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Offline MechanicalCamel

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #240 on: October 01, 2013, 11:18:02 am »
Bravo Max – fine work on the vid there. I have to say that I was pretty disappointed in the Midget’s skills in the apple-on-the-head debacle. I mocked him a little, which is a dangerous thing to do to a Midget. I discovered just how dangerous 3 days later.

So the vid shows us arriving at the gates of the Bicuar National Park.



Which is here:



What is doesn’t show (thankfully) is the 4 hour process we went through to get access to the park. The 4 hours entailed:
- A lot of sign language from our side that we wanted to go in, on our bikes
- A lot of sign language from the ranger’s side that over his dead body were we going in without a nod from the chief
- A lengthy nap under the shade of a beautiful tree to process the afternoon bevvies
- A pre-school level drawing session to try to ascertain what animals were in the park, and more specifically whether there was risk of being eaten
- Some respectful engagements with the chief, after someone had found him and extracted him from (no doubt) more important duties. Watched over by his armed entourage
- A light reprimand from said chief for not speaking Portuguese
- A refusal to pay the full park entrance fee on a completely baseless (and mildly belligerent) assumption that it was ‘unofficial’
- And finally, a shrug, benevolent smile, and the wave on from the chief that we had been waiting for. We were in! Never has there been a finer example of the benefits of gentle pressure, relentlessly applied.






The unplanned for delay meant that we were closer to the end of the day than anticipated. Which is a bizarre statement given the lack of plan at the beginning of the day. Regardless, with a whoop and a toot we blasted off down the sandy tracks and into our first Angolan ‘game reserve’.

It dawned on me pretty quickly that this might not be plain sailing. It was probably the first time on the trip that I thought we may just have pushed it a liiiiiitle bit far. We were riding through a National Park that may or may not have housed hungry lions, it was the most technically difficult riding of the trip, and it was now dark. And we had a friendly-but-armed escort. The problem with friendly-but-armed escorts is that it’s difficult to tell what the guns are for, especially when you have not one word of common language between you. I figured it could only be:
a)   to shoot wild, threatening tigers
b)   to shoot wild, threatening bandits
c)   to shoot us and feed us to the wild, threatening tigers
Naturally none of these options were appealing. Particularly because the Midget was having some trouble with the terrain.

Through the orange glow of my headlight (HID lights are apparently less effective when covered by orange headlight protectors) I had a disturbing view. In front of me, Lester Piggott was manhandling Buttercup like a reluctant racehorse into the starting gates. The bike was sideways a lot more often than it was facing in the direction of travel, but not in a Tokyo Drift, graceful kinda way. More epileptic fit. We were in very soft sand tracks, with a middle-mannetjie a good foot higher than the track, and dense bush tightly hugging the road. To top all that, the headlight on the DR is so miserable he might as well have been using his aura to illuminate the road. This would have been hilarious had it not been for the trouble I was having keeping my own bike upright, and the fact that I had a 4x4 full of armed-but-friendly Angolans about 6cm off my back wheel.



Now I’m fully South African but there are times when one might think I was raised in Buckingham Palace. I have this terribly British tendency to feel guilty about causing the slightest inconvenience to others. It’s hard to imagine how we could possibly have inconvenienced others more than this. We had woken the chief from his afternoon nap, been unable to communicate in any of the county’s languages, refused to pay the entrance fee, and then looked so amateurish on our vehicles that it had been deemed necessary to chaperone these bumbling fools through the dark to their destination. At least we would allow them the pleasure of shooting us later.

As if they hadn’t done enough, we then decided to halt the whole parade by breaking a bike. The Midge had a fiercely spectacular face plant and broke his kill switch (in all likelihood with his forehead – it’s soooo close to the bars). Before I could get the tool kit out, all the while mumbling “terribly sorry for the trouble…”, our guardian angles had radioed ahead, called in the cavalry and, with many hands, lifted the DR into the back of the bakkie. The cavalry was mounted 2-up on a 125 scoot, pillion with a rifle over each shoulder, and post-rescue they disappeared up the track as if it was a national highway.


(heaving the bike into the bakkie was aided by the formidably strong and expertly welded rack on the DR)

I was instructed to go up ahead which I refused on account of being afraid of the dark. So Max and I followed the wounded Buttercup and about 3km later we came to the camp that we had (unknowingly) been aiming for. We all tittered about how we’d much prefer to be sleeping rough (blatant lie) and then charged into our designated hut to claim the single mattress. Betsy, I know you may never forgive me, but I got to share the double with the midget that night. Which was great cause I just popped him on the pillow and had the rest of the bed to myself.


« Last Edit: October 01, 2013, 05:12:35 pm by MechanicalCamel »
 

Offline Pistonpete

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #241 on: October 01, 2013, 01:00:50 pm »

(heaving the bike into the bakkie was aided by the formidably strong and expertly welded rack on the DR)

 

hehe.....
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Offline MechanicalCamel

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #242 on: October 01, 2013, 01:12:58 pm »
The camp that we had arrived at was of uncertain function. It certainly wasn’t for tourists so I guess either the administrative centre for the park, or a retreat/conference centre for government officials. It had a very official kind of feel to it. Which might have explained why we then lapsed into barely excusable buffoonery.

I think we were in a sort of limbo at this point. We’d gone as far north as we would get and this was clearly the homeward stretch, yet there was little excitement about ending this trip. We’d stayed in a nice guesthouse the night before and now we were in the bush but we weren’t camping properly yet. In the final faceplant, the Midget had hurt his knee so continuing our route through the park seemed unlikely, yet we didn’t know of any alternative routes. We were in motorcycling middle earth.

This limbo state shone through in our culinary preparations that evening. In our defence this was all conducted in vague sign language and my signing is only good for areas south of the Tropic of Capricorn.

First we were pointed to a fire, around which about 8 people were huddled – it was pretty chilly by this point. We were also shown a tiny, dark, damp room about 2m x 2m which we understood was the ‘kitchen’. We weren’t sure if the fire that had been pointed out was for cooking or warmth, so we walked aimlessly back and forth between the kitchen and fire for half an hour, hoping for someone to intervene. No one did. So we decided that slapping our fat juicy rainbow chicken onto these good folks’ heater would be poor form and the Midget started a fire in a discarded wheel near the kitchen. I set about preparing the chook that I foolishly assumed had been transported in the Midget’s luggage. This was not the case. The Midge had tied the chicken lovingly to his bumper, stroking it gently on the head all the while (the Midget and the Chicken see eye to eye. Literally.). Then, like a champion Ethiopian middle distance athlete, this chook had run the whole way to camp, arriving dry, dusty and dehydrated.

It deserved compassion. So we gutted it and stuck it on the braai. In return, the Gods of the Fowl delivered to us the toughest, most inedible, biltong-chicken known to man.

We should have read the signs when cracks started appearing on the fire. I suggested Max splash on some of our precious olive oil (extra virgin – just like ladeez from Café Caprice). “Is it this one?” he asked, holding up an unmarked brown bottle. (All our stuff is in unmarked brown bottles). “Not sure” I replied, “taste it”. I forgot of course, that one of the brown bottles contained dishwashing liquid. “Ughptah” said Max, as he dry wretched onto the fire.

There was not enough water in the whole of Angola to provide sufficient lubrication for that bone dry chicken and boiled rice to get down our throats. So we went to bed hungry. But that was fine, cause we’re well  ‘ard adventurers we are.

 

Offline KTMRICK

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #243 on: October 01, 2013, 04:14:46 pm »
Too good. More please. Thanks God for good welders eh?? :pot:
 

Offline MechanicalCamel

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #244 on: October 01, 2013, 05:11:51 pm »
Thanks God for good welders eh?

Just you wait....

 

Offline Vis Arend

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #245 on: October 01, 2013, 08:07:10 pm »
Thanks God for good welders eh?

Just you wait....



Can't wait for this one.   :biggrin:
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Offline wolfman

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #246 on: October 01, 2013, 11:13:39 pm »
Fantastic report!


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Offline Midget

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #247 on: October 02, 2013, 08:09:13 am »

As if they hadn’t done enough, we then decided to halt the whole parade by breaking a bike. The Midge had a fiercely spectacular face plant and broke his kill switch (in all likelihood with his forehead – it’s soooo close to the bars).




if i could elaborate here - what this fateful night highlighted was that, like airwolf,  there is only one way to kill a DR650 and that is to drop a single grain of sand between a hairline crack in the kill switch jamming it permanently in  the on position - ninjas train an entire lifetime to get this technique right. Luckily there is also only one way to bring a DR650 back to life and that is to short circuit the kill switch - neatly done by the camel the next day - who redeemed himself for  his failure to save the KTM at the beginning of the trip - something which haunts him to this day.  unfortunately unlike the DR650 - there are over 3800 different ways to kill a KTM - lightly bumping the kickstand with your boot being one of them.
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Offline Midget

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #248 on: October 02, 2013, 08:11:20 am »
How to kill airwolf - fire a single bullet down this tube

Who needs toes
 

Offline Midget

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #249 on: October 02, 2013, 08:19:00 am »
stringfellow hawk


Who needs toes
 

Offline Midget

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #250 on: October 02, 2013, 08:21:02 am »
The camel auditioning for the role of stringfellow hawk inthe late 80's - he didnt get the part
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Offline MechanicalCamel

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #251 on: October 02, 2013, 10:52:58 am »
 

Offline Dwerg

Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #252 on: October 02, 2013, 11:19:32 am »
 :bueller:
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Offline KiLRoy

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #253 on: October 02, 2013, 02:36:33 pm »
Can you see it?
 

Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #254 on: October 02, 2013, 05:21:33 pm »
Almost identical!

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #255 on: October 02, 2013, 05:23:31 pm »
Can you see it?

M looks nothing like ernest borgnine...
 

Offline King Louis

Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #256 on: October 02, 2013, 05:24:09 pm »
Unreal. The most entertaining report/pics/vids I've come accross in a long time.

Thank you! :thumleft:
 

Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #257 on: October 02, 2013, 05:38:34 pm »
The Camel may have understated the welcome and kindness of our Angolan hosts. Although we were asked for dollars, and having no idea what they were for, were reluctant to give them, it did seem that they were for the bonafide purpose of ushering us into the park. Speaking of which, in the park we were. AK47's, wild beasts (a tiger or two) and untamed bush lay all around us. We had been accommodated in the official administrator block, in tihs really cute little cottage.



I woke up hungry (he wasn't exaggerating about the chicken) and climbed this observation tower to get a better view.



Flat bush doesn't make for a particularly inspiring picture, so I didn't take any, but there was a waterhole about a kilometre off and large antelope were clearly visible all around it. Bearing in mind that Angola is still a recent escapee from decades of civil war, I hadn't expected there to actually BE a park, despite the green splodge on the map. But a park it was. We were still unclear where we were going this morning - was it straight through, or ducking out the north, but first there were pressing matters to attend to.

A certain bike...



.... had a problem.



Luckily there was an orange crate nearby, and the Midget could get a good view of how to fix a DR650 (the lovely Buttercup).



And after fixing a DR, one should always fix the rider:





Then the chief bid us well, and set off on a game expedition of some sort, with 4 AK-bearing rangers riding shotgun on his bakkie, and we were unceremoniously ushered out of the park on the road heading north-east. Exactly where we didn't want to be heading.



Bu the road was sandy, the bush was pretty and full of game (believe it or not, I did get my first sighting of a tiger, and I can assure you that they matched the KTM doing 80kph on the GPS).



Sadly, I'm going to have to be brief in covering what was an astounding day's riding. It went on forever.... whoops, singletrack, sand, congas, wide open cracked mud, grassy tracks... everything that would make a 1200GS cry, and a single cylinder rider whoop with delight and sheer exhilaration at the delight of it all. We were having the time of our lives. Midget had finally got his groove on, and was riding like a half-man possessed, and we were making great time.

Approaching midday I stopped at this charming little village, right on the road, to wait for the others to catch up. See, I'd seen an N'gola sign, and I knew what that meant.





The Camel pulled up, and the Midget couldn't be all that far behind.... but as he cruised into view, he also stopped in the far distance, just shy of the village. We waited... and waited.... it was too far to see any details, so the Camel pulled off his Darth Vader-style helmet and went to investigate!


Offline MechanicalCamel

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #258 on: October 02, 2013, 06:45:29 pm »
So, as Max says, we’re sitting in the middle of this sweet little village, waiting for a short guy on a mule to show up. The spirits were high cause the riding was really, really good.
“This is the best riding I have ever done,” I exclaimed to Max, for the 10th consecutive day. “I’d love to be back at Café Caprice so I could celebrate with a cocktail.”

 After a bit, the Midge came bouncing down the track on a buttercup-coloured pogo stick and then stopped, about 200m away. We looked. We waited. Midge hopped off Buttercup, circled it a few times, scratched his tiny little chin, and then waved for help.
 

I sauntered over, thinking he needed some assistance tying the tattered remains of his bags together (at this point they looked like an ancient windsock). But things were sadly not so superficial.

“Ooooooh sheeeeiiit”, said I.
“What you mean?”, said the Midget, knowing exactly what I meant.
“Dood, I’m sorry to say this, but I think this is the end of the road for you. Buttercup has finally rolled over. She needs to be shot.”
After the previous night’s fall the Midget thought his pro-surfing career was over, and now this! It was too much and his bottom lip began to quiver.

The DR was sitting on the ground like a fat Sumo wrestler; back wheel tucked tight up against the wheel arch and bags resting on the ground. The rear shock had snapped and with so little time left there was not much we could do. I imparted all this news with learned, if compassionate tones. What a sad, sad day. A catastrophe, a calamity, a twagedy of biblical proportions.

Buttercup was clearly in pain so I set about creating a screen so we could shoot her with dignity. That horse deserved it. Sadly we didn’t have a gun so I readied myself to bludgeon her to death with a tyre iron. Our plans to smuggle high calibre rifles over the border were thwarted by Max’s lady. Had this not been the case, I would have emptied a merciful round into Buttercup’s guts, then and there. Weaponry absent, I resorted to that which is mightier than the sword, and composed an ode.

ODE TO BUTTERCUP
Oh Buttercup, you trooper
You have been a sensation. Simply super.
Your style and grace is ace.
You have weathered soft sand like a camel (but lets not get carried away).
You have traversed rocks like a dung beetle.
You have followed the single track like a note does a line.
And now your time has come to have your brains beaten out with a tyre iron.
May you rest well in the AfterLife (it’s horrible stuff).

The cry of a distant vulture broke my trance and I suddenly had the bright idea of inspecting the damage. So we lay the bike down and I looked, and we lay it the other way and I inspected, and bugger me if I couldn’t find anything broken. The shock looked fine, the linkage looked fine, the swingarm looked fine. Everything seemed fine except my fatalistic prognosis and the position of that rear wheel. WTF?

By this time, the panda had waddled over. He casually assessed the situation, shooed away the circling vultures and pointed at the rack, about which so much has been said. Now, in the interests of world peace and general civility, let me be clear that I am in no way condemning the (expert-welder and remote-sidestand-switch-fixer) creator of said racks. These racks were, however, very nearly the cause of a very small man not completing a very big adventure. There wasn’t enough clearance for the rear wheel and the wheel nut had got caught inside the rack, trapped like a shetland pony under Kobus Wiese. (Dear Lord please tell me he’s not on this forum?) A bit of levering with a stick rammed between wheel and rack and PING – out popped the wheel.

This was clearly the happiest sound the Midget has heard since his wife said yes (to the bike trip, not marriage). He immediately took off all his clothes and ran around in circles with his hands in the air, squealing with delight. Max narrowly escaped injury in the ensuing stampede (we’ve mentioned that the Midget is not remotely in proportion).

Now, believe me when I say I haven’t hammed this story up one little bit.

Restored to her former glory, and having (almost literally) dodged a bullet, Buttercup whinnied over to some nearby shade to be attended to. We dialled in the pre-load (again), maxed out the damping, and removed the rear bumper component on the expertly welded rack. We still had to bend the racks out further away from the wheel so we lay the DR flat on the ground stood on the bottom piece while Midget used his famous snatch technique to rip the top piece further away from the wheel. This was easy for him because he held the national weightlifting record in the snatch discipline in the early 90’s (narrowly missing out on the clean and jerk to Stringfellow Hawk).


And with that, we were off again! Right after a drink…
« Last Edit: October 02, 2013, 06:47:44 pm by MechanicalCamel »
 

Offline pietas

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Re: Ngola Kingdom: Motorcycle (mis)adventures in south-west Angola
« Reply #259 on: October 02, 2013, 06:48:14 pm »
I have a hugh laugh at this story. Thanks guys  :thumleft:
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