM’s on the trip)

At this point the midget was very quiet. And his eyes were very big. Slight bottom lip quiver.

Finally, after a small eternity, it was time to go. Really? This trip was really starting? Angola here we come! We were on our way!




No we weren’t.




 

Offline goblin

Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #49 on: September 10, 2013, 08:23:46 pm »
sub
 

Offline ChrisL - DUSTRIDERS

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #50 on: September 10, 2013, 08:55:16 pm »
Vredeberg Volkswagen?

Guess you meant Vredendal?

Sub :thumleft:
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Offline vigilant

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #51 on: September 10, 2013, 10:00:54 pm »
sub

 :spitcoffee:
Ride the lightning
 

Offline goingnowherequickly

Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #52 on: September 10, 2013, 10:09:18 pm »
Sub
cant wait for more :thumleft:
 

Offline MechanicalCamel

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #53 on: September 10, 2013, 10:31:12 pm »
It would appear that someone knew the bats were coming...

Quote



 

Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #54 on: September 11, 2013, 09:01:35 am »
Vredeberg Volkswagen?

Guess you meant Vredendal?

Sub :thumleft:

You, Sir, are one hundred percent correct!

Offline MechanicalCamel

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #55 on: September 11, 2013, 09:29:33 am »
For the salty seadogs amongst you, I give you waves, plenty of 'em:
http://magicseaweed.com/news/angola-and-the-3km-wave/5572/

Nice write up on travelling there too (although the poor suckers were constrained by rental cars)

Angola is turing out to be the land of plenty!


 

Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #56 on: September 11, 2013, 10:02:05 am »
The more observant among you may have noticed that the lighting in the last few pictures isn't entirely consistent. There's a good reason for that, see. They were taken on completely different days. The joy and delight of arrival (and delusional excitement that we'd be immediately setting off to camp under the stars, on Tom's part) was offset by a horrible discovery. I'd steered our German battleship into its parking bay, courtesy of the magnanimous Opuwo Lodge management, and the Englishman had immediately jumped out to set about untying our beasts. He re-appeared a few moments later at my front door with a forlorn expression on his face.

Allow me to reverse a little here. Tom has been my motorcycling companion for four years. During that time he had well and truly punished his trusty KLR, ridden it hard and mercilessly, in the process forming a deep emotional bond with the beast. Perhaps the very deepest bond possible from a man with, let's be honest, not a lot of mechanical sympathy. We had taken them across the country, to every nook and corner of the Cederberg and Tankwa, pushed them under fences, raced up river beds and beaches. He had done everything possible to break that KLR (and I'm not going to mention the river incident) but it came back begging for more - after a little love from Tim, Claus and various Mercedes and other mechanics en-route. But I had a lighter and racier machine, and he was getting tired of being left behind. One day I casually mentioned that there were good deals going on KTMs, amongst other more off-road friendly machines, and after a few moments on Gumtree and this very fine website, he was hooked. I share some transcripts from email correspondence about his chosen new mount:

"I tested out the new nasty runt of a bike last night. Like a bad tempered warthog with a rocket shoved up its arse. Couldn't sleep after. Totally nuts. Shook on it and am transferring money as soon as mine arrives in SA."

This is the voice of a man who has lost touch with reason. Why be sensible when you can be inflamed, engorged, entranced with passion?

Anyway... back to my car window. Crestfallen Englishman: "The clutch is broken."

Now, the clutch had been broken in Cape Town. Tom's first 48 hours with the bike, after Milly's had belatedly and finally got it down from Joburg, included: a night ride in the rain, a puncture, a buckled front wheel and a severely slipping clutch. Even he was beginning to think the writing was on the wall.

He was also so busy with the four simultaneous consulting jobs he'd taken on that he didn't have time to fix it. My suggestion of dropping it off at KTM with a blank cheque book didn’t work because they were full. Claus, our usual mechanic, had left for Germany to his sick mother. Emergency measures were called for, and we know how those usually work out. A selection of dodgy geezers were called upon to collect the motorcycle, and deliver it to various service providers who would successively replace the clutch, service the bike and fit a new wheel and tyres. And then Tom would ride the bike, untested, into the savage wilds of Angola. Sounds about right.

So the newly repaired clutch was fooked. No pressure in the lever whatsoever. Luckily I’d just spent half a morning at KTM watching them fit a longer clutch cable to my bike, so concluded our best bet was to try to bleed the clutch again and hope that was the problem. But it was 6pm on a Saturday night in Opuwo and we had none of that fancy, super specialised clutch fluid you stick into KTMs. I forlornly cast my mind back to my passing look at the shelf with clutch fluid as I was leaving the KTM shop.

So we went to drink beers.

The next morning dawned bright and cheerful. We were here:







It couldn’t be all bad, could it? That’s Angola in the far distance. Four days in to our trip already, and if I'm honest I'd started wondering (just a little, mind you) whether we’d ever set foot on that beautiful dirt.

I knew from some previous research that there were substitutes for KTM clutch fluid and luckily the lodge had internet, so with the help of Google I set about convincing Tom that he could put baby oil into his precious new bike. At least we had a hope of finding that in Opuwo, shopping shithole of the universe.



This is a moment too priceless to be submitted purely to still images:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/jX63_f8WTBY" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/jX63_f8WTBY</a>

In an emergency - and God knows this was one - you can substitute the fancy stuff KTM spec for their clutches with a fine quality mineral oil. In the bush that means baby oil or automatic clutch fluid. Luckily, it seemed, the clutch had simply not been bled properly, and after a few cc’s of automatic transmission fluid - I’d still have gone baby oil - we got it back up to pressure. Tom was understandably delighted but starting to fume about the foolishness of his decision to buy a fancy KTM that couldn’t be fixed by a bush mechanic with a number 12 spanner and a rock. But we were ready this time.

After a beer and a swim (wash) in their pool.



Coming up... the main dirt highway to Angola...





Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #58 on: September 12, 2013, 10:57:01 pm »
So you’ve probably all been wondering if this trip would ever begin. So had we. 3 days travelling, two days messing around with broken clutches and general foolishness. And still we hadn’t started riding.

Time for that to change. All aboard! High spirits, packed and fueled bikes and one times beautiful off-road track beckons. Next stop Ruacana!





That ‘road’ on Garmin is actually a disused service track for electricity pylons. The 4x4 club of Pofadder would give their back teeth to get stuck into a challenge as glorious as this. Dongas, ravines, washed away tracks, rocks. Everything a dual-sport biker dreams of, and more!



I was worried about Gaza. The last time I’d taken him riding (on his first ever motorbike ride) I’d led him up the old postal route between the Tankwa and Cederberg on a borrowed 80‘s Tenere... which should have been fine, except the sand was particularly thick that time of year, and we got lost. Proper, dehydrated, knackered lost. And the Tenere has no happy button and after he’d dropped it fourteen hundred times and flooded it repeatedly, he then stripped the clutch and had to abandon it there. Best and worst weekend of his life.

So I was supposed to let him in gently this time... but look at this track! My fears were completely unfounded. He was styling! Tom on the other hand...







Three of us had - probably foolishly - bought new bikes before this trip. You know the saying “If it’s not orange, it’s a lemon”? Well, this WAS orange, AND a lemon. Broken clutch, buckled wheels, punctures, and now a broken side stand switch.



I found the KTM was stranded on the side of the road, cutting out every time it was put in gear. Little did we know that 690 sidestand switches have nasty little pieces of electronics buried in the switch which will derail any attempt to isolate the switch by cutting the wires and simply wiring them together. We were stuck!

While we took turns poking around with a circuit tester, Tom say forlornly under a tree, wondering what was becoming of his Angola trip.

We were surrounded by Himba. Amused little ones. And some slightly bigger ones with very perky breasts. Since our route between Opuwo and Ruacana was only supposed to be 150km and we supposedly had loads of spare water, Mike was amusing himself giving the young’uns a shower.













Dusk was coming and we were no closer to getting the 690 running. The decision made itself - we were towing back to where we started. No easy task, as every few hundred metres there was a massive donga which was challenge enough on a running motorcycle.

We made a few km’s before the light was gone and it was time to set up camp for the first time. Which was when we realised we really did need that water that had been so generously shared with the Himba.

Still, camp is a happy place on any bike trail, and here is Tom putting up the new bivvy he made for this very adventure.









The morning brought a sense of disquiet in all of us. Were we going to be able to get the stricken KTM running? More worrying was the realisation that the bike was in pretty poor condition all round.

We spent most of the morning towing back to the lodge, and the next few hours on Google. That pesky switch needs a 2.2k ohm resister inline between two of the wires, and after a day scouring Opuwo we realised we weren’t finding one of those anywhere within a few hundred km.









More importantly, we’d lost faith in the bike. Angola is a wild country, recently emerged from civil war, with limited services, terrible roads and certainly no KTM mechanics. To make matters worse, we were heading for the most remote, inaccessible corner of the country. A bike that broke in Angola might well be a bike that stayed in Angola.

I guess the less I say about what followed the better. Losing a trip member at the very beginning of your ride, I can safely tell you, is a terrible experience. Especially when that person is as outrageous, funny, and just plain unconventional as Tom. None of us were going to enjoy Angola quite as much as Tom would have. And we were all going to be much the worse off for not having him enliven our experience of it.

But there wasn’t anything for it. Windhoek - and even the faintest glimmer of hope - was 900km away. We’d already lost a few days and if we were going to Angola, we were going today. This is that moment where you put on a brave face, say what needs to be said, stiff upper lip and all that.



We left Tom with a laptop, an Audi wagon and the wish that he found some gorgeous, badly behaved Scandinavian back-packer to tend to his loss and told him we’d see him in two weeks. What the hell!!!!

Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #59 on: September 12, 2013, 10:57:33 pm »
Or watch, don't read....

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/jMR94onIIhc" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/jMR94onIIhc</a>

{*edit. Now with sound :)}